A Memoir: The Old School Rehab; shaved heads, digging your own grave outside, young men forced to wear diapers, donkey costumes, eat baby food, and sit for weeks motionless on a wooden chair with no back

They went quite crazy back then in the name of reforming us; the other aspect of the war on drugs.

Photo: Me at 17 with my buddy, the armed robber, dust patient bisexual, martial arts expert from Hollis, Queens

It was the early 1980s in NYC, around the birth of hip hop and these rehabs (TCs) were a world of prison culture, living in Bronx tenements, sleeping with one eye open, 125th Street in Harlem, Pitkin Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, dusties detoxing on cranberry juice, the cooker, razor blades in mouths, Nicky Barnes, fresh waves, Five Percenters, Mighty Whiteys from Queens, speedballs, the hole stroll, spades, playing the corner slap boxing, wild like reform school, excessively rigid as a skinner box mixed with super Orwellian behaviorism (forced to constantly inform on each other to staff) — all to treat us misfits, gangstas and burnouts in army jackets and work-boots messing with girls with roach clip feather earrings who were made to wear stocking caps if they broke a rule.

Continue reading

On Post-Traumatic Stress and Seinfeld (Remembrances of a Jew who had pennies pitched at him)

I come from a hostile, fractured, uneducated, anachronistic caricature of a working-class Jewish family.  This is Awake and Sing, Portnoy’s Complaint territory.  This is the material Fran Drescher and Seinfeld and Larry David now get cute with — they leave out all the very ugly shvatsa or worse exhortations. And the breakdowns, the hate, the mocking of the disabled, visits from Children’s Services agencies, etc., they leave that out.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: