Roger and Prakash

We met Roger and Prakash by accident.  So much of our contact with them was an accident.  They had a Volkswagen they bought at the factory and were driving it around Europe.  We said hello to them in Paris and goodbye to them in that same city.  Then several weeks later in San Sebastian.  Travelled in Madrid and said goodbye but then hello on the Spanish Riviera and then most of the way to Nice.  Prakash was a terrible driver and Roger was always yelling, ‘shit to you I’m new in town.’ We met up again at the juncture of Yugoslavia and Italy and then travelled through Northern Italy and then goodbye once and for all.  All of it was by accident.  Sometimes our Zigs and Zags were in sync and sometimes not.  Days went by, weeks, months.  We drank and ate and sang and loved.  But Rom got homesick.  He was forming a budding romance with my sister Faith and missed her.  We went with him to the airport and said goodbye but I could tell our days ere numbered.  We had traveled around and met people and had a good time.  We saw all the sites and the art and participated in events.  Kelly was getting bored and Ron was gone – it was time to go home so the two of us got BOAC seats to New York.

But then there was a strange thing, there was a BOAC strike. We were stuck in England with dwindling savings.  One day complaining to BOAC at the airport about our plight Kelly and I were adopted by a United Nations scientist from Malawi who said a few words to BOAC and we all got hotel rooms free of charge.  Ditto on a driver and an allowance for meals. Treated well, the positives of standing and of money. Eventually the strike ended and the three of us had the first plane out of England.

Roger and Prakash

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Foreign Traveling

After I graduated High School I decided to do some foreign traveling.  I took some AP tests and passed them so I decided this was my reward.  Thinking of reward was actually silly as I didn’t do any prep work before the tests.  If I remember correctly I passed in English, World History, American History, and Algebra.  Three semester credits each.  15 being a semester and I had 12.  Taking the tests was a fluke.  A high school teacher who knew me well (and Swanson) let me know my history and English teachers had told her it was a waste of time for everybody involved for me to take the tests.  My counselor knew that pissing me off would be the motivation I needed.  The teachers said I would get A’s (which I wasn’t getting) if I passed the tests.  They thought it great sport.  I thought they were assholes.  The counselor worried because I didn’t study.  I told her you either knew the shit or didn’t and she agreed.

I didn’t apply to University – Lennie and I had our hearts set for moving to San Francisco when I got back from Europe. We both took a year off from school – he traveled around in Western United States and me in Europe. The trip to Europe began in August. We knew little of where we were going and it was fine.

One more thing before the plane took off.  I had a brilliant principal at the High School by the name of Church.  We talked (both of us) and even when the students had protested the Vietnam War he went to bat for us with the School Board.  And whenever we could we had his back.

My parents threw a big party for us travelers before we left.  Most of the people were mine and they were close to a hundred.

I went to Europe with Ron and Kelly with little plans and little money.  We touched down at Heathrow and slowly made our way south.  From Dover we took a Hydro Ferry to France. We took a train to Paris and stayed for many days.  On one of those days we met that odd par of travelers, Roger and Prakash and the trip changed.

Foreign Traveling

 

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Working Together

It was a different time back then and we did much working together.  All these millions and billions later our bridges are unsafe, our roads are full of potholes.  Fifty years ago, it had largely dissipated but we still were working together.  The extremes might call those that didn’t agree with them treasonous there was no such ting as working together. The vast majority in Culver City found satisfactory ways of working together.  Those that I was aligned with believed the voters that supported young men fighting in jungles and several dying, with much more being maimed both physically and mentally, were wrong just wrong supporting a hocus pocus political theory like the domino.  A nation’s people were badly damaged defending their homeland and we messed up so many of our own. It is so easy to send troops to war-  just don’t be one of them (eh, Donald?), and have no conscience for what you did and lie to yourself and to the people.

At first it was dangerous to oppose the war when so many supported.  But as time went on and the wounded started coming home and the caskets, those that had believed in the politicians started to think for themselves and the patriotic thing to do was to support the lives of the Vietnamese (eventually close to two million lost) and our own American boys.  Dying to suppress another has never been a good thing.

Eventually the people were working together and we didn’t want to go to war.  We wanted to stop insecticide spraying down from the planes onto the backs of the farmworkers and other good things occurred.  Unfortunately, in every age bad things happen to the poor or disable or deformed or different or those easy to take advantage of.  In this age the Donald being horrible has shown us once again how rewarding it can be by our working together.

Working Together

 

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Sexy

I don’t know why but sexy women often women were often attracted to me.  This was not a boast especially since that attraction was mostly short-lived.   Hence, especially in my earlier days there were` many women in my life.  I think the attraction was due, in at last in part, because I admired women.  When I saw what I decided was an attractive woman my look told her that I appreciated her without the sexual hunger most men exude.  It didn’t mean I was a chaste monk but that the attraction had to be felt on both sides and I didn’t push my partner.

