The Private Man

Attraction and dating information for the post-divorce crowd

Living Like Tom

Some months ago, Thomas V. Munson become aware of the Manosphere through my humble blog. His comments on several blogs instantly became legendary. He has the wisdom of 100 men.

Munson was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.

At his request, I have created this page so he (and anyone) can post comments with his thoughts and wisdom as the deals with his illness. Consider this the Manosphere version of Tuesdays With Morrie but I am not so young and Munson ain’t that old. Besides, Munson lives in Idaho and I live in Florida. I am not going to Idaho in winter on my motorcycle.

I have not acquiesced completely to Munson’s request. He requested that I name this page, “Dying Like Tom”. Nice try, Munson. You’ll be living until you shuffle off that mortal coil.

So please, bookmark and/or subscribe to this page to get your dose of Munson.

Carry on with your bad selves.

233 thoughts on “Living Like Tom

  1. Ok. Let me explain. I was thinking on Day 2 following my diagnosis that I lived like Tom, I’ll die like Tom.First up was the rectal exam where I told the doc “5 seconds is work, 10 seonds is a date, and after that I epxect a ring on my finger.” Yesterday, on top of everything else, I had a shattered tooth; had to spend the afternoon with an oral surgeon getting that bitch fixed. I told him to weigh because I suspected the crematorium was going to overcharge my wife for having to burn a full set of teeth-which I dont’ have. Now, privateman is a sentimental sort and didn’t lie Dying Like Tom. but living liek Tom-God, it sounds like that station(s) that ahve all sorts of useless shit, bitch ass women, someone who tells salon owners what to do(fuck-cut hair you whores!). It sounds liek an interior decorator’s site-and I ain’t no interior decorator. If this site’s goign to ahve th eballs we need it need to be Dying Like Tom. Men of the Manosphere-hepl me.Tell PM to change it. Be honest men-if you saw a blog titled Living Like tom or Dying Like Tom-whihc one would amke you go WTFFFFF!!!!!!! What crazy bastard would put that up? I gotta’ go check it out. Fight for me men- this is a rel test, not a shit teat. Are we unsentimental manly men who say fuck it -let the women get gooshywe want the unvarnished Munson!

    BTW culturally: the first version of “Both Sides Now” I ever heard was on KPPK, the first FM station in LA (1968). In his version, he sings “something’s lost, and something’s gained, i dying every day.” Join changed it; label probably made her. Point is LIVING EVERY DAY AND DYING EVERY DAY ARE TH ESAME FUCKING THING! You don’t accumulate years (ref Steely Dan “Reeling in the Years”) you consume them. Call it living, but you can just as soon say I died a day today. Don’t let PM take this away. He means well, which will make hi th emos timplacable adversary. But this must change.



  3. susanawalsh on said:

    Sorry, Tom, I’m with Private Man on this. It’s about living every second, being big, not getting smaller. I remember when Warren Zevon was dying, and he went on David Letterman, an old friend of his. Letterman asked him very openly about what it was like to be dying, and asked him if he had any advice. Zevon’s reply: “Enjoy every sandwich.” I loved that, and I think of it often.

  4. Ok you win. I have been thinking about that too. I will live every second-i will be consumed by it. the sandwich will eat me and we’ll become one.

  5. I”m getting ready to gear up for whatever is coming. I was thinking about doing a riff over at HUS comparing my rectal exam to a “hookup” but there’s a limit to edginess. I was also going to compare my rectal to the colonoscopy I’ll have Tues., something along the lines of “does size matter?” but again I think Susan’s indulgence only goes so far. Damn I think there was some meat on ‘dem bones.

  6. Well,Im sorry to hear the bad news.

    I work in the biological sciences as a career. I am very interested in the molecular aspects of cancer and have (in the recent past) become interested in the possibility that nutrition can affect initiation and progression of cancer. Its been a while since I looked at the literature that I have but there are a couple of basic things. Cancer (more than your normal cells) is driven by inflammation and it LOVES sugar (glucose) as an energy source,.

    So my advice is to consider a diet that reduces inflammation and sugar. What you want to do is get rid of as much body fat as possible (because fat drives inflammation), lift weights, and watch your diet. Its tough, but become a vegetarian or a vegan. Try to restrict calories.No sweets at all.

    My boss has prostate cancer and it maybe metastatic, hes being a trooper but I know it affects him.

    • just visiting on said:

      The zone diet. It reduces inflammation and levels your blood sugar and insulin levels. Initially studied and used for cancer and heart patients.

      I’m sorry that you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, Munson. You’ve touched a lot of people with your wit, insight and humor. Hopefully we can do the same for you during this difficult time. Or at the very least, be there for you when you just want someone to listen.

  7. Tom, in no way shape or form listen to your doctors right now. I can’t stress this enough, definitely don’t allow them to give you chemo, one of the most important people in my life died because she followed the oncologists advice. I guess I have to give a little background:

    My ex-wife’s mother loved me more than my own biological mother did. I loved her back, she WAS my mother. She was diagnosed at the same age that you have been, at the age of sixty. She was diagnosed in August and her youngest daughter was getting married for the first time in November. I told my father-in-law and my ex that if she went through the chemo, she would never live to see her daughter get married. No one listened to me, and she died after the second treatment of chemo that completely ravaged her body and mind. It broke my heart to see her go that way, she died one week before her daughter’s wedding. Thing is if she and her family had listened to me, she would have at least seen her daughter on the happiest day of her life.
    After that, I was the bad guy of the family, just for telling the truth. That was the defining event that broke up my marriage.
    There are things that you can do that are proactive other than reactive like all these doctors these days. If you go hardcore, you can pretty much beat this. So, I have a proposition for you. There is an author out there named Bill Sardi who is a medical doctor that has researched all the alternative therapies available and the ones that are the most effective. He wrote a one thousand page book titled, “You Don’t Have to be Afraid of Cancer Anymore”.
    I have a copy of it because my next door neighbor who is seventy seven years old and who has known me for all my life, was diagnosed with colon cancer a year ago. I bought it because I love her, she’s one of the only people who gave a shit about me. She’s now cured, no chemo, no surgery and she’s doing her gardening with no problems. Send me your home address to this e-mail address and I’ll pack it up and overnight it to you, no charge.
    Please and I can’t stress this enough, refuse the chemo, they don’t care if you live, they just want the insurance profits.

    • You’re right about the chemo. My husband (59 y/o) died from bladder cancer. He could have been cured by surgery, but refused to “live like that”. Instead he got radiation and chemo. He was cancer free in August 1999. In September he was in the hospital having a huge tumor cut out of his back and cancer had spread to every part of his body – except his bladder. They cured it there. The oncologists told him 6 months with no chemo, a year with chemo. After the last round of chemo, he said he would rather have lived 6 months feeling well than a year with chemo killing him.

      Tom it’s a rough road, and you’ll get lots of advice from lots of people. Do what makes you feel good and don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. Good luck and peace be with you.

      P.S. I started reading this blog because my late husband’s name is Tom.

    • By all means, listen to “The Illuminati” and heed his comments from Feb 4th. I can’t count the number of people I’ve watched die a slow horrible death, due to THE TREATMENT of cancer. Again, ….not FROM cancer, but from the TREATMENT of cancer. Cancer is and always HAS BEEN treatable. The problem is that there is no MONEY TO BE MADE off of a treatment that actually WORKS. The choice is nothing and no one’s BUT YOURS. You don’t sound like someone who’s spent their entire life letting someone else tell you how you think, feel, live, etc. Why the hell would you start NOW ?!!? Do what you’ve always done,….get your OWN information, make your OWN decisions and do what YOU ULTIMATELY KNOW is BEST FOR YOU. As a group, this entire country has been programmed into thinking that SOMEONE ELSE inevitably knows more than we know ourselves. That’s bullshit. That’s like saying someone else is faster than you. Well sure,….as long as your standing still,… THEY’RE GOING TO BE. Quit standing still, Tom. Get out there, find out what you need to know to be confident making your own health decisions. We spend WAY more money on “medical” in this country than they do in other countries, and yet we have one of the WORST records of health ANYWHERE ELSE ON THIS PLANET. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? IT’S A FREAKIN’ BUSINESS. The focus is way more on the money side than it is on the side of actual individual health, and quality of life. You’re already sitting at the computer, …….change your focus. Do the research. Live to entertain us with your wit for years down the road. We’re going to need it, and I’m sure there are people in your life that need YOU. Think of it as if it were your own child, instead of you, that had been diagnosed………would you still be just accepting this diagnosis, and it’s standard treatment? I don’t think so. Quit standing still, Tom. Do the research. Ask for proof of the so called “treatments” and the statistics on outcome. Do MORE RESEARCH. Talk to people that have been there. They don’t mind telling you, either way. But above all, don’t believe all the negative shit you’ve heard in the past. Your own beliefs have way more leverage on the outcome than you may realize. Epigenetics,…….look THAT one up. Interesting stuff. Look forward to hearing about your progress,…….you wouldn’t deny us that, would you? Until then,…….Sheri

  8. susanawalsh on said:

    Ha! Don’t expect me to indulge your scatalogical humor just because of this!

