• Starting all over again is gonna’ be rough •

It is time to reorganize this introduction to me.
There are two ways I can do this:

I will do this as a(n) historian.

I was born at Loretto Hospital on Chicago, IL.'s west side on a day when some baseball pitcher threw a no-hit game. My mom and dad, Terry & Peter {the order is significant} were residing in a two-flat house slightly over 1½ miles east. The abode was almost demolished for the Eisenhower {nee Congress} expressway.

I honestly do not remember much of what occurred when residing at the address on west Harrison St. I did not recall just when we moved from there {due to a dreadful block-busting episode by a reprehensible real estate agent}. It took until 2015 for me to discover this was in August 1961. (I found the house deed for where they moved.)

My educational background is varied. I am a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools, having matriculated through the eighth grade at Falconer on N. Lamon Ave. I was a good student. In that last year, I was re-assigned to a lower reading curriculum because I had already taken the highest level in the seventh grade.

Starting in the summer of 1967, when school was out, because mom did not want me to be alone in the house all day, I would go to work with mom [Here's a prevenient instance of ‘Bring your child to work’], who was a secretary for Illinois State Senator Peter C. Granata. My dad, who then was employed by the Chicago & North Western railroad, had had some type of accident. He had only one working eye. The other one was just for appearance. {I surmise he did not want to utilize the eyepatch approach.} There was no automobile in the household. Mom and I would get picked-up by my uncle William [R.I.P. January 2014], who lived about one mile away from the address here {on a path to | from Weber [c.v.]}. He was a bus driver for the Chicago Transit Authority. [He actually was initially hired by the Chicago Motor Coach Company, four months before it was bought by the CTA.]
You may already know that Peter C. Granata was considered the political conduit for {ahem} a career-offender cartel. For this, I have to believe there is a Federal Bureau of Investigation file for mom. {And there is probably one for me, but I hope there is nothing more recent than this.} (If you think I am going to make a ‘Freedom Of Information Act’ request for these files, guess again.) Willy's second job was driving around downtown purveying tickets to The First Ward Ball. I would be the passenger in the auto ostensibly there to dissuade any police officers from ticketing the improperly-parked vehicle, while Willy was physically leaving the ducats. I do not remember any attempts to ticket us.
P. C. Granata's Chicago office was at Taylor and May streets: One block west of Al's #1 Italian Beef shack. But I was not allowed to have the italian beef. I was consigned to the hot dog.

So I was raised to depend on public transportation. From the summers spent riding along with uncle Willy, my teen-aged friends became his two youngest sons, Ron and Jerry.

As you will read, I had a constrained relationship with mom. But there are two elements I inheirited from her:

  1. The feline enjoyment [| cuteness] chromosome
  2. The ‘value’ chromosome
For the latter, after work, once a week, we would take the CTA to a shopping center. It was either Belmont | Central, or Milwaukee | Cicero | Irving Park. Mom would spend small amounts on items for me. This was how I accumulated die-cast metal cars like Matchbox®, Hot Wheels®, and Johnny Lightning®. We would also shop a discount department store (Goldblatt's, Steinburg-Baum) and five-&-ten-cent stores (Kresge's, Woolworth's). These shops, in addition to the current 7" 45 R.P.M. records, would offer cut out records in boxed sets, with a big piece of cellophane tape over the top, in which you would see the label of one record, but there were more inside. Mom stressed that even though this cost more than the one record I was keen to obtain, it was more likely I would enjoy at least some of the other records in the box. This was quite astute. I still have those 7" records here [but I can't swiftly access most of them]. Many of the other records not visible in the box usually turned out to be a Shangri-Las release on Red Bird. {Life lesson learned: Quantity is preferable to quality.}

For some reason, mom & dad felt I would not do as well in a C.P.S. high school. I was enrolled at Weber High School (now defunct - you will notice how many aspects of my life have since ceased to exist), a religious-based, all-male school on west Palmer Ave.
The freshman year at Weber was rough. I wound up on the deficiency list in the first semester. To get back to the studies, I more or less jettisoned any social contact with other classmates.
In another harbinger, Weber's sports teams were racking. {Life lesson learned: I do not like pain, either physical or emotional.}

I got the studies turned around in sophomore year. I became so enamored with Latin I signed on for third and fourth year Latin. You could very well espy all the poly-syllabic English utterances I have on these World-Wide Web pages.

Did I rebel against my parents? Of course I did. Everybody does. I utilized some intriguing methods though.
Dad was a Chicago Cubs fan. I became a Chicago White Sox fan.
Mom smoked tobacco. (A lot.) I never began smoking.

