My memoirs are an attempt to bring life to an arc of history — the years between 1947 when I was born though the present as I battle inoperable pancreatic cancer. I call myself a fortunate son. Unlike many of my school buddies, I didn’t end up in Vietnam. Instead I threw myself into the anti-war movement at the University of Wisconsin.
My passion was often out of control. It earned me a one year stay in the Wisconsin prison system for 2 counts of battery to a peace officer. In December of 1971, I came out declaring myself to be a revolutionary. For the next 10 years, I dedicated myself to organizing workers and minorities. As the editor of The Milwaukee Worker, I covered the Milwaukee strike wave of 1973, the defense of Ray Mendoza, the Menominee Warrior Society, the Meatcutters strike, the United League of Northern Mississippi, and many more.
When my fantasy of a mighty popular upsurge failed to materialize, I turned to drugs and alcohol. By then I was living in Chicago in the dark margins beyond respectability. Busted for coke, I was forced to scramble to evade jail time and support a family.
The memoirs are a collection of stories, many of them with humorous and ironic twists. I try to sprinkle in impressions and ideas of why I turned out like I did, why so many of us misjudged the possibilities of the time, and what it was like to be at the intersection of some key points in history. I want the reader to feel like he or she is walking in my shoes. Depending on the chapter you might have to imagine yourself as a hapless Woody Allen type character, or a sidekick to Huckleberry Finn, or a young guy who was quick to whip off his glasses and roll up his sleeves for a fist fight.
It has been a wild ride. As I was trying to straighten up, I reached inside and found that a striving for redemption matched well with the cultural capital of a guy with organizing skills, education, and social standing. In my career as a computer application developer, I constantly took advantage of the organizing skills I had picked up in my 20′s and 30′s. At different points, but especially as I neared retirement, I returned to my ideals with a maturity born of many a tough lesson.
Now in the twilight of my life, I am reflecting on the nature of legacy and the contributions which my generation has made and can still make. As I said at my 66th birthday party, ” I have no secrets now.” Enjoy the read. Comment if you are moved to. Provide information and insights to events which I may not have portrayed to your satisfaction. Email me if you have private thoughts. firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to Tom Tresser and Brittaney Baker of the Civic Lab for helping me to create this site and for feedback on presentation.