Published on The Doomstead Diner May 3, 2017
Discuss this article at the History Table inside the Diner
Unbelievably, I made it to the Big 6-OH, my 60th year walking the Earth as a Homo Sap Meat Package in this iteration of incarnations of my immortal soul. My last Big Birthday Party on the Diner was 5 years ago when I turned 55. That was when we first launched the Diner, and now it is getting close to 6 years old itself, 10% of my total lifespan. That's a pretty significant chunk of my life!
Actually, my focus on Doom predates the Diner by quite a bit, I got started down this Rabbit Hole after the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns in early 2008. Actually a bit before that since I was observing the lead up to this in 2007. So call it a solid Decade now as a "Kollapsnik". Given I am now 60 years old, that is 1/6th of my life or 16.66%, even more significant.
I can break up my life into defined segments, each of which almost is a life unto itself. When I look back on these segments, it's almost like I am looking at another person entirely, they each are so different in their own ways. But I do know it was always "me" in that body at that time, it just morphed as time went by. To begin this autobiographical post, I'll start with the beginning and work through the stages of my life, to date. Then maybe some speculation on the future for me, although I don't think I have much of one of those left anymore in this meat package.
As it turns out here after finishing this tome, it came out a lot longer than I figured it would when starting it. It's LOOOONG, even by my standards. So rather than waiting until my actual Birthday of August 31st, I'll start publishing installments in EZ to Bite off chunks of my life over the next few months, rather than all at once. I will publish the whole thing together though on my 60th Birthday, so if you want to wait until then to read the whole thing all together, feel free to skip over these installments. Feel free also to skip over the complete story too if you aren't curious about how I got to where I am today. From my POV though, it's a pretty entertaining story! lol.
This has advantages, for both me the writer and you the reader. For me, first off it gives me a lot more in the way of weekly material to drop on the Diner, rather than slamming it all down in one post. On a non-fiction level, it's like my serial novel How I Survived Collapse. Having a lot of material "in the can" takes the pressure off feeling like you have to write something every day, although I just about always do so it's not a problem for me to have material to drop on the Diner each week. Besides that though, I always feel like I might be dead tomorrow, so getting this stuff out before I actually croak and having a chance to talk about it with friends is a nice bonus before my trip across the Great Divide. 🙂
For the reader, the advantage is obvious, it comes in small enough chunks you can read it over Morning Breakfast on a workday or Sunday Brunch or while on a coffee break at work on your smart phone. You don't need to dedicate a whole lotta time to reading my life story in any given week and being bored to tears by it. lol.
By itself, it's not a Book-length autobiography, but if you patch it together with all the other autobiograpical stuff I have dropped on over the years like the Over the Road Trucking series, the Pump Up the Volume Pirate Radio adventures and the Excellent Mexican Dental Adventures, along with all the stuff in my Online Diary (Diners Only) about my Health issues and Legal Battles, you could easily get a full length book out of that. I'll leave it to some historian of the future to put that one together though.
Meanwhile, here is Part 1 of my autobiography…
Stage 1- Birth in NY Shity – Age 5
My Birth in NY Shity until Age 5 living in attached type town housing. Bedrooms were on the second floor, there were 3 of them, my parent's bedroom, my sister's bedroom and my bedroom and the bathroom in which I was toilet trained. I vaguely remember that. On the ground floor there was a foyer entry, living room, dining area and kitchen. Below ground was a basement and garage. We had a small backyard and I remember a clothesline that my mom would hang the laundry out to dry on, we did not have a dryer in those years.
We did have a car though, a 1957 Buick Convertible, same year I was born. It was red, gigantic and had the tailfins on the back. It was bought used in around 1960 I think by my Dad, who was building his career as a Pigman Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank, now known as JP Morgan Chase after numerous Mergers & Acquisitions. Manufacturers Hanover Trust and Chemical Bank were both subsumed into Chase Manhattan, then Chase and JP Morgan merged later on.
The Buick lasted almost to when we left for Brazil, and I remember the numerous trips to Rockaway Beach during the summer we took in it. There were no seatbelts in the car, and there was a big bump in the road we would always hit and my dad would speed up the car to hit it so we all went flying up out of our seats, singing "Here we go loop-de-loop, Here we go loop-de-lie". On one of these trips to Rockaway Beach when I was around 3, my dad took me out for a walk on the jetty and made me throw my Baby Bottle into the ocean. That was my first major contribution to ocean pollution. He felt I was clinging on to the baby bottle too long and this was a good symbolic way to get me to mature some. It didn't work, I am still immature. lol.
I have numerous memories from this period, crashing my tricycle into the back wall of our underground garage; locking myself in my parents bedroom while trying to "fix" the latch mechanism; bouncing myself off my bed I was using as a trampoline and smashing my skull open; Bowling with plastic Bowling pins in the upstairs hallway, making popcorn and chocolate cake with vanilla icing with my older sister in the kitchen etc. I remember watching cartoons on TV and my mom taking me to the filming of the Bozo the Clown show in a NYC Studio, where I was frightened to death by the real life Bozo who looked nothing like the cartoon character, and we never went in to see the show because I was crying. Waste of money on those tickets.
I remember also the pack up for our move to Brazil, when I was forced to give up my Bunk Beds that I had just got and had coveted for probably a year before I got them. I cried over that one too, but when we got to Brazil my parents bought me a new Bunk Bed so I was happy again. Which brings us to Stage 2.
