backing up Schiz Center 2015 02 19
Sandbag the Teacher
The central story here, the story precipitating the “schiz” of my title (schiz / divided), relates to conflicts within the management of the HSC, conflicts that is between the CEO and the President, conflicts that is between Ahn and Bob, and the impact of those conflicts on yours truly. In a word: Ahn hired me to teach the line dancing. My pay was free admission to the dance and its luncheon: value: $5. Every Wednesday I taught the line dancing from 9 to 10. Instead of paying at the door I was given a staff name tag. (In time I expanded “line dance teacher” to “dance director”: that is, I still taught the line dancing: I also taught the ballroom dancing. The first was 9 to 10, the second shifted around the early afternoon: just after lunch, or midway thru the afternoon. The linedancing lesson lasted that 9 – 10 hour; the ballroom lessons were tucked into five minutes. It was my inovation to share the teaching: I taught the first lesson, then I distributed the lessons among the more competent dancers in attendance (some of whom were themselves professional dance teachers!)
I went along with the schiz, temporarily, when I saw my beloved leader, Ahn, administering my dance lesson: no discussion, just a coup. So: Ahn was actively cooperating in Bob’s take over, demoting pk to the kitchen and the soaking dishes. It was a war. I was a casualty. The Center was a casualty. Highlands Country senior socializing was a casualty.
But: something had happened. I’d met Jan. Jan attended HSC but didn’t like it. So: I didn’t try to straighten out the dance lesson / dish drying bolix with the schizophrenic executive of HSC. Let them do what they want. I just stopped going. The one thing I hoped was that I would hear of the lawsuit when some old woman, learning to line dance, breaks her hip when Bob knocks her oover, charging across the dance floor during the lesson, knocking her a-stubble, so I could volunteer to testify against the HSC before a jury. I’ll link that story in a bit: Bob, the bull in the china shop.
Story imported at Dance Floor Hazards.
Ahn asked me to teach the line dancing. The fuller story is below. I agreed. My “payment”, free admission, was established after I’d agreed to do the teaching. Ahn was the CEO, I had every right to assume that she had to poewr to so hire me.
Bob, her husband, was the President. I did not think the CEO needed the President’s permission to hire a line dance teacher. I didn’t regard it as my business whether the CEO informed the President of every such detail. But: the essence of the story is the non-coordination, the hostile non-coordination between the Center’s two top executives.
When Ahn hired me, But was out of the state. Bob remained away for months. Bob had taken the HSC’s donated vehicle and driven off the Texas to join his former charter partners in renovating the yacht that they’d bankrupted. When Bob returned he saw no need to honor Ahn’s arrangements: he treated me as his volunteer. When my ballroom dance lesson was due, he demanded that I be in the kitchen drying the dishes, not out on the floor administering my dance lesson. I didn’t have to dry the dishes, but if I didn’t, according to Bob, then I would no longer be admitted free, I would have to give me line dance lesson for free.
Shortly after establishing me as the line dance teacher, Ahn asked me to be a member of the Board of Directors. Of course I agreed: as I agreed to do any and everything Ahn asked me to do: set the hall up on Tuesdays, shop for equipment … Board experiences are a separate story.
I’ve told many dozen stories, featuring personal stories, illustrating failures of human conviviality in kleptocratic society. But new examples outpace my ability to report on the old ones, let alone add the new ones. Well, it’s not a race that can be won, especially not when the kleptocracy cheats at every opportunity, any journalist who wants a paycheck naturally siding with the kleptocracy’s mandate to perpetuate itself. With enough such journalists, the cooperative audience for the crucifixion can call itself Christian: Caesar and his centurions invented cooperation.
Kleptocrats mislabel faster than Tristram Shandy can narrate.
I arrived in Sebring FL at Easter in 1989, defeated as the deschooler, then also defeated as the novelist of theological humor. I wrote my experiences into a digital diary. By the early 1990s I had a new patron: she herself lived below the poverty line, but that was a luxury of wealth to me who had nothing at all. So: by 1995, not only was there an internet, plagiarizing my FLEX‘s offer: there were also local internet providers. I went online and started narrating my life and experiences: formed Knatz.com, initiated blogs … while all around me, under and above me, the kleptocracy continued to be the kleptocracy. The kleptocrats saw me, correctly, as alien: alien to them, an enemy of their culture. The internet I’d offered was intended to free us from the kleptocracy: but the kleptocracy’s internet had everything it’s own way. It’s as though Colt invented the handgun to empower John Doe, but Macbeth stole John Doe’s handgun to deepen John Doe’s enslavement.
Persecutors’ persecutions being “wrong” only serve to goad
the persecutors to persecute harder.
