Apr 14, 2015

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Eleven: Drinks, Dinner, ME? (whatever happened to the Tonton Macoute)

Our trip to Haiti (my first of two) included Voodoo rituals 
His name was Ron.  Ron was married and finishing up a Masters program at San Jose State.  We worked together in the Men's Furnishings department at L.Hart and Son, part time student employees, both.  Ron was a very enjoyable person - intelligent, handsome and he made friends easily and most people found him extremely appealing in every way.  I liked him as a friend.  He and his wife lived at the Spartan City which was a special community of bungalos for married students. Spartan City was away from campus and near the stadium.  His wife was getting her Masters too, they were both finishing up their time at San Jose State.  They would soon head out for training and then Peru . They were among the first volunteers accepted for the Peace Corps.  President Kennedy's Peace Corps. Everyone loved our President and First Lady Jackie.  Ask anyone.  

One of Ron/Wife family members owned a cabin in the moutains between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz, and one weekend, after working on Saturday, Ron invited me to go to Santa Cruz for dinner.  Dinner and then stay overnight at the cabin as his wife was working and out of town on a field trip.  ¨Sure¨ it sounded fun...off we went.  First dinner with lots of drinks and then my car weaved our-much-lost way to the cabin for sleep/pass-out.  That's what I thought was happening. I was wrong.  This *situation* was about to become the first time in my life that I was actually in a very awkward sexual exchange that I didn't expect (or want) to happen.  I was drunk.  I was in the middle of the woods in a little cabin somewhere and I didn't want what was staggering my way.  I was genuinely shocked. There was strong insistance and some weak resistance.  I didn't like it at all.  Not at all.  It was over fast. I was embarrassed. I was not stimulated but that could be blamed on the booze? Yes, no? Never happened before! Yes! I blamed it on the booze and that was the one and only time my friend and I engaged in sex and we never discussed *it* again...Ron soon graduated and off they went. Hasta la Vista.  (I self-apologized but felt shame for doing something that I thought I ought not to have done...was I a quirky homosexual prude or a gay guy with good sense? Who knew? Not me) 

Two years later (lots of overseas air-mail tissue thin/four fold back and forth letters) we would become friends, in person, again. After Peru, after his divorce, Ron returned to San Jose, worked at Hart's again while applying for overseas NGO directorships and we rented a big old house on 4th Street...we had lots of after-hour parties there and that was during the time I met Richard (more later, but he often left boquets of flowers on my front porch during the night - handsome/tall, too) my first, mutual, love blossomed...¨Oh, Sweet Pea, Won't You Dance With Me¨ (often dedicated to me as a song-of-endearment but it made me cringe and I loathed it). 

Ron received a very big job offer in the Dominican Republic and off he went after his nine month layover in San Jose.  I visited him the following Summer for a month. We partied hard and met lots of great people (and a famous young playright from New York who is still famous, more famous, but now exciting in a olderman way) in Puerto Rico and then we traveled back to his lovely/rented/paid-for home in Santo Domingo via Prinair (memorable only because the hostess served huge trays of sandwiches during heavy turbulence without a crumb lost).  It's in the hips

A week later we went to Haiti. Nobody was in  Port-au-Prince but Papa ¨Doc Duvalier¨  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonton_Macoute (one of the Tontons was to become our driver from airport arrival to departure) and slept in the car in front of our Hotel Castle Haiti.  We were the only guests. Our Tonton driver knew lots of colorful stuff and took us to places that I still have nightmares thinking about...he had a wrapped/bloody bandage on his upper right arm the whole time (I didn't ask and he didn't tell).  Every night we visited the patio and home (accross the street from the Main Cemetery/Zombies) of Papa Doc's official photographer and drank lots and lots of Rum and chipped ice off a block (like the olden daze)...we ate Conche meat snacks on white bread.  The photographers wife and daughters (presented the last night) were charming and fun and they were great hosts even in the dark as sometimes the city lights were blacked out....I think I'll have one more drink or two. 

Ron and I were to live together a few years later in Scottsdale, Arizona. He became a Probation Officer for Maricopa County, I was already a Buyer at Goldwater's Department Store (a division of Associated Dry Goods).  We were never lovers...we were good friends. As we Gay people say, we were ¨running partners.¨  Ron thought we were a pair of Sebastian Dangerfield charactors out of¨The Ginger Man novel he prized...I didn't agree. However, there was, in fact,  a allnight party we hosted in the middle of Summer for a young, handsome and non-fictional Marquis from Spain (Ron met him on an earlier trip to Europe)...it, that party, was as bazarre and decadent as any wild party would ever be.   A sort of desert studio 54 right there on our leased acre out  among the Saguaros.  I think Fellini ought have directed it. I passed out early/went to my bed at 3:00 A.M., afterall,  I had to leave on buying trip the next day...oy vey. A young woman ran through our arcadia glass sliding door around 4:00 in the morning and they rushed her to the hospital and reattached part of her nose. I didn't know. 

Our friends Richard (yes, Mr. true love-flowers-on-my-porch) and Albee were visiting from San Jose. Richard was my first lover and all previous ¨love¨ for one another ended that night behind the Camelback mountain when I encountered Richard with a handsome young guest of a guest of mine. The dried-up arroyo ran behind our house seemed like a good place to say adios to Richard for betraying me (again). There was lots more  on the free love (make love not war)  front in those days/daze. It was still the sixties and Janis Jopin/Jimi Hendrix still survived .,why ought not we? Some did, some didn't, more later.  Ron didn´t a few years later. One interesting, to me today, party detail, is that one of my beloved longterm friends and coworker from Goldwater´s was at the party that night/morning with her husband...I remember we had a great time dancing the night-into morning away. 

(Today she is a facebook friend whom I still adore...she probably could tell you more)

I´ve jumped ahead.   

One morning I woke up in my lower bunk in my bunk bed at Ana's Non-Greek All-Greek Boarding House.  I was hung over and late for class.  My clock radio had gone off and I was fighting to stay in bed.  I heard the radio ¨The President has been shot¨...over and over again.  I didn't know what they were talking about and was wondering ¨President of what¨?  It was President Kennedy and he was in Dallas and I leaped out of bed as I heard ¨The President is dead.¨  The world became silent and all the classes were cancelled at school.  We wandered around staring into space.  No one said much.  Maybe nothing at all...the television had updates showing Vice President Johnson being sworn in and Jackie standing in her blood drenched suit.  We, every person I met, were silent.  That evening I went downtown to the ¨Crystal Bar¨. ...there were a few scattered customers seated down the long bar.  Craig the bartender was on duty and gave us free drinks.  The guy I was sitting next to turned and said, ¨I feel like I lost my best friend..¨  That was it. I said nothing, I walked home.  The world and our hearts had stopped and it/they remained that way for a while. (I can still feel the pain if I pay attention to the innermost spirit inside of me).

to be continued 

Mar 14, 2015

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Ten: My favorite cousin is dying. We just now laughed together on the telephone and said our goodbyes. I love him.

Leonardo y cousin Ricardo. BONUS! We´ve always accepted one another as we really are!
Remembering.  Wondering.  Wishing I could change some *things* that I can not.  What a waste of time! Wishing I had been less frightened about my sexuality and more open/willing to receive love when, in truth, I was literally avalanched with much kindness and love since birth. Gay or not, ready or not, I was ashamed of who I was.  Go figure?  Did public opinion drag me down?  Not much.

In this part of my story I will mention that I always drank a lot as a late teen until I was 35 years old and abandoned the hooch.  Drinking alcoholicly impacted my choices heavily in the first half of my life.  I always drank too much whenever I had the opportunity to drink at all.  That would include drinking left over drinks when my parents and their friends were at the piano singing ¨Let Me Call You Sweetheart¨ down in the recreation room, post dinner, when I was a child. 

After arriving at college at San Jose State I drank regularly.  Regularly meaning at least a couple of times a week, at night, after school or after work.  Drinking many drinks nightly as of the Fall of 1962 into the year 1963.  I'm not going to turn my personal story into a drunk-a-log but I can´t pretend my life is/was any different than it was/is.  I strive for a clear view of my very own reality because I have a tendency to pretend it is nicer/better/prettier than it is (or worse than it really was). I am now 71+ years old, I have been alcohol free for more than half or my life and I am the the person I think I was intended to be.  Quite a trip so far.  Reality just takes some getting used to.

