Monday, March 05, 2012

The neighborhood where I was born

The Offspring, "The Kids Aren't All Right", off their brilliant 1998 album Americana.

I was born on a street about four miles long that started at the front halls of an elite private Methodist university, went for a mile or so with large and spacious homes on the hill and, across from them, the smaller homes of the college professors, and ended in the most abject segregation-era black poverty at its far end, where the streets were tar dirt and the smell of raw sewage permeated the air as beat-down black faces looked out the windows and small children played in dirt yards with sticks and rocks. My childhood home was on the dividing line between the college professors and the working class neighborhood of plumbers and cops and factory workers that was in the middle of all of this, and my childhood friends were from from both sides of that line.

What happened to them? Life happened to them. The son of the college professor that we all envied for his muscular build and swift intellect that got an "A" in every course he took at the college-prep magnet high school... he ended up a drug addict, living on the streets, spotted from time to time digging food out of dumpsters when he's not in jail for breaking into people's homes to steal stuff to use to buy drugs. The son of the rich doctor? He married his childhood sweetheart then abandoned her with their kids to live in abject poverty, and spends his days living on the road in a minivan to avoid process servers, occasionally popping up from nowhere to get his latest trust fund check. The cop's kid? He ended up being institutionalized when he had a psychotic break, then nobody knows what happened to him after he was released. The skinny tow-headed kid from down the street who lived with an abusive grandfather, who everybody assumed was going to be a criminal because he was always getting in trouble? He moved to the West Coast and learned how to handle boats and recently got his pilot's certification, and married a girl and has two kids and they are all spectacularly ridiculously happy. The weird drugged-out kid who lived in the run-down ghetto house and ran with the cops' kid and the doctor's kid and the professors' kid? Erm. He grew up to be a well-paid engineer in the Silicon Valley.

But for the few success stories, by far the majority of stories from that street are the stories in this song, the stories of kids of all sorts who ended up with broken lives and shattered dreams in the land once known as the land of the free(*) and home of the brave(**)...

-- Badtux the Reminiscing Penguin

(*)Prior to Patriot Act
(**)Prior to "cower! cower in fear!" message beamed into everybody's mind by 24/7 news channels, and subsequent cowering in fear and willingness to give up freedoms by majority of Americans.


  1. I was born in the general hospital in Salt Lake City. Or so I was told, I sure as hell don't remember it.

    Don't know what happened to any of the kids from school, don't give a shit.

  2. Great video. I've always been fascinated with the twists and turns people go through making their journey through life.


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.