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Mal Oso

El Oso and former employer
El Oso and former employer

It’s good to be me again.

My last employers didn’t allow freelancing, something about “owning” my brain. Their other reason was that I represented their paper with my name and would apparently besmirch their good name were I to write for other papers. Does the word “hubris” come to mind, anyone?

Since writing for the Weekly Alibi was and is an irresistible temptation, I resorted to pen names. Freedom of Expression, what a novel idea.

First there was “Juan Maloso.” Maloso came from a Mexican coworker, Chuy, at a bad New Mexican restaurant I won’t name where I washed dishes during my formative years. Young and stupid, I regaled Chuy with tales of my recent bad behavior while drunk. He nodded his head in disapproval and muttered, “mal oso.” Since I hung around people who used monikers in those days, I became Dr. Maloso. I added Juan for pen name purposes.

Juan Maloso lasted exactly one column before I switched back to John Bear. I figured I have worked several years trying to get my name out in the universe and hated the anonymity of a nom de plume.

So I was John Bear. Of course, I was discovered. My former editor took me in the office and slapped a pile of Alibi columns in my hand. It was not unlike “To Catch a Predator.” For the record, I had never said I was going to quit.

But I did try to compromise. That meant another pen name. I first considered John Mitotero. “Mitotero” means “a gossip” in Spanish. I get called that frequently down in Valencia County. It pisses some people off. I considered it a term of endearment.

But it didn’t roll off the tongue. So I went for “Movida.” That means “side job” [snicker].

I couldn’t be John Movida, as apparently a pen name has to be absolute, so I called another reporter in Oklahoma and said “I need a first name.”

“Pete,” he said.

So I was Pete Movida.

For one more column. They found out before the ink was dry, and I was canned. The same “To catch a Predator” set up—them handing me the column, and me glancing down at it and laughing at my own jokes. It was worth it.

 
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