I just NOW spoke with my favorite cousin.  He is dying of congestive heart failure.  He lives with one of his children in Texas. He has hospice care call on him daily. He is going to be moved shortly to ¨special¨ care facility soon. We, really, just a few minutes ago,  were laughing about ¨how could you ever end up in Texas?¨ He said, ¨I´ve lived here for ten years now and I still haven´t found much.¨ So there you have it, we are Pacific North/Westerners all the way through until death do we part. Even far/far back in our memories where the pine trees grow all the way up the steep mountains and where the cold delicious water flows. I can taste it. We hiked a lot. I know he can taste the pure mountain water too.

I love my cousin. I was Junior Usher in his wedding when I was 16 and he was in his 20´s.  He had just returned from Germany where he served as a MP (Military Police, not Member of Parliament). He was/is a giant and muscle bound guy and I never stopped being his ¨little cousin¨ ...including right now on the telephone.  Nice. We didn't really get any older, I just found that out.

We have always lived far away from one another.  He's had two families and many children.  He and I are very close in some kind of deep-down spiritual (not to be confused with religious) way. Best of all, bonus, we always accepted one another as we were/are: Different from each other, but  very/very entertained by our differences. Laughing, loving, free and glad.   Lots of real life adventures, both. I love my cousin, Dick, who just announced to me,  not ten minutes ago, that ¨I am about to croak¨...then he laughed until he couldn´t talk any more.  Gasp (and his hearing aid fell out)!  ¨I love you¨ he said.  I said ¨I love you too.¨  We meant it, we always have.

A telephone call from Guatemala to Tyler, Texas...forever memorable in the very best way.  We didn't need to say much because we knew it all...already/anyway. 

to be continued

Feb 7, 2015

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Nine: Telling the truth, true confessions of the intimate variety and/or keeping my eye on the authentic in me.

Mom and ¨Lenny¨  at three!
¨Little Lenny¨, Front Center, looking down at my cousin Lauren.  Mom with Gibsonish hairstyle  center/top and Dad, ¨Big Lenny¨ top/right sunglasses (Southern California, vacation at the beach)

Since I´ve started telling my story, I´ve also noticed it is normalike in some ways.  Although it is quite ¨normal¨ in some very important ways, it, my private/personal story, also carries a sub-content of real life events that are secret. A real/important and major part of my life. Another living version that you do NOT know must be told. I want to stay honest with you and with me.  Most everyone realizes today, year 2015, that Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender people have always existed at home, school and work/etc.. We are with you. We have mostly enjoyed/supported social activities, family celebrations, dating gossip, engagement parties, baby showers, weddings, anniversaries and every other possible special moment in the lives of our families and friends. What you may not have realized is that heterosexuals were often not celebrating those same occassions and moments, good or bad, in the lives of people like us.  Sometimes we celebrated those same happy/sad moments in our private space or alone in our own minds.  Fact. 

Often, especially in the past, we, LGBT people, joined in with our heterosexual family and friends in all that they celebrate and we shared in every moment of any emotional/spiritual suffering or any tragic loss too.  We have been there, almost always, and we have been genuinely caring for you/yours and ours. I realize there is some generalizing going on, on my part, as I write. 

My sister, Marilynn marries Paul (I was in the wedding party but there is no picture of me in the professional photos, odd)
I feel no great sense of blame but the reverse was not always true. 

We, LGBT people, often lived double lives, we had to in order to survive the verbal abuse, physical brutality, bigotry, demonizing, discrimination and even the excluding/shaming at Church.  Literally, for as long as I remember, I have been attracted to men (I find women breathtakingly lovely in many ways).  I knew that was not OK with others in my everyday life to have ¨crushes¨ on men. I knew I was *different* but I didn't know exactly how different, different would be.  