  9. @ NMH
    Thank you. I look into it. I got a lot to learn (ref Marvin Gaye’s “Holy, Holy”)

    @ jv
    ‘Tis for you I write. I love to hear from people like you that i have informed/entertained/jolted/whatever you. It warms my heart.

    @ Illuminati

    Thank you. Your concern touches me. It’s nice to know my “comments” meant something to you, that I am worthy of your advice.

  10. @ Cheerful

    I’d love to be able to tell my gastroenterologist “Please be gentle. My last was small, really only finger size, and it’ll take a while until I’m used to you. But I want you to have all of me.”
    Hey-I might get that ring yet!

  11. “Enjoy every sandwich.”

    Fuck, I love this line.

  12. I ate a PBJ today in Warren Z’s memory. “Aaaawwuuuuu!”

    Week 1 ends. Much love sent my way from people I’ve never met, from a place I didn’t knwo existed 3 months ago. I’ll let my well fill and we’ll start the second week. All is well.

  13. How I feel Sunday:

    I do not go to the window now
    My eyes don’t leave the room
    As I sit in the quiet
    of an endless afternoon
    because lover
    there is no sky
    the earth stands still
    the air itself has died
    my heart moves, but does not beat
    My Angel!

  14. Marellus on said:

    … and in this least of journeys that is the last … and in this feast of furies where sails mock the mast … to see new shores inured from tempest’ fate … and the relief of windworn gaze … to justify all our yesterdays …


    Today we undergo colonoscopy.Last week had prostate exam, so we’ll see if size matters. Relaxed, alert, prepared, confident. Let’s do it!

  16. susanawalsh on said:

    I recommend maxing out on any and all drugs offered. I never felt a thing.

  17. Jeebus Tom, you’ve got the Plankton ladies in a lather, again.

  18. PM
    I cannot win with those gals. I went off on the wrong Liz; said some insensitive things. I’ve never written anything remotely like that there. They come here, find it, paste it. Did you read what they directed at my wife? They apparently don’t read HUS where I have been featured. But there are some nasty sides to what I write. As for men liking “young pussy”, I’d like to take them to Sun Valley Idaho when Herb Allen has his convocation. The richer the man, the younger the wife. My point was past age 55, the remaining “available” men are : 1) few; 2) eager for young women if they’re still interested and rich; 3) socially bizarre; 4) broke; 5) suitable.

    My colonoscopy was clear.

    • Hey, your colon be clear… nice. As for the Plankton mob, your speaking truths which don’t want to be heard. They also don’t understand that my blog has a particular audience and Plankton’s blog has a particular audience. Normally, such audiences don’t interact butthrough the miracle of the Interwebz, disparate groups collide and hilarity often ensues. As Plankton is all about the blue pill, shemostly seeks validationand onlythe truths that fit within her world view and its narrative.

  19. Early on I realized that I couldn’t vent over there. So they grab stuff here, take it there, and have a cluster fuck over it. I love the think I’m a psycho. At least 3 sites I’m aware of have quoted my missive about my cancer; one of them appears to be very Christian. I’m sure one of them will find this and send it over. Well my main stuff is here and at HUS; I’ll have to build on those.

  20. Biopsy done. But I’ll have to wait until Monday to discover results. Small chance it could take longer, maybe 2 weeks. Until we know what is says, nothing can be done-I can’t even get on oncologist. So we wait.

  21. susanawalsh on said:

    Thinking of you, Munson. It makes sense to get an oncologist that specializes in exactly what kind of cancer you’ve got. I know you’re eager to start treatment, I hope you learn in just a few days.

  22. Susan

    As I was reading you, my oncologist’s office called (it’s 4:30 here). I meet Monday. I’m gald we’re starting. thanks fr the good luck and sipport my sister from another mister.

    Bear Hug Squeeze


    “Truths” that only fit one’s world view and narrative are very seldom ‘truths”- they are decptions.

    • I just tweeted this:

      Munson wisdom: “Truths that only fit one’s world view and narrative are very seldom truths – they are deceptions”

      • Thanks PM. PM-where I know if I HAVE to write, he’ll let me write it. Your’s is like my favorite spot on my favorite coach-knuckle punch.

        “It is the evening of the day….” Only today’s the day. I meet my oncologist. we should be getting down to brass tacks- it is to be hope not THOSE brass tacks.

      • BTW re: TRUTHS

        Be especially on guard when confronted with a “truth” that confirms one’s worldview or narrative. Inspect it carefully like a rock you would use on a pathway to your home. It is these, not good intentions, that lead directly to Hell.

  23. New bad. Inoperable, terminal cancer. 1 year average; I may beat the odds.

      • We’ll have a year PM. Odd: not too long ago we were strangers; more than that actually-I didn’t even know this site existed. We became acquainted not accidentally but certainly fortuitously-I made a casual (for me-I am prolix) remark. You responded. The rest is history. It my now be a short one, at least shorter than either of us wants, but it will still be a great one. Mine will be a meteor that flashes across the manosphere, gone before entirely glimpsed, and when they ask “What the fuck was that?” you’ll say, wistfully, “Munson.”

  24. Trying to marshal resources. The good fight is engaged. On to victory, on to freedom!

  25. If I know you, Tom, this is going to be one hell of a year, and more…

  26. just visiting on said:

    The good fight is engaged.

    Good. You have a lot of people in your corner who care.

  27. To All:

    Today I’m a little down. But reading my support and affection bouys me-thank you.

  28. susanawalsh on said:


    I’m going to give you a freebie. You may go to HUS and write about oral sex if you want, I won’t delete it. I hope that cheers you up.

  29. Still have not got my “date” with Seattle. They did call to get insurance info.

    As for living like Tom, I want to share with all of you something I dreamed probably 15 years ago. It was in the nature of a nightmare, but not as we normally think of them. In it, I was driving early in the morning, probably just before 7. I was in a lane of a freeway that extended endlessly in to my left and right, all of us going forward. Row after row of cars, and we ascended small hills like ribbons; if you’ve ever driven the “I” through Nebraska, it was like that. It occurred to me that we , each of us in our own cars, had so many reasons for making this trek, so many worries, so many hopes, families that depending on us or, lacking that, our own need for survival. Without realizing it I had awoke, but was still in the reverie of the vision a la Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”. I realized the nobility of the day to day warrior, some literally stopped with care, ALL rhetorically so, trying to get on with what Winston Churchill called “this business of living”.

    My readers, I know some of you feel sad for me; I return that affectionately to you. My “life on the road” is over. I send you my blessing that you find strength to endure the day-today grind, the grind that will “leach our salts” (Jim Dodge “Not Fade Away” p.126), that you, if briefly, escape its tentacles, to expand beyond its limits, to return refreshed.

    May you be restored beyond bounty.


  30. I am seriously considering writing a piece here about certain events that occurred in 1976. Now, everyone who reads will this conclude I was insane; indeed, I was, I was committed and most of these events (really subjective things) occurred then. So I expect to be dismissed. Only I know the truth; the events were real though bizarre. They happened, And if something extraordinary like that can happen to me, than it can happen again, to someone. By leaving this journal of those events I have acted in some small way to chronicle them, perhaps let that person know he/she is not alone. If the universe is as wondrous as it revealed itself to me then, that person will find my words. If not, I have done all I can.

  31. Today an endoscopy, which I think is the last of my diagnostic regimen. I am already noticing physical weakness, More later.

  32. Seriously Munson… where’re ya at?

    • I leave for Seattle Monday. I meet with the medical committee assigned to my case Tuesday. I will have undergone an examination prior to that. My destiny rests in their hands.