Once they got to know me often their interest was short-lived.  I suppose that at least in part it was a reaction to my own short interest.  I was interested in books mostly, with a dash of science.  I don’t say it was good or special only that few people, including women I dated, had the same interests as mine. And what that attracted me to others and others to me after discovery, tore us apart.  But not vicious.  I felt it wasn’t vicious except for my first wife that secretly slept with a joint friend before she unexpectedly moved out.  Well, that is jumping ahead several years and there was lot to report before we come to that time in my life I found particularly distasteful.

Since I brought up the subject of wives I was attracted to my second wife for not only that initial romance but for many years after.  Our interests are different (except for politics) but there is a comfort in knowing some one for so many years.  So much history.  It is not surprising to me that marriages often last so long and a marriage not going all the way is a very sad circumstance – such as mine.

Sexy

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Pulpdiddys Permutations My Way

I’ve been writing Pulpdiddys Permutations many years now and several weeks ago felt it was time for a change.  The change is not because I am burnt out but because the nasty stories which is our current history has caused me to shy away from writing.  Frankly, it’s too ugly.  I still am a news junkie and when reading it still have my peculiar take of it.  The battle to stay afloat amongst the vast majority of the constituency, especially in a world in which the wonders are so great that we all can benefit, is a battle which depresses me because it should not be.  What we should be doing is focusing on worldwide problems first, like Climate Change, instead of pretending they don’t exist.

Basically, the old format has been this – Monday – Sunday writing about politics or social issues or economics except for Wednesday which I reserved for Neurotic Man, and Friday, which was Thursday repeated, and Sunday which was an explanation of the purpose of the column.  But I realize I’ve had it, I’m pulling a Duran.  So Neurotic Man will be taking a rest and the rest of the format will remain the same in which I write my memoirs.

While rare instances of man helping man remains, the rise of so much cynicism and jealousy and greed have forced me to re-examine the past, starting with my own.  Where did the dreams of fairness and democracy start, and where did they all go?

I know this is simplistic but we all began somewhere and mostly it is different.  While all stories can be similar, essentially, they are the same.  Well, for my story it all began in the city of New York, Borough of Brooklyn, Section of Brighton in the apartment of my loving family that will be re-examined for fun and maybe a few truths along the way.  And if it doesn’t work out for either of us there’s always the possibility of the return of Neurotic Man.

____________________________________________________________________________________

THIS IS THE WAY I’VE BEGUN EVERY SUNDAY FOR THE LAST TEN WEEKs

During the last ten weeks my chronic back pain has slightly lessened and I am now but a sixty-four-year-old man bent into a re-examination of the sidewalk.  I still read a lot but my revulsion with much of the news I read continues to grow and has become white hot anger so I must put the memoir aside and focus once again on the inhumanity I see performed by those supposedly elected to be servants of the people.  The sad, sad, thing is that they are not supposed to be despots. With what that horrible group has done and continues to do has helped me decide Pulpdiddys Permutations will re-appear with my take on the news at least for a little while.  And then my itch to get back to the memoirs must, well it must be scratched.

Christmas has just passed and so has New Year’s but the reason for them has not and that is to be good to each other – for all time.

______________________________________________________________

Here we are again, back to the memoir, talking about the past, which seems as current as the present, at least for me.  It is narcissism, my telling my story. But with every contact with someone in my past comes a hint from what the future might bring.  Thank you for allowing me this time and for me to tell my story.

Pulpdiddys Permutations

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Mom

It was complicated between me and mom.  She was caring but not particularly loving.  She was joyful but wouldn’t express joy with her kids.  She made several bad choices but was ruthless about the choices her children made.  She loved us but I don’t ever recall a hug.  She didn’t understand the difference between pushing and aiding development.

Yet her kids grew up loving her and respectful of her.  She was very smart and unlike her brothers and sisters didn’t graduate from college.  Her mom and her aunts became ill and my mom took care of them.  She was a brilliant cook and in that most verbal of families, New York Jews, expressed her love in the cooking and was rarely verbal.

Mom believed in causes that helped the common person.  She worked toward a fair world and was embittered by the results.  She helped developing the family’s UFW support into parties.  On weekends we would all boycott doe the Farmworkers and then invite the leadership home.  The kids who gave of themselves to help others.  And she cooked and she cooked and they ate it all.

I don’t know why or how she did it but I’d come home after hearing an interesting new theory and she knew all about it and would discuss it with me. Some of the movements of today my mom introduced into our family as our practice decades and decades ago.

She was trained in the classical violin and conducted the Brooklyn College Orchestra ad wrote a symphony.  But she let us kids, at least Faith and me, Faith with the piano and me with the clarinet play our instruments and she’d save to get us our musical instruments.  I think it broke her heart when she gave up music and I don’t know why.  I never hear my mother play the violin, express her joy.

She loved my father with all her heart and missed him so very much when he was away even when she was angry with him.  My Dad died first and then my Mom, young for these days, both heavy, heavy smokers dying of lung cancer.