(A couple of years after this photo I became a horse thief for one day, ¨barrowed¨ one of my uncles horses...he was not amused)
I felt different, I think I looked a little different as I wasn't especially a strapping/masculine child (I've posted the family pictures to prove it, above) .  Odd thing, to me, even now, is that I enjoyed friends, neighbor kids, sporting stuff, fishing and general romping with everyone.  I was not ever apart from other children in life. I was always right in there, part of, playing, sharing and often leading the pack.  My personality/spirit was always strong and I didn't cower from anything (including baseball or basketball which I was not good at and hated). I liked swimming, wrestling, boxing (watching) and stock car ¨bang/crash¨ races.  I was fast. I was energetic and I had a vivid imagination and many friends. When I was alone I never had any down time. I was always building houses or factories or airports with my building blocks, or later with construction sets.  When I needed more elaborate structures I made them out of cardboard boxes, used my toy cars and airplanes or whatever I could combine into my very industrious play life.  Once I was sketching a womans dress (I sketched everything) and my sister came up behind me, was horrified, and yelled at me that ¨boys don't do that!¨ So, I hid when I sketched anything ¨unboy¨...screw that silliness! I LOVED flowers (and so did everyone else in my family) and I sketched/painted them, gathered them, inhaled/swooned with them and admired the colors a lot...I still do, they make my senses almost burst with joy.

As a very young child there was no televison, only radio.  I liked what most everyone else liked and that was the ¨Inner Sanctum Mystery Theatre¨  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Sanctum_Mystery, ¨Our Miss Brooks¨ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Miss_Brooks, ¨Fibber McGee and Molly¨ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibber_McGee_and_Molly, ¨The Cisco Kid¨ (and Pancho), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cisco_Kid and on and on it went, hardly anything ¨different¨ in my childhood than any other child...except, of course, I was different!  I knew it but *it* rarely slowed me down in my life. *It* did confuse me, sometimes excite me and always wondered why I carried a secret that would be such a disgrace...being different NEVER made sense to me in the respect that something may be *wrong*  with my spirit and heart. I did my best to avoid ridicule for being exactly who I was/am and developed a self-grown sense of ¨inferiority¨...but, I was determined that I would survive my secret and have a full life even as I was challenged with alcoholism from ages 18 to 35...it, active alcoholism distorted the authentic me. 

From time to time in the recalling of my ¨my story¨ I will add a chapter that will detail more fully my very human natural desires, my fondness for various people, some of my intimate discoveries from childhood onward...and my love(s).  I will tell my truth and reveal my *always* desire to be loved in the most personal of ways.  I remember ¨loving someone¨ a little older than me who simply held my hand sometimes.  Not much *different* than the feelings any other child may have to remember in their young life...but, *different* I was.

to be continued

Jan 17, 2015

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Eight: Gladness, Striving and Madness - rushing about looking for the authentic in me

I loved Art with a passion.  Who knew?
The Art Department at San Jose State  http://www.sjsu.edu/art/ was exciting. I had recently discovered I loved ART with passion.  Who knew?  Not me! Fall of 1962 I registered in every Art Department class that would instruct me in the basics of art and to build prerequistes in the Department.  I signed up for Design, I took Drawing from Dr. John Devenchensi who taught at Stanford University too (he also authored the American Art History text I would use much later). I eagerly registered for my first Art History from Dr. Crespo (visiting professor from Madrid). I didn't do especially well in any other of my classes (got a D- in Geology) but I achieved excellent grades in Art. I became a Fine Art major (emphasis later,  Watercolor) and Eric Oback was a wonderful creative influence and instructor.  I obsessed with whatever it is/was that turned me on in the Art Department and I loaded myself up with art supplies, textbooks, canvas, rabbits foot glue, drawing boards, oil paints and water-colors/papers too.  Off I went to tackle my classes with a tackle box full of tubes of paint and various brushes in hand and a BIG drawing board tucked under my arm...I also partied a lot with my new friends.  Didn't everyone? ¨Let's drive up to San Francisco, it's 25 cent Beer Night¨

There were several new obsessions for me Sophmore year, 1962 at SJS.  I simultaneously discovered the excitement of a potential retail ¨buying¨ career by starting off as a part time salesperson at L. Hart and Son Department Stores.  I loved working in the Men's Furnishing Department of the main store at Market and Santa Clara, downtown San Jose.  The Buyer and Merchandise Manager scheduled me for as many hours as I could fit in.  I liked them, I liked everyone at L. Hart and Son.  I was fortunate/lucky and well-placed and later became an Executive Trainee while going to school. Alex Hart was President and he, Harry Schlisky and Nick Marafino
 became my first great merchandising mentors in my newly formed adult life: 


Mr. Alex Hart, President,  Hart's Department Stores

 ¨He was a philanthropist, a businessman, a civic and community leader, a social arbiter, a charming host, a gentleman and a friend...

