Update: This post didn’t exactly turn out the way it should have and I’ve written an update. I debated whether or not to remove this post, but in the end decided to keep it. It does have a few redeeming qualities. And it feels like lying to simply remove it and pretend I never said these things.

Katherine posted an entry today on her site that reminded me of a recent email I received from Classmates. This lead to the trip to Classmates, and in turn to Wikipedia, and in turn to an evening spent jumping from link to link in my continued quest to finish the internet.

Casey Fleser circa 1986
Me, 4 years after 1982
Mike Hartman circa 1986
Mike, 4 years after 1982
Doug Piche circa 1986
Doug & Joe missed picture day

It also took me back to 1982. I was 13, growing up in New Baltimore, Michigan and beginning school at Anchor Bay High School. A time when people wore strange jackets with far too many zippers, MTV was just beginning it’s quest to kill the radio star, people thought top loading VCR’s were kinda neat, and my biggest concern was the frustration of having to wait another year to find out if Vader really was Luke’s father.

My friends at the time were: Doug Piche and his younger brother Danny. They lived two houses down from mine and I probably spent more time over there messing with their top loading VCR than I did at my own house. Joe Barker lived 3 houses down in the opposite direction. And Mike Hartman lived another 5 or so houses past Joe. There were lots of other guys, and even a girl or two, on rare occasions, that I hung out with on Forbes, but the core was Doug, Danny, Joe, and Mike.

Typical entertainment included football, or baseball (played with a tennis ball), Smear the queer, or shooting pool in Doug & Danny’s basement. Good times.

That was before high school so helpfully organized us into our proper social caste. Doug, Mike and I were all in the same grade and Joe fell in with the “freaks”, Mike with the “jocks” (voted Best Smile, Prettiest Eyes, and Worst Joke Teller in our high school yearbook, the later I can vouch for). Of course I was a bit of a “geek”, though not the chess playing, mathlete kind and Doug, he sort of defied categorization. Joe’s group wasn’t terribly discriminating. It helped that Doug and I were “quasi-freaks” ourselves. But Mike, well the “jocks” were not so forgiving about the types of people you choose to associate with and so we didn’t see much of Mike anymore.

Before all that stuff, we used to sometimes go down to Mike’s house to play on the Atari 2600 or later the Colecovision (256×192 resolution)! That didn’t happen often, Doug’s was the place where we all tended to hang out, but when it did, we’d occasionally see Mike’s older brother, Butch, sitting at the dinning room table, drawing cartoons of superheroes and such. Always with the drawing. He was quite good. He’d even painted a mural outside the library at school. It was an image of books, a globe, apple, and what have you.

Butch always said he intended to get into the animation business or maybe acting. He seemed quite determined, but hey I thought Playboy photographer sounded like a good gig too, but I didn’t expect to actually become one.

I knew before leaving Michigan that Butch had had some bit parts in some soap operas and had even lent a hand to the animation in American Tail but didn’t think too much about it… until a few years back when my daughter started watching a new show on Nickelodeon called The Fairly OddParents. At some point I happened by the TV while this show was on and thought I saw there in great big letters “Executive Producer: Butch Hartman”. I snatched the Tivo remote from Alex and rewound to make sure I saw what I thought I did. Sure enough, it was him.

Later I tried to email Butch to congratulate him on his successes and to let him know my daughter (and now my son also) was a big fan of his stuff and to wonder whether Timmy Turner was modeled in any way after his youngest brother Timmy (he probably doesn’t go by Timmy anymore) Hartman. But I never heard back from him. I reckon he’s a big shot Hollywood producer and all and maybe doesn’t have time for “the little people” anymore. I wasn’t even going to ask for money or anything… right away.

Which brings me back to my visit to Classmates the other day. My visit to Classmates led to a visit to Wikipedia to see if there was anything about the eminent Mr. Hartman. Of course there is. I briefly considered adding something to the Trivia section along the lines of “was a chronic bed-wetter” or something. Instead I followed the link to Anchor Bay High School, which I see lists all of the Notable Alumni to escape graduate from Anchor Bay. The list consists of one guy: Butch Hartman.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: If your dedicated and work hard in life you can achieve anything. And if you know someone like that then you should try and become close friends so later you can be part of their entourage or at the very least maybe they’ll answer a frickin’ email.

Notes regarding the trivia for Butch on IMDB: It says that Butch was 1 of 8 siblings. Perhaps they had some under the cupboards that I wasn’t aware of. I knew Butch, Mike, Keith and Timmy. Later they added two step brothers to the clan: Keith and Gary Tacia.