I nearly qualified for an academic scholarship somewhere, but I ran out of time for the section of the ACT test dealing with mathematics. The lack of answers {all considered wrong} lowered my score to two points less than what was needed.

I graduated from Weber in May 1974. That I had become eighteen also meant I needed to register with Selective Service. I had passed a driving exam and was issued a license in Illinois. But I did not have an auto, and was not interested in having an auto as long as I could ride public transportation.
The Selective Service office was within walking distance (on W. Diversey Ave.). Dad had provided my birth certificate from the safe deposit box, and I was summarily issued a paper identification card weeks later.
This was remarkable, for a reason you will learn if you click through to this page. I caution you, though. It deals with content you may find concupiscible.

The C.T.A. began an offer which was illuminating: It was the Sunday SuperTransfer. For one special fare, you could ride the entire system all day. Possessing this, I ensued seeing parts of Chicago I had not previously. This included neighborhoods which were unused to seeing Caucasian kids walking around. I was not threatened or hassled. I suspect I looked like I knew what I was doing. (I did know what I was doing. I had begun buying cut out long-playing 33⅓ R.P.M. records. On the north and northwest sides of Chicago, I kept finding soul, R & B, and funk platters [i.e.: Black artists] in the bins. I deduced that to find pop, rock, and progressive LPs [i.e.: Caucasian artists], I needed to browse south and west side record shops.)
Did I tell mom and dad I was doing this? No. Of course not. The records bought were from shops which did not print their names & addresses on the paper bags. {Life lesson learned: How to keep activities occluded | secretive.}

For college, I wanted to become a broadcaster. Mom and dad still did not want me to leave the area. I was enrolled at Columbia College Chicago, which was then near Navy Pier. I had instructors like Al Parker and Don Ferris. My grades were solid, but mom and dad were disconsolate with how much it cost. I was instructed to transfer out after one year there. I wound up at the Univ. of Illinois - Chicago {nee Circle}.

I guess I cannot be too upset about this, because it meant that mom and dad could continue giving me money which I would use to buy stuff like LP records. One day, the floodgates burst.
I was staying at home, listening to records. Mom and dad went shopping at Milwaukee | Cicero | Irving Park. They got back home in the late afternoon and told me, "There is a sidewalk sale at Kee [discount department store]. Here are some records we thought you might like."
The cut out LP records were intriguing. I did not have them. Then I looked at the price stickers on them.
Musicland® special sale: Buy one [19¢], get the second one for 1¢.
I did not buy a bunch of current LPs, but if I did, one would cost around $5. That $5 would get me fifty LP records at this sidewalk sale. Scroll back up to where mom tells me about the cellophane-taped 7" boxes.
I went there the next day and began stockpiling. Every time Kee would have a sidewalk sale, I was there buying massive quantities.

The more amazing news is that I still have these records, and that hardly any of them have actually been played. They're on the back porch at the abode here. But I can't get to most. (There is other stuff stored in front of them.)

In this span [1976-79], I discovered collegiate ice hockey, soccer, pinball, and computers. I sat in the left-field lower deck outfield section at Chicago STING home games @ Comiskey Park.
Although all the corporations manufacturing mechanical action pinball machines were in metropolitan Chicago, pinball itself was illegal in Chicago until 1976. You had to go to a suburb to play it. After pinball was legalized in New York City [You can find how and when that happened on the W-WW. Pinball was redefined as a game of skill, not chance.], Chicago's ex-police chief became a spokesman for Bally®, and the City Council voted to allow it. “Pinball fever” stoked up. Even I was getting in on it. I started a sideline of operating pinball machines in locations which were not dedicated arcades. A few of them were situations that showed second and third-run movies - including ones presenting explicit erotica. {Another harbinger: I am viewing this genré of movies on a regular basis.}
I was a member of the UICC Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. I learned timeshare BASIC and maintained programs on UICC's HP2000 system; followed by PLATO and ZGrass graphics language.
At UICC, I was reconnected to cousin Ron. One semester, we founded a new social group based upon a playing card game we consistently played at Willy's house. It was not poker, or contract (| duplicate) bridge. It was 500 Rummy. Guess which geometric symbol was in the group's logo? No. It was an equiangular triangle with '500' inside. We attempted to run a tournament leading to a champion, and had 36 people register for it. We were funded by the University. We drew up the brackets, including randomly selecting eight persons who were placed in the second round. But on the first day of the tournament, only two contestants turned up. The tournament was aborted; but my diligence in organizing it was bestowed with a UICC Student Service Award.
I graduated from UICC in early 1979. My degree is in Political Science, with a minor in Communications {from all the credits transferred from Columbia College}.