Working 20+ hours a week, carrying a full schedule at college and having an almost every night social life too was fun and invigorating...good thing I was full of stamina and good energy at 19.  Life was extra-dandy in my 1962 personal performance/rendition/score for Camelot...our, almost everybodies, beloved President, John F. Kennedy was alive...he and ¨Jackie¨ delivered to the world a sense of security and happiness featuring lots of panache

to be continued

Dec 28, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Seven: The Parallel University/Universe and The Making of Love Not War ( ignore the Cuban Missle Crisis entirely)

The Fall of 1962.  All is swell.  I am going ¨to be¨ a ¨I have no idea what¨ when I grow-up/finish college but whatever it is that I am going ¨to be¨ is fine with me (as long as it doesn't include shaping myself into some fake form of heterosexuality). There you have it, I took my stand.  I am a 19 year old Gay man. Vamos a ver.  I am not afraid.  I am living at Anna's non-boring boarding house and Ouzo works, a full-fledged-full-time Art Major at San Jose State College and I even have a part time job...BONUS, San Francisco is only 45 minutes away on the Bayshore Freeway and the little Crystal Bar is near my new job in downtown San Jose.

I began my part time job at famous/historic L. Hart and Son, Department Store, San Jose/Sunnyvale, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooke_Hart  about the same time as the Cuban Missle Crisis.  Although Nina and Nikita Khrushchev had no real impact on my learning, living and earning ability I started feeling  that *adult things* are not always as they seem ¨to be¨ and could blow up around me.  Real life *things* can be nasty!  What the Hell? Best to have a drink, enjoy, imagine the really bad stuff will go away.  The Viet Nam war was raging on but I had ¨Student Deferment¨..ole´.  My parents had given me a brand new medium-blue Opel Kadett car, I loved it, zoom, zoom, zoom, open up your Golden Gate, San Francisco here I come! I had wonderful new friends too.

Albee! The Beatles are coming and/or Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair (or not)
Albee invented parallel universe/university fun.  It was his own very custom invention which included everyone.  Yes, everyone. AJB arrived as a transfer student from Southern California.  He was a Roman Catholic, a Republican, a Dodgers fan and he absolutely electrified any space and anyone around him with friendliness.  Al created non-stop/daily inventions on how to have fun. Money or not, ready or not, work/study or not. Al had a plan.  He was a whiz. Al had been a child actor (born in Hollywood) and had also dropped out of a mid-west RC Seminary where they told him he wasn't quite serious enough for a priestly¨calling¨ and got sent home. Everything was enjoyable with Albee. Every moment of life was an adventure for Albert and he loved everyone equally. He and I met clandestinely/accidentally at the Crystal Bar one night and went to an ¨after hours¨ Gay  party, a first for him but not for me, with Jerry (who had been a member of my Fraternity).  We all became close friends immediately.  Al, quite literally, had dozens of friends. I think, like me, everyone thought that Al was their very own best friend.  The band/gang played on and we became a very mixed bag of fellow partypeople (some of us  disappeared in the late hours and headed for San Francisco or the Crystal Cafe, others, the straight ones, just kept dancing the night away).  We were rarely missed and nobody asked anybody much about intimacies as we ALL were very busy ¨making love and not war.¨

to be continued

Dec 7, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Six: Σ 'αγαπώ με πάθος S 'agapó̱ me páthos - it's true!

While registering for classes, San Jose State College, Fall 1962, I was standing in a very long line (trying, of course, to get the very most entertaining/good/approachable professor I could for whatever class I really didn't want to take and electives I didn't want to elect). Suddenly I glanced behind me and there was a registration table almost empty!   What class could it be that nobody wanted?  I went to see.

