When we came here, weren't nothin' but a bunch o' Indians a runnin' around, a whoopin' and a hollerin'. Buffalo shit ever'where. We made this country what it is.I came to Albuquerque* in nineteen and seventy-three. We'd been living in Rochester, NY since November of 1963 — the 22nd, in fact, the day of the Kennedy assassination. (Of which I had a vision, of which I'll relate more later.)
We had lived in three different houses in the Rochester area and it seemed we always moved just as I was starting to make friends and fit in. As it happened, in 1972 two things happened. The first was that my best friend, Dave Militello moved away. The next was that I started 9th grade. While Dave and I had had one of those “coming of age” friendships, we really didn’t get to complete it, and so I found myself alone. I didn’t know many of the kids in my classes (except that dick, Greg Stone. Yeah, you, Stone. Bite me, you prick!)
But after a month or so on my own, things were sorting themselves out. I was getting cool. My hair was getting long.
And then, one day in the library, I ran into an old face from middle-school. It was Bonnie Abrams, a girl I’d had a minor crush on and had danced with on many occasions. She was really happy to see me and said I should come over to her house sometime and get high. She was so cool and so hot. I was smitten. I swear it was that very day that I came home from school and my dad asked how things were going at school and I said “great” and he said, “well, don’t get to used to it because we’re moving.”
And a few months later, in February of 1973, we moved off to this city called “Albuquerque.”
And oh, what a city she is. A diamond in the desert. A beacon in the night. Albuquerque – where Bugs Bunny felt he should have taken a left turn. Albuquerque, New Mexico, celebrated in song, cartoon and… well that’s about it—songs and cartoons. Jeeze. Albuquerque – hometown of Ethel Mertz. Albuquerque. We didn’t make the song Route 66, but we’re right there between Amarillo and Gallup. Neil Young would still find it a good place to eat fried eggs and country ham, but it wasn’t long before he’d twisted that last number for the road and split for Santa Fe. The Sons of the Desert and Jim Glaser kept trying to get back here in their songs, though aside from the possibility of a little nookie, no one knew quite why.
Before I started school, my mom made me get a haircut, “so I’d look nice and fresh.”
The haircut was just another of several strikes against me:
The worst, though, in the eyes of the kids who lived here already was that I was from “back east.” Easterners were despised in those days, especially those from New York. Rio Rancho was a tiny little development that was packed full of New Yorkers.
I enjoyed it here, when I wasn’t having to interact with others. I loved to hike out on the mesas and foothills. But, I was really lonely. I made a few friends by the end of that year. Robbie Bicenti, a Navajo, and David Bailey; geeks like me, but they taught me I could ditch class with impugnity.
From them I met Gifford Hahn, who introduced me to Mike Clark and his cousins, Buddy and Miltie. We were bigger dorks then, and we ditched class to go four-wheeling and we got harassed by Tim Foster and the greasers. Which was how I met Jim Jones and Brent Crowder and Martin Maskill. It was Jones that got me high the first time. From there I also met Alan Schactner and his brother, Dean, and David Lewis. And then Vance and Blane came along.
I was suddenly part of this cool group of people. Other kids wanted to hang out with US. We hatched the Moonpie plan.
And then, I, for some reason I’ve just yet begun to figure out, joined the Army, opting for as far away from home, family, and friends, as I could get without it being considered an overseas assignment. I’ll go into the reasons more later, but suffice it to say it has a lot to do with why I have such a problem maintaining relationships.
*Officially, the name is pronounced Al, (as in Roker, the weatherman,) BOO, as in Boo Radley from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” kirk, as in Kirk Cameron, Award-winning American actor, key, as in what will happen to your car if you park it too close to another car in the DubyaMart parking lot. (Source: www.CityofAlbookirkkey.gov)