For What It’s Worth Dept. — Formative Experiences
When I was three I had a tricycle accident and fell face first onto the ground, with a dowel in my mouth. I had a hole in the roof of my mouth for at least half a year, which slowly healed and is now but a scar. (One of many.)
I went parachute jumping three times when I was in college. It was a rush. The guys who persuaded me said, “You’ll be able to tell about this for the rest of your life.” They were right!
I had my first art classes when I was five, the summer before kindergarten.
When I was 8, my parents permitted me to be taken out of school for a cross-country journey to Nevada with my grandparents, three days each way and two weeks with my cousins out West.
I jumped out of a moving car (a convertible) on the way home from a Little League game. I thought it would impress the girl across the street. It did not.
In college I had hair nearly to my waist at one point. Yes, I was a hippie.
I was an extra in the movie Iron Will. Kevin Spacey was a few feet away in the start of the race scene. It was 20-below and they re-shot the scene seven times. Our hearts went out to those ruddy-cheeked kilted Scottish bagpipers.
In early summer of 1974 I shot heroin in a ninth floor apartment in Soho, NYC. Five years later while leading a Bible study inside Bayamon Prison in Puerto Rico, I met the pusher whose Soho apartment I had been in. He was doing 15 to 25 for more than 300 armed robberies. I was doing a one-year internship for Bible school. One day he was staring at me and finally said, “I know you.” The small hairs on the back of my neck stood up. He then asked, “Did you ever cop?” Yes, our paths had crossed, and went two different direction beginning that weekend five years earlier.
I did stand up comedy for about seven months. I was even offered money to open for a couple of pro comics. I didn’t do it. What if I had been funny? Then what?
My father gave me a Mother-of-Pearl-handled switchblade from the Philippines and taught me how to use it.
In 1964 Ed Hillicker introduced me to Bob Dylan by lending me The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan while we were on the school bus. He said, “You’ve got to listen to this.”