The guardian angel of my young life had turned me around and put me in line for some kind of beginning art class. I signed immediately. I don't know why I took art, I never had before. However, the very first day of the¨art¨ class, I did. There SHE was in person...Brilliant Artist. The visiting (one year) Professor (full) of Art (sculpture especially) turned out to be from an important University in the mid-West.  She had panache.  She had cropped hair, she buzzed, hummed, darted and chatted on/on and off/off on any topic while riding on a breeze of whatever-inspiration-it-was-that-she-appreciated-at that very moment in time. She was exciting, she was Peter Pan and Coco Chanel and Betty Davis and she filled the room with electricity...she crackled, she laughed she set us free to discover nature and its creativity!  We did. I did. I got an A.  I changed my major immediately - Fine Art (Water Color emphasis later), thank you very much destiny. 

Meanwhile, I moved into another kind of Greek house after leaving my fraternity.  This one, a room and board one, owned by Ana Poulos who was probably in her early eighties already.  Smart. Funny. A card shark. Missed nothing. Ana and her older brother, Theo Jonni, had purchased a huge old wooden house near downtown San Jose (just a few blocks from campus).  They had previously owned an Italian Restaurant in the San Francisco East Bay.  Chef ¨Uncle Jonny¨ and sister/leader Ana decided, in retirement, to bring several young relatives, directly from Greece, over to study/work in the boarding house, and then sponsor them to become American Citizens.  There we were, three floors of delightfulness eating delicious served meals served in the dining room by very handsome Greeks, plus, doing line dances up and down the stairs, eating Mousakka and drinking 5 Star Mataxa and Ouzo. There were ten other ¨boarders¨ like me (and three real Greek cousins).  I stayed for two years at Ana's and Ana never cared where I went, who I went to San Francisco with or anything else personal about me...she named me ¨the little one¨ and knew I was ¨clever¨, disappeared a lot and probably drank too much...she liked me and I adored her and I think she always knew what was ¨up¨ with me.

Σ 'αγαπώ με πάθος

to be continued

Nov 18, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Five: Catch me if you can (I began running/drinking harder than was good for me)

Fight on for Victory --Fight Hard in Everything you do!

So there I was at the end of my first year at ¨Dear Old San Jose State¨ as a fraternity escapee extraordinaire (innocent yet guilty). I worked during that summer vacation of 1962 in San Jose/Santa Clara Valley (delivering flowers from the Town and  Country flower shop while the regular delivery guy had a long holiday).  I learned how to shift gears in a big white van and shift my eyes when dead people were displayed in coffins around me.

I moved out from my fraternity house arrest (btw, I just Googled Sigma Phi Epsilon/Epsilon Chapter/San Jose State and it no longer exists -- maybe they died from homophobia, R.I.P.) back to Lad Manor.  I even had the same apartment but roomed with only one roomie.  My roomate was Don, who was also one of my ¨Sig Ep¨ brothers, who had recently had his Sigma Phi Epsilon Golden Heart removed and survived the disgrace.  WE WERE FREE. My Bro and I spent the summer looking for heart transplants to fill our voids but mostly I delivered sprays and casket floral pieces through the backdoors of mortuaries by day and busily tried to kill myself  ¨death by drinks¨ at night...¨I Wanna Hold Your Hand¨ (if I am drunk) and ¨Never Would I Leave You¨ (I was gone by sunup) played on and on.  

We discovered a Gay bar in downtown San Jose...the Crystal. It had mainly mature customers but there were a few younger guys mixed in with a few, very/very fun, Lesbians too. It was fine and welcoming as we were still in training to become full-fledged Gay guys.  We had lots to discover. The flattery didn't hurt. The Bar was tucked away just behind the Cathedral and a block away from Hart's Department Store, main branch, Market and Santa Clara, where I would soon work part-time during my second year as a Spartan. Don and I were both very underage but the management of the Crystal Bar liked that (no worries of the police bothering them we were told - it was true).  Craig the Straight bartender kept those glasses filled, with or without payment...¨it's on the house!¨  Lucille, the cranky,  been-around-don´t-mess-with-me cocktail waitress was a delight..no smiles, a veteran beat-them-with-tray-bar fighter and more! Touchdown! 

We loved being 19 and we went to San Francisco (just up the Bayshore) whenever we could (often) to further advance our homosexual studies.