I founded FLEX in 1970. I asked the public for the funds to go digital, didn’t get any. But by 1973 we (FLEX) did have our own cable program: neighborhood-resources database available 24/7, even if it was still 3×5 card-based, not financed to become electro-cybernetic. By 1974 I was an inch from homeless. A foray into the art business saved my address till 1982 when I went from pan to fire in accepting patronage from someone incapable of delivering it: so I was homeless: as I wrote my novels. (Wouldn’t trade the experience, the stack of experiences for anything.) But by 1990 when Catherine became my patron, I was beginning, for the first time in my life, to look my age: to look older than my age. Bless her, Catherine reversed that. Now, 2015, I look (again) far younger than my age: my beloved Jan keeping me physically young. But psychologically I’m still smashed to smithereens, no king’s horses, no king’s men able to put me back together: the entire US GNP X 100 couldn’t repair the damage.
I diagnose my society as schizophrenic. I use the term not technically, but metaphorically. Everyone understands that schizes are “split” without bothering to take Psych 101. We’re split: in our experience, we’re kleptocrats; in our self-image, we’re Christian, free men, citizens of a republic … the good guys. We drop bombs on people, kill in the millions, give ourselves a gold star: schiz.
Meantime, pk says we’ve got it backwards: the klep can find a zillion experts to say that pk is the schiz. Well, insofar as I’m a member of the schiz culture, then sure I’m also a schiz …
Catherine died in 2004. There died my income. Her savings were getting fast exhausted. I thought, before I starve I’ve got to devote everything to achieving at least one success: I want to force NYU to respond to my testimony regarding their role in my assassination. I filled up Knatz.com with my reports and analyses the best I could. In mid-2006 I wrote to NYU, said Behold: Acknowledge.
Behold: or when I’m too broke to move, by next month, I’ll come up there and bloody your nose!
Anyone who isn’t a total imbecile will notice that that’s like Crazy Horse telling the US that when the Lakota are down to the last man, no warriors left, Crazy Horse, without even a horse, is going to invade DC!
What does DC do? It annihilates Crazy Horse!
NYU called the FBI. The FBI tag-teamed with the Sebring sheriff. Arrested me. Jailed me: in a series of jails refrigerated to keep me nearly brick-frozen. The FBI stole my computers, fragmented them. The US judge censored my messages to NYU. A+.net, my IP, destroyed all my data. The US judge thereby destroyed my business, PKImaging.com, making sure I’d be totally helpless once they released me. (The court was threatening me, aged sixty-nine, with forty years in jail. Once they decide thought that I’m really harmless, they give me the minimum sentence: 15 months. 2007, I’m back home, but with no business. The FBI returns my computers, but they’re no longer networked, no longer coordinated. If you put Hamlet in the blender, all that comes out is a lot of As and Bs and Cs, a “1”, and a colon … But there’s no “to be or not to be”. We don’t hear Ophelia sing herself to death.
The fed also prescribes a social worker of sorts for me: I have to attend a “Wellness Center”!
Actually I loved the social worker type woman: Sandy. And Sandy loved me. She sees I need to get laid, she starts fixing me up with horny widows. She tracked down some info for me on a senior social, with a weekly dance: the Highlands Senior Center. Every Wednesday: one dance band from 10 AM to noon, then lunch, then a second dance band from 1 PM till 3.
I showed up, eager to meet women: 60, 70, 80, 90 … any women.
The first three I met were indeed “90”: 91, 92, 93 … The daughter of the 93 year old looked me up, got the FBI’s pack of lies. (Look up Jesus after the crucifixion: you get not the Sermon on the Mount; you get what Pilat said, what the centurion testified: you get Herod’s complaints, the complaints from the rabbis whose money tables got overturned. That’s civilization: organized to steal, and to keep what’s stolen: to grow it. 93’s daughter faces off against the Highlands Senior Center: Don’t let this Knatz guy so much as breathe!
(Did she know that no one had let me breathe since grade school?)
Ah, but the HSC boss already had her own opinion! Ahn Mac had already decided I was a good guy!
So I continued to go to a schiz dance. There was a ground fire, arson, that burned so far but not much further; and there was a love and admiration core that also didn’t spread far but did keep the ground fire from becoming a block fire.
Ahn is wonderful. She’s cute, she’s beautiful, she’s energetic, non-stop, really funny. She’s also crazy, vulnerable, a chaos of uncoordinated drugs. My understanding is that the drugs got funneled to her by doctors, hospitals, going back three decades or so, with no one, least of al the doctors, knowing which ones are active.
My stories are from five or six years ago, not current. But I doubt if much has changed.
Ahn never stops working, supervising, bossing. The she collapses, falls on the floor. Someone calls 911. Here comes the ambulance. Ahn is getting hauled away. Does she know to be a good patient? to go passive? to leave everything up to the ER team? No: there’s Ahn, sitting up on the gurney they’re trying to strap her to. What’s she doing? She’s directing everyone: Her HSC friends and volunteers, the ER guys … I stand there, Joe stands there, laughing (lovingly), shaking our heads.