Stage 2 – The Brazil Years
This was an almost idyllic time in my life, because of the difference in Economics between Brazil and the FSoA in the 1960s my dad's salary bought us a much more luxurious life than it did in NY Shity. We had a full floor luxury apartment, a Maid, a Cook and a Driver. The apartment was less than a block away from Ipanema Beach, and I spent almost every day after school for a couple of hours at the beach body surfing and building sand castles.
I went to a Private School for brats of the Military, the State Department, the CIA and Bankster Brats, "Escola Americana", chartered by the UN as a "United Nations" school. My 3 best friends were the kids of the FSoA Ambassador to Brazil, a Military brat and a brat who was son of a man who ostensibly worked for the Fisheries Dept of the UN, but in fact was likely CIA.
I was however blissfully unaware of most of this at the time, and enjoyed my days body surfing at the beach, reading a lot of Sci-Fi in Kid Book form mostly, the Adventures of Tom Swift series and also the Hardy Boys Detective series. My dad bought me subscriptions to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and Scientific American at this time also as my reading skills and comprehension improved. He also taught me to play chess around age 6 and we played regularly until I started beating him regularly around age 8. lol.
The first Star Trek episodes came on our Black & White TV in the later years as well, dubbed into Portuguese. I became a big Star Trek fan in those years, in fact what was known after it went off the air as a "Trekkie". I went to the first Star Trek Convention in NY Shity after I got back to NY, but that is skipping ahead to the next portion of my life. I identified heavily with the Spock character, and prided myself on being analytical and logical. I dressed up as Spock for a couple of years for Halloween once returning to the FSoA.
I also got my first witnessing and understanding of class difference as I played futbol (soccer) with the boys from the favelas on the beach and saw the way they lived as opposed to the way I lived. Mostly we all were friendly, but there was an undercurrent of resentment you could always sense, even at 8 years old. Similarly, although the servants in our household were always deferential to me, you could sense their resentment as well.
I began to get somewhat politically aware then in my last years in Brazil, as one of my friends (son of the CIA guy) was 3 years older than me and he was very into the music of the era, including a lot of Folk Protest music including the likes of Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and many others. Upon my return to the FSoA, this political aspect of my life grew quite a bit.
Stage 3 – The Junior High Years
This period actually includes late Elementary school 4-6 grade as well as Junior High 7-9 grade which I actually did in 2 years not 3, courtesy of the "SP" or Special Progress track the NY Shity Public Skules ran at the time for "gifted" students. So roughly a 5 year portion of my life in the Age of Oil.
It wasn't quite as idyllic as the Brazil period, my parents got divorced and with my mom we took a big hit in lifestyle and economics. No more maid, cook or driver of course. More than that, at least in the first couple of years no car either. Mom did get a small McMansion in Queens out of the divorce settlement though, and overall we were better off than most of the folks in the lower middle class neighborhood of Flushing, Queens this McMansion was located.
It was at this point in my life I got identified as an "IGC", or "Intellectually Gifted Child". This because on a standardized IOWA test in the 4th grade I scored off the charts with a college level reading ability and math ability. I'm pretty sure I didn't get a single question wrong on that test, as I recall it was fantastically simple and I finished it in about 30 minutes of the 2 hours alloted to the test to fill in the dots with my #2 Pencil. So began a 4 year episode of meeting with shrinks who were testing me all the time, every Saturday during the school year at a center in Jamaica my mom dutifully brought me to on the subway. Since the IOWA test wasn't good enough at discrimination, I got my first try at the SAT in the 5th grade. Then a variety of IQ tests too, and interviews. I was a fucking lab rat for 4 years. By year 4 I was sick of it and started puposefully answering questions wrong and being terrifically uncooperative with the Shrinks. I think I was 12 or 13 not sure. I got let out of the cage at the end of that year. lol.
The other important aspect of my life over those years were the Summers spent at Camps of two varieties. One was a "Primitive Skills" camp that was all Boys which I attended for 2 of those years, and then a ritzy camp for upper class kids run by a fellow named Werner Rothschild. Not sure if he was related to the general Rothschild clan, but he probably was. Camp Merrimac in New Hampshire, near the town of Contocook, pronounced "contokit". It was mostly populated with Jewish kids, I was I think the only Unitarian at the Camp in those years. I got my first sexual experiences at this camp, and I also got to watch Neil Armstrong make "One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind" on a TV dragged into the main barn where our Socials and Dances were held every Friday. Every Friday Night at the end of the Social, I danced with my Amour of the Week to the strains of "Sealed With a Kiss", and then scooted off to behind the Science Cabin for some SEX action, where I normally regularly dissected living frogs knocked out with a little choloroform to attempt Heart Transplants on them. None of the frogs ever lived through one of those operations. lol. Me and the girls survived our sex experimentation though, fortunately.
The all Boys primitive skills camp wasn't quite as entertaining on the sexual exploration level since there were no girls around to do this with, although there was a director at the camp who had a fondness for taking photos of me while naked showering and such. LOL. Other than getting photos of my naked body recorded on film though, I never got molested during this period.
What was real fun about the primitive skills camp though was learning all the techniques for survival in the wilderness, although granted we had nice industrially produced knives and tents and canoes to use in the learning. The wilderness areas we hit back in the 1970s were still pretty pristine and not over camped, and I remember many occassions filling up my canteen with water straight from a clear running stream, no boiling or water purification tablets.There were frogs everywhere and we often ate frog's legs for breakfast and dinner.
As I moved into my early teens, I became a lot more politically aware and music aware, and my friend Randy from Brasil moved to my neighborhood with his CIA dad when he was transferred to work at the UN Headquarters. Thus began my Pirate Radio adventures, which I have written about before here in Pump Up the Volume.
Coming in Part 2: The High School, College & Marriage Years