Hippies we were not (even though we had brunch every Sunday at the The Cask Bar/Restaurant on Haight Street).  No drugs for me (I figured I was ¨nuts¨ enough already).  Besides, I couldn't wait to get to the Jumping Frog Bar - North Beach around 3:30 P.M Sunday afternoons and I wanted to JUMP and not crawl into the place...and so *it* began.

to be continued

Nov 8, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Four: I escaped from the hetero-bro-ex-Gay rehabilitation program after spending one night under my fraternities version of house arrest!

During the Summer of 1961 I took Pacific Airlines to San Jose to arrange off-campus housing for my first semesterself at San Jose State College. I stayed overnight at the Hotel Saint Claire near the campus.  I had been accepted at several *good* schools BUT I wanted to be away from home, near San Francisco, and go to a ¨Party¨ School. My parents let me decide. 

I no longer wanted to be ¨nice.¨ In fact, I couldn't wait to turn the page on the ¨old¨ me whom I self-appraised as a little too normal/polite (if I was to live an abnormal ¨Gayway¨ of life in a under-cover way I needed a little tarnishing). I knew there was more duplicity coming my way. What's NEW? I was prepared since birth to give them or say to them what they wanted to see/hear! However, I didn't want to keep pretending to be pure and sweet because that was portraying someone I didn't want to be! 

I planned on going through Fraternity Rush and pledge a Fraternity.  Instant friends?

I needed to have a home in San Jose before I moved into the Fraternity House.  Living in the Fraternity House itself, still unknown, would happen in my second semester. I found approved Mens off-campus housing at a new apartment building named Lad Manor.  It was nice.  I was to have two other roomates, full kitchen, big living room, one bedroom, two bunk beds and I would not know my roomates before I moved in.  The apartment manager made the selections as to who would be living with who (if you didn't book with friends ahead of time).  Gasp!

All I knew was my soon to be roomates were Juniors and and they were transfering from St. Mary's in San Francisco.  I never imagined they would turn out to be the well-known, athletic, fun, and handsome super-hunks! Now what? WE would become good friends immediately.

My new roomies took me along and introduced me to their other ¨popular¨ friends (and the dozens of gorgeous women they knew).  I was happy and I was confused...what to do, what to do?  One of their friends I liked very much and he liked me too.  Sort of big-brothered me.  He was on the football team and a member of the All-Jock-All-The-Time Fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. Clearly ATO was the most desireable fraternity on everyones Rush Party list. Everybody that is, except me.  I thought I would be trapped and/or outted and disgraced in such muscle bulging company, so,  as much as I was smitten with my new BIG BRO buddy, I (thought) needed to say no. They were great guys, the ATO's, I liked them the best.  They kept bidding me back.  I became quietly horrified. They bid me back right up to the end of Rush Week and tried to ¨pocket pledge¨ me too!  

I plotted to disappear into a very medium cool, huge membership, everyday-regular guy-kinda fraternity.  I did (they didn't try to pocket pledge me and I was insulted but joined anyway). I Pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon and got exactly what I wanted...anonymity (soon I discovered membership size couldn´t conceal pettiness, mediocrity and a large bunch of unattractive homophobes who lurked/lived there).  

Second semester college lesson number one for me was: Get the Hell away from these dudes. Amazingly quick, seven of us had already discovered one another at San Franciscos Gay bars (yes, we got in under age). Several ¨brothers¨ were discovered (not me) and confessed under star-chamber-like torture and then were asked to take a powder from the Fraternity. The paranoid witch-hunting-to-look-better when-serenading-sororities coven didn't want a scandal. They wanted ME, the untrapped/clean slater suspect Gay, to move into a new room, hopefully sanitized, and hang out with proven heterosexual brothers for the rest of eternity. Not for me, I escaped their ex-Gay rehab plot after spending one night under fraternity house arrest.

Later, when I passed any of them on campus they sniggered (I didn't blink).

When you got worries where do you go?
to be continued

Nov 1, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Three: Perfect attendance because Narbonne High School wasn't all about education!

