Kendrick Johnson – a Mat Rant

New rule: This Kendrick Johnson stuff isn’t going to be polished. This can’t be my #1 project right now. But I can’t stay away from it. So here’s how it’s gonna be. No attempt to perform journalistically. This post assumes that anyone who visits, has some basic knowledge of what happened – and that’s where the trouble starts. There’s what happened, and then there’s what allegedly happened, or probably happened, or was made to happen, or might have or could have happened.

All the “ifs” come from a glaringly obvious certainty: If the authorities had played it straight and done things by the book starting from Minute #1 that the body was found – we would not be having this discussion today.

This post is not reportage, and it makes no claim to know a single goddam thing (except as stated in the previous paragraph.). It’s an awareness journal, and maybe somebody will come along with more resources than I have, and find a sentence or a paragraph useful in their search.

Here is the crux, from

cruxThat one line – “According to official reports, Kendrick went to retrieve the shoes he’d left in a rolled-up mat, something kids at his high school often did.”

If the kids at that school often did this, what was the preferred technique? Because if they did it “often,” how difficult can it be? (If anybody ever did dive in headfirst, I assume they have since given up the habit). From the look of the other colored mats, most of them roll up tight with no hole in the middle, so the blue ones would be the only possible hiding places.

It has been said that a mat takes from 3 to 6 people to handle. Okay, to roll up and cinch, sure, why not? But what about a standing mat? Can one person tip it and get shoes from inside? Because it’s hard to believe a kid would hide shoes in a place where they had to go recruit one or more people to help.

As for going in from the top, it’s difficult to believe that the school would let that happen. Schools and all institutions are hysterically paranoid about having to pay out insurance settlements. I can’t believe that kids “often” dive into rolled mats from the top. How could any school administration allow that to be done, ever, at all? They make rules against other dangerous practices, surely they would put a stop to mat-diving. They would fling metal mesh nets over the tops, or something.

Why are they standing up, anyway? How much space would they take up if stacked horizontally, like logs? Especially in the old gym that isn’t the main gym any more, why does the space matter so much? Maybe they are usually kept sideways, and only stood on end on very special occasions, like over winter break to wax the floors?

I wish I knew more about these killer gym mats, and hope to find a voluminous archive of information somewhere.


About Pat Hartman

Before publishing the two books "Call Someplace Paradise" and "Ghost Town: A Venice California Life", my main project was "Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics. " I wrote extensively for "Scene," a monthly arts and entertainment magazine with a circulation of 25,000. Also proofread, sold ads, put together the music calendar and, for a couple of years, served as editor. Presided over a couple issues of the local NORML newsletter, as well as being featured speaker at chapter meetings. Wrote a complete screenplay; collaborated on another one; worked on a couple of scripts (additional dialog and general brainstorming) with an indie film producer. Booked the talent for a large music festival. Wrote, designed, illustrated and produced various catalogs and brochures for small businesses. Spoke at a high school as a panelist on Women in the Professions; was a featured speaker at the 1991 Women in Libertarianism Conference; presented public programs on "Success in One Lesson" and "The Bloomsbury Group: What's It To Us?" Created the website and wrote many politically-oriented pieces for
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