Saturday, October 26, 2019

Red Scare or Don’t Cry for Glenn Roquemore, Argentina

Good times. Once upon a time: a gangster-themed fundraiser at the PAC. 

Sometimes you go searching for a story while other times you are standing in your driveway, unpacking groceries from your car when the story drives right up and says hello.

That’s what happened to Rebel Girl on Friday.

She had noticed the car following her up Olive Hill. It had turned out of Madame Modjeska’s estate, Arden, and she presumed it was a lost flatlander who she would have redirect and turn around. But it wasn’t. This fellow knew exactly where he was and who she was. It had been awhile  - years! - since they seen each other though they glimpsed each other and their lives on social media.

He was an IVC alum, one of those returning students who had showed up in the mid-90s in creative writing and journalism classes, taking them over and over again.  Already an attorney, he was looking for something new and found it at the little college in the orange groves. An intrepid reporter on the IVC student newspaper, The Voice, he broke the story of the Holocaust denier on the college board (good times) which was picked up by news outlets across the country.  Now, over 20 year later, he is a highly regarded journalist, his byline familiar across the county. He had been at Arden as follow-up to a story he was writing.

They greeted each other warmly.  “You must be dropping by to celebrate the departure of Roquemore,” she quipped.  He hadn’t heard, so of course, she filled him in.

“Did I ever tell you my Glenn Roquemore story?” he asked.

No, she said, do tell.

It was a doozy.  It went something like this:

Years ago, in 2013, Red Emma, Rebel Girl’s sweetie, was hired by the former student, by then an editor of a glossy monthly, to pen profiles of OC residents, not famous people, but extraordinary ordinary people. Red called this gig the best writing job he ever had: the pay was good (great, actually at a time when they needed it); he could choose his own subjects; he was paired with an amazing photographer and he got to work with an ace editor. Among the people Red profiled: the Marine who regularly played his full drum kit on a lonely stretch of Santiago Canyon Road for all to see; the crossing guard at Trabuco Mesa Elementary School; the local meter reader; the sweet potato seller at the Laguna Woods Farmers Market. You get the picture.

Well, a few months into the series, Red’s editor was contacted by the publisher.  The publisher was known to Rebel Girl because she too had once written for two of his many magazines, first as a book reviewer, next as a features writer and monthly columnist.  He was and is a person of stature in the community.

The publisher told the editor that he had received a communication from one Glenn Roquemore. The two men knew each other from the kinds of associations two men like that have: chamber of commerce and other community associations. Roquemore was writing because he was very concerned about a writer on staff - a leftist writer– he wanted to bring this man to the publisher’s attention. The spirit of the communication was that something should be done about this writer who had somehow gotten this job, a position that clearly, in the mind of complainant, he should not have due to his political views.  

The publisher passed the information on to the editor. The editor took note of it and filed it away. Red Emma continued to write.

Now you get a new picture. It’s a particularly ugly picture, one which shows someone using his social and political power to smear, with the hopes of causing someone to lose his job due to, not his lack of qualifications, but due to his political views.

What was Red’s relationship to IVC  (and Roquemore) at the time? Aside from his marriage to Rebel Girl, none.  He had not taught at the college in well over a decade. (The circumstances of his departure here, courtesy of one Howard Gensler, who is, we hear, recently departed from Saddleback.) Instead, he taught at UCI where he is still employed. He was writing for a number of publications which he continues to do. He edits a literary journal for Santa Monica College. He hosts a radio show. One of Red's guests was UCI's Chancellor Howard Gillman, in conversation about the book, "Free Speech on Campus," he co-wrote with  Erwin Chemerinksy. You can check out the interview here. (One might begin to wonder at this point if Glenn also reached out to Gillman about Red's political beliefs...)

Red Emma was making a living doing the work he had been hired to do.

Last year about this time, when Rebel Girl struggled to comprehend how Roquemore and others at the college could have failed to inform her of a threat against her by a former student, she questioned whether it was incompetence or malice. 

She opted for incompetence as malice seemed, so, well, malicious.

