Someone out there was fooled
After three years, I’ve decided to come clean. That grumpy-looking nerd normally pictured in the Cheesespread masthead photo—that’s not really me. The man formerly pictured is actually Steve Kiba, who worked as geography teacher in Norton, Ohio, during the early ‘70s, about the same time that he threw our beloved boss, CN&R Editor Tom Gascoyne, out of the 11th grade for “having hair that was too long.” I figured nobody would ever recognize him, but a militant separatist group called the Friends of Kiba has told me to drop the masquerade. No problem. Don’t kill me—I don’t even get paid for this.

Anyway, what you see now is the real me—though the picture was obviously taken closer to the cradle than the grave (where I am now). This photo reads “age 3, St. Mark’s Nursery School,” and hopefully the disgruntled expression will convey both the paranoia with authority and soon-to-form disgust with man’s inhumanity to everything that often informs this column (the actual expression probably has more to do with freezing East Coast temperatures and a drunken photographer using a cheap comb to brush my hair forward like some sad little poodle).

But it got me thinking, boy … nursery school. Bringing a mat to school for naptime chaperoned by beautiful young co-eds. That quiet kid in the corner picking glue off his fingers. Sand box wars and plastic dinosaurs. Girls settling their differences with pesky boys by brawling (since they were more or less the same size) without domestic violence patrol units. What a hoot.

Just behind St. Mark’s playground was a wooded area where kids could roam and play as long as they didn’t wander too far (this was before the days of snuff videos or Uzi-toting children). And wander we did, me and my trusty little companion, Matt—or as I liked to call him, “Tonto.” Deep in the woods one day, we found something that held our interest for weeks. It was a giant, black anaconda coiled in a large circle, digesting children from other schools.

Tonto gave me my first lesson in humility as he summoned the courage to poke the leaf-strewn snake one fateful morn and ascertain the beast was merely an oversized inner tube filled with crushed Schlitz cans, not children.

But the symbol of that primordial fear lives on in me today, as that stupid snake has, for the time being, become a bastard named George W. Bush.

Weekly props
1. Buena Vista Social Club at Laxson next season
2. Alan Webb 3:53:43 Mile
3. Beatles Weekend, 102.1
4. Sixers/Bucks series