  33. “THE SUMMER I WAS JESUS CHRIST” Installment #1


    I was monitoring the phone at Hayman Hall at the College of Idaho in the fall of 1971. The job was to answer the phone, buzz the room of the person requested, and let them know they had a call. The caller did not identify himself, but asked for “Old Muscles”. The only muscular guy I knew was Roger Price, so I asked the caller if he meant him and he said “yes”. I buzzed Roger down, and listened to his end of a very odd conversation. Roger kept asking the caller how they knew each other, who he was, and it was clear Roger didn’t have a clue.

    I later learned that the caller had told Roger that he had a date lined up, but she insisted on bringing a friend. Both were beautiful according to the caller, and a good time was guaranteed. It was in the nature of an at home dinner date, and Roger agreed to attend. Roger was an “up for anything”, secure in his won skin kind of guy. When he arrived here was a sort of meal, but plenty of beer. Roger and “the caller” drank steadily for over two hours. Finally, “the caller” fixed Roger with “a look” and said: “Well, guess the girls aren’t going to show. Just how liberal are you?”

    With that, Roger ran out of the house, grabbed a girl’s bike and tore off into the night as fast as his legs could carry him. According to Roger, this guy was a big dude (Roger was no slouch) and he did not want to tangle with him.

    It would be several years before I heard the name “Old Muscles” again.

  34. I leave for Seattle today. We have good medical here, but when you are given the worst news you owe it to yourself to go see The Man. Seattle is the best in the West. I seek to ensure I’ve done all I can.

    That was a Prologue; much more to come.

  35. susanawalsh on said:

    I’ll be thinking of you Munson. I hope all goes well in Seattle. Safe travel.

  36. Damn, I missed the existance of this page. I thought that you were taking some time off. I just saw Susan as the last commenter on the site, so followed the link and…

    I missed this kind of thing very much; ‘First up was the rectal exam where I told the doc “5 seconds is work, 10 seonds is a date, and after that I epxect a ring on my finger.”’

    I expect you felt short changed when ‘you only got a finger on your…’, never mind, just thinking aloud. forget that. moving on. nothing to see here.

    Be lucky, let’s set some longevity records here

    (p.s. really hope the joke was appreciated, if not please feel free to delete it)

  37. ‘First up was the rectal exam where I told the doc “5 seconds is work, 10 seonds is a date, and after that I epxect a ring on my finger.”’

    I am still trying hard to get over this delightful imagery, Munson.

    This is why you ain’t going anywhere – nowhere else but here on Earth will they tolerate your filthy sense of humour!

    Keep strong, Munson, we are all with you.

  38. Seattle confirmed Boise.

  39. susanawalsh on said:

    I’m so sorry to hear there was no encouraging news in Seattle, Munson. Your online friends will continue to support you in any way we can.

  40. @ Susan

    Thank you. You’ve helped me personally already.
    @ Just1
    My son is named Paul. Synchronicity. You are my brother. Knuckle punch through the ether, across the waves.
    God bless you-I do feel it and draw strength.

    @ Space

    The doc shot right back with something like “this is the ultimate ice breaker”. I will stay strong; with all of you reinforcing me, reaching out to me, the universe tilts enough off its axis, allowing small miracles,maybe even mine.


    I’ll “Not Fade Away”-title of my favorite book by Jim Dodge.

  41. Sat. 3/3/31



    I began reading Carlos Castaneda in 1973 beginning with “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge”, an alleged work of non-fiction. It would be decades before I realized it was a hoax, probably the best that was pulled in the last half of the 20th century. Before that, I bought it hook, line and sinker. I read carefully, studied it actually, and the first 4 books of his oeuvre were especially intriguing (“Teachings”, “A Separate Reality”, “A Journey to Ixtlan”, “Tales of Power”). They inform the narrative I am embarking upon.
    Carlos meets Don Juan at a bus station in Arizona. He has been informed that DJ knows something about plants, specifically peyote which Carlos is interested in investigating as an anthropology student. DJ agrees, and thus begins a relationship that spans a few years but over a dozen books. It turns out Carlos has entered into an apprenticeship, with DJ as his teacher. Carlos takes drugs and does and sees many incredible (literally) things. This was post-’60s and a lot of people, like me, ate this up.
    There is a lot of detail I’ll leave out, but it turns out that in order to be an apprentice you need two shamans, called “naguals” (the term gets confused), to do the job. One acts as the stern explicator of the principles of shamanism (how to become a “man of knowledge”) and the other provides something of a respite, a playful, joking, magic-making “funny man” to the other’s “straight man”. This is so the apprentice doesn’t become too grimly focused on the tasks of apprenticeship, and also to let him know that indeed he is entering a world of new perception, wondrous, awe-inspiring in the truest sense. DJ calls it the antidote to living the average life, a life he compares to a dreary Sunday afternoon, not terrible, but hot, stuffy, boring, uncomfortable.
    Genaro is Carlos’ “other” nagual. Funny, profane, he also possesses super-human skills. Carlos’ description of Genaro’s death defying acrobatics at a waterfall is compelling (although fraudulent). Genaro embodies the pure essence of the magic in Don Juan’s teachings, and the combination of these two sorcerers, their intense application of their principles to Carlos’ life, his wavering but ultimately complete acceptance of those teachings allows Carlos to jump from a 600 foot cliff without injury, a feat that concludes the fourth book “Tales of Power”.
    We’ll be dealing with Genaro again too.

  43. Good and positive thoughts coming your way, Munson. Please keep writing.

  44. Thanks Scott. I feel them my brother. Second round of chemo tomorrow. It takes 2 days for it to start on my ass, so remember me a moment on Sunday. God bless. Tom


    MARCH 20 1976

    This Saturday started out like any other in the manic cycle I had been in for at least 2 weeks. For those of you who do not know, a manic cycle refers to an extremely strong mood shift into euphoria, often accompanied by several aspects and signs and also often following a deep dark period of depression (it was then called manic depression like the Hendrix song; interestingly I was often labeled paranoid schizophrenic-go figure). This would be my third episode since 1972; the first involved destruction of property, hitchhiking from Boise to Pocatello and back, in the interim convincing a girl I knew from high school to dye my hair because I was secretly a 40 FBI agent, being so wildly out of control that finally the police nabbed me and I was locked up and landed in the soft arms of a private psychiatric hospital. I always loved “The Catcher in the Rye”, and now there I was, a real life Holden Caufield, getting the “rest” he gets at the end of the novel. It was as easy a gig as it gets; the nurses were pretty, everybody was chill, hardly anything real to do but the inane crafts shit like belt making and going to “group” to listen to a bunch of doped out inarticulate zombies try to follow whatever the group leader threw out. His actual title was “Sociologist” on his door plate and everything. It was the only time I’ve ever seen it as an actual job. You’d have a hard time picking him out from the rest of the mopes, expect he smoked a pipe. Said little, did nothing.

    Like I said, easy time. Except for living the rest of your life knowing you have been an incarcerated mental patient.

    My next manic cycle occurred in 1974. I had been taking 18 credits, working 24 hours a week, hoping to be able to graduate and go to law school. I suppose it was the stress, although I have been informed that the relationship between mania and stress is not clear. I had just undergone a year of weekly sessions with a psychologist, who, generously, accepted me at a reduced rate, At the end of the year he said, more or less, “I’ve done as much as I can do; the rest is up to you” and we parted. Unfortunately, bipolar has a chemical side and in my case maybe a seasonal one. All of my serious manic cycles began in spring or fall; on the other hand, that’s 50/50. Anyway, this started building during the fall. One of the manic things I did was go tell the FBI about someone I suspected might be responsible for what later were known as the Bundy killings. Guy is dead now; but in describing him I told the FBI he was built like a half back.He had a history of violence, and had threatened my girl friend.
    They were polite, took my short statement, probably concluded I was a crack pot. I was.

    The manic storm built after Knievel took his epic jump in Twin Falls, Idaho which I had attended. Unable to focus, I bounced around the campus at Boise State intrusively sticking my nose into other people’s business, talking in inappropriately intense ways, giving off way more energy than any normal person would, and in general making everyone nervous as hell. I also managed to squeeze in a court appearance, where I testified in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a bar fight where I had been a bartender. The court reporter was unable to keep up with my manic rambling. I was also barred from being present during closing argument, I’m sure because the defense (the bar) was going to say I was nuts. I was , but my testimony was true-we had too many people, no bouncer, and someone got hurt, badly. He won a judgment.