It’s a Tuesday. I’m part of the teach setting the hall up for Wednesday’s dance and luncheon. Joe, a nice tallish guy is there, one of the “usual suspects”. There’s a buxom young blond, I’ll call her Betty. We’ve set up the tables, placed the chairs. Ahn says, You’re all doing great, let’s take a break. Ahn sits at the table where Betty is seated. Joe and I join them. A half a dozen of us are at the table. Ahn says, “Betty, the boys are getting bored: why don’t you take off your blouse.”
Betty doesn’t even blink. Joe and I blush. Another Tuesday at HSC.
Go to the Devil
Ahn is blusering, picking on Joe. Finally Joe calls her bluff: “Oh, go to the devil,” he joshes.
“The devil?” Ahn squawks. “The devil? I’ll show you the devil!” And Ahn lays on the floor on her side, checks where each of us is located, makes her calculations, rolls her jeans down over one buttock … Christmas! she’s not wearing any underwear! And there, tattooed on her butt, in multicolors, green, red, brown, is a cartoon of the Devil, with his pitchfork and a fiendish grin!
An amazing performance. Somehow she’d managed to show her private, impudent tattoo, and, yes, some buttock, but only a little: nothing obscene, or illegal. She knew where everything was, everything that should remain secret, and she kept it out of sight.
I watched Audrey Hepburn do Hollygolightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s last night. Audrey climbs all over George Peppard in nothing but the light robe she’s climbed up the fire escape in. Nothing’s tied, nothing’s buttoned, but somehow, just barely, nothing shows!
Ahn is cute as the devil, she’s been in movies even if only as a decorative extra: she’s a beauty who knows exactly where everything is and who will see what. Bravo.
I tell another favorite Ahn moment. The HSC had had three music periods: one dance band from 10 to noon, another from 1 to 3. Lois, 90-odd year old widow of a popular dance band leader accompanied the lunch hour on her piano. (More Wednesdays than not I would carry her keyboard from her car for her and back again at the end of the day.) But now with my line dance lessons, there was a fourth period which required music. I could make CDs of line dance songs: Joyce, the Thursdays line dance leader at the Lake Placid American Legion had hundreds of recordings, she copied for me anything I asked of her. What we still needed thought was a player. So Ahn and I went to KMart together to see what was on offer. Ahn had the HSC credit card.
KMart had a couple of CD players on display, marked around $30. Our error proved to be that there was no way to test if the cheap player would be heard as the hall filled up with people and noise; but at that moment we were just looking for a KMart clerk or section chief who could answer other questions, I forget which questions. No one was at the cash register, no one was visible in any of the nearby aisles. “Five minutes,” Ahn said, “and I bill them.”
Huh. “Five minutes,” Ahn repeated. “If KMart personnel don’t appear within five minutes, you can charge them for wasting your valuable time. I bill them at $100/hour. And they always pay!”
You gotta picture Ahn. She’s hardly bigger than your thumb. Cute as a button, pretty as a picture, long soft blond hair, nice features; but a tough little broad. Don’t fool with her.
If her husband didn’t fool with her, I wouldn’t be here now personally ignoring my own advice.
Anyway, to complete the stage: Ahn said, you need to have professional stationary: like the HSC. Bill them for a half hour of wasted time, $50. Say “thirty days”. They always pay, she promised.
I never say the check, I never sent my own bills (too broke to buy a stamp). But I believe her. Then and now.
Ahn is a natural leader but with a serious fault: she monopolizes power, doesn’t delegate. That is she delegates function but not authority. I could teach the line dancing but I had no power to stop Bob from bulldozing across the dance floor in the middle of our ance, on his way to the storage room to get something he’d forgotten the day before. The dance floor was between the kitchen and the storage room. While we’re in the middle of a dance, the dance floor shoud be off limits to anyone not doing the dance, for any reason. Bob needs something from the storage room: fine: go around; don’t barge through the old ladies. Bob would put his head down, so he wouldn’t see who he was bowling over.
It wasn’t just Bob: We line danced from 9 to 10. Around 9:30 the band members for the 10 o’clock band would start setting up. They were used to having the dance floor to themselves for that period, but now, here was a dance class on the floor. The band members continued to wander on the floor. underfoot to the dancers. I’d be playing the CD of the line dance music: the musicians would tune their instruments, Gator would practice his drums, in rhythms contrary to the line dance music!
Had Ahn made my position clear, I could have told the band to be polite. I could have told Bob to wait, or to go around, or to have planned better yesterday … I could have told Gator to silence his drums while the dance music was on.
As it was, I had to go to Ahn, wait for her attention, complain: then she had to explain to Bob: who would then ignore her! as he had ignored me, and the class.
Story imported at Dance Floor Hazards.
Speaking of Gator
Gator, like all of us, was smitten by Ahn. But unlike the rest of us, Gator was helplessly smitten by Ahn. Gator saw, everybody saw, that Ahn loved me. I’m talking friendship, nothing else. I’d hug Ahn publicly, she hug me, but not privately. Never. Anyway, Gator saw that she loved me, hell, she loved him too, and Gator would sabotage me. I think that’s what his drumming conflicting rythms during the line dances was: he was sabotaging me by sabotaging the line dancing.
