Ferment Magazine


I.Towns and Villages

Although most of my life has been spent in big cities, numerous towns and villages have made many important contributions.

I have at last done so, and the account can be read at: Hitch-hiking around the anti-war movement, 1973(docx version) and (pdf version)

  • By August, 1973 I was back in Montreal. A position opened up as a free-lance radio programmer for the English-language division of the Canadian Broadcasting System. The marital engagement with Genevieve Manseau, and this job, lasted for another tumultuous year.

  • In the summer of 1974 returned at peach-picking once more in LaPorte, Indiana. After only a month I had to hurry back to Montreal to be present at my very own nervous breakdown , which took its definitive calamitous form that August.

  • 1974-1975. In and out of mental hospitals, 5 all told, in 2 countries and 4 cities.

    In flight from Philadelphia in February,1975, without any luggage and a small amount of money, I hitch-hiked across Pennsylvania. One week of wandering around Beaver Falls, a small town north of Pittsburgh at the conjunction of the Beaver and the Ohio rivers,was followed by commitment to the hospital of the Mental Health Association of Beaver Valley. The experience of this voyage alone contains the material for several novels. Here one can read an account of my sojourn at Beaver Falls

  • Summer of 1975. My return to sanity was almost a year to the day after the onset of the crisis , although both physical and psychological side-effects would plague me for another decade.

    I first recognized that an important component of my intellect had been restored when I was able to flee a warehouse for bodies ( otherwise known as a 'half-way house') in Philadelphia, take a bus, and travel to Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker Farm in Tivoli, NY

    Click HERE to learn more about the history of this interesting locale.Between the peaceniks and the mental patients, I fitted right in.

    A few weeks at the Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie were still needed to drain of the remnants of the neuroleptic drugs,( most notoriously Prolixin), that had been forced into my system over the previous year.

    The CW farm was my home, on and off, until 1979.

    This story ( a chapter from the novel "Getting That Meal Ticket") is an attempt to capture the macabre psychological atmosphere of mental hospitals: Ludis Mentalis(pdf)

  • In connection with research for a novel ("El Pessebre") , I hitch-hiked from Cape Cod to Marlboro, Vermont in the summer of 1980 to interview some of the musicians at the Marlboro Music Festival

    This research project eventually took me to San Juan, Puerto Rico in the summer of 1982. The text of my long article on the state of classical music in Puerto Rico at that time can be read on this website at Puerto RicoIf you're interested in buying a copy of the book, go to Puerto Rico, Music, Tourism and Politics

  • At various times in the 80's and 90's I lived in Ulster County, ( across the river from Tivoli) , in the towns of New Paltz, Highland, Kingston and Woodstock. To visit New York City, I either hitch-hiked down along the Hudson River, or boarded a Metro North train from Poughkeepsie. As a general rule the Metro North train was used for the return, though sometimes I got off at Croton-on-Harmonand hitch-hiked the rest of the way.

  • Between 1978 and 1980 I became actively involved as a member in good standing of the Bard College community.I also became a member in good standing of the Dutchess County Jail community, to which the college transported me (if my memory is correct) 5 times.

    Between my bouts as outside agitator I audited a first-rate course on Quantum Theory, courtesy of Dr. Peter Skiff, a superior course in music performance by Dr. Luis Garcia-Renart, and (briefly) a course on Modern Theater by Dr. Larry Sakarow.

    In keeping with my trouble-maker role I established the "Bard College Nuclear Power Study Group". Intended as an advocacy group for the elimination of nuclear power, particularly in the Hudson Valley. The college administration insisted that it be a "study group": it would not support advocacy groups. Physicist Burt Brody came to our meetings to make sure that we studied rather than advocated. His well-informed presence was of great value to us. After a term of working with the BCNPSG, he indicated that he too had become an advocate against nuclear power as it was being promoted at the time.

    The administration also insisted that my name not appear on any official press releases , given that there were numerous bans against my presence on the campus grounds.

    I could ramble on endlessly about those wonderful two years. However, just last year, its president, Leon Botstein, sent me an official pardon after 20 years of proscription of my presence on the grounds. As part of the political compromise I agreed to refrain from posting the juicier documents from my 3-year battle with the college on Ferment Magazine.

    A month later I travelled to Annandale-on-Hudson to confirm my right to be there. Alas, there seems to be no other good reason for going there, and I've not been back since.

  • Leaving Dutchess (no sic! Its spelt with a "t") County I migrated to Ulster County on the other side of the river, living in New Paltz, Highland, Woodstock and Kingston for intervals of a year or so at a time in the decade of the 80's.Life was never dull, yet not without its difficulties. The following account describes a period of uprooting from April to June, 1989: Highland, Alligerville, Kingston, Woodstock

  • I encountered Vanessa-Valerie Ingebo Young in Santa Cruz, California around the middle of August, 1984.A few weeks later she ended up in jail and I did what I could to help her.The story was written up in Ferment and published as A Schizophrenic in Oakland's Jails(pdf);Vanessa (doc).

    Vanessa, HTML

    I was able to get in touch with her again just before Christmas 2004.She was living in Albany, New York, well looked after by remarkably kind friends who had been able to get her onto the welfare programs which had always been hers by right. She had her own apartment, and was interested in learning new subjects and developing her abilities.

    In March 2005 Vanessa took her own life in a horrifying manner. I learned the details from several newspaper accounts which were sent to me. My intention had been to attend the funeral. However her remains were shipped to Oregon for a private family ceremony.Vanessa's suicide

  • ... More to come.....

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