    Saturday was the denouement. I was not arrested when I jumped off the balcony at the Cathedral of the Rockies but taken to a Christian ministry, which I never entered. That evening, I was taken into custody, returned to the country club psych unit, where I would spend 6 weeks. I was also judicially committed because I made the mistake of demanding to be released.
    (to be continued)

  46. Feel better at this point this week than last.

  47. At your service O Private One! I never forget those who always stand by me. Tom

  48. susanawalsh on said:


    I’m firmly in the grip of your storytelling, and looking forward to more installments. I’m glad you’re not feeling too crappy.

  49. Mobiaxis on said:

    I had(?) rectal cancer nearly 3 years ago. Many well-meaning people seemed very invested in projecting their ‘cancer stories’ onto me…you know, assuming they knew how I must feel, how horrible it must be for me, advising me to try this or that food or ‘natural’ cure. Fuck ’em all – *I* was the one with cancer and I went through it MY way, just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to find out what it really means to be ME. …me undergoing chemo …me having things shoved up my ass …me wondering why I was sitting there ‘wasting’ my time watching TV when I might be dead in a year. Parts of it really sucked, but hey, it’s still the only life I have, and I learned a lot about giving up my ‘storytelling’ and just walking through life taking things as they ARE. Good luck, I hope it’s not so bad that you don’t still have parts that you can ‘enjoy’

  50. Love it Susan love it. ‘Tis for you I write.

  51. Mobiaxis

    I appreciate your account. I’ll remeber “it’s the only life I have”- I should have it tatooed on my forehead. Ok, that might be extreme. but thanks. Tom

  52. How did my face get there? Can I get it over to HUS? I needed to lose weight when the pic was taken-chemo is taking care of that.

  53. That’s a rivetting story. I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next. I’ve worked in psych; it’s amazing to me that you were able to build the life you’ve built while having that to deal with. I said to Ted at HUS that everyone has baggage. The DHV is how and with how much grace a person deals with their baggage. You never fail to impress me.

    Feel good (as you can) and stay strong.


    March 20 1976 (cont.)

    My six week sojourn at “le country club par’ insane” did introduce me to 2 new characters-the drugs lithium and prolixin, A little background by the end of my stay I had worn the staff out. As my dad tole me “You’ve pushed them well beyond the bounds-and they’re professionals.” My quack psychiatrist (did I mention as an insane person you cannot fire your shrink, at least not back then?) finally took me into an office and began writing me scrip-I needed many medications as part of a lithium regimen plus needed monthly blood drawing to ensure my “lithium levels” did not get too high-if they did, your kidneys shut down. He was not an objective, detached professional. He was more like Haiti’s Papa Doc, and indeed had his own cult of patients whose entire day revolved around him; I doubt any of them took a shit without his being aware of it if not actually giving them permission to do it. He was also unethical; I would later be billed for his services DESPITE being a state patient-he later got sued by the state for doing this and other stuff and I believe criminal charges were considered.

    Anyway, as he’s writing the med prescriptions he’s lecturing me on what an inappropriate asshole I’ve been (add normative to my invective). At the conclusion, he says “We’re going to give you lithium, and if that doesn’t work we’re sending you to Blackfoot.” I’d heard of Blackfoot (officially State Hospital South), the punchline to many “nut” jokes, but actual incarceration there was nothing to take lightly. Allegedly, it was the basis for the movie “Snake Pit”, and it was rumored that patients were chained to walls which they scratched and clawed at until their finger bones were exposed, leaving grooves in the concrete. I was stunned. All I could stammer was “No good, huh?” He shook his head gravelly and said “They’ll just give you a shot and lock you in a room”.

  55. (cont.)

    So as 1974 winds to a close I’m starting my primary med regimen with lithium and prolixin. Let me tell you what being on lithium is like, at least for me. The first thing that happened is the drug dried me out like pemmican. I have oily skin and hair; this turned my hair into straw. My skin got a slight greenish cast, my pupils became dilated, and it took at least 2 weeks before I didn’t looked strung out. My jaw would drop uncontrollably, and if I didn’t exactly drool I looked like I should. Barely able to think at all, I would shuffle like an elderly man. I can still remember how people looked at me with a mixture of sympathy and mild revulsion.

    There are more side effects. In addition to a lack of energy, your metabolism slows down. You also develop tremendous, irresistible cravings for junk food of every kind, the fatter, sweeter, greasier, transfat laden the better. I put on many pounds, quickly, all of it gelatinous, undifferentiated, globby ugly fat.

    Now, about prolixin, which is the brand name for fluphenazine. It is intended for shizophrenics (remember, that was my official diagnosis) and is in the nature of a long term sedative. A shot every 2 weeks, and you’re chill. Those of you who have read Norman Mailer’s “The Executioner’s Song” will recall how Gary Gilmore was given it in California, and how he hated it ( he claimed it was outlawed there; dunno’). Well, give Gary that. the combination of lithium and prolixin meant I slept nearly 24/7 for 9 months. No exaggeration. I had a job, and I would slog through my 8 hour day as best I could. I would bathe before I went to bed, get up at the last possible second, work, come home, gobble my dinner, then straight away to bed. Friday night would find me asleep. Saturdays and Sundays I’d rouse myself to eat, maybe shower, then bed, all day and all of the night (The Kinks).

    During this time I read where excessive sleeping can cause metabolic changes the make the sleeper crave even more sleep. Something about carbon intake after so many hours. Anyway, that’s me for 1975, the worst year of my entire life. My friends managed to keep me awake for my birthday party. I never felt so old, lost, hopeless, despairing as at that party celebrating my turning 23.

  56. I had moved out of my parent’s house and in with 3 roommates (my party hosts) in the spring of ’75. They tolerated my sleeping “habits” for a rather extended period. But by the fall they’d had it; one night I came out into the living room and no one was there.They were off discussing me, and the next day I was told to leave.

    I already had a sort of exit strategy. I had already tried to kill myself once and knew I didn’t have the stomach for it. I thought about what my psychiatrist had said-“They’ll just give you a shot and throw you in a room”-and pondered it. I imagined a row of cells, with the tray windows you see in prisons, and staff coming around at regular intervals to give shots but no other activity whatsoever. I assumed once in their custody I’d remain there for the rest of my life as I’d also been told (by my quack) that my condition was progressive and I was deteriorating (which is exactly how it seemed to me). I compared that situation to my current life and weighed the relative pros and cons. If I did go to Blackfoot, I wanted no one to ever hear from or see me again.Like Ambrose Bierce in Mexico, I would disappear from the face of the earth.

    And so on a bright fall day I moved my furniture into my parent’s house (they were not home), packed some clothes into a large cleaning bag, bought a one-way ticket from Boise to Blackfoot, and voluntarily committed myself into State Hospital South.

    I did meet an interesting fellow on the bus. He played harmonica, and I’d take him to be about 18. He was short, and he had that certain look and build that suggested malnourishment in his early years. I believe he was on his way to Montana (the bus went from Boise to Pocatello with a layover, thence north to Blackfoot, and on to Montana). He struck up a conversation I still recall. He asked me where I was going, and I told him “to a hospital.” He asked why, and after I told him he said, so help me God, “You mean one a’ dem’ BULLSHIT hospitals?” He had an accent, and I can still hear him ask me “What’s wrong with your hey-ahd?” It clearly disturbed him that I, who appeared to be a normal young man, was even contemplating doing this. His brow furrowed, he tried to find words, he tried to change my mind. His last words to me were “Well, if you ask me, I say don’t do it”. I never saw him again, but God bless him.

    I arrived in Blackfoot in the dark. I didn’t know where the hospital was, but it’s a small town and after I got directions I walked the short distance with my bag of clothes over my shoulder like a hobo or a boy running away from home. When I got there, there was a small sign; I don’t know what it said, but it was the entry portal for the hospital. I stood on the doorstep and looked up at the stars in the clear night, wondering if I’d ever see them again. Then I went in.


    After my intake, I was led to another building denominated “TREASURE VALLEY”. It refers to the Boise area, which is called that; it extends from Boise to the Oregon border.Patients like me from that area were housed there. (My laundry was also marked “TV”, which is my initials; I still have a sweater with that label). The edifice looked like it might be a classroom building at an older semi-distinguished small liberal arts college. We ascend the stairs, the door is opened, and we descend into what would be the basement but is actually the day area. And I am startled. There are dozens of people, everything from teens to elderly, milling about, a cacophony of conversations, I can see to my left another very large room with several more people doing whatever (it’s got a pool table, ping-pong and a piano)and after I do intake with the staff there (all in street clothes) a not unattractive 17 year old girl sidles up to me and starts asking me where I’m from etc. I notice to my right the largest room in the facility, which is a sort of lounge with a tv I can hear above the noise.