After graduation, dad pulled some strings and got me into the data processing sector at Bankers Life & Casualty Co. on north Elston Ave. I was in policyholders service. Dad was also the administrator of the weekly gridiron pool. {I do not use the word "football" for anything.} This version cost $1, was in which you assigned a number from 1 to 14, with 14 being the most certain, and 1 being the least certain, to whichever team in a specific game. Pick the winner - no point handicap. The numbers for each participant would be added up. Whoever had the highest number was the winner. If there was a tie, then the prediction of the score of the Monday night game was the tie-breaker.
I would have an entry {even before going to work at Bankers}, dad would have an entry, and occasionally we would go half-&-half on a card flip entry. One time the card flip actually won the pool {It somehow put a high number on the New York Jets at the Denver Broncos, and was one of five to even select the Jets.}, but I want to let you know about two of the notable times one of us did not win.

I am certain you have seen the footage of the San Diego Chargers v. Oakland Raiders game where the Raiders did the last-minute fumble-roostie of pushing the ball forward until it got in the Chargers' end zone. This caused the rule change in the off-season where the fumble had to be recovered by the player who fumbled it. Forty-six of the 52 people in the pool had double-digit numbers on the Raiders. I had a 3 on the Chargers. I would have won the pool that week if not for this incident.
Dad had a big number on a Monday night game between the New England Patriots v. Baltimore Colts. The Patriots took the lead in the last two minutes of the game. For some reason, they did not squib the ensuing kickoff. They kicked the ball all the way to Joe Washington. Then, they forgot how to tackle. This clip is easily found on the World-Wide Web. Dad lost. I told him, "Never put anything of value on the Patriots." {In the 1970s, the Patriots were reckless. They would win games they shouldn't, but they would also lose games they shouldn't.}

I did win the pool on a couple of occasions. From the proceeds of one, I discovered a shop in Niles which was selling something imported from Japan: A pachinko machine. {Another harbinger: The first Japanese item I ever bought.} It was not easy getting there and back on public transportation. By this time, the CTA Sunday SuperTransfer had been expanded to include Nortran (& West Towns) suburban bus routes. The machine, made of wood, was pretty heavy and bulky. It blocked off a trio of seats. But no buses were at capacity.
I still have the pachinko machine. It is also on the back porch here. It is one of the items which is in front of the LP records.

By autumn 1980, the situation at Bankers was deteriorating. A key programmer in our unit had left the employ because he sought more money. His tasks were reassigned to me and other newer people in this unit. Then, at our semi-annual review, unit supervisor Bill Reid told me I was the worst programmer in the unit. I was disappointed until casual chats with other people in the unit reported they had been judged the worst programmer in the unit. Bill Reid pocketed all the money that had been apportioned to our salary raises for himself.

To be able to program in ZGrass language, I felt I had to go where ZGrass was being utilized. ZGrass was how the trench sequence in "Star Wars" (1978) had been made. The movie-making business was in southern California. My cousin Ron had moved to southern California. He was sharing a house in Reseda, CA. in the San Fernando Valley with two other people, one of whom was an ex-classmate from Weber(!). But how to get there?

I used a technology cheat to accomplish this! Bankers had installed a new telecommunication system. From reading its manual, there was a feature where, if an extension you phoned was busy, you could enter a star-code to ring this telephone when the other line was open. A co-worker got a call on her extension. I placed a call to her extension and got the busy signal. I entered the star-code. When she finished, my phone rang. I picked it up, plunged my fingers down on the hook (A pile on my desk obscured this from vision.), and proceeded to have a one-sided conversation with nobody. This was a corporation in southern California wanting to hire me for its data processing department. Mom and dad were stunned I had managed to land a job in southern California. I gave my notice to Bankers and departed it at the end of January 1981.
When I arrived in Reseda, I told the others there I did not actually have a job, but was confident that since I was now here for more than one week, I would get one soon. I did have a reasonable amount of funds saved.

I made contact with a pair of job recruiters, but the position I got was one found by myself in the Los Angeles Times want ads. It was a seasonal data processing job at C.C.H. Computax in El Segundo, CA.
Getting from Reseda to El Segundo on public transportation involved some walking, and three S.C.R.T.D. bus routes. It took 130 minutes each way.

