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Be True To Your School

On my first day of classes at Redwood High in the leafy Marin County suburb of Larkspur, the principal greeted incoming freshmen with an orientation speech that made note of what he referred to as “Redwood’s many notable alumni.” “Robin Williams comes to mind,” he remarked, adding that the comedian (and then television star) had lettered in track. I was half-hoping for some wiseass sitting in the back to interrupt with “name another!” Williams, while undeniably famous, has always seemed a little too needy to me. I’m not sure that the school’s roster of glory-garnering graduates was as populated as the principal suggested that day, but in the numerous years since my own graduation it’s climbed steadily. Particularly impressive is the list of more notorious Redwood grads, ranging from ex porn stars to the American Taliban himself, John Walker Lindh. I had the pleasure of exchanging emails a few years back with my former English teacher, who had Lindh as a student. I believe “intense” was the word she used to describe him .. yeah, go figure. And now another name can be added to that conspicuous pantheon: seventeen year old Max Wade.

Wade, who grew up in Tiburon and attended Redwood, is being charged with the theft of celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s bright yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. Had the charges ended there, he might be something of a revered teen celebrity himself. The car was lifted in spectacular fashion last year from an exotic autos dealership on Van Ness Avenue, where the thief allegedly rappelled Batman-style from the roof of the showroom to the floor below and made off scot-free with the $200,000 ride despite being recorded by surveillance cameras on the Golden Gate Bridge. This isn’t some rusted-out ’87 Honda Accord we’re talking about here, but rather a banana-toned, mid-engine, grand-touring midlife crisis mobile. For this act alone, and independent of the other charges (which I’ll get to) you’d have to tip your hat to the kid. He did everything right and in spectacular fashion, including his choice of victim – an annoyingly self-styled, spiky peroxide haired celebrity chef who chose not only to drive this abomination, but adorn it with personalized plates reading GUYTORO. Sorry Guy-Toro, but we seem to have misplaced your glowing Lambo.

I read about the story when it happened, enjoying it immensely but thinking “how can they not find this thing?” Wade allegedly kept it in a storage container in Richmond, along with a trove of assorted goodies including assault rifles and cellphone jamming devices. Police also found a mix of fake identification cards including the one Wade had in his possession when arrested, bearing the name of Frank Agnello Gotti – an apparent reference to reality television personality Frank Gotti Agnello, the grandson of mob boss John Gotti. Oh yeah, they also turned up a full San Francisco Police Department duty uniform with badge and belt. Assuming that Wade committed the car caper and gathered all of this booty himself, he might officially qualify as my nominee for Hero Alumnus from my old school. Unfortunately, there’s more to the story. Detectives made the storage facility discovery after tracking Wade down in connection to the Ninja-style shooting of two other Marin County youths in Mill Valley, who were attacked while sitting in a pickup truck by an assailant on a passing motorcycle in black leather and helmet. Fortunately they survived with only minor injuries, but if this part of the story is proven true it will definitely take some of the shine off this kid’s anti-hero glow and nudge him closer to the John Walker Lindh camp. Personally, I’m glad to be returning those jury summons notices I still receive in Marin with my Brooklyn change of address card, because this doesn’t sound like something that’ll be hashed out in a few days’ time. Wade, while only seventeen, is being charged as an adult. I can’t condone the more violent accusations if validated, but I’d still pick this guy’s table over Robin Williams’ at a cross-generational Redwood High reunion.

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