Mal Oso

John Bear
3 min read
Mal Oso
El Oso and former employer
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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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