This was unsustainable. I needed, at the least, to be closer to El Segundo. I also accepted that I would have to obtain and operate an automobile.
The closer address became a furnished apartment in the Westchester section of Los Angeles, on west Arbor Vitae St. It was relatively inexpensive as well. Because it was in the landing path of Los Angeles International Airport [LAX].

For the auto, the base factor was it had to run on regular gasoline {leaded}.
It turned out the majority of used cars needing only regular gas were old Volkswagen Beetles. This being southern California, there were a lot of them in the marketplace.
I bought a 1974 blue Super Beetle from a private seller in Culver City. I then tried to drive it back to Arbor Vitae St. I struggled to move the driver's seat to a comfortable position. It was a manual transmission automobile. I was having problems shifting gears. I did not realize it was a matter of continually easing off the clutch and pushing down on the accelerator.
As I was struggling with the VW dying out due to my poor proficiency with the clutch and the accelerator, a young male on west Santa Monica Ave. noticed my plight and offered to help. I am fogging out on his name. I think it was Tracy. He got in. I let him drive it for a distance, watching him do the clutch | accelerator procedure. He related “This is how you shift. Once you learn how to do this, these cars are a lot of fun to drive.”
We headed not for Westchester, but the San Fernando Valley. We stayed off the freeway, motoring on Sepulveda Blvd. through the mountains. When we stopped at a 7-Eleven in Sherman Oaks for a Big Gulp® (49¢), he said, “Let's see you try driving this.”
The address I headed for was the house in Reseda. I still had a key for it. This being the Valley, the roads were flat. I would not be challenged trying to engage first gear on a steep incline.
I successfully manuevered the VW to the house and parked on Lindley Ave. Ron was home. "Hi, Ron. This is Tracy. I just bought this VW Beetle, and he is teaching me how to drive a manual transmission car. Now, I'm going to try and drive this all the way back to Westchester. Wish me success."

I was successful. I further managed to drive I-405 to Manchester Ave. I parked the VW on Arbor Vitae St. across the street from the apartment. Tracy came inside my apartment. He noticed it was spartan. I had bought a couch which folded out to a bed, had a 16" color television set, and subscribed to Jack Barry Cable Television {Yes, that Jack Barry.}. And with that, Tracy departed, heading back to somewhere. {Was Tracy a gay guy cruising? I do not know. Nothing suggested I was being sized up as a consort.}

As I scribe on this page, I am spiritual - not religious. But this was the first manifestation to me that I have a cosmic overlord.

Would you believe I failed my first California drivers' license test? I was using the VW with the manual transmission, and taking the road test in the Inglewood area. I messed up the clutch | accelerator procedure awaiting a left turn. The auto died. This was an automatic instant failure. My test assessor had to motor the VW back to the D.M.V. center.
For the second attempt, I got clever. I went back to the house in Reseda, and got permission to use one of the other occupant's vehicles (He rode along with me.). It was an automatic transmission auto. The road test was on the level avenues of Winnetka in the west Valley. So there were no snags with hills or shifting gears. I passed. The second thing I did upon getting my California driver's license was joining the Automobile Club of Southern California [AAA] {which is annotated on my AAA card to this very day}.

The seasonal job with C.C.H. Computax ended. I got another data processing job at a small company in western Los Angeles. That turned out to be temporary as well. It lasted two months. I was seeing prospective employers, both on my own, and from a job recruiter. A harsh episode with one of the recruiter referalls curtailed its further use. It sent me to an interview. I thought it went OK. Three weeks later, the news came back that the person hired for the position was the fiancée of the department manager's daughter. Everybody else was just being run through the mill to make it seem like a fair opportunity. I scolded the recruiter to do some background checking before sending me to a company which had no intention of hiring me.

Then, something unfortunate happened. The blue Super Beetle was stolen off Arbor Vitae St. one night. I reported the theft to the L.A.P.D. and made a claim against my auto insurance. My claim was approved, and I received a check, which I used to buy another used Beetle. This was a yellow 1973 regular Beetle. I bought it from a private party in Redondo Beach. He had kept a folder with all the maintenance that had been done on it.

Another recruiter told me that I should apply for unemployment insurance. Since I had been employed in Chicago, I had some funds available, even in Los Angeles. This was accurate. I read the rules, made the application, and was approved. I had to submit a report each week detailing my efforts to get a new job. As I informed my case worker, I was confident I would soon get one.