Mom

 

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Big Daddy Blues

Long before Hollywood used Big Daddy as a name and description my father was known as Big Daddy.  But late in his life hid sadness was the one overwhelming aspect of his existence.  Though he died back with my mother, the apartment they moved in after losing the house was not a joy to him.  Big Daddy had been blackballed out of the restaurant business.  The corporation he worked for lost out in a power struggle.  The others on his side were much older and retired.  Big Daddy couldn’t and worked on in the eventual women’s shoe store my parents jointly opened.

For a relatively short while Big Daddy moved out into his own apartment.  He was feeling very low and a woman he was dating and the booze he was drinking was not helping him rehabilitate.  I visited him once in his pitiful surroundings and he was stuck in the past, thinking about money – the land my grandfather had owned whose sale of which no money was found for my grandmother or my aunts after my grandfather died in the night.  Or the gangsters that approached my Dad to open a hotel for them, fronting for them, lamenting even if he was killed they would take care of my family. These were dirty thoughts, nasty thoughts, and disappearing in such a fashion would reward my family in no big or little way.

Big Daddy came back to us and eventually became very sick, he died most likely from the four packs of cigarettes he smoked a day for over forty years.  He was complex and pissed me off at the same time that I was in awe of him. Knowing little peace or joy I loved him so very much – he treated everybody in an age of questionable behavior with equal respect and had gigantic strength.  He listened to my views and adopted some of them and given his conservative Greek upbringing was open to what I had to say. I miss him, Big Daddy, so very much.

Big Daddy

 

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Healthcare in America

It seems fitting that in the process of writing my memoir and also my take on recent history I write about my own experience of Healthcare in America.  First of all, we should discuss my purchase of healthcare.   For the sake of brevity, I will deal with this year of purchasing insurance only.  I called Covered California to adjust my income they show in their system.  I have found as I age my income shrinks and shrinks.  My various ailments make it increasingly hard to work my historic sum of hours.

This, of course, makes my income shrink and shrink.  My income has two components – hours that I work for an employer and hours I work self-employed.  Somehow, this makes it difficult for those tracking my hours.  The summation of my hours working for an employer and reporting it to the proper authorities has somehow caused my insurance to have been cancelled, or my plan to have been changed or benefits to cease when none of those should happen.  The no news in this case has led to horrifying news, at least for me.

By reporting a slight shrink of income my income shrunk a whole bunch because Covered California failed to report my self-employment when there was no change to my self-employment.  I have been placed on Medi-Cal then taken off of Medi-Cal.  My insurance plan has been cancelled.  I have an arthritic back and a brain tumor – I am a mess.  And my medical insurance is contributing to my mess.

Healthcare in America is better than no healthcare.  Bernie tried to push Single Payer that would have eliminated my problem and the problems of so many others. Hillary made fun of him.

Let her have a day or days of correcting the mistakes of others in bureaucracies.  And then correct some more.

Healthcare in America

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Fireworks

Nothing bores me quite like fireworks.  I suppose that extra emphasis is because so many people think they’re a big deal.  Perhaps it’s because during the summer months fireworks were visible twice a week.  Every week.  For months.

When we moved to Culver city my new-found friends were excited that on the night of the fourth the skies lit up.  To me, it was the same old boring thing.  My friends didn’t believe it, they had a hard time coming to grips with my reaction to fireworks. Perhaps the Donald’s opponents might learn a lesson.  Being bored by the Donald might blow his top.  Too much of the same can get old.

I found – not willingly-  that being bored by something so many adored was a real date killer.  Pretending to go along led to happiness, even in this age of difference, which was so popular during my youth.  It is hard to break from the norm and be accepted – even on dates.

Fireworks

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Swanson

There was a teacher at the High School by the name of Swanson that everybody wanted to be around and also to be like.  He was bitter and hurt all the time as he was shot down in one of the seminal battles in World War II as a paratrooper in France.  Every once in a while, he left us for a few weeks and had a little more of the shrapnel removed. He was a drunk, of brilliant mind, an embittered bachelor who knew no boundaries who pushed us to think like no one had.  He had affairs with teachers, married and single, parents and students alike.  If his sexual activity had occurred any time other than before, after and during the summer of love he would have been locked up.  He should have been locked up.  He was the teacher to some of the teachers who became disciple, no one more than me.  I’d stop by his house and drink or we’d go out and get some dinner.  He was always testing with what if questions.  Students loved his class but at the same time were terrified of him and his questions.  My Dad hated him and he hated my Dad.  Each realized I was becoming a man and didn’t push me into deciding where I chose to stay.

Swanson taught me much, unlike any other teacher.  But so did my dad and he had an advantage – I was his son and I loved him. Swanson taught me the nonsense the schools could bring.  As a graduate student things were hunky dory until he wrote his dissertation about Faulkner who was not yet universally accepted. His Doctorate was held up by this and by the time Faulkner was accepted by the schools and the literary community Swanson had moved on, he was no longer interested in the degree.

It was my refusal to accept him over my father that ultimately cause our split.  His game was cruel and went contrary to what he taught but what ever else he taught was so much better than anyone else.

Swanson

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