Not running for office

Vote in New York for school budgets on May 17

First, I should make it crystal clear that I am NOT planning to run for office. I found this question on Quora asking people to show the Presidential electoral college map based on the states they had visited.

I should define “visited”, I suppose. Almost every blue state I have slept in, except two: Delaware and South Carolina. But I have eaten in both of them. Delaware was a stop to and/or from some antiwar demonstration in DC. Re: South Carolina, my father went there in order to sell stuff when he used to sell at flea markets.

Mississippi I was in very briefly c. 1970 on a trip with a bunch of teens from my high school. We went to either Shelby or Fayette County, Tennessee, described to us as one of the poorest counties in the United States at the time. We were walking down this dirt road and crossed into Mississippi, went a short distance, then decided it may not be that safe for a bunch of young integrated Northerners.

At some level, when I was much younger, I suppose I thought I would someday consider running for public office. I was president of the student government in my high school. Someone signing my high school yearbook anticipated that I would be president of the United States one day!

When I ran for the Financial Council at SUNY New Paltz, it was a discouraging process. For one thing, there was quite likely voter fraud. Also, there were members of the Council who were… not as scrupulous as they might have been.

Petitions

But mostly, I just hate campaigning. I’ve carried petitions in 1974 for a Congressional candidate named Matt McHugh, who won. But I really hate getting folks to sign papers, though I’ve done so four other times.

There was a time in this century when I did actually consider running for office. There was a guy who ran MULTIPLE times for Albany Public Library trustee. How do I say this politely? OK, he was a neo-Nazi. And if he were likely to get elected – if there were only two slots and he was one of two candidates, I would have scurried to get on the ballot. And if I were too late, I would have run a write-in campaign. Fortunately, this never happened.

In fact, this year for the library board, I understand that there were 17 people carrying petitions for the four slots open. And I know two of them personally. “The library budget vote and trustee election are held in conjunction with the City School District of Albany budget vote.” The vote is on May 17; the polling places are NOT always the same as the primary and general election sites.

1972: A Hole In The Bucket

other implements of destruction

me and Leslie, Feb 1972

My diary notes a fight I had in February 1972 with my girlfriend at the time, the Okie. It involved the song A Hole In The Bucket.

The tune has a bit of history in my family. My father used to sing it, playing both the put-upon Henry and the, er, strident Liza. But by the time we were teenagers, my sister Leslie and I had taken over the song in the Green Family Singers shows. It was our tour de force. I did the cowering bit so well that once, I nearly rolled into a pond at a campground. And Leslie was also very good in her role.

I suspect I had in my mind our version, or maybe Dad’s, or Harry Belafonte and a female singer. Here’s one with Odetta. The Okie’s rendition couldn’t compare. I’m guessing that I was wrong here, overly and unnecessarily critical. One does get a certain version of a song in one’s ear. BTW, here’s a Sesame Street take.

And other things

Besides going to class at SUNY New Paltz and the like, I used to write letters, to Leslie and to several friends I had gone to school with at Binghamton Central High School. I played 8-ball quite often; you’d think I’d get better at it, but not appreciably so.

To no surprise, I listened to a lot of music this month, Led Zeppelin III, Beatles, Donovan, plus whatever was on the college radio station, WNPC.

Feb 4 – read Ms. magazine cover to cover, even the ads
Feb 5 – The Okie tried to teach me to drive her Saab. The manual transmission did me in.
Feb 6 – The Okie, a guy named Steve and I went to see the movie Carnal Knowledge, which I thought was a good film
Feb 7 – the assigned readings to Intro to Black Studies were Before the Mayflower [which I still have], Blues People [ditto; it’s by Amiri Baraka, then Leroy Jones], Soledad Brothers, and an anthology
Feb 8 – I put a check in the bank to put my checking account $4.39 in the black
Feb 13 – Saw the movie Yellow Submarine
Feb 14 – I bought as Valentine’s Day presents two Kris Kristofferson albums, Me and Bobby McGee, and The Silver Tongued Devil and I
The Sunday News (NYC newspaper) editorial thinks this “Women’s Lib” has gone “far enough” and that we need to get back to “normalcy”; no female at Annapolis, e.g.
Feb 17 – Leslie took the bus from Binghamton to visit me; on the 19th, she went on the bus to NYC. [The out-of-focus photo is from that trip.] Later, the Okie’s car got hit, although not seriously. Leslie and the Okie’s roommate slept in my bed, with the Okie and I sleeping on a sleeping bag on the floor. “A lot of laughing and joking for quite a while.”