More than once Ahn lectured Gator to lay off me. She put him on notice: behave, or be banished. He’d behave: for fifteen minutes, then revert right back.
It was funny: Ahn was forever grumbling that she was conquering her fear, she was going to dump Bob and the hell with the consequences, she could live on the street. Likewise, she was always grumbling how Gator wouldn’t let her breathe, she had a thousand tricks to avoid him, she threatened him with banishment again and again: but he was always right back again, panting to be petted, tangling her ankles.
“You’re married!” she would admonish him. “Go home to your wife.”
Well, eventually I guess he would go home. Meantime he got between her feet and panted.
I could have tried panting over her myself, but I never did.
I wish one of my old lady line dancers had said to Bob as he charged through our line, “If you knock me down, and my hip breaks, I’ll sue HSC for every penny I can squeeze.”
Note: Why didn’t everyone naturally respect me and my teaching? Me nor my teaching had been respected since 1968. The 1960s were not the first time that the culture turned snarling against academics, against free thinkers, free speakers; but it was with the ’60s and ’70s that the state won the war against intellect. By 2010 every citizen knew who could be interrupted: who must be interrupted.
I’m gonna stick this detail right here: during the patriotic ceremonies that HSC rehearsed every Wednesday at noon, hymns, the pledge to the flag, one guy in particular, another Joe, would plant himself behind my ear and croon:
or leave it.
In the US we’re all kleptocrats. There isn’t anyone who isn’t functioning on stolen land. There’s no sorting which ideas have had royalties paid and which are owing. No one is here by right. Why should I be the one who has to move?
No, no, God made it clear to me as a child what the penalty would be for being intelligent, honest. I had every chance to join the majority, to lubricate the kleptocracy. No. I joined Jesus. I stayed joined.
the order of stories is getting bolixed, I’ll rearrange
Something very important happened though. By week two of frustrated pk attending the HSC I’d vowed to myself that I would resume ballroom dancing. I would dance with some of these old gals. pk, the Best Dancer of South Side High School, 1956 (actually, the best dancer in Rockville Centre since 1950, when I first learned) would shelve his having quit ballroom dancing while still in junior high school, for reasons I’ll quick list in a moment, would use his rhythm, his athleticism, his flexible joints to wow some old gals until I found the right one. Meantime, I’d make up for Catherine’s death, and jail, by sleeping with every widow in Highlands County.
pk the Dancer
I should take a moment to tell about my dancing history. In the sixth grade my school offered a dance class. A dozen and a half of us gathered in the grammar school gym. Some guy set up a player on a table, showed us a basic box step, and played Tea for Two, over and over while we drilled the box step. The fox trot came first. He also showed us the basic waltz step, a lindy, maybe there was a rhumba in there, and we were all getting it OK, the boys and the girls precisely paired … I was not one whit better than anybody else, neither was I worse. Until:
I can’t say whether it was a first week or a second week, at some point the Tea for Two guy showed us a basic Charleston step: forward, back; back, forward. We got it. We all got it. He put on the Charleston, and drilled us.
OK, he said. Now, add a little style!
And he began angling his ankles, showing us how it could swing.
pk imitated. Within seconds I discovered that my ankles could pretend they were rubber. I had no joints, but didn’t fall down.
The dance teacher went berserk. “You’ve got it!” he said, fixed on me alone. “You’ve really got it!”
The next thing I know we’re sent to a dance at another grammar school. We’re fed into a gym, gigantic, like a high school gym, not at all like the little constricted space where our lessons had been held at the Morris School. All the boys gathered against one wall, sub-clumped by which of several grade schools we were from. The girls distributed themselves similarly against the opposite wall. Some teachers had set up a player. They played a fox trot. All the boys stayed one one side, all the girls on the other. I remember distinctly how we boys turned our backs on the record player. No way would anyone ever dance at this dance.
The teachers continued to strike out. Until someone put on a Charleston!
The energy in the room changed. Some of my Morris school guys suddenly ran off toward another boy-clump. Some kid was extracted from that group. That kid was shoved toward the girls’ side. A “guard” grabbed a little girl, and dragged her across the hall, shoved her in front of me. “This is Doralee, she can charleston.”
Standing in front of me, cute as could be, was this little girl. I’d soon learn, she wasn’t even in the sixth grade, but she was a dancer, specially recruited from the fifth grade of our host school.
Doraess smiled at me: trained: the guy leads. I was the guy.
I launched my charleston. Dorelee matched me, swivel for swivel.
My crown of guys attacked the teachers at the record player. Start it over again, they begged. The teachers complied.
Doralee and I also started over again, but we allowed ourselves to be manoevered toward the center of the gym. Other kids formed couples. There were a half a dozen brave couples doing the charleston. But then they all stopped. They saw Paul and Doraless. They formed a big circle around us. The circle clapped, in rhythm.
Doralee was already famous at this other school. But as of that first chareston, Doralee and Paul were famous. She and I had been drafted for each other. Sure enough, we continued to dance as a couple, all the dances.
Our Morris School Tea for Two teacher had told us to “style it”: I styled everything thereafter. And Doralee showed perfect pitch for my brain waves. I started to think something, she did it, with me, in perfect synch.
Doralee had already been trained for years. Her fame had spread beyond Rockville Centre. Doralee would be invited to dance at dances all around the New York metropolitan area. She was developing a solo repertoire. She’d be invited to a dance as a pro, the entertainment. They’d pause the dance, introduce her, she’d appear in some little costume, with a little set, a couple of props. Part of Doralee’s payment was that she could bring an escort. That was me. I dance as Doralee’s ballroom partner at a series of other town’s highschool dances. That contined for years.
Meantime: I was already a jazz nut. Maybe that’s why I was able to charleston so. Or maybe that’s why I’d been destined to be a jazz nut in the first place. The rhythm was wired into me, I heard the sixteenth notes in my marrow.
(This past New Years I was dancing with a new friend, a dance fiend, probably in her early sixties. Shirley has assured Jan that she’s harmless, she just wants to be allowed to dance a couple of dances with me. So: we’re dancing. Shirley says she loves to feel someone feel the rhythm, and “No one feels the rhythm like me!”)
OK. There’s two elements: I can dance, I love jazz.
But: this is 1950, 1951 … I graduate from dixieland to swing, from swing to modern jazz. I’m just a kid, I pick up the culture. And the modern jazz culture is to be intellectual: jazz Puritans. We don’t dance, we listen, we concentrate, sucking in cigarette smoke: we worship the nuances in our minds: like Quakers foregoing all the pomp and ritual, gold and lace, of the Church of England. So:
I dance, and expressed the rhythm, everywhere, with my whole body, mind, spirit; I was embarrassed to. I resisted. Schiz culture, the Puritan was at war with the sensualist.
The kicker came with puberty.
Before Elvis Presley astonished the world over TV, pk was already rubber-ankles and wiggle-hips to an embarrassing extent on the dance floor. When Elvis did appear, kids came up to me to make sure that I knew that the world was providing me with competition.
Understand, back home, around 1955, Elvis got a lot of flack. His performances bordered on obscene. They transgressed. Girls liked it, their parents put them under house arrest.
When I first danced, people were drawn to me. But by 1953, 1954 people with drawing back. There was a backlash. We were all part of it. I too drew back.
Meantime, Dorelee became fourteen years old. Now she was getting invited to dance in Las Vegas. Frank Sinatra wanted her. Doralee went off into the big world. I danced with other girls …
But: I found that I couldn’t!
Other girls repelled me. On the dance floor. And off! No other girls was half as cute as Doralee!
I have yet to mention what was worst. Dancing with other girls showed me that I didn’t know how to lead!
Doraless knew what I was going to do before I did. My “lead” was mental, unconscious: psycho-kinetic: stuff for the X Files.
Long before I was named Best Dancer in my year book I had stopped dancing. I was everyone’s memory of a best-dancer.
So: it’s 2008. I attend the HSC. I’m now seventy years old! I’m broke, broken. “80%” of the old folks at the HSC want me back in jail, buried. Don’t tell them who I really am, they absolutely won’t allow it. Persecutors’ persecutions being “wrong” only serve to goad the persecutors to persecute harder. “20%” don’t want to torture me, but they don’t want to buck the tide either. And they’re certainly not going to listen to any testimonies about kleptocracy. (Crazy Horse wasn’t listened to, neither was Sutter! How many Americans will sit still to hear that we stole from a white man: not just injuns and blacks (and chinks and wops) …)
I’m going to be telling a load of stories about dancing in Highlands County, seniors socializing. HSC will be at the center. That’s the Highlands Senior Center, Ahn CEO in 2008, her husband Bob, the owner, then and now. In 2008 Bob was “president”. Bob was also absent for months on end.
These stories will present Bob Mac in a bad light. I insist that’s apporpriate. I want to deny in advance negative implications for Ahn: or at least a lot of explanation is in order. I loved Ahn from the beginning, I still love her: I just no longer want to be within 100 feet of anything run by either of them: so long as they’re married, so long as she’s under his heel. (I modify the surname to protect Ahn, not Bob.)
76 years old, losing my sight, having already lost my hearing, never knowing when the gestapo will rearrest me — I’ve put back up the NYU correspondence that triggers my arrest in 2006. The lawyer warned me, the parole guy warned me, that if I showed those letters again I’d go straight back to jail. So: I’ve done it, the boot could kick me in the balls all over again. I’m spewing now, I’ll spew uncontrollably once kicked again.
But take what I tell about Ahn in context. Hope I can finish and round off the story.
