Yeah Yeah Yeah!

The first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 196o’s.    I was born in 1959 so I’m entirely too young to remember the era of flower power, mods, rockers and hippies.    Somehow,though, at an extremely early age I became smitten with all the people, places, things and circumstances that were prominent then.    That sort of qualifies me as a victim of the Golden Age Syndrome.     By the time I turned thirteen years old, the grooviest decade of all had already been over for about the past two years.    The Beatles, my favorite band, were already broken up since the first half of April, 1970.   The first few years of the 1970’s seemed to have shown great promise.   Singers and bands such as Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Led Zeppelin were always on the radio.    They were throwbacks to the 1960’s anyway though.   Eventually their successors started coming into prominence.   Disco was especially conspicuous during that time frame, followed by new wave and punk.    I, of course,  still stuck to my obsessive interest in the further adventures of John, Paul, George and Ringo.    Much of the music of the middle and late 1970’s was exceptionally good, but I could never let go of my hippie fantasy.   The fact that all four Beatles were then still living made it at least theoretically possible to believe that somehow their era would make a kind of comeback.   The Grateful Dead, Who, Rolling Stones, and Jefferson Airplane (with a slight name change), among other bands from the 1960’s, were all still together.   Bob Dylan and Joan Baez could still be counted on to show up every once in a while.   beatles6b I gained quite a reputation among all my friends, classmates, teachers and people in general, for being such a fan of both the entire 1960’s as a whole and particularly of the Fab Four.   As far as I’m concerned the Beatles and their world have always provided quite an infinitely fertile ground for someone with a hyperactive imagination and an interest in keeping things colorful.   Unfortunately, as good as the solo Beatles’ music, and that of their contemporaries may have been throughout the course of the 1970’s I, always having been so obsessively infatuated with the 1960’s, could never bring myself to admit that anything since then was as good as it was during that time.    Having set up an entirely intrinsically impossible standard of comparison, I ended up in the seriously weird position of getting the distinct impression that the 1970’s versions of the Beatles and their contemporaries were somehow not as good as their slightly earlier personae simply because of the mere passage of time.   As far as I was concerned the 1960’s were a time of merry go rounds, kaleidoscopes, tangerines and marmalade, and the Beatles, as they then existed, were the ultimate personification of imagination and creativity.   Throughout my entire adolescence I read every book, and newspaper and magazine article, that had ever been written about the Beatles, and their lives and times.   Their speech patterns, quirks and mannerisms became part of my world.    Thanks to my insatiable curiosity about them and their era, I became quite exceptionally knowledgeable about all things pertaining to the Fab Four and the 1960’s.   Besides the songs and albums of their Beatle years I kept track of albums like John Lennon’s “Walls And Bridges”, Paul McCartney’s “Band On the Run”, George Harrison’s “Dark Horse”, and Ringo Starr’s “Ringo”, among all their other solo adventures.   I was quite conversant in all things Beatle and could occasionally be counted on even to go overboard with my interest in them.   Even now that I’m a middle aged man I still consider all the music of the 1960’s, and especially that of the Lads from Liverpool, to be entirely without equal.   Perhaps some of my youthful obsession with it all has been tempered to the point of its being a bit more subtle but it’s still always with me.      In a much more important sense it was quite a nightmarishly ugly poisonous environment, but for a kid with a hyperactive imagination and a flair for the colorful it could never possibly be topped or even matched.




sittin in a classroom thinkin it’s a drag

Over the course of my educational lifetime two subjectshousman_paperchase2 I could never even handle the least bit well were math and science.  That’s not even counting college.   College is the time in an individual’s life when he’s introduced to an even wider variety of subjects that are entirely too difficult for him.    My two most significant reminders of how difficult math and science always were for me were the time in the ninth grade at St. John the Baptist when Mr. Richard Morabito, my biology teacher, kept calling my mother and reminding her that I was such an intelligent kid, and such a perfect gentleman in the classroom, that he could never understand why I couldn’t do well in his class;  and Mrs. Joan McGrath, my twelfth grade probability and statistics teacher, who  asked me, on my last day of school, to give her my solemn promise never even to think of majoring in math.    In my freshman year at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale, I was enrolled during my first semester in a probability and statistics class.   After a very short time my professor forced me to leave because he knew I couldn’t handle it.  My late cousin Karen, from western New York, was a math teacher.   She once told me that she had no idea how anyone could possibly have a hard time with math.  She said it struck her as so logical.  Maybe that’s my entire problem with math and the hard sciences.  The reason they are so difficult for me may be the fact that I’ve never been the king of the logically consistent.    With the exception of a cultural anthropology class I once presumed to take at Adelphi University, where Dr. Ludomir Lozny was inevitably forced  to resign himself to my incompetence, I’ve always done quite well at the social sciences.   I’ve always been quite interested in, and done quite well at anything in the humanities department too.    During my fairly early adult years I got smitten with an insatiable interest in both Catholicism and the culture war from a specifically intellectual point of view.   I then took a few more classes at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale and some classes at Adelphi.  Conveniently I avoided the dreaded math and science departments.    When I first went back to Farmingdale, the first two classes I took were micro-economics with Professor Robert Reganse and philosophy, specifically ethics, with Dr. Marlene San Miguel Groner.   I had already taken philosophy and economics classes there immediately after high school, and  I only got average grades.   This time, though, because of my having gotten so entirely enthused about all of life’s big questions, I was quite notorious for my class participation and my grades were exceptional.     The reason I’ve always found the soft sciences and humanities so much more interesting and easier than math and the hard sciences may lie entirely in the fact that math and the hard sciences have always struck me as overly laden with dry, boring facts, figures and symbols.   In the social sciences and humanities, though, there are all sorts of references to the entire history, and the very point, of man’s existence.   For a very long time, people have said that I give the distinct impression that I’m a theology and philosophy major.   I majored in literature though.   As far as I’m concerned the social sciences and humanities provide the most interesting explanations of the way the world is put together, and the manner in which people have always interacted with each other.  Like the very best songs of the 1960’s they provide a lot of especially good story telling.    By my standards, it’s a perfect combination of the didactic and narrative sides of life.   My imagination has always been quite notoriously hyperactive and a lot can happen in humanities and social sciences classrooms that appeal to my  creative side.     Although math and science are most certainly quite exceptionally important, I’ve always found them so unbearably boring and difficult.   All I’ve ever seen in those disciplines has been a succession of unbearably painful burdens to be borne with a sense of resignation.   Unlike Penny’s friends on “The Big Bang Theory”, I should consider life in a world of math and science to be a prison sentence.