The snow event

Feb 20 – Digging out several cars after yesterday’s snowstorm. There was a community spirit, but also the more cars we got out of the parking lot, the more additional vehicles could be freed. Where the Okie’s car had gotten stuck the day before on Route 299 was a huge pile of snow. But eventually, we [Uthaclena, the Okie and her roommate, me and my roomie] dig into the pile with our buckets, sticks, and “other implements of destruction.” [Yes, I quoted Arlo.] But we discovered the car wasn’t there after all.

We went to the police station. The older guy there Uthaclena thought was going to keel over, and frankly the Okie and I agreed. He said the car was at Tantello’s Texaco, so the Okie wrote a check for $15.75, but we looked and the car wasn’t there.

It was actually at Uppy’s Gulf. After the woman there told the Okie how to spell Uppy’s, she announced they didn’t accept checks. So we pooled our money to pay the $15 towing fee and the $2 for “parking.” [I have the Uppy’s voided check in my diary.]

February 1972: sectioning; draft number

Gene Hackman

PunchcardSome notes from my diaries.

Monday, Jan 31 – My father drove me to the bus station. I took the 9:45 a.m. bus from Binghamton back to Poughkeepsie. (For reasons unclear, I actually taped the Shortline bus ticket to my diary page.) To my surprise, the brother of my high school girlfriend was onboard, visiting his sister in part to borrow money for a motorcycle. I must admit that I took some small pleasure over the fact that he doesn’t like her new beau.

It’s a slow trip, changing buses in Monticello, and then stopping in Newburgh. My bus was supposed to arrive at about 1 p.m. but was two hours late. My girlfriend (the Okie) wasn’t at the station to pick me up. So my ex kindly dropped me off at New Paltz. [BTW, she remembers this; I did not.] It turns out the Okie’s car was inoperable. I didn’t see her until late the following day.

Tuesday, Feb 1 – While waiting for the Okie, Uthaclena, our friend/Okie’s roommate Alice and I turned off the lights and listened to a weird record of Uthaclena’s about the zodiac. Bruce, the resident advisor, came in, thinking we were up to something.

Groundhog Day

Wednesday, Feb 2 – I had to register for classes, in a process they called sectioning. I got into Intro to Black Studies, Basic Economics 2, and European Politics and Government easily enough. But the freshmen always get what hasn’t been closed out by the upperclassfolk. So Intro to Sociology was my third choice. I also got closed out of one General Anthropology course, and Intro to Philosophy, and had to take an 8 a.m. General Anthro class. The process took about 80 minutes, 20 minutes longer than the previous semester.

[As I recall, there were boxes with IBM punch cards, and when the number of cards designated was depleted, you knew you were out of luck.]

My friend Uthaclena and I were sitting in the dorm lounge when Fred came with the draft numbers. Uthaclena and some others had high draft numbers [which meant they were highly unlikely to be drafted]. But Fred got 23, and I got 2! Lengthy conversations about the implication and the options ensued.

[In an odd quirk, March 6 was 1, and March 7 was 2. My friend Karen wrote to me days later indicating that if I were going to get a low number, why not #1?!]

Six of us went in my roommate Ron’s car to see The French Connection in Poughkeepsie at the Juliet Theatre [which I know because I have the ticket stub – the admission was $2]. I had been worried about the violence, based on previews, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. We then stopped at the Plaza Diner.

The songs on WABC were particularly resonating with me:
Get Together – The Youngbloods, one of the very few singles I ever purchased. I still have it.
Dedicated To The One I Love – The Mamas and The Papas
Without You – Nilsson

Eventually, I went to sleep listening to Chicago [II], side three.

Not incidentally, there’s a LOT more detail that I shan’t be sharing.

Slowly I turned, step by step…

Niagara Falls

Slowly I turnedHere’s an odd stream of consciousness piece, I suppose. Back in the mid-1970s, I was in a local production of Godspell in New Paltz. At some point in the dialogue, much of the cast is chanting: “Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch, until…” I knew it had to be a reference to something, but I had no idea what. I didn’t bother to search YouTube or Google, since they didn’t exist at the time. So I forgot about it…

…until I was reading Arthur’s recent stories about the COVID protocols in New Zealand, specifically The next steps have been announced. “Critics, as the Prime Minister pointed out today, will complain that the government didn’t move fast enough, or that it’s moving too fast.” And somehow, my mind conflated the “next steps” and “too fast” into “Slowly I turn, step by step…” What IS that a reference to?