Ahn, Magnet for Slaves
Ahn asked me to help with the line dancing. Glad to. Then she asked me to teach it. Ditto. Then she asked this and that and the other additional service. I did. Gladly. Everyone loves Ahn, women too. You can’t help but do what she wants. Next thing I know I’m being phoned past midnight to pick her up at the ER and drive her home. There was no end to it. But, before I got swept up in servitude without limit I already knew that that was the HSC / Ahn pattern.
My friend Connie had been an Ahn slave under my nose. Finally, from doing some, to doing more, to 24/7 enslavement, Connie rebelled and wouldn’t volunteer anything. Connie still attended, paid her $5, danced, had lunch, socialized, but she wouldn’t help set up the talbes, set the tables … any longer. Then I learned that half the widows I dance with had also done the same. Oh, and they’d all been rewarded by becoming members of the Board. There were hardly any HSC attendees who hadn’t been on the Board. “Been there, done that”, quipped one gorgeous old gal.
I’ll present a particular situation as the “center” of the story, but first I have to develop pk resuming dancing in relation to HSC: that’s after a halfl-century layoff. My learning, and teaching, line dancing is central.
I began attending the HSC in order to meet women, to get close to at least one. I had a huge mental block against dancing. As a youth I’d censored myself partly because my dancing bordered on obscenity, and I thought I was the little Christian. I also, till I took my first step, wasn’t sure I’d remember how: other’s ineptitude was reassuring in that quarter. My first visit, I became acquainted with three women: as said, 91, 92, 93: just talk, I didn’t ask any to dance. The next Wednesday I vowed I’d correct that. I needed to identify a competent dancer, explain to her that I’d had a long layoff, beg her indulgence: bear with me, and help me, remember, and rehearse, the basic step. Basic box step, basic waltz, and I’d be off from there. So I asked, at random: Who’s a good dancer among the women. I was told “Phyllis”. They pointed. “She loves to dance.” So I went and invited Phyllis. She loved to dance alright. Leading wasn’t a problem: Phyllis danced in her own world. She didn’t follow me, she didn’t follow the music. That day was her birthday: 87. Eighty years evaporated, she was once again standing on her father’s feet as he danced for both of them. Alzheimers was setting in fast but she loved to dance.
It didn’t take more than three seconds. I was doing my box step, I was feeling the rhythm, everything was fine. Phyllis was more than enthusiastic as I held her close. I gotta get laid, here’s the one, never mind her age. My friend Catherine was even older. And that’s when I realized another problem with this woman. I asked where she lived, she didn’t know. I asked for her phone number, she wasn’t sure: a lot of effort squeezed out a few uncertain numbers. Back home, later that afternoon, I tried a number combination as a candidate. After a couple of possibilities I reached her. She was very glad to hear from me. Very very glad. I need to see you, I said. I need to hug you, kiss you, kiss you all over. “Yes, yes”, she said. When can we get together? I asked. “Right now!” She was imploring. The trouble was she didn’t know her address, couldn’t tell me where she lived. A few tries gave me a few clues, I set off, by golly, I got there! A minute later we were in bed. That part was nice enough, her body was OK. But the Alzheimers became unbearable. Fortunately the hall was full of women similarly eager. (By that time I’d become very friendly with one of her daughters, and tolerably friendly with the daughter she was living with. The latter dressed her up, brought her over well prepared for sleepovers …)
But never mind all of that, I’m talking about dancing, in order to talk about something else: social failures, our non-community.
I danced that first time, my second week there, with Phyllis. Fox trot, then linday, then a waltz. I remembered, it’s One, two-three. In a second I had my Swoop two-three. Best dancer again, in an instant. Phyllis and I are back at her table. A gal approaches at the next waltz. Dot asks Phyllis, “May I dance this waltz with him?” These seven years later I still ask Dottie for a waltz those evenings at the American Legion when I see her. She wasn’t “ninety” then but I bet she’s ninety now.
So: very rapidly, at HSC, I’m the skilled, stylish dancer. For each dance type I’d remember one step, smooth it, then add another. People say I dance so fancy but it’s not true: one step, one, maybe two, variations. I ask a woman to dance, she says no, she’s not good enough, nonsense, I say: I talk her into it, and she’s fine. There, that wasn’t hard.
So one day Ahn introduces the landlord’s girlfriend, Jean. Jean announces that she’ll teach The Electric Slide, a linedance, if enough people are interested. She took the show of hands as a quorum. Good: the social began at 10 AM, she’d teach The Electric Slide the hour before: 9.
A colleague from the Macintosh Users Group I founded in the early 1990s, a retired school teacher, had told me she line-danced once a week at the mall (which was brand new at that time). I went by, took a look, but didn’t join them. So now it’s 2008 and I follow Jean as we grapevine right, grapevine left. Jean is teaching it, but she’s not very sure of herself. I follow her lead whatever.