I am quite certain you don't know this (unless you are one of the millions of children and young people who attended a school within the Los Angeles Unified School District) but, there is a special break in morning, from classes, of about 20 minutes for ¨nutrition.¨  When I was going to Narbonne High School (Class of Summer ´61) we loved nutrition...do you know why?  It wasn't very nutritious but they did sell FRESH cafeteria baked HUGE spiral frosted Cinnamon rolls and Grilled Cheese sandwiches and they were 10 cents each!  Milk 5 cents.  Yes they did and they couldn't have started my day any better even if they hadn't tried so hard to kill me/us with grease and sugar.  

I loved High School in Los Angeles and I had three years perfect attendance to prove it.  I also received the jeweled ¨N¨ (for most active male, Lynn Carmichael the most active female) at graduation. 

When I became 16 years old I applied for my Drivers Permit...I also took Drivers Education in High School (we all did) because car insurance prices were lower for those of us who were good citizens (little did they know)...about six months later I got my California Drivers License with a perfect 100% written and also a great Driving Test score. Life was good and my friend Ralph and I went off to find out who we really were...we had a strong suspicion but didn't know for sure.  

Top secret we were. 

Ralph was the very first fellow student I spoke with my first day of school in California the year before.  We were waiting in the lunch line, he ahead of me with a battery operated radio pressed to his ear listening to popular music.  I interrupted and said ¨what kind of radio is that¨ and Ralph turned around, looked down at me like the very rich kid that he was, and said ¨Philco¨...end of conversation for a year. 

Ralph, like some of the teenagers I became friends with at school, was from a very wealthy family.  Wealthy friends mostly lived inside the gates at Rolling Hills or in Palos Verdes Estates or Portugese Bend and had horses, elegant cars, extra large homes, yachts and the biggest swimming pools.  I liked that part.  Often I was included in non-stop social activities and I liked that part too.  Life was good.  I was busy at school, very busy and loved Journalism class and worked every year on the school newspaper.

Under Len´s Lid, was the name of the column I wrote as Feature Page Editor for the Narbonne High School student produced/journalism class newspaper (Industrial Arts print shop printed it): The Green and Gold  I was also the Advertising Manager and sold ADS like they had never been sold before (I pitched every one of the small local merchants I could find because I got a 10% Commission and it was more of a part time job)!

As Feature Page Editor (the class and job, along with Advertising Manager, I refused to give up because of the perks. I was Advertising Manager for life and they liked it, the money rolled in) I often received two¨pairs¨ of tickets for Previews and Priemers of NEW MOVIES in nearby Hollywood as Feature Editor. I always went and shared my tickets with various friends who had big ELEGANT cars (we only had Buicks at my house) so we would make grand entrances at The Egyptian, or Graumans, or even big/grand/forbidden Studio lots where they often showed the Previews and introduced us to the STARS!  Yep, there I was, doing my best to TWINKLE amongst the stars (and sometimes I tried to act like it was normal for me to walk down the Red Carpet too). 

As a High Schooler , active teenager and Student Director of Athletics,  I fell in love. I was afraid HE, my love, wouldn't like me anymore if he knew my secret. He was a champion athlete, a brilliant guy, handsome, popular and gifted in many ways including being friendly, happy, well adjusted and he enriched my life.  We were best friends and fellow Key Club/Kiwanis members (I think he got me in as he was a member first). He knew my secret. He demonstrated his fondness for me when we were alone or on a trip. I was afraid and didn't let Nature take its course...something I have regretted my whole life.

Heartbreak Hotel, Johnny Mathis, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tarzan, Crystal Beach, Avalon, Tiajuana/Caesar Salad, Dave of Redondo, UCLA/USC games, The Nominating Convention of John F. Kennedy, The Brown Derby/Club Sandwiches and other delicious activities followed (or was it simultaneously?) during my High School daze.

I loved Los Angeles

August of 1961:  I took the ¨Daylight Limited¨ to Northern California for Fraternity Rush Week/College in the San Francisco Bay area.

I never came back to live at at my parents home again

I never saw my best friend from high school again.  He went far away to become a father, a PHD and a success. Recently I learned that he died well over two decades ago. 

I have kept him close in my thoughts and prayers for over fifty years...I still feel his friendship deeply..that will not change.

to be continued