Knowing I was going to quit high school as soon as I turned sixteen, I left Immaculata and transferred to Seward Park High School on Essex Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Everything they were teaching at Seward, which was a public school, I had already learned in the seventh grade at Catholic school.
Being bored at school and having too much fun running the streets, I stopped going to classes. They threatened to put me in a place for truants called a "600" school. Eddie Schultz and I went to the office where the school records were kept. I walked into the office, told a young female receptionist I needed the attendance files, got mine, and left.
What I learned running the streets left me more and more disillusioned. I started thinking that a lot of the morals and principles I learned in school were bullshit. There was a short film from the 50's called "Reefer Madness" that wanted to send the message to young people that smoking marijuana led to madness and severe withdrawal symptoms.
To watch the film and the bizarre, overdramatic, crazy actions of these people with their eyes bulging out and curled up in the fetal position after taking a couple of drags off a joint supported my thoughts that it was all bullshit...all the social norms of society were a "Reefer Madness" movie.
I smoked and sold pot, all me and my friends did was laugh, get the munchies and "goof" on people. Little episodes…like getting caught with football tickets and the cop letting me go when he found out the tickets belonged to Sonny Sherbo, one of the local mob guys. Watching the bulls getting paid off to let crap games and card games operate in the neighborhood, learning that in order to run a gambling joint you had to pay off the "division" squad of the local precinct.
All these observations were in my head’ and I kept them to myself because I didn't have too much confidence in my random, "creature of the moment" thoughts - they weren't validated…until I read some writings of the Marquis de Sade. He emphasized the dark side of human nature and sexuality, articulating the hypocrisy of elite society. I didn't agree with his violence towards women, but he was a provocative writer whom I alternately thought of as a perverted bastard and a fascinating man who shed light on the dark places in most of us. He also spent over 30 years in prison...the similarity scares me.
Today, I’m a big fan of a more acceptable personality, Jon Stewart. He also points out the hypocrisy of society, particularly the politicians. When I see the blatant hypocrisy of these “public officials,” I think that if we’re to take a moral example from our elected leaders – no wonder why society is so fucked up!
To be continued. Contact: email@example.com.
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