    I don’t know what to think. The only remotely expected thing I encountered was this certain distinctive disinfectant smell I recalled from my Catholic elementary school. Far from being flung against some rigid institutional authority, I am almost entirely overlooked. I am given a “lodger” status (the status breakdowns were as follows: “red” JO-judicially ordered confined; criminal charges pending; JO-judicially ordered, civil; NJO-not judicial order-committed by a psychiatrist , usually by family; and various other “holds” like mine). Bedtime is 11; males sleep on one floor, women another. We sleep in 2 large rooms, separated by the staff rooms and the “siderooms”. These are where they lock you up when you go nuts or really transgress, like escaping (I do both-later).

    We wake at 6 and have to line up for meds. Everyone has to go through, even if you are not on meds, as a security measure. Here’s how they enforce it and make sure it’s quick: you are not allowed matches or an form of fire. There is a device that you turn upside with heat coils. The staff will not put this out until everyone has checked in for meds.Since a lot of patients smoke (I did) and are seriously jonesing for that first one, it is very effective.

    There is another “status”, this part of the therapeutic community concept. This is earned through compliance with the regimen. One is nothing; confined to building. 2 is also nothing can leave with staff (which you do anyway-to eat). 3 is big; you can leave with anyone patient who has a 4 (you stay on grounds). 4 you can come and go.

    I was a zero, so they had to bring me my breakfast.Pancakes. I’m eating them when Betty Ferrin starts to interview me. She’s asking me questions, and suddenly says “You don’t have any syrup for your pancakes!” as if it’s the Second Greatest Sin Known to the Western World.

    Again, not what I was expecting.

  58. susanawalsh on said:

    You’re a great writer, Munson. The way you’re unfolding this tale is very suspenseful. I remain on the edge of my seat.

  59. More, Munch, more..


    My best guess is I volunteered into Blackfoot around the end of September 1975. There were times when I had to almost pinch myself and say “You are in a state hospital. How did you fuck your life up so badly?” I had been raised solidly middle class; my father was a corporate executive (while I was down there he was fired), I had gone to an expensive liberal arts college, had seemingly every advantage. Yet there I was, among some desperately sick people and criminals (the red JOs). But most of the time I just did what was expected, tried to get along, and made the best of it. And I’ll have to say I saw some amazing results there, people you’d think were way too far gone restored. I cannot explain it, how medication, going to crafts, meetings, and group sessions would have any impact on people who were incoherent, dysfunctional in every way, seemingly beyond hope. There was one psychiatrist for about 100 or so people, and he was part time and basically just monitored medication although did on occasion conduct 2 minute interviews. No one ever had a full session with him. There were a couple of psychologists, but I met one only to do an intake interview. I never saw one again in any of my 3 stays. The MSWs (Master of Social Work) were nearly all former nurses and while they possessed certain skills it was more of a common sense innate quality; I never saw any indication of formal training beyond a very cursory understanding you could get reading a self-help book.

    And that brings us to me. I was 23 when I went in. I had had some college courses in psychology, but more importantly I had seen a dozen psychiatrists, including an esteemed one, Dr. Burdick of Ontario, Oregon, and not for 5 minute med checks but for hour long sessions in the fashion of psychoanalysis. I had spent a year in weekly hour long sessions with a very good clinical psychologist, and after my 1974 blowup had weekly sessions with the best one-on-one therapist I’d EVER seen (I am proud to say he is now my close friend).Plus I read a lot of self-help books, trying desperately to find out what was wrong with me. All of this to let you know I fought hard for my sanity, but I did not know what I was fighting. No one did. My efforts were like trying to put out a house fire with half filled dixie cups.

    So when we go into group therapy, and an RN with a “90 day wonder MSW” would start in on me with her tinker-toy-fresh-out-of-the-box mish-mash of half-understood pseudo-analytical horseshit, I’d now exactly what she was getting at and knew and used the lexicon better than she (most of what they attempted was in the “client/agent” style then in vogue). I actually was allowed to conduct groups several times. I’m not saying this to brag; I was the one institutionalized. And there would have been no way for a state like Idaho to do otherwise; we’re just too poor. But most of these former nurses only got their MSW to get a higher ranking on the state’s pay scale; they had no real interest in mental health, it just brought in a bigger paycheck (Betty Ferrin is not in that class; she was a thoroughly competent, dedicated professional. I never had her in “group”). As Dr. Ackley (the one psychiatrist ) put it: “You’ve had some very good therapy. Your edges are smooth, and we don’t know how to ‘flip’ you.” Go figure.

    We had some real MSWs, exactly 3, and everyone was assigned to one of these. They were in overall charge of your care, with another MSW over them (he was getting his PhD). Now, when I first went in I was given the Minnesota Mutliphasic Personality Index, an elaborate series of a 100 or so questions designed to map out your basic personality traits and detect mental “pathology”. I had just made a pattern with mine, completing it in a few minutes. Which of course meant the validity indicators said it was not an honest attempt. My MSW, Mike Eliason, a pretty cool guy, called me in and said “C’mon, we want to help you”, so I retook the test, seriously. Now remember I’m a voluntary; I can sign myself out anytime. So after a few weeks I decided I’d seen enough, didn’t see the point in hanging, I informed staff I wanted out. Mike called me in and said, based on my MMPI, the staff wanted me to stay. My MMPI score was never explained to me. I don’t know if they’d have pushed it as far as having me committed, but I liked and trusted Mike, so I agreed. I stayed a few more weeks, and then THEY booted me! I remember a different staff member, a regular nurse although they’d promoted her to some higher level position, told me “This is not a hotel.” No shit. I left in the back of an Ada county sheriff’s car with two prisoners (cool guys) saving me bus fare(this would never be done now).

    I’d been there about 3 months. You might be wondering about my parents reaction. In the first couple of weeks we had a former Marine who’d volunteered in. He then decided to leave. He was cool, so I asked him if he’d do me a favor and mail my letter to my mom and dad from Pocatello, Idaho which said I was ok but nothing else. He did. What I didn’t know was when I’d done intake, I gave my parents’ name and address. Within a day or so they’d received a letter telling them I was at SHS and they could be financially responsible for my hospitalization. They never tried to contact me.

  61. I needed to lose weight when the pic was taken-chemo is taking care of that.

    Munch, it’s good that you have a bit of extra weight as cancer and cancer treatment both lead to wieght loss. When my mom was sick with cancer, an oncologist freind of mine, himself a cancer survivor, told me that the best thing I could do for both the length and quality of her life was to make sure she was well nourished. Even when shew wasn’t hungry for food, I made sure she was getting calories, either with treats like milkshakes or with supplements like Ensure. Food is medicine.

  62. Lizzie on said:

    I really think this should be published. It is suspenseful, intriguing and the 6 installments could simply become the chapters. Awaiting the next installment Munson, and hoping you are as well as possible in the circumstances.

  63. (cont.)

    About my parents. You have to comprehend that I am describing events nearly 40 years old. My parents attitude about mental illness came from an era 40 years older than that. My mother had worked at Willard State Hospital, also known as Willard Asylum for the Insane, and her experiences there with full on schizophrenics were never, never discussed. Mental illness in the family was shameful (it ain’t exactly a red badge of courage even now). My parents believed, as did their peers, that children went crazy because their parents fucked up raising them. This did not translate into any sense of responsibility for me or empathy from my folks. To the contrary, my Dad would launch into 2 of his 3 genuine emotional states-anger and rage (the other being irritability) when discussing or confronting me. “We fucked up; we get it. But now God damn it blah blah blah..” My Dad, who used to get drunk to the point of imbecility at minimum 5 nights out of 7, would make fun of my use of medications, calling them “fried eggs”. My Mom hid in denial; she still does not believe my dad was an alcoholic, even when Albertson’s Inc., after incessant warnings and 2 unsuccessful attempts to dry him out, fired him as Senior VP and General Counsel, and watching him drink himself into a wall-banging stupor regularly the entire course of their marriage (he passed out at their wedding reception; she had to drive them to the hotel). She applied that to my condition. I did not have mental illness.My depression was due to my failure “to pull myself up by my own bootstraps”. At the bottom of my depth, I considered hanging myself with a nylon cord wrapped with boot laces in our entryway with a note saying “Is this high enough for you Mom?” My manic phases she ignored as sequelae from my drug use, a form of “acid flashback”.

