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NEIGHBORS / SHORT TAKES : Cyclist Ready for Fund-Raising Ride

April 22, 1993|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Oxnard's Matthew Porteus is geared up. "I'm kind of tired of planning," he said. "I just want to press the fast forward button and get started."

So what's he so anxious to do? Oh, he and a friend from New York have scheduled a little 3,155-mile bicycle ride from the Malibu Pier to the Washington Monument, beginning May 2. The ride will raise money for the New Jersey-based Tomorrows Children's Fund, a support group for children with cancer and blood disorders, which Porteus' friend has been involved with.

"We plan to be in the saddle eight hours a day," said the 32-year-old Porteus. "We want to keep it under 30 days just because we're trying to hold down regular jobs. We're fairly confident we can do it. I've been training in earnest for a year."

Porteus, an electronic technician, said he has only minor apprehensions. "Just the fact that it's really an unknown whether I can do it physically," he said. "The closest thing I've done is a 10-day tour, about 800 miles, along the East Coast."

As if the ride itself weren't enough, Porteus and his companion will each be carrying about 35 pounds of gear. They'll be bringing along clothes for inclement weather, tools and spare parts for the bikes, a first aid kit, CB radios, a stove and other cooking equipment.

"We plan on purchasing food along the way," he said. "We have to consume 6,000 calories a day and I'll probably still lose weight. At least I hope I lose weight."

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Congratulations to 17-year-old Brian Espinoza of Ventura, who recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

And here's some Scout trivia: About 3% of Boy Scouts nationwide make it to Eagle. Ventura County is ahead of the pace at 5%. "It's pretty rare," said assistant Scoutmaster Mike Gildenphennig. "They start pretty young, advance well, but as they get older they become more interested in jobs, cars and girls."

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Adam Long is into "short." First short Shakespeare, now short America. Long is co-founder and member of the 13-year-old Reduced Shakespeare Company. The ensemble, known for its shrunken versions of Shakespeare's plays, now is taking on United States history. The company will perform "The Complete History of America (Abridged!)" at UC Santa Barbara tonight.

And it all started back when Long, who now lives in London, and his co-founder Jess Borgeson, who is no longer with the ensemble, were students at Newbury Park High School in the late '70s.

"We used to compete in speech. That's where we got our sense of humor and learned to talk in front of people," said Long, who gave credit to his high school debate coach, Marcine Solarez, who still teaches at the school. "She knew something good was going to come of us, if she could just keep us off the street."

The theater company's 1 1/2-hour version of American history starts with Amerigo Vespucci and proceeds to the present. "Every single event is there," said Long. "Not a single thing is left out." The last 50 years, he said, are looked at in a film-noir style, through the eyes of a character named Spade Diamond.

"Ever since World War II, with the Cold War driving the United States, things have gotten confusing and dark," said Long. But the film-noir approach, he said, clears it all up. "You come away with the answers to everything. We've been studying all of the different conspiracy theories and have come up with a unified conspiracy theory."

So did Long learn his history at Newbury Park High? Apparently not. "It's pretty shocking how little history you learn in high school," he said. "And I was in a U. S. history advanced placement class too."

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