Friday, June 5, 2015

'Breaking Bad' Star A No-Show At Canoga Park High School Graduation Ceremony For 7th Straight Year

By Burton Cantara, Quilt Staff


Despite high hopes for a surprise appearance, Bryan Cranston — the actor who earned four Emmys for playing meth kingpin Walter White in the critically-acclaimed TV series “Breaking Bad” — did not attend tonight’s ceremony and deliver the commencement address for Canoga Park High School’s 2015 graduating class, Dr. Inez Gibson, the school’s principal reports.
Canoga Park High School is one of the crown jewels in the LAUSD school system. File photo.
“We’ve invited Mr. Cranston every year since 2009,” Gibson says. “We were kind of hoping to get him when the show was still on the air, but we realize that was a busy time for him. So we thought maybe if his schedule’s opened up since then, he could swing by and say something to the kids at graduation.”
Staff photo.

Indeed, the student body believed “this was the year” and had high hopes to hear inspiring words from the erstwhile 'Heisenberg,' going so far as to have the school’s iconic electronic sign by the assembly hall intermittently flash “Wellcome Brian Cranstin” [sic] for the week leading up to tonight’s graduation ceremony, between the usual messages of school activities and up-to-the-minute lists of suspensions and expulsions.

“Shit, I was like totally f_ckeen expecting him to show up an’ shit, yo,” says Radek Murta, an unabashed ‘Breaking Bad’ fan and former Canoga Park High student who would have graduated in 2012 had he not “just kinda stopped going an’ shit” two years prior, but who returned as a spectator for the ceremony “and to, f_ckeen, see a couple of my baby-mamas like graduate an’ shit,” he tells the Quilt. “F_ckeen...I had a bet with my cousin an’ shit...? That he was going to come out an’ do that ‘Say my name’ thing! Aw, man! That woulda been the f_ckeen bomb, man. F_ckeen...maybe next year an’ shit!”

Bryan Cranston as a senior in
Headwaters '74, the Canoga
Park High School yearbook.
Cranston and Canoga Park High School enjoy something of a unique history together: While it's well-known that as an actor, he played a high school teacher, what surprises many is that in a rare twist of fate, before graduating in 1974, he attended classes here taught by high school teachers. He's maintained close ties with this, his beloved hometown, and most recently was thrilled to return to Canoga Park in November of last year to appear in an Esurance commercial at popular filming location / lunch counter De Soto Pharmacy on Roscoe and DeSoto Boulevards, in Canoga Park’s bustling RoscoSoto business district, although some suggest in return for doing so, he was paid an enormous sum of money.

With neither the celebrity nor his representatives responding to various haphazard attempts to reach him through a series of disorganized, disparate student-driven online petitions, Twitter hashtags, and twelve different Facebook campaigns, many of which addressed the actor solely by the name of his character as though Walter White is a real person, others which misspelled Cranston’s name, and at least two inexplicably directed at agricultural cooperative Ocean Spray, the faculty held out for as long as they could this evening.  

Finally, a last-minute decision was made to have the commencement address delivered instead by Joseph Halupka, a custodian with the school, wearing a "Breaking Bad"-esque yellow hazmat suit he routinely dons to retrieve errant athletic equipment from the concrete Los Angeles River channel that runs along side the north side of the school’s athletic fields. 
A stirring commencement speech, while not delivered by Bryan Cranston, still urged the Class of 2015
to "do their best" and used the headwaters of the nearby LA River as a metaphor to inspire. Staff photo.
“I am the one who knocks...wait for applause...myself out climbing down into the channel to get those soccer balls you kids are always kicking in there,” begins the visibly nervous janitorial engineer, reading hastily penned words off a small stack of index cards. A few isolated snickers are immediately drowned out by loud booing, angry foot-stomping and the frightened wails of many of the students’ babies. 

“Oh boy, they’re turning on him already,” the nervous principal worries. “Shit. We really should have started reaching out to what’s-his-name back when he was still doing ‘Malcolm.’ Oh, who am I kidding? Our chances of getting him flew out the window when he got that 1980s Preparation H commercial.”

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