    With respect to acid flashbacks, I must describe an incident that occurred about a year prior to my intake at Blackfoot. Here I am, just out of doing 6 weeks on the “unit”, having created a complete mess of my life, medicated to the gills on serious psychotropic chemicals, and what do I decide to do? You guessed it-drop acid. I was dubious when my friend showed me the sugar cubes-it seemed like something out of “Dragnet”. I should not have been. We went down to the Boise river, I took a look at a duck blind, and lost it. Two visions came out of that they remain with me today. In one, it is a very dark day. a huge crowd of people is engaged in something, but everyone is aware of some dark secret I have. In my hallucination, my secret is that I am gay. My charlatan psychiatrist had told me that my problems were due in large part to my suppressing my “homosexuality” (term used then). Talk about Alfred Hitchcock School of Psychiatry. In all my illnesses I never confused eating pussy with gobbling a pork sword, but there you have it. So the “secret” the crowd knows is I am gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and I am humiliated (well,…oh fuck it). The other vision, sort of like a mirage, was of thousand of identical images of a man’s face, long stringy hair, Asiatic, with an odd Van Dyke like beard, carpeting the ground for miles.I also became The Master of Time, Space, Dimension, and Mathematics, and when I came to around 10 p. m. I was sitting Buddha like on a pile of goose shit, minus a shoe. That was the trip. We’ll deal with the flashback later.

    So, I’ve gotten most of the background leading up to March 20, 1976 more or less sketched out. One other thing I must mention is the job my friend got me at B & B Press Service. As I was told during my orientation, this type of business had been around since the ’30s. We sold ads in special installment inserts for small papers that we called “Community Business Reviews”,which were just pages of ads, and once in a while magazine style ones that had short articles. We called the ads “reader” ads because they had no illustrations (those ads were “display” ads; those who sold them made a lot more money). Picture the “Seinfeld” “Serenity Now” episode; we had a blackboard keeping track of who is doing what and several banks of phones. Or you can picture it as a very watered down, low rent “Glenngarry Glen Ross”. Here’s how we did our job. First of all, you were given a large, Bible sized book of pre-printed ads (probably written in the ’30s) that contained 600 or so ads written for every conceivable business plus a bunch of general ones for those that didn’t fit, segregated by business. The ads had blanks for the name, address and phone number for the particular business you were calling. When we did an area like Moscow, Idaho, the staff would copy the business section of the phone book, then cut out each business and place it on a piece of paper called a “clip”. You were also given the Holiest of Holies, the script. EVERYTHING you were allowed to say was on this page, and you were to say it word for word with absolutely no variance whatsoever. You filled in the script with the clip info, plus details like the locale, name of the paper(s), and cost were provided. The only permissible variance was to address “objections”, and there was a section in the book for these: “Advertising doesn’t cost, it pays” etc. Don’t laugh I’ve seen them work. And script is not inaccurate; after reading it all day, cold calling business and hearing dozens of “no’s” for every yes, some days working all day with no sales, you needed to be an actor to read that script any semblance of enthusiasm ( a word our bosses harped at us every day). It was the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life.

  64. Feeling good today! It’s sunny, it’s beautiful!

  65. (cont.)

    We are almost ready to leave 1975 and enter 1976. Before we do I need to describe State Hospital South a little more. The concept behind Blackfoot, indeed any state hospital, is the very long term if not lifetime care of the inmates. However, that was not entirely the case at Blackfoot. In eastern Idaho, it was often used as an acute care facility, especially for patients with no insurance. People who were not long term care but had episodic mental health issues were placed there; I think the hospitals in Pocatello or Idaho Falls had very limited capacity in their mental health units.Blackfoot also got teens from St. Anthony, a “reform” school north of Blackfoot. I got to know some of them; we’ll let Marlene be emblematic. She was 15, a plump, sad, but very intelligent young “woman”, although in my heart I cannot describe her so-she was a girl. I don’t know how she got into St. Anthony, but I’ll say this-there was nothing wrong with her mind as far as cognitive acuity. She had a crush on me; in fact, when I saw her again over 20 years later she still blushed in my presence and was unable to look at me directly. Now, you have kids like these thrown in with certifiable schizophrenics, dangerous delusional criminals, long term decompensating abnormal full on “crazies” and the like, including me. And get this-they interacted with and slept in the same large room with these adults. No segregation at all except by gender (lawsuit changed that decades later). Marlene was lost, confused, and her potential (considerable) was squandered in the lousy education and her own view of herself as a loser, which led to her identification and association with losers, which inexorably led to a furthering of her self-perpetuating low level of living on to the next generation. When she saw me for legal counseling in the late ’90s I saw that her life script had played out exactly as it had been written before she turned sweet 16.

    Another facet was in the 1970’s, thanks in part to books (the influence started in academia, then streamed into the popular culture) like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, the nation was undergoing a change in thinking about long term mental health incarceration (which is an accurate way to describe it IMO). With medication and a modicum of community support, patients could be released to live a near normal life, free of institutional tyranny. Well. I saw the beginning of this disaster, up close and personal. The only people who could have benefited from this approach were the ones who didn’t belong in a long term facility in the first place, which includes most of the criminals, people with transitory acute disorders (me, those with delirium tremens), and scattering of others. Don’t know how it worked it your state, but in mine, they released them-to nothing. Zip. Nada. Bipcus. Niente. Zilch. I remember a desperately ill young woman named Darla. Darla would have been pretty; around 19, the stress of her condition had shriveled her neck and aged her so that she looked like a hard bitten Oklahoma woman out of the Depression. I saw them release her no less than three times, and each time I thought “She can barely handle a crafts class that she’s had 60 times; what in God’s name do they think the streets will do to her?” Mercifully the streets took care of her quickly and she’d be back, where she belonged. Darla was not unintelligent, and I sensed an ironic detachment in her. She had accepted at this early age that she would be institutionalized, or near to it, all her life. Her clothes BTW were fashionable; she was not poor. She was very ill, but she was still “there”, somewhere.

  66. (cont.)
    So the staff, overall well meaning but for the most part clock punchers, are facing the outer wave of this change in the long term psychiatric model just now hitting their shores but in vogue everywhere else, with no resources beyond the hospital itself, which is in general many miles from where the patients live (probably 40% or more of the state lives in the Treasure Valley, and if you toss in Twin Falls (125 miles east) you’re probably looking at well over 50%), and are starting to understand that the wave’s purpose is to shut them down-well, you can guess where the morale was. They may have been clock punchers, but for many of them this was the only clock they had, or would ever have,

    Talking about Darla reminds me of another aspect of Blackfoot, the “Action Committee”. It is a group of appointed inmates who are allowed to mete out punishment for rules transgressions. It turns everyone into a snitch. Gary Gilmore, who was in a state hospital for evaluation, talks about this in “The Executioner’s Song”. He contrasts it with prison; in prison, inmates run things; you snitch, you die. And of course he points out that the mental health wimps he encounters there wouldn’t last a minute in “the yard” before they’d be turned out punks or killed. Punishment? Well, you won’t believe the primary: one:a “puree diet”. So go in the kitchen and take a slice of Salisbury steak, apple sauce, peas, and milk. Put it in the blender until it has the consistency of a very loose bowel movement. Now taste it. When you were on “puree”, that’s what you got, 3 times a day. Most threw them away, but if you’re on an extended punishment, you’ll eat some of it because you’re starving. Remember, these people are ingesting powerful, powerful psychotropic medications, 3 times a day, including the kidney destroying lithium. I can still see a line of them, there faces clear to me even now, bravely trying to swallow that God awful shit.At one Action meeting Hyrum, the laziest human I’ve ever know, usually an ok guy, saying about another inmate “we should put her on a puree diet and see how she likes it”. I wanted to grab his fat ass and stuff a styrofoam tray of that swill up his rectum ’til he squealed like Bobby in “Deliverance”. I, however, had advised staff that I was hypoglycemic ( I had received the diagnosis years ago) and thus they COULD NOT “puree” me; I had to be given regular meals and 2 snacks a day. It was the one form of punishment i missed out.

