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December 14, 2007


Like my own dad would say when I was interested in a fellow musician: "Tell him he can't play guitar with two broken arms!"

The smoking is what I totally don't get. I know adolescents want to flirt with death, but death through disease seems so SLOW and PAINFUL to appeal to kids. Just plain dumb.

YOu've just described every teenage boy I've met in the past few years. Even my son tried to smoke in the house once, but I caught him and punished him within an inch of his life. Smoking? Get fucking real.

Now my daughter has a friend whose parents are sitting on MORE than 2 million. They are loaded. Mom works for the Red Sox front office and they have TWO sets of box seats right up by the home dugout. I'm ready to start planning the wedding, but my daughter has no interest in the boy. She's a MORON.

Hi Danny,

I just want to say that your daughter is absolutely adorable!! And, I don't know why but for some reason I remember your "tux" shirt and fringe jacket from our school days! I have three boys...maybe we can arrange something. Only kidding!! Have fun, it sounds like her dating days are ready to begin!

Just had to say that picture doesn't begin to do Leah justice... or was that part of your plan, Daddy Danny? Not only is she gorgeous, she is so smart, witty, self-possessed and courageous that I don't think she is going to have many problems (or at least not as many as her adoring stepmother!) navigating the world of boys. She'll be pulling up their pants, stubbing out their cigarettes, hanging up their cell phones and preaching long and hard on the evils of caffeine. However, if any of them do hurt her, you know I want to be in on the killin'!

Makes you really understand stories of rich boys from New Jersey raping retarded girls in their parents' basements, doesn't it? But that was years ago. I was so hoping things had changed. However, I think you need not fear Leah would have anything to do with such boys. And just think: now you've got a real point of reference. Any boy you might have eyed suspiciously had you not run into the swearing-smoking-caffeine addicts will seem heaven sent, just because he's got his pants up over his waist.

I live in Iowa and the boys here are no different. It's just funnier when small town Iowa boys try to look and act all gansta.

Luckily, my daughters roll their eyes at those boys too.

Oh the idea of kindness at a middle school fills me with such hope! Your daughter is so adorable I so hope she doesn't take to meandering over to Brentwood for fun and shopping.

The first time I saw a boy with his pants under his butt cheeks I honestly didn't know what to think. The fact that virile, agile young men walk around holding their pants up not to have them around their ankles just makes me laugh!


While I, too, would be horrified by the actions you described and inclined to speak to the boys about stopping what they were doing to keep the public space tolerable for the public, I take issue with your assumption "A group of five high school boys from the exclusive Brentwood School barreled into the courtyard at about 3:30..." How do you in fact know, since, regarding your daughter, "She doesn’t live or go to school anywhere near Brentwood, but I’m sure these guys were not that atypical?"

By 3:30 pm, a boy from any one of a variety of public and private schools all around the city could be in Brentwood Village. But let's look at the likelies: Brentwood, Pali, SaMo, Crossroads, Harvard-Westlake, Windward, Milken, Wildwood, Oakwood, New Roads, Malibu, Uni...I didn't mention the ones with uniforms but still, I could go on.

Additionally, there is an outpatient treatment center for teens with substance abuse problems called Visions ( right on Barrington Walk in the village. Couldn't it be, and much more likely be, that the boys were NOT from Brentwood School at all given all these possibilities of where they might have come from? Brentwood School has only about 250 total boys in the high school. Do the math on the odds. Odds are they are not even from Brentwood School. And this bunch doesn't sound like the students I know.

I work at Brentwood School. I've worked at schools in New York, Boston, San Franciso, and LA. Brentwood School has some of the finest young people I've ever had the honor of working with. Do we have students who exhibit some of the behaviors you have described? Some of them. Sometimes. But it is definitely not the norm. The norm I've found at Brentwood School is that it's cool to gain intelligence, to work hard, to be kind to others, and to care about the world in which we all live.

It's my hope that people in our community here in LA would take the time, in a civil and kind way, to speak to any young person who isn't meeting "public expectations." I do it all the time with kids I've never seen and when I treat them with patience and respect, I've never had a time when I'm not respected back by them.

It's also my hope that people stop assuming that any teen who walks in, drives through, bikes on, and hangs out in Brentwood Village is a Brentwood School student. CHANCES ARE THEY ARE NOT!

