Monday, June 1, 2015

the sixties: then came the war

Mr. Kennedy's administration was a mixed metaphor. Glamour met terror. In February, 1962, I was glued to the television as  uberchic Mrs. Kennedy took Americans on a guided tour of the redecorated White House. ( ). In October, 1962, I was kept in the football stadium at Annie Camp Junior High because it was declared a safe space if there was a nuclear attack as we listened to a broadcast of events of the Cuban missile crisis over the school intercom. ( ) I was shocked when Mr. Kennedy was shot and many of my fellow students cheered. It was a confusing time.

Back in Jonesboro, little me was given a National Merit Scholarship, and offers came in from schools all over the country. Only now do I realize how naive I was in those days, (and wonder how naive I am in these days).  I could have gone to school anywhere, from Harvard to Stanford, but I chose Memphis State, largely to spite my father, who wanted me to go to Rice. Memphis was the largest city in which I had spent any time, and it seemed a wonderland compared to Jonesboro. Unfortunately, I was much too insecure in who I was to learn much about how anything else was. I was more or less gifted with a beautiful girlfriend, chosen by our parents, who would become my wife, the existence of whom kept self- and general knowledge of my homosexuality at bay. To quote Zorba the Greek, 'the full catastrophe".

Even at Memphis State, however, I was able to draw the attention of the FBI and the CIA, notice which i think began when I had in high school subscribed to Ramparts magazine, and which grew when i radically suggested Memphis citizens might notice what was happening in Viet Nam and let their congressional representatives know their feelings about it. (See how naive.) I had my own little surveillance team in cheap suits and an cheap brown Chevrolet, and of course my phone was tapped. (I simply crawled out the window on the other side of the apartment, climbed down the drain pipe, and made telephone calls at a nearby friend's place.) Although I had never been late at all on a rent payment, and my grade average was about 3.8, and I was the only National Merit Scholar at MSU, my lease was cancelled and my school records were lost, unless I considered transferring.  But, I had been given, at CIA expense, pretending to be funding from the Field Foundation, a summer with the National Student Association agent provocateurs in Louisville and Madison to see how radical I might become. I wrote a learned treatise on the effect of cybernetics on minority jobs in the United States, suggesting that there would be more jobs, but at low pay.

I had my first Serious Crush. My father died. I thought I might transfer to The New School, so I took the GRE. In fact I would not fly so far. It was a confusing time.

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