India, 1951: For my 8th grade I was enrolled in an American school in the Nilgiri Hills south of Madras KodaikanalA legend inspired by Hindu mythology Viswakarman
"Viswakarman" is included in a collection of renditions of stories from classical mythology:Four Nature Myths
In the summers of 1955 and 56 I worked as a research intern in Applied Mathematics at the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Here are some recollections of Woods Hole transcribed from journals August10, 1980
A short novel Sea Urchins, is based on my experiences in Woods Hole in the 50's
- Summer of 1957:Bus-boy at Otesaga Hotel. My mental condition at this stage was by all accounts dreadful. That is to say, completely off the wall. The manager of the hotel was a full-time bully. For some reason the oppressed and exploited staff of kitchen workers felt that I was doing something for them just by being crazy. The help they gave me will not be forgotten in this lifetime. Otesaga Resort Hotel
- 1957-58.Inevitably I ended up at the Embreeville State Mental Hospital, which may or may not still be in existence. (The Web lists several dates for its closings/reconversions ) .There doesn't appear to be a good picture of it on the Internet. A tour of the dilapidated structures on the spacious lawns of the
CVH hospital in Middletown,CT may actually be more enriching. Interpreted as an installation they comprise a magnificent work of art.
My views on the current state of psychiatry are set forth in Malicious Malpractice
- Peterborough, New Hampshire. In the summer of 1962 I received a scholarship at the MacDowell Colony to revise and finish a novel "Chronicles of Nin". The scholarship had been arranged by the novelist Kay Boyle. At the same time she passed my manuscript along to an editor at Alfred Knopf. My style was rather primitive then, let's say "embryonic" , and it is not surprising that it wasn't accepted for publication. Here is a chapter of the completely revised version of Chronicles.
The unbound text of the novel is available from the author for $15
- During the student rebellion in Paris in May 1968, I was living here:
To find out what I was doing, go to Revolution at Pierrefonds
Quest of the Absolute is a collection of stories based on experiences from this period.
- In the summer of 1968 a French film company Maya Films hired me as English translator and dialogue coach.My first production involved working with the film stars in a gloppy horror thriller entitled "La Belle aux Bois Mourant". (In French this is a pun on "The Sleeping Beauty", and means either/both "The Beauty of the Dying Woods", or "The Dying Beauty of the Woods", or both.)It was shot on location in a village by the name of Ainay-Le-Chateau , a medieval fortress-town near the Forest of Tronçais in the Bourbonnais region of France.
Ainay is very rich in medieval ruins and was of some important in the 10th century. The location was ideal for the lurid contents of our film.
Click on Ainay-le-Chateau to read accounts of its inhabitants, its history, and the lively Film Diary
A large portion Ainay's population are mental hospital patients.Sent there from asylums around the country, they are employed by local businesses in menial tasks. Half-way houses for them are distributed around the village.
The village also appears in my account of the important art movement Alienism, published in Ferment in 1986.
- London, Canada, 1966. That summer I translated the memoir of Kurt Stock, a former German soldier who'd spent 4 years 1945-49 in a Siberian prison camp.
To find out about the Russian Civil Rights Movement, visit Alexander Yesenin-Volpin
- Avignon, France, 1969. Violin playing in La Place de l'Horloge gave me the means to spend the summer at Avignon,while attending a representative sample of the theater and dance productions at the annual summer festival.
- Journalist at the Cannes Film Festival,May 1970.The OUTRAGEOUS, SALACIOUS,SEDITIOUS, SATIRIC "Cannes Festival IT!"
In 1986 I would again be visiting Cannes. Go to
- Allenwood and Danbury Penitentiaries, 1972, places deemed suitable for expunging a sentence for political acivities in connection with the Vietnamese War.There is an article on this website describing my political activities in the late 60's and early 70's. Go to
The Anti-War Movement in New York
- 1973 : Graduating from jail in December 1972, I amd my fiancée at the time , Genevieve Manseau, boarded a train for Montreal. A few months later I returned to the United States, to Westport,Connecticutwhere I was a guest for a while in the home of the famous Quaker prison visitor Honey Knopp.
- After a month or so with her, I returned to Montreal. However, being little inclined to the settled routine of one place, after 5 years in France and 6 months in prison, I did not stay long. In June the longing for the road found its expression in a grand hitch-hiking orbit from Montreal to Burlington, VT;Brattleboro, VT; Hartford, CT;Voluntown, RI; Providence, RI; Fall River, MA; Tivoli, NY;Buffalo, NY; Toronto, Canada; Detroit, MI;and Chicago, IL.
A pleasant week or so was passed at the Catholic Worker's Harbor House in East Chicago . Then I signed on to pick peaches and apples on a farm in LaPorte, Indiana.
The experience of working on this farm as a novice in the company of 3 professional, weather-worn and worldly-wise Mexican Chicanos, was a valuable one and I hope to write about it at some point.
- 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:
- 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).
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