Letter from the Editor: The Legend of “Camaro Joe”

By JOE GIDDENS 

“Camaro Joe.”

Essentially, it would be a live-action “Magic School Bus,” with a smaller cast and an identical copy of my first car, a blue-green ’91 Chevy Camaro RS.

Every episode would begin with me asking the precocious diverse cast of child actors, “Hey kids! What do we want to learn today?”

That would be followed by spending the next half-hour going out into the world in the Camaro to experience first hand whatever the kids said.

That’s my daydream elevator pitch for a PBS children’s show.

After all, “Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.” 

It is an idea shared by both the poet John Keats and naturalist Freeman Tilden. 

But I’ve heard Alton Brown describe it better as the “Monkey Touch Monolith Moment” in reference to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” 

“Camaro Joe” would be a show about going out and experiencing the world. Which is probably why I mostly have fond memories of that car, because it was my means of making nearly every state west of the Mississippi real to me. 

I don’t know what happened to that car after I traded it in for $500 cash on its restored salvage title. I like to imagine that it’s running on a scenic byway somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert, while Southern Rock music pours out of its dilapidated speakers.

Maybe this is why I feel my motivation has taken a hit recently with being in higher education.

Because I often feel like I’m mostly reading about the day’s news and not experiencing the world around me.  

For example, that “Physical Geology” textbook on the other side of the newsroom taunts me its siren song of cover art with majestic vistas of mesas of the American West. 

But the great news about the printed word is that it does bring the experiences of others to you. Both across space and through the generations 

With that, I welcome you to the second half of our issues this semester. I’d like to think this is my printed version of “Camaro Joe.”

“Hey Pima! What do we want to learn today?” 

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