As it turns out, it’s a bit by the Three Stooges called Niagara Falls, which you can see here. It’s part of the 1944 short film Gents Without Cents. But the routine has been used for decades, going back to vaudeville. See the variation on I Love Lucy.

I was never a big fan of the Three Stooges. Their comedy seemed mean-spirited when I’d occasionally see them on Saturday afternoons growing up.

Where everybody knows your name

But they are the punchline to one of the most memorable pieces of dialogue on the sitcom Cheers. It’s from the episode entitled What’s Up, Doc? which I have not seen since it aired in March of 1989. A therapist says to Sam Malone (Ted Danson), “You’re an aging lothario who uses sex to cover up massive insecurity, a fear of true intimacy, fear of a relationship…”

Sam believes the diagnosis. “Come on, answer the question. What do I have in my life that isn’t women or sex?” His friend Rebecca notes his job bartending, his car, and sailing, but Sam notes these are all ways to meet women.

At the end is this dialogue:

Rebecca: What about the Three Stooges?
Sam: Oh, yeah, great. I like the Three Stooges. That helps a lot.
Rebecca: Wait a minute, Sam. Think about this. Do women like the Three Stooges?
Sam: No, they hate them.
Rebecca: All right. Are women impressed that you like the Three Stooges?
Sam: No, some of them even think they’re stupid.
Rebecca: When you’re watching the Three Stooges, do you think they’re sexy?
Sam: No, when you watch the Three Stooges, nobody has time to think about sex or women. Hey, wait a minute. That means I do have another interest in my life. I like the Stooges for themselves. Hey, whoa, I’m okay. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

It’s funnier in full context.

The way-too-detailed diaries

The General

diary.Burgwyn.1862.Civil War.NC
diary of Burgwyn, 1862, Civil Wa r.NC

Some years ago, I thought I would share some items with y’all from my diaries after 50 years had passed. I initially found one notebook from March 1972, but since then, I found one that starts on November 23, 1971.

The problem is that my way-too-detailed diaries haven’t yet gleaned much info to blog about. For instance, my father must have picked me up from college at New Paltz on 11/23. Then I went to my old high school and saw a plethora of students, former students, and teachers, all named, with some discussions dissected. Other parties in January are cited with a wealth of names interesting only to a very few people.

Hey, it was snowing in Binghamton on 11/25. I watched the Baltimore Bullets beat the Atlanta Hawks on 11/26. In fact, I have likely documented every single television show and movie I watched, and with whom. I hated the movie Fellini Satyricon.

I wrote or received letters from people A, B, and C. I did homework X. Cramming for a calculus exam in 1/1972, I amazingly passed. Then, there are the details I’m not willing to share because it affects still-living people, some of them significant.

Also, there are people mentioned that I have ZERO recollection of. Three of my friends and I went to Woodstock to the 18th birthday party for some young woman, who was taking care of a four-year-old developmental disabled child. (I used the word “retarded” because that’s what I knew then.)

Worth sharing

But there were some revelations. The Okie brought up the idea that we should get married way back in mid-January of 1972 when we had only gone out for four months. I was surprised; I thought she’d be disinclined because of sexist marriage laws. Also, she didn’t want to alienate her parents if we were to have lived together. I did not remember this info at all.

My parents were in the process of moving from 5 Gaines Street in Binghamton to 29 Ackley Avenue in Johnson City. It was quite stressful. I noted on 1/22/72, “I knew this intemperate unreasonableness would come in moving.”

My dad had recruited friends to help fix up the new place. When he got into the task mode, my sisters and I used to refer to him as The General. “The General, a side that [a couple we all knew] had never seen, is obnoxious and is annoyed easily.”

I have about 15 notebooks of various sizes filled. The oldest volume I found is #3. I lost about half of them from a flood in an apartment in the 1990s. This pained me greatly at the time, but now I have a sense of relief; I don’t have to read them all! But periodically, I’ll leaf through the surviving books and generate more posts. I do know there will be some share-worthy events when I get further into 1972.

 

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