    The other primary punishment was training square. Very simple;there area next to the staff main desk where you sat, doing nothing, from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. (when you were allowed to go to bed). For me, this meant staff had to bring me my meals and I got out of the boring routine. But it also meant loss of status-which you need to be released(which in my first sty I didn’t give a fuck about). I don’t think you were supposed to read, but if you were cool they’d let you. I had more fun sneaking cigarettes and listening in on the internecine battles among the staff, gaining insights through direct eavesdropping and deduction that I could then jolt them with at the appropriate time. But sometimes it was sad. A very nice middle aged nurse who was going through a divorce received a packet of pictures taken just before her husband dropped the bomb on her. She was alone, but I could see her and heard her conversation to her daughter about them (surprisingly, it was often very quiet). In my mind, I can still see her face as she lit a cigarette (allowed), her hands shaking, and her looking towards the window, crying. the other thing about SHS is in a small area like upper east Idaho, where jobs are not plentiful, it becomes a sort of community asset.It is the best employer, stable, consistent, beyond the vicissitudes of the real economy, which means a lot in a small town. People like Hyrum who would never stand a chance in a competitive job market could do rather well over time. Everyone in Blackfoot is related to that hospital

    We’re almost done with the background data on SHS. One more detail: Becky. Becky was a Psych. Tech. ( I think the way this works is if you have no training or background you’re a Psych. Tech. 1; if you work long enough or have a college degree, that makes you a Psych. Tech. 2 etc; they were basically orderlies). Becky was a beautiful native American (may have been an enrolled Shoshone Bannock-we had a couple), slender with flawless skin and long near navel length jet black hair so dark as it coiled its inky oblivion seemed to extinguish all the light in the room.

  67. Becky was a reader of Castaneda, and in fact loaned me “Tales of Power” which I read for the first time there. More importantly, she claimed to have attended a peyote ceremony. I have to be careful here. As intrigued as I was about learning about the ceremony, she was so pretty that looking at her my attention always wandered (we had several gorgeous Psych. Techs.; one so help me was named Debbie McCool and damn she was. She wore rose colored heart shaped glasses and claimed to have been a stewardess and had met several rock groups, including Three Dog Night. Debbie and Becky often worked together, a double blessing). So I’ve got to be careful with the details. She told me this was done in a large tent (I do not remember her calling it a tipi) somewhere out on the Shoshone Bannock reservation. Both men and women attended. There was a leader of the assembly, a man, and there was a prelude. In recalling it, the word I remember she used was “praying”: looking back I am not sure if she also mentioned singing and chanting and my memory is probably infected with other descriptions I’ve read over the years. I do recall that the leader would remind them, in different phrasings and at odd intervals ( by that I mean that he wasn’t following a catechism or liturgy; there might be a reminder followed by another, and maybe the next solitary one 30 minutes later; there was no rhythmn to it) what the purpose of the gathering was, and their was a collective aspect to it but I cannot honestly state it related to Shoshone Bannocks or even Native Americans; my best recollection was that it did not. It involved concepts of “restoring” and “cleansing” akin to baptism. She said then peyote is “given”, with no details. The people then continued as before, and at this point I recall there was chanting. I asked her if people were compelled to chant and she replied that no one was, but that everyone participates. She did not describe the chanting, but it seemed to me it was spontaneous, not ritualized or formulated, and not directed by the leader. My impression was the leader’s intercession at this point became less and less, and that there were fairly long intervals of silence.

    I most definitely recall she said no one gets sick. In my three outings with peyote, I got sicker than with the chemo treatment I am now undergoing. Then the vision appears. Everyone sees the same vision. That night, it was man in a gleaming white robe (I’m tempted to say a buffalo (technically bison) robe, but she did not characterize it as such) who addressed them all. I do not remember all that she told me about the vision’s statement, but the last part I recall verbatim: “I will lead you to a stronger life”. When she told that to me, and the many times I’ve thought about it over the years, I marvel at the wonderful simplicity of it, how concisely it states all that mankind could ever ask for, all that we could want. Help me make my life stronger; help me feel more, think more, love more,”be” more, help me make my time here overflow with awe, my experience robust, full, help me capture the joy while I hold the flickering fading light, help me reach that.Note the vision did not say “I will GIVE you a stronger life”; you’ve still got to do the work. I recalled the vision’s statement years later in my Indian Law class. In the most beautifully written opinion I’ve ever read, People v. Woody, the California appellate court upheld the Native American’s right to use peyote (since overruled), declaring that the fundamental right to practice one’s religion extends even to those done in the cold dark night on a lonely reservation outpost. I was prouder of becoming an attorney in that law school class than I would ever be again. Like the spirit said, you’ve got to do the work.

    • I really enjoy your excellent writing and look forward to the next instalment. .

      • Thank you. It is going to get much weirder. When it does. please remember I have nothing to gain by making anything up. I can document almost everything I’ve said. The ultra-weird stuff, not so much. But I have no reason to make things up and I trust you and my other readers will at least allow that maybe, just maybe, this really happened. It’s asking a lot; I can hardly believe it myself, and I lived it.

  68. P S fi
    Invite your friends over for a visit.

    • Ah. Assuming you mean my planktonites? Well some of them are my friends, but others are not. The bitter angry ones, who blame men for not being attracted to them, who seem to spend every minute of every day dwelling on how they haven’t got a man but want one, blaming their age/the men/where they live, in fact anything and everything except themselves, are pretty awful. The constant whining sometimes gets too much. However….I did post there that I’d been visiting here and thought in general you guys are ok. Which you are when you are not doing your stuff about decomposing women’s bodies that is. I do think in general though there is a lot of wit and cleverness here and I quite like noseing around. Some of the comments really make me laugh.

      • I did go off here-and will not do so again. Vestiges of my bipolar remain. I used to think that bipolar, treated over time, went away. No. today I read in the paper that a high school classmate of mine, a physician who contacted me recently and with whom I had a long and intresting correspondence, who suffers for bipolar but seemed ok (we are talking about a matter of 2 of 3 weeks ago), showed up with a handgun at a store and aimed it at the manager and 2 employees. She has been stalling the mother of one of the employees, and there are more lurid details. Terrible. I think she may be schizophrenic; the 2 are linked IMO.

        I agree with your remarks about some of the planktonites, but I do not recall any “blaming men” but I don’t read all of them. The rest: yeah, where they live, the guys they meet etc. I gotta tell I know a lot of guys my age and several have serious medical issues, not maybe as bad as mine but bad. A lot of them are just flat out poor; not garbage can diving poor, but balanced to the dollar every month. Some. not my friends but acquiantances, are weird-too werid. And then there’s my friend-let’s call him Best Case Mike. 62, overweight but handsome despite it with a full of hair, more than comfortably well off if not rich. He’s a bachelor, but has gotten involved with a 52 year old who sounds great. They were considering moving in, but one of the sticklers is she wants to change the furniture. Now, there is no woman alive who would put wit Mike’s furniture. It’s nice, expensive, but there is no since of style or integration whatsoever. It’s what you’d expect if you gave frat boys a large check to fill their rec room. Mike thinks he has good taste; no. But he’s brittle, never really livd with a woman, can’t recognize that if she’s there she’ll wnat her friends to come over and she’ll get tired of explaing oh yeah-this is all his.

        My point is elgible men in the mid 50s-mid 60s who want to meet, date and possibly marry in that age group are rare. Rich men skip down 15 years at minimum.

        So they do have it tough. There’s demand, but no supply.

      • “about decomposing women’s bodies that is”

        I had to read that a couple of times until I realized that you used “decomposing” as a verb, not an adjective.

        I don’t think women quite understand just how visual men are. When we look at a woman’s body and evaluate it (“decomposing” as you said), we are doing what is completely and utterly natural to us. No amount of social shaming will change that.

  69. Where’d my gravatar pic go?

  70. PM
    fi is referring to one of my H.P. Lovecraft tomes I wrote here but aimed at the planktonites, suggesting that worms would eat their pussies out as they decomposed and rotted in their graves(Christ fi I am explaining this don’t go tell them I’m SAYING IT AGAIN). That’s what she’s referring to. She is not referring to women’s aging or any comment over here about that.
    I can be such a sick bastard, because I am.

  71. Yo Munson and Fi….

    I was reading one of my old blog posts and it was really funny to see that you both were not exactly on friendly terms in the comments:

    Things change, they do indeed.

    And Munson, your story about mental illness is riveting stuff.