But Friday, standing on the dusty road with her former student, hearing this story of Roquemore reaching out to her husband’s employer to object and inform about his political beliefs, to make trouble for him, to  - is there any doubt here? - to get him fired, she wonders if she got it wrong last year. Maybe it was intentional malice after all. Clearly Glenn is capable of that. Clearly. How else to explain this quaint throwback to McCarthyism?

Of course, Red was fortunate that the people Roquemore sought to enlist resisted his overtures, that the publisher and editor didn’t take his red bait. Why? For all sorts of good reasons, one surmises, including the fact they are journalists – journalists! JOURNALISTS in the 21st century. Geez. And of course Roquemore held no power or sway over them, unlike at the college, where one longtime staff person who has been working there nearly 30 years recently expressed their real fear of losing their job should Glenn or Linda see them walking over to say good-bye to Cessa.

One of Red’s profiles – perhaps the one which brought the series to Glenn’s attention – was of IVC’s own Professor Virginia Shank, still a fairly new faculty member, already distinguished by her teaching (Teacher of the Year in 2014), her writing and her distinctive mode of transportation: the bright blue velomobile. The photo is fabulous. The photographer shot it outside IVC’s BSTIC building, and though you cannot see her, Rebel Girl is in the photo, holding out Virginia’s tie so it appears to be flying in the wind. Her hand was photo-shopped out of the final, which was only right. The effect is stunning. If Rebel Girl remembers correctly, the tie belongs to Virginia’s late father. She still wears it. 

With her green eyes, red hair, porcelain skin, and stylish retro-Victorian ensembles suggesting both wit, good taste and an eye for vintage clothing-store finery, Virginia Shank unshyly personifies the romantic ideal of the English professor. This young poet and teacher originally from Eden, New York recently earned “Teacher of the Year” at Irvine Valley College, after teaching there only four semesters. The busy little community college in what’s left of an orange grove is lucky to have her. Professor Shank’s curriculum vitae is loaded for serious academic bear: PhD in English from Binghamton, MFA in poetry from University of Idaho, plenty of awards, research and accolades as a student and grad student….
What should a college president have done having read a glowing profile of a new hire, penned by a former employee printed in a high-profile magazine distributed across the county? Perhaps penned a note of congratulation and appreciation to one or both. Perhaps seized the moment to even extend rapprochement to the latter. Redemption is possible. Things do change. Rebel Girl  reminds her students often of this. The semester is long enough to turn things around. So is life.

But what did Glenn do? You know what he did.  He tried to get the writer fired. 

What's your Glenn Roquemore story?



Anonymous said...

What a sad man. This was something straight out of the Raghu Mathur playbook.

My guess is Glenn has had a hard time facing the fact that our district is progressing. His way is the old way, never to return. He’s a relic of the Fuentes days.

Anonymous said...

My best GR story would be me yelling at his wife(jokingly) and him getting all puffed up and ready to confront me and defend his bride. Guess he didn’t know his wife and I teased each other quite often and when he approached she turned to face him laughing like crazy. He composed himself and kinda chuckled but was CLEARLY embarrassed. Nevermind the fact he wouldn’t have stood a chance,lol!

Anonymous said...

Glenn, Glenn oh Glenn, what did you do?

Anonymous said...

So, Glenn went out of his way to try to get Red fired? I would like more information about this. Conjecture or credible? Evidence?

Anonymous said...

It's good that you are asking for more evidence, 1:37, though the story told as is seems credible, very Glenn-able. Why would the editor make up a story of being contacted by the publisher? Why would the publisher make up a story of being contacted by Glenn? Those facts seem firm enough. But why don't you ask Glenn? And then get back to us. It could be that a different conclusion could be drawn from such an overture out of nowhere about a writer: Hi there, just wanted you to know that one of your writers is a leftist. Just FYI.

But what other conclusion might that be? What other conclusion would you draw?

Anonymous said...

My favorite detail about this story is Glenn's failure to recognize the name of the IVC alum who was the editor. After all, that student broke the big story about Frogue.

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary