Friday, June 9, 2017

To Sir, With Love

by Patrick Bromley
JB is retired. Long live JB.

After 33 dedicated years of teaching in the public school system, our beloved JB is teaching his last classes today. We must take a moment and honor that accomplishment.

Doing anything for over 30 years is hard, but teaching for that long is especially hard. Those who have never taught might not understand just how difficult a job it can be, having to be "on" and give of yourself all day, every day. Had a bad day? Too bad. Not feeling well? Too bad. There is class after class of young people expecting you to stand up in front of the room and engage them, entertain them, teach them. I'm married to a teacher. Many members of my family are teachers. Several of the people to whom I'm closest are teachers. I know just how demanding the job can be, so to do it for 33 years is a kind of miracle.
What's more is that JB did it well for 33 years. He's one of the good ones. One of the best ones, really. He takes teaching more seriously than almost anyone I've ever known. He cares about passing on knowledge, about preparing young people for the world, about getting them to think for themselves. He's everything we want teachers to be when we talk about the role they play in our lives. He didn't do it in a real self-serious, I'm-an-educator-asshole way, either. He was engaging and funny and memorable. There is a reason his students all remember him years and years later, and why so many of them still name his class as their favorite.

I know this because I took his class in high school. We don't talk about it much on the podcast because, frankly, I don't want to make JB seem like a very, very old man (like, seriously old), but the way we were first introduced was when I took his Film Studies class in high school (well, technically it was because I was a cast member in his hilariously funny and wildly popular variety shows, which were much more akin to Saturday Night Live than whatever you're picturing a high school variety show to be). It should come as no surprise that this was one of my favorite classes in all of high school and was the first time I ever saw Some Like It Hot and Eraserhead and Singing in the Rain, at least two of which have gone on to become lifelong favorites. I would continue to take film classes throughout my undergraduate and graduate years, and I have always been sure to tell JB that there was nothing I learned about film or filmmaking in any of those college-level courses that I hadn't already learned in his class. That's how good it was.
We stayed in touch after school, of course, and in the ensuing years continued to be friends. These days we're more like family. We celebrate holidays together. He and Jan are the godparents to our two kids, a role they do not take as just a title (just a few weeks ago, they literally took all of us to Disneyworld to celebrate our daughter's fifth birthday, just as they did when our son turned 5 -- this is how generous and involved they are with our kids' lives). They are truly helping to raise our kids and continue to be two of their favorite people in the world. Hardly anyone gets the reaction just by showing up that Uncle John and Auntie Jan get.

I could go on and on about what JB has meant to me and Erika and our kids, or what he has meant to 33 years' worth of students. About his marriage to wonderful Jan, or about how he raised a thoughtful, intelligent and incredibly talented son in Jake, who is now finding success as a screenwriter in L.A. and will no doubt be selling scripts for new Transformers spin-offs any day now (part of Paramount's new Garbage Universe). To be honest, there is far more that I can say about JB than can fit into a single column, even with as fucking chatty and verbose as I can sometimes get here. I didn't set out to celebrate his entire life, because I can't. It's really long because he is very old. I just thought it important to recognize his retirement and the impact he has had on hundreds if not thousands of young people, none more so than me.
But the truth is that he's not totally retiring. I mean, he is in that he won't have to leave his house at 6 a.m. to go teach English to a bunch of teenagers day in and day out anymore, but he's still going to be here with us, appearing on the podcast and writing articles and continuing to spread his knowledge and love of film. I knew when I first started this site that JB was one of the people I had to have involved (I did a couple of test shows first before even approaching him about it, because as I told him, I "wanted it to be a thing" first), and I have been proven correct in this again and again and again. Not only is he always dependable -- the importance of which I cannot overstate when trying to turn out daily content -- but his writing and insight are never less than first class. We have had countless readers and listeners tell us over the years that they love hearing JB's thoughts because it's like taking his class. That's true, in that taking his class involved him saying a bunch of smart things while I made stupid jokes. But it's also true in that anytime JB is on the show or is publishing his weekly columns, we all get to be his students for a little while. As someone who was his student years ago (he's old) and continues to learn from him all the time, we must consider ourselves lucky.

So congratulations, JB, on an incredible career, an incredible family, an incredible life. We here at F This Movie! are so fortunate to have you in our lives. My kids are so fortunate to have you in theirs. I am so fortunate to call you one of my very best friends and a member of my family. Thank you for your years of helping to make the world a better, smarter, more movie-loving place. You're the best.

Now get back to work.