It happened. McDonnell Douglas Automation Company was sufficiently impressed with my data processing background. I was hired for its smaller office on Ximeno Ave. in Long Beach, CA., near a traffic circle.
I mention the traffic circle because (believe this or do not), on my first day motoring there, I had an accident merging into the street. Talk about a crash course: While the car was in a nearby VW dealership getting its body repaired and seat belts reinstalled in it, I was introduced to a co-worker who was relatively close to Westchester, but which I had to take another transit bus to a corner where I could get picked up and dropped off each day.
I sent off the last report to my unemployment insurance case worker.

A co-worker at McAuto (as was its short name), when told that my previous Beetle had been stolen, tipped me off to a ‘street smarts’ manuever which would probably keep the current one from being heisted: Remove the distributor cable from the engine. If the thief got inside the VW, managed to remove the steering wheel-to-clutch metal bar {termed a “European crook lock”}, and then tried to hotwire the car, it would crank, but never turn over.

I resumed going to soccer games. If you remember {you should}, baseball went on strike that year. Suddenly, soccer games started showing up on cable television channels.
The Los Angeles AZTECS of the North American Soccer League were playing in the L. A. Coliseum in 1981. I used transit to get to | from the games and the post-game parties at the Bonaventure Hotel downtown. [Besides the VW, I still had a monthly pass from SCRTD.] At those post-game parties, I had my first contact with John McGrane and Brian Quinn.
The vagaries of the N.A.S.L. season was such that neither the AZTECS nor the California SURF (who played in Anaheim at the baseball stadium) were drawn against the STING that year. The AZTECS qualified for the playoffs, and were set against the Montreal MANIC in the first round. In the second leg, in the Coliseum, with the first leg having ended nil-nil, a questionable penalty was given the MANIC in overtime. The penalty kick was made, and the AZTECS were eliminated. If they had won, they would have faced the STING in the second round. (The AZTECS went defunct. This was their last-ever match. Did I mention I was also at the last-ever SURF game?)
But the good news was that the STING won the N.A.S.L. Championship. This meant they would be placed in the 1982 Trans-Atlantic Challenge Cup in May. I began planning to return to Chicago to see their home game in the competition.
At the AZTECS postgame parties, I encountered a couple of males who told me they were involved in a soccer team playing in a lower division league in the San Fernando Valley. They inquired [in English - many of the people in the stands at the Coliseum were primarily Spanish-speaking] whether I played soccer. I told them I did. We exchanged business cards. [I had a lot of them left over from C.C.H. Computax.]

I did not cook. I had a rotation of fast-food restaurants to which I went (including In-N-Out Burger® - but Tommy's was better), but I also revealed “happy hour” food specials at area restaurants. I had not discerned beer then, so I do not recollect if I had beers, or I snuck by on soda at these venues.
When I went out at night, I would likely end up at pinball and video game arcades. My most frequent one was at the northernmost edge of Redondo Beach, on Marine Ave. It utilized a token machine: 4 | $1. If you spent $5, you got extra tokens. With my background, it should not surprise you I was very good at pinball. I especially enjoyed Williams® FIREPOWER table. {Is this another harbinger?} For video games, I played mostly Donkey Kong®, Burgertime®, DigDug®, and Q-Bert®. Yes, the “cute” games, not the shoot-‘em-ups. I really did not play Pac-Man®. That was the machine that usually had a queue waiting for it. [The address is now a Hilton® Garden Inn. It is across the avenue from the Green Line light rail terminus.] It was at game arcades that I began displaying voyeuristic tendencies. I did not have to be the person playing the game to enjoy it.

Being in the aircraft landing path was taking a toll. In January 1982, I moved to a newer furnished apartment. I recruited my ex-roommates from Reseda, one of whom had access to a pickup truck, to move my fold-out bed and television set to the address: 8634 Pershing Dr. in the high-numbered section of Playa Del Rey, CA. (still in L.A.). Of all the family members I knew in southern California, I was the one closest to the ocean, but I was not keen on going to the beach.

Some amazing news got to me. The stolen Super Beetle had been found abandoned. It had been repainted white. It was retraced to me because I had done the trick of dropping my business card (from C.C.H. Computax) down the driver's side window track. Since I had already collected on the insurance from it, I left it to a junk yard.

At McAuto, I am proud that I did a solid job. After about a year there, some co-workers were laid off. I survived the cut probably because, from reading the computer system's manuals, I wrote a batch program which reclaimed all the expended space on our system's storage units, saving us from the expense of having to purchase new storage units. This was not one of my job's responsibilities, but I did it.

This is as far as I have gotten.
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