Saturday, August 04, 2007

Beginning To Explain
The Disintegration

When I was 11 years old, my Grandmother moved from Pennsylvania to California and came to live with my family.

She was my Dad's mother.

I loved my Grandmother. I didn't realize at the time that my mother basically hated my Grandmother.

My Grandmother was a very nice old lady, but she was imperious about her son, and my father was, in many ways, subservient to her, and to everyone else as well.

My Dad was a tough man. He served in Morocco and Sicily in World War II. Some of the greatest memories of my life are when I was seven and my Dad showed me an old chest he had (I still have it) where he had stored his Army uniform. I remember being very impressed that he had ascended to the level of Seargeant, and he had multiple medals, and bars displayed across the chest and shoulders of the uniform.

But, for all that, my father was basically subservient to women.

The reason he was this way is because he had a very hard childhood. His father died at the outset of the Depression. His Dad died of alcohol poisoning. His Dad, and his uncle went out one night, during Prohibition, and they drank some bathtub Gin, and it killed my Grandfather.

When I asked my Dad how his Dad died (I was seven or eight at the time) he told me, I will tell you when you are older.

When he finally told me, it revealed everything I neeeded to know about my Dad.

Here is what happened, to be very specificL (Notice that I started this post by talking about my Grandmother, and I am gradually regressing in time back generations. It can not be helped when you are talking about family lineage. The sins of the father are visited upon the next three or four generations. That's what the Bible says, and I believe that that is true.)

My father's father and his brother were both policemen, and they went out and got drunk, and the next thing they knew, my fahter's father was dead.

That was it.

My father, when he finally told me the story of his father's death, told me that, after wacthing his brother die, his Uncle would sit in front of the bathroom mirror and scream at himself, "You are a horrible person. I hate you. You deserve to die."

And, surely, he did.

That was my Dad's life by the time he was eleven years old.

Imagine that.

When my Dad was fourteen, and all the men of the family had died, my father, (this would have been the mid-1930's) had to quit school and go to work to support the family.

My Dad was an intelligent man who never had the opportunity to even go to High School.

Consequently, when he got older, he chose to make safe choices. He worked in a Union job for the government, and he established great benefits for himself, and provided for his family the best way he could imagine.

But, he always believed that he was inferior and not up to the challenges that life was putting in front of him.

No surprise there, when you consider what he had to deal with in his early life.

We have a term for this now; it's called Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. My father, I believe, suffered from that. However, at the same time, I must admit, I only very rarely saw him lose his cool, and when he died (in 2000) everyone at his funeral talked about what a gentleman he was.

Because he really was.

He was a very good man, who had a hard life, but he did everything he could to provide, as best as he knew how, for his family.

So, getting back to the beginning of this post, when my Grandmother moved in with us, when I was 11 years old, because my mother hated her, it was a tremendous stress on our family.

I remember wacthing my Dad, who was fifty-something years old at the time, grow a big-old handlebar mustache, and long-hair, almost like a hippie. I have a photograph I took of my father when I was twelve where he looked like a character out of Pulp Fiction.

Meanwhile, my mother sank into a depression the likes of which I have never seen in anyone else.

My parents would scream at each other, and at me, and my family lived in complete chaos for about three years straight.

When I was 12-13 years old, I would, literally, say "Bye" to my parents, and not come home for days, and it was as if they didn't even notice I was gone.

I know I am giving you an impressionistic version of the history of my family. If I were to try to explain it in Bas Relief detail, it would be overwhelming for you.

I will slowly unfold the whole thing.

There is much more to the story then I am even letting on now.

Here's the point: All of that happened in the years of 1975-1977. I believe my life is a mirror of the times. I was born in 1963. What signifigance does that have? Well, if you look at how the "Baby Boomer Generation" is divided from the "Generation X, 1963 is the dividing line.

I am, in my opinion, right on the cusp of all the changes that fucked up our society. Over the next few months I am going to attempt to explain what I mean by that by unraveling the story of my life. I have had a very, very strange life.

You will be entertained. Of that I can almost guarantee you.

Now, here's the thing, in my opinion, if you look at the years between 1963-1977, you will see everything that went wrong with America. I was a Philosophy major in College, so I understand that societal and cultural changes emanate first from ideas. However, there is a specific time when those ideas take effect, and I believe my early, formative years were, indeed, the years when America changed for the worse, and we have been living with it ever since.

Now, here's the reason I started this post by talking about my Grandmother. When she moved in, she gave me one of the most important gifts any human being has ever given me.

She gave me my first Bible.

It was what you call a "Red-Letter Edition" King James Translation.

Christians will know what that means. It means that the Bible she gave me was in flowery, almost Shakespearesque language, and all the words of Jesus were in red, while all the rest of the Bible was in black.

In addition to giving me the Bible, my Grandmother said something important to me. She said, "When I am going through very trying times, I read the Psalms. You will find compfort there."

When I was twelve that made no sense to me. Now, it is very obvious what she meant.

Man, life is very, very strange. I have a very, very good memory, and when I think back on the path my life has taken, I see that it is almost as if God did, indeed, carry me almost every step of the way.

I am going to attempt to make that clear in the next few months.

If I am able to do what I intend to do, then I will explain how our beautiful Western Civilization has gotten into the incredible mess we are in.

If I fail, well, then you will see me fall off the high-wire and you will all be able to sing Send In The Clowns, because that's what they used to do in the circus when a performer fell and died during the course of the show.

Isn't it rich?