My thanks,

Will Bladt

I NEVER listened to my elders on any of these VERY SIMILAR spot-on points you make and questions you raise. Yet... I did listen to my teachers, and thankfully I went to fine schools with mostly fine teachers and fine camps with almost always fine counselors. (My parents had a huge influence on school and camp choices so formal education and summer activities were "tools" of influence they had to manage my development most effectively.) I also had lots of old fashioned mazel to get me to this day. I feel your pain and trust you are doing/being all that is possible... aside from surrendering.

Will, yikes, I apologize-- I really didn't mean to impugn the reputation of all Brentwood students--or even these ones! I personally know kids who go there who are just great and it's clearly a wonderful school with a lot to offer! But it wasn't a total assumption on my part--one of them had a Brentwood School t-shirt on and the school came up in their conversation a few times but it's true, I didn't know their exact status and I didn't ask. I also admit that I brought into my reaction of these boys a special bias because of where we were geographically (not where you described but even closer to the school) and the fact that they seemed to be from wealthy families. I realize this isn't fair. These boys could have been from ANY school in terms of their behavior, but their "privileged" status added to my judgment, it's true. Is it contradicting everything I wrote above to say that I don't even think these boys were acting that badly? I really don't--they were amongst themselves and horsing around, and I don't doubt for a second that they would have acted differently if they were interacting with different groups. Does it invalidate my comments from last week to say that I sort of liked these boys? They DID seem intelligent, except for their stupid decision to smoke, and some of their crazy fashion statements. But I'm sure they will dress very appropriately at their future job interviews. I'm sure the reputation of being a "rich kid's school" infuriates all of you and I'm sorry for adding to that stereotype. I should have left out the name of the school instead of using it as a marker of privilege and entitlement. You sound like a great teacher and one who is teaching his students the necessary skills of reading critically. But wherever these kids were from, I wonder if there's any way for our L.A. High Schools to work harder to prevent students from getting addicted to cigarettes, I have to say that was the part that made me the most nuts.

What is often perceived as "cool" by kids is seen as "crass" by observers; that is what I've always thought of the pants hanging off the tush of boys...and of girls...the underwear waistband sitting pretty high up on the boy, the thong next-to-nothing waistband sitting low on a girl.
A style thing? Feh...!
Your daughter is most mature (a Dad or Maman trait?) and has some good role models to follow. I believe she'll hold her own in many a situation, and like Kendall says,
Leah will handle matters in her own, intelligent way. Any boy who ends up with Leah as a girlfriend or as a close, close friend, is very lucky. (Tell her that Pearl decrees so!)

I so wish those boys would hear you.

I am a newfound fan of your blog. Your writing is clear, honest and heartwarming. There are so many female voices out there, and I like hearing the male perspective too. You are a good Dad with a sense of humor. A good mix!

One of the counselors I work with had a male student walk in wearing an offensive t-shirt. She asked him take it off and turn it inside-out before she was willing to sit and talk with him. He complied. I think it's ok for us (when appropriate-maybe not strangers, but there may be times when this is ok) to give our young people that kind of feedback. Just so they know how their behavior is impacting others.

Your daughter is so adorable! Love the outfit, too. She reminds me so much of my friend when she was that age. You don't happen to have or had any relatives in or around the Boston area?

Is it just me or is everything on your blog way down on the left side on the page? The middle is blank. Mine was acting up a couple of days ago, it may just be my computer, no idea.

OH MY GOD!!! HEY WILL.... DEFENSIVE MUCH ? The boys Danny described are typical 15-16 year old boys ANYWHERE, and yes, my friend,from Brentwood as well. I'm assuming most of Danny's readers not only understand , but have compassion for adolescent development and realize these young men will grow up to be solid productive citizens. We all wade through it and, if we are lucky come out the other side to the bank of tentative maturity. I adored the fact you jumped to point a finger anywhere other than your school. Now THAT shows the character that Brentwood School should be proud of ! "It's those Visions hoodlums again Maude, stealing our kids sweatshirts and acting up down to the Starbucks". How well do you know your students, Will? Not very, I'm assuming. And what kind of example do you give them by
denying culpability before examining the evidence?

I was raised in Beverly Hills. I am still there. When I was choosing
a school for my daughter Brentwood wasn't even on the list. Your
little diatribe illustrates why better than anything I could write.

Sounds to me like the ol' "Turn down that rock music! Get a haircut!" advice. Its all relative, in twenty years, those 5 boys will be totally fine - husbands, fathers, responsible people - and they will be complaining about some new crop of teens doing some weird annoying stuff that's just as foreign to them as the red bulls and saggy pants are to us.

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