Now, here’s non-convivial complication #1: Schiz detail #1. Jean is the landlord’s girl friend. HSC rents the hall from the Sebring Hills Association, the landlord is the president of that association, there are some rough edges between the association and the center. In other words: there’s some friction between Ahn, the HSC CEO but mainly, the owner’s wife, and Jean the skittery landlord’s girl. But at the time, I knew none of that. Ahn asks me if I’ll help Jean teach The Electric Slide: I seem to know it: overnight. Ahn tells Jean she can draw on my help. Jean gives Ahn, and me! a look so venemous, believers in VooDoo would have died on the spot.
The next Wednesday Jean is leading us, a half a dozen people have shown up, I’m the only male, but Jean is flustered, she fumbles. I continue the step. Jean squeezes her hands into fists. She shakes them in impotent fury. “I tell you what!” She glowers at me. “YOU teach it!” That last part was spit.
So I did. The others were confused. A couple drifted away. The next Wednesday only a few showed up. But then a few more joined us. Schiz. Some wanted to learn the dance. None wanted to be in the middle of some HSC boil-up. I don’t doubt that a good portion of those interested, knowing, correctly, that I’d been in jail, guessing, further, incorrectly, that I was some kind of a monster, didn’t want to be anywhere near me. But: a small group did form. Sometimes it got quite a bit bigger, sometimes there were only two or three. But: Ahn had been determined to give me a chance, Ahn stuck by the chance. She was giving me a chance, she was giving them a chance. She took a couple of lumps for allying with me. (I take lumps for allying with the good, the natural.)
I didn’t, yet, but Ahn did understand a good part of what was going on. Bob was off in Texas renovating a yacht he used to charter. The landlord and Bob were buddies. Bob picked on Ahn. Ahn was loyal to Bob: in some things. I’m getting drawn into a hornets nest: everyone sabotaging Ahn, and Ahn’s friends. Ahn asks me if I’ll continue to teach The Electric Slide. Sure, be glad to. By that time I was taking additional line dance lessons with DeeDee: my first couple of weeks I could already dance, and teach, several of the common dances: The Electric Slide, The Boot Scootin’ Boogie, The Cowboy Charleston … Ahn tells me that I’ll no longer have to pay the $5 entrance fee at the door: dancing, social, coffee, includes lunch: pretty good lunch actually, and lots of deserts.
$5 is a lot to me. I sacrificed making money to found FLEX: I didn’t get paid to invent the internet; it cost me, cost me everything. I learned to make money selling art, but I gave that up in 1982 to write my novels: again, no income, pure expense. Arresting me in 2006, judging me in 2007, the fed destroyed my business. SSE was giving me $400 a month or so, FL gave me foodstamps. $5 was a lot: I had to meet women, had to dance now that I was dancing, but I couldn’t afford anything. So Ahn’s friendship was important.
We’ll never know how big the linedance group might have been with a different teacher; I was the teacher. And enough women loved to dance with me, ballroom and line dance, that I was buffeted about like a rag doll. Lois, 90-some-odd, would grab me, bang herself against me, dance us off: as though I had grabbed her!
Board of Directors
Ahn ran the Board the way Stalin ran the Politburau. And Bob ran Ahn. I went along with everything, anything, while Ahn ran things solo, Bob having gone off to Texas to party for several months. It was only when Bob came back and with ham fists reasserted control, grinding Ahn into the dust (and me, me in particular) along with her, that I rebelled. Here’s the first scandal I became aware of.
The HSC, that is, Ahn, did a series of things to raise money: estate sales, for example. It’s a “senior” center. Seniors attended. Old folks. I was aware of one old guy in particular. Ahn would run his errands, Ahn would stop by his big house and put out his garbage for him: and he kicked. Now Ahn is running his estate sale, taking I don’t know what commission for the HSC. Here’s the point: that’s how HSC got its vehicle. (It was in that very estate sale, Connie a slave, that I’d gotten my toaster: and not cheap either!) So: HSC inherited some old guy’s station wagon.
Bob took the HSC station wagon and drove himself in it to Texas, stayed there for a half a year, me overhearing Ahn muttering about divorce the whole time, vowing that she’d be better off on the street …
There are things I could tell her that I promised Ahn I wouldn’t repeat: and I’m not, those vows are golden; but there’s plenty more that I did not vow to keep mum on. This is an example.
I tell the story based on bits and pieces that I fit together, like a police case. There’s no omniscient narrator, they’re possible scenarios. Probable, but not fully fact. Juries can vote things to become facts but juries aren’t God either.
Was Bob fleeing Ahn? Running to his drinking buddies? running to the whores and booze they used to fill the yacht with for their clients, sharing the booze and whores with the clients? (A friend of Ahn’s, in Bob’s house, Bob absent, once told me that Bob’s ambition, Bob’s only serious ambition, was to fuck every whore in Texas.
Jump to the point: Bob finally comes back from Texas, now Bob is at home, running the HSC, making me dry dishes instead of teaching my class. Board meeting. Item of business: Bob, President, is offering to buy the HSC station wagon for … say $2,400. Bob’s been using the Center’s wagon for half a year, the Center has had no use of its wagon for that time (the Center has been using Bob’s own car, the one Ahn drives), now Bob is offering to buy it. Not, mind you, put it up for auction, and bid on it himself, like anyone except Stalin would do.