39 comments:

  1. Congratulations on 33 years of teaching JB and have a great retirement. I don't think I've ever told you this but before we ever met and I started writing for F This Movie I did notice we would show up to the same damn shoebox rep screenings. Then I heard the first Massacre podcast and heard your voice and thought "I think that's the guy from the..." and then I met you and Patrick at the Music Box a year later (the next Massacre) and was all "THAT'S THE GUY!" Anywho, you've always been very generous and friendly to me over the years and I'm one of the many who feel like knowing you is to take your lifelong film course. It's been a blessing to know you and be your friend and colleague at F This Movie and not that #Blessed bullshit but truly blessed. I love ya, pal and can't wait until the next time we're on the podcast together (probably end of summer?). I will never watch Captain Fantastic.

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  2. Congratulations, JB! I'm grateful you will still be contributing to the site - we need to keep the flame of love for classic movies alive!

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  3. Congrats, JB! My wife too is a teacher (1st grade) and I see just how much you guys put into your work (my wife was literally doing lessons plans until we went to bed last night). I can't imagine how it must feel to retire after 30+ plus years of doing so. I'm sure bittersweet at the very least. Happy to hear you are not retiring from the site!

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  4. Is there any truth to the rumour that JB will be taking on the role of the major villain in the new Justice League movie?

    Batman, Superman, Aquaman et al will need to muster every bit of courage, determination and resoluteness they have in them if they ever hope to defeat... The Quibbler.

    Happy retirement, sir.

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    1. 'The Quibbler'... nice callback. :-)

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  5. Happy retirement JB! This was a fantastic tribute to an awesome guy. It makes me so happy to see when a teacher has such a profound impact on their students, I always see that as a mark of a truly great individual. Congrats.

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  6. Congratulations on an awesome teaching career, JB. You were one of my favorite teachers, and I will always remember your wonderful class (and all the fun we had writing V-Show sketches together). I hope you have an amazing retirement! I LOVE YOU.

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  7. Happy retirement JB! It's a testament to you that there even is a film studies class at your particular high school in Northern Minnesota and definitely not Chicago. May your retirement be filled with popcorn and sticky reclining leather seats. May you find new passions to fill your time, and perhaps reevaluate your feelings on Friday the 13th. Congrats!

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  8. Congratulations, JB. I'd say I wish I could've had you as a teacher in high school, but I fell like I've had you as a teacher since I've known you. I love the podcasts you're on because I ALWAYS learn something new, and that truly is a gift. I'm lucky to call you and Jan my friends and I look forward to recording the horror commentary again with you soon (I'm still invited to do that, right?).

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  9. Congrats JB! I always look forward to podcasts that you participate in. Your knowledge and love of movies and education really shows. We need more teachers like you in the world!

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  10. Congratulations JB! I remember the Interstellar podcast being the episode that got me to listen to Fthismovie on a regular basis, mostly because someone perfectly articulated everything that I thought about the movie. You are a fantastic contributor, and everyone's favorite. I can't wait to hear about all the great stuff you're watching with all of your free time!

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    1. I mean, let's take it easy with the "everyone's favorite." He's retiring, not dead.

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    2. Yeah, but he won't know that he's everyone's favorite then.

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  11. Man, I just think you're one of the greatest - teachers, podcasters, Movie-Popes, whatever - you never fail to entertain, educate and make me laugh and I'm a better person to know you. Congratulations on an amazing career and your well-deserved retirement!

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  12. One of my favorite podcasts besides FTM is the dearly-missed Down In Front/Friends In Your Head (2009-2015). And like JB providing an older-but-young-at-heart perspective in a field of mostly-young contributors to the FTM podcast, Trey Stokes (a 57-year-old veteran of special effects and "Star Wars" fan films) brought a unique voice to his conversations with fellow podcasters decades younger than him. Whenever I hear a DIF podcast (the few times I'm not working overnight listening to FTM) with Trey in it I love to pretend he's JB in an alternate universe in which FTM regularly has four/five regular contributors at once instead of one-on-one with Patrick. There's something about a mentor hanging out with his mentorees as friends that gives FTM and DIF a feeling of family that is missing from other podcasts where it's just bros or dudes hanging out. There is love and heart in Trey and JB's thoughts, and that can only be accumulated through age and experience.

    Congrats on your retirement sir. Hope you don't accept that Walmart greeter offer in your backpocket and start appearing more often and writing a little more frequently for FTM. Because a teacher's job is never done, and the FTM universe Patrick has created is the classroom you have left to spread your wisdom to us, your eager class of movie-loving disciples. Enjoy your year-round weekday matinee trips to AMC, and save me a seat in front of your TV in a few months' time when Trump's inevitable impeachment proceedings get underway (which you'll get to see LIVE!). ;-)

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  13. Patrick, what an excellent tribute!! Congrats, JB!! May I see you at many more garage sales and family events. Enjoy your retirement!!

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    1. I think we all want to see JB at a garage sale, pick him up for a quarter, take him home and watch ALL the good movies!

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  14. JB, it's been a real honor to listen to you on the podcast, to learn from your expertise and passion, and then later to get to know you a little bit better peronsally. Guys, when I last visited Chicago, JB and Jan opened their home to me and gave me a place to stay. I slept in Jake's bed (now I can say I've slept in the bed of an acclaimed screenwriter), and they treated me like family. I think the world of these guys, and I'm so grateful that we all get to be students in this ongoing film studies course. Congratulations on an incredible achievement. Yo Adrian, you did it!

    So, JB, have you started looking at Vespas yet?

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  15. Congratulations JB! I've enjoyed the hell out of every series of columns you've given us, and now that you have more time on your hands I can only assume that you'll be doubling that output at the very least. In all seriousness, happy retirement, and thanks for just plain being awesome. Can't wait to see what's next!

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  16. Congrats! I hope the kids don't all stand on their desks and quote Walt Whitman on your last day, leaving you wondering if your career was a "collection of pious platitudes".

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  17. My mom taught math for 28 years before retiring, and my wife taught English for the past three years before having to take a break from it. I've seen the hell that teachers have to go through, and I don't envy them. It's for this reason that I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of the great teachers out there. Enjoy your retirement, JB. You earned it.

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  18. Congratulations JB! We can only hope that all this free time you're going to have will lead to you writing a lot more columns for the site (and more appearances on the podcast). Or you could just "coincidentally" drop by when Patrick is recording a Corpse Club podcast.

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  19. Congradulations JB. A gentleman and a scholar always!

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  20. Congratulations, JB! Thank you for your years of service to your students and to the FTM community. Getting to meet you and Jan this past year was an incredible treat, and I look forward to many more opportunities in the future. You inspire me as both a movie lover and an educator. I'm very lucky to call you a friend.

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  21. Congratulations JB, I know you have worked long are hard educating and hope you truly realize the effect you have on your students. To this day I remember having taken your Film Studies Class and it had a profound effect on me and my endeavors in life. Having been introduced to a diverse range of films and how to discuss them has been something I greatly appreciated from your class. You were one of the teacher that I remember to this day to have as an influence on my life.
    Enjoy your retirement and I look forward to reading your columns and listening to you on the podcast.

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  22. Congrats JB! As a recent college graduate hoping to earn my credential in English next year, you long time teachers are an inspiration to me. I can only hope to have as long and as impactful a career as yours.

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    1. Congratulations mate. Massive accomplishment and a life wel spent

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  24. Congrats JB and my condolences to EGHS for losing you! Highschool was rough for me at times, but your film study class alone, made it worth it. It's too bad it wasn't an all day class. Thanks for everything JB!

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  25. Congrats JB! From one teacher to another, I really do know what the daily grind is like and how hard it can be to put on your "teacher hat" each and every day. It's 7 days for me until summer break and I'm just happy at this point if I don't firebomb my 3rd period.

    You've obviously touched many people's lives and I hope that you enjoy your time outside the classroom as much as your students enjoyed their time in it. Hope to hear you on the podcast soon! :)

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  26. Congrats JB. A soon to be FORMER high-school-student-sophomoric-jerk salutes you.

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  27. Withouts a doubt, JB, you made a life long impact with me through my high school years. I consider it pretty damn cool that I can still learn from what you have to share 20 years later. Thank you, and congratulations.

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  28. Heartiest congratulations to Mr. B. I hope this means many more (and more frequent) podcast appearances! :)

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    1. As a Brit, I give my blessings for him to be Sir B.

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  29. Congratulations JB! The first F This Movie I ever listened to was Mad Max: Fury Road, and ever since then I've got really excited when I see your name in the episode description. You got me to watch Singin in the Rain and Bride of Frankenstein, and to read The Making of the Wizard of Oz, and for those three reasons alone I am eternally thankful. Now I'm just waiting for your Psycho commentary!

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  30. Congratulations on retirement and a great career JB. I wasn't lucky enough to have a teacher like you at school, but I am so happy that I have been able to thanks to internet tubes. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful presence on here and in life. Let's go to the pub, cheers to you my friend!

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  31. To be honest, JB has always been my favorite co-host of this podcast. Not that the others are not good, on the contrary. But when JB talks, you feel his knowledge and his love for the subject

    i also thoroughly enjoyed his writings on this site.

    I just hope this retirement doesn't mean he'll be less present on the podcast

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  32. A belated congratulations JB, what is no doubt going to be a massive loss to the future of education in Chicago is, I hope, going to be a huge gain for your work on FThismovie!

    Talented, passionate and inspired. You're everything a film lover wants to be, and you're the teacher every film lover deserves.

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