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Tarnmoor’s ABCs: UCLA

Royce Hall on the Campus of the University of California at Los Angeles

Royce Hall on the Campus of the University of California at Los Angeles

All the blog posts in this series are based on Czeslaw Milosz’s book Milosz’s ABC’s. There, in the form of a brief and alphabetically-ordered personal encyclopedia, was the story of the life of a Nobel Prize winning poet, of the people, places, and things that meant the most to him.

My own ABCs consist of places I have loved (Iceland, Patagonia, Quebec, Scotland), things I feared (Earthquakes), writers I have admired (Chesterton, Balzac, Proust, and Borges); locales associated with my past life (Cleveland and Dartmouth College), people who have influenced me (John F. Kennedy), foods I love (Olives and Tea), and things I love to do (Automobiles and Books). This blog entry is my own humble attempt to imitate a writer whom I have read on and off for thirty years without having sated my curiosity. Consequently, over the weeks to come, you will see a number of postings under the heading “Tarnmoor’s ABCs” that will attempt to do for my life what Milosz accomplished for his. To see my other entries under this category, hit the tag below marked “ABCs”. I don’t guarantee that I will use up all 26 letters of the alphabet, but I’ll do my best. The fact that I made it as far as the letter  “U” is a major surprise to me.

I came out to California at the tail end of December 1966 to attend graduate school at UCLA. My original intention was to become a Professor of Film History and Criticism. Well, I didn’t. Instead I ran into dirty politics as personified by one Professor Howard Suber who waged a kind of dirty war on those of his students who loved film. Out of an inborn cussedness, he made it difficult to sign up for classes; and he appointed himself chairman of my thesis committee over my personal choice of the late Bob Epstein. I knew at once that my chances of a Masters degree based on a study of the Westerns of John Ford was a goner.

It was around this time that Governor Ronald Reagan began making deep cuts in the budget of California’s universities. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, I made a sidestep into computer programming at System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, which led, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, into my present profession in accounting.

My quandary was that I loved film, but was not willing to immolate myself for he sake of principle. I kept my hand in film, writing articles and chapters of books even after I was out of the program. I even wrote a humorous article for the UCLA Daily Bruin entitled “Confessions of an Ex-Filmfreak: Or, Slow Death 24 Times a Second.”

My apartment is a scant three miles from the UCLA campus, which I still visit from time to time for various cultural events. It’s always interesting to look back at the decisions that led me to where I am today.

Do I have any regrets? Not really.