Ahn is running the meeting, as always. Bob is there, just sitting. Order to business: shall HSC sell Bob the wagon for his offered $2,400? All in favor …
Some old gal on the board I don’t know, don’t remember her name if I ever knew her name, is sputtering, indignant, trying to speak: No, that’s the Center’s car … Bob is tring to steal it …. Of course Bob had alrady stolen it: and there’s no telling how much besides.
In a Christian civilization, in any real civilization whether Christian or not, Bob would have been blocked in all those power moves, all those dirty lowballs. Someone would have understood Roberts Rules of Order, someone would have explained them to Ahn and the board, and to Bob … Explain anything to Bob? Who? How? Ridiculous.
The meeting proceeded, the wagon was yielded to Bob’s offer, the board never heard this old woman member’s object, or question, or whatever she want to say. She was evaded.
I should add other examples of things the Center never heard, because the Center never heard anything except what the two principles, the owner and his slave/wife, wanted heard.
Here’s one: Bob was in charge of fund raising. Did Bob know that I had decades and decades of fund raising experience? Did Bob want any suggestions? even if only to laugh them lost? No.
I’ve tried to work with a number of Highlands County charities. The same fascist deafness applies in all.
Abuse Paul, don’t let him speak.
But you know, don’t blame Hitler, or Goebbels, or Himmler. Or Roosevelt. It’s people! Germans! Americans! all the same. We all back Herod and Pilat, let Jesus get crucified.
Politics is finding out who the majority is after it’s too late.
I was always the best dancer in school: it was only when Ahn appointed me line dance teacher that I became a candidate for best dance teacher. I’ve long been a teacher. I was a teacher long before I went to grad school to train for becoming a professor. My initial college teaching rank was “instructor” but the students called me “Professor”. In my correspondences since those who address me as “Doctor Knatz” include Doctor Carl Sagan, and Rollo May. I didn’t correct them, there was nothing to correct. “Doctor” can be damagingly misleading as can any label: woman, Jew. Think on the Nazi’s Doctor Goebbels: he actually did have a PhD, an ass-wipe PHD, from Heidelberg.
I’m not happy that the Americans won the war, I’m bvery glad that Stalin wasn’t the only winner, but I remain damn glad that the Nazis with their Dr. Goebbels didn’t win. Germans with their absurd titles for Herr Doktor Professor Everybody.
The line dance hour gave me plenty of time to go through a half dozen or a dozen titles. We’d do the Electric Slide and the Boot Scootin’ Boogie, and the Cowboy Charleston, and the Cupid Shuffle … Good. I could have taught a ballroom dance hour. Every class could have shown or reviewed this basic foxtrot step or that basic foxtrot step, this basic pair of triplets for the waltz or that basic pair of triplets, this basic Latin pattern or that. But that’s not how I conceived it. I just wanted to demonstrate one basic dance step each Wednesday. And I wanted every competent dancer or dance couple to have a turn at demonstrating it. I didn’t not want to monopolize the polium, or the dance floor center of focus. Everyone’s dancing could have improved, everyone in the room could have acheived basic competence in the box step. I’ll show it this Wednesday, let Sam show it next Wednesday, and Lorraine show the waltz next month. For five minutes: then get back to general dancing and conversation, etc.
Note: this conception extends my life’s professional contribution, the Free Learning Exchange: don’t tolerate the assignment of experts; let real competence emerge democratically (and, if it doesn’t, then we’re not savable).
But how could I explain any of that if Bob could arbitrarily rearrange Ahn’s promotions without discussion?
Bob never established with me or with Ahn what the agreement was; he simple informed me that I was a volunteer, and then defined his terms: that means I don’t get paid, even if payment was the deal!
So: I know two Ahns: Ahn the hard-working HSC exec, doing her damndest to provide a good seniors luncheon dance, trying to be good, smart, competent; Ahn the corrupt, do what’s expedient Bob-slave. With him as her husband, she’s got a huge house, big grounds, the utilities are paid. Personally, I think she’d be better off in a shack.
The solution would be for a civilization, if only we had one, to arrest the two of them for fraud, put Bob out of business, let Ahn return to her blessed exec function: just ask her to be a little more aware.
Make sure you know my Bob-the-bull-in-the-China-shop story, head down, knocking little old ladies asunder, me-first Bob. It’s in a dance blog, I’ll duplicated it, or maybe move it, here.
The central story here is Bob sabotaging my ball room dance lesson by making me stay in the kitchen when the lesson was scheduled. Ahn allowed it. Ahn cooperated: with Bob.
Another worst story concerns Bob’s sabotage of the website I designed for HSC. I’ll get to it next.
Laurence Sterne’s character writes his life, the writing takes longer than the living. 18th Century. Marvelously funny, I hope you know it.