It wasn’t me: a modest autobiography
There are a lot of things I did not do. That is why you will not hear me being interviewed on the radio.
I did not attend a name school or Ivy League school. This fact reduced, but did not eliminate, my opportunities to do something that would cause me to be interviewed on the radio. I found other ways to do that.
When I was young, I did not major in English and did not subsequently move to London to write dark stories that would make sexy intellectual women want my brain. Nor did I drive a Jaguar coupe through rainy London night streets, smoking skinny long brown cigarettes. This explains why I never dated Charlotte Rampling. I never spent any time in a crowded hotel room with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Leonard Cohen never sent me a thank you note. But then, I never sent one to him either. Years later, I would never meet Gloria Steinem or Annie Leibowitz.
I enrolled in a graduate school of economics, but did not finish. For that reason, I did not teach agricultural economics at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon. This disappointed my grandmother, who hoped I would manage the family farm not far away. She let me off the hook by dying. Consequently, I abandoned my plan to run for Congress from Eastern Oregon. That’s okay. They have always had reasonably decent representation, just not as much as they would like.
Also as a result of dropping out of economics, I served in Vietnam, but not as a hero. Considering how they treated John Kerry and Max Cleland, that is probably a blessing.
After the war, I graduated with a master’s degree in urban planning, but did not plan any urbans. I ran for public office, a board elected to re-draft the Seattle City Charter, but did not win. That’s why I never used that position for networking or as a springboard to higher office. Incidentally, a year later, Seattle voters rejected the new charter proposed by the elected board. If I had been on the board, it wouldn’t have turned out differently.
A wise and sweet county councilwoman once asked me whether I would run for office again. No, I said, I think I failed the psychological aptitude test. “Don’t you see?” she said, “Every elected official has failed that test.” But I don’t think she was entirely correct. There is Barney Frank, for instance. Not to mention Sonny Bono.
Along the way, the thought occurred to me to write the great American novel. But then, in 1973, Phillip Roth published The Great American Novel. I was devastated. Forget that, I said. I never read it, so I can’t tell you whether I liked it or not. I’ve heard that it covered topics I would not have covered, but I don’t recall what they were.
Next, I thought of putting together a coffee table book called GASS: Great American Service Stations. But one day while touring the Borders Books discounted remainders table, I discovered that someone else had already published it, though by a different name. Apparently, it didn’t do so well. After that, I did not publish any books about community-based running events or nudist retreats. The idea had been to cross America visiting both sorts of activities, doing research for two—I say, two—books in one trip. Didn’t happen.
Along the way, I did manage to publish articles in Seagull, Argus, Puget Soundings, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. All these publications subsequently died, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t my fault.
When I retired, I did not become a distinguished citizen or elder statesman. Nor did I become an artist or writer in Paris, Barcelona or Oaxaca. Learning French would have been a bitch and Barcelona and Oaxaca are a very long way from the grandchildren.
Still, I enjoy listening to people being interviewed on the radio.
~Poet on Fire