    • Yes ….well….that was when I just thought you were all woman hating lunatics. On further examination of the evidence however I have revised my opinion and now I think you’re all (or mostly everyone) clever interesting funny guys. :)

      • And I shall never, never write like that again here about the Brit gals. I am sketching out next “Summer” installment. As I was finishing the last one I had a nice segue and details in mind, but I forgot it. I’m worried because tomorrow more chem after 2 week respite which will put me off my game. My choice is to go now with what I’ve got, or wait until after chemo settles and see if I can find it. Only the best for my readers.

  72. Margaux on said:

    So, Fi mentioned she was hanging out over here so I’ve ventured over again. I ‘lurked’ when you were in full flight before, TV, and I admit it needed a strong stomach to read. But things change and I have just been reading your extraordinary story. I take heed from Mobiaxis and will not insult you with any inanities about your cancer – it’s yours after all. But while you dance with it I hope you stamp all over it and give it the biggest kicking you can. I just wanted to say I am riveted by your writing.

    • Thanks Margaux. My manic side is still there, and that was a taste of it. Another bipolar and I were commisserating about 2 weeks ago.She is a physician who lost her license. We were discussing my “situation”, and I commented that I had my episodes when I had nothing to lose. A few days ago she showed up with a handgun at a store, apparently looking for someone, and when they weren’t there she pointed it, loaded and armed, at the manager and 2 employees. Sobering, especially for one who shares the. Bipolar and cancer-sigh.


    We are getting closer to March 20, 1976. But I still have more I must tell you, and my chronology is a little askew. I’m sorry to go Quentin Tarentino on you (ref “Pulp Fiction”) but sometimes the significance of events and experiences and their chronological appearance in time are not in synch (QT digs this). Also, when we begin recounting events, we discover connections that were obscure, and in order to keep the listener with us we have to trace back here and there to flesh out the narrative so they “get it”. This to me means the telling is authentic; and in my case, it is very important that you know I am telling you the literal truth. So bear with me.

    Carlos Castaneda introduced a number of concepts that are still floating around: “death as an adviser” (your death was always on your left shoulder; when you got in a bind, you were supposed to ask it “Is this my time?” and it would say “No”, supposedly putting things in perspective, like losing your job or having your spouse leave you; “last battle on earth” (before dying, if you lived as a “man of knowledge” you would be allowed a space in time to celebrate that; at least I think that’s right- it got co-opted to help people sell life insurance); “lucid dreaming” (later morphed by the general public into “active dreaming”)(you were supposed to find your hands in your dream, and then start controlling the dream, so it had the lucidity of daily life;try it- you can’t do it, and if you can, why don’t you just get some sleep you asshole?) But the one that got me, the big salt shaker on the table in Carlo’s Spaghetti Factory, was “STOPPING THE WORLD”. Yep. That’s right. You heard it. The whole motherfucker stopped my ‘lil ol’ you. This one is complicated, ineffable in some ways, and Carlos (or his editor) did not flesh it out. Now, you must understand that through the first 4 books (I think all of these are from his third, “A Journey to Ixtlan”, which was the one he submitted to obtain his Ph.D. from UCLA not, as many assume, his first published one, “A Yaqui Way of Knowledge”), the information comes out as a series of questions (Carlos) and answers (Don Juan). Castaneda doesn’t just tell you blah blah blah what the concepts are; DJ tosses something out, Carlos asks questions, DJ responds. So there is a lot of room sometimes for interpretation. “Stopping” is like that. If you saw “The Soprano” episode where Tony goes to Vegas and takes either peyote or mescalin (the active ingredient in peyote) and at the end is sitting smiling with a clear view of all and a look of surpassing calm and acceptance-the writers were suggesting that( someone on “The Sopranos” writing staff was into Carlos; Bracco refers to “last dance” and I think there were other refs). The best way I can describe it is a state of such transcending clarity, where physically , mentally and spiritually you are completely integrated such that the the experience of everyday reality is interrupted, the synaptic interplay between your mind and the universe frozen, and the earth no longer rotates. How do I “know”? Because I did it-and the earth actually stopped.

    Now let’s back this train up to a Saturday evening in 1974 somewhere near Twin Falls, Idaho. The next day Knievel would make his ill-fated attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon (he may have failed, but Christ that took balls). We were camped out, and had earlier taken acid but despite this my friend was sound asleep in his truck. I had read an article, maybe in LIFE, about the disappearance and/or murders of over a dozen or so young women in the Seattle area.In what I now think of as my “Bundy night” I could not get them out of my mind; in the pictures they were so compellingly sweet, innocent, lovely, and the hallucinogen wouldn’t allow me to let go of their images. My response was of course to smoke pipe after pipe of the plentiful weed we had, but I couldn’t sleep, and got incredibly maudlin, sobbing about these girls. My buddy asked me the nest day what I had been crying about ( I thought he couldn’t hear me) but I sensed if I told him it would sound crazy so I just said a lot of things. He was a quiet, cool, compassionate guy and he let it go. I was very troubled by this; later, I’ll try to tie this in. Whether I am successful or not, well, you’ll be the judge of that.

    If you’ve read carefully you now this is the week leading up to my 1974 incarceration at the “club house”. What did I do for that week? Well, in addition to scaring the living shit out of everyone I ran into including my parents I was writing poetry, all of it lousy. The association between bipolar and poetry is widely known, especially among the British Isle types, and I experienced that, minus the talent. I thought none of it survived, but I friend recently found one, and I’ll share it (I hate that 12-step born again word, but it fits).
    It was inspired by yet another acid trip (I know you people are thinking I’m an acid junkie, but in actual truth I never liked it; it was like a ferris wheel that seemed so intriguing, but once I got on, I wanted off-I was always hoping it would be better than it was and after ’74 I never took it again). I was in Garden City which is adjacent to Boise and really just one long boulevard. I was walking it alone, high, sad, when suddenly, like Dylan’s junkie in “Mr. Tambourine Man”, the streets looked suddenly ancient to me, I felt I was transported to another time, 2,000 years ago, and a phrase came to me “we searched every where for the Spirit”. And then an image, not a visual hallucination but a picture I had created in my own mind, came to me: a man, who could’ve been a Spanish dancer. with a wide low brimmed black had,face obscured, white pants and shirt, and he’s twisted oddly but his right arm is held out pointing emphatically-to where? That was it. Here’s the poem:

    And I looked for you
    in Lavabo
    and walked the torn streets
    and saw where you had been
    Often I looked up to you and cried
    for I was scared and alone
    I longed to warm myself by your fire
    and share the light
    I saw the cities; many dead people building boxes around themselves
    themselves lit by their own misdirected desire
    Man is not a perfect being; he is unstable
    So now I am here and You are there
    So where am I?
    What is it all for for if I cannot get to You?
    But I heard You on the walls
    I traced Your footsteps
    for the tears had not yet dried
    Then I saw You.

    I did not know at the time that a lavabo is an actual thing, a ritual washing bowl of some kind. The reference is easy: when John Kennedy was assassinated, I was in the 6th grade. A good Catholic boy newly transported to California, I became so distraught that I had to be sent to the nurses office. When I was finally able to return to class, it was time for our music lesson. God strike me dead if our teacher didn’t have us sing “The Streets of Laredo”. Its images of a man alone shot and dying on a Texas street had me again convulsing in sobs, but the class snag on. I’m sure the rhyme of “Lavabo” and its association as a street came out of that singing of “Laredo”. And walking that long dusty low rent boulevard in Garden City reminded me of all of that, plus the Spirit.

  74. (cont.)

    One more and almost overlooked aspect of my narrative is the drug Elavil , brand name for amitriptyline. It was a common antidepressant then, and I was taking it along with all of the other stuff. I never noticed it having any effect at all. There was no mistaking lithium and prolixin. Lithium was like a ball and chain that you carried with you, making every single God damned thing in your life harder and your experience of it lesser. I addition to all the other nasty things it did and I’ve told you about, it also had the ability to unobtrusively shut down your brain, like a night nurse turning off the lamp above your pillow. There was a documentary I saw about life in a some type of mental patients in some type of controlled environment, and in it they showed the inmates at a “dance”. There was music, festive accoutrement like balloons, bunting, and while I don’t recall the music it was certainly dance style stuff. And there were the patients-sitting, inert. The reporter asks “what gives?” and the social worker responds “They’re all on lithium and nothing really much affects them this is how they respond to everything.” Which for me is a perfect metaphor for that mineral (it’s on the chart) and its effect on human existence. I am not urging anyone reading this who is on it to stop taking it-it does work. I have been described by one psychiatrist as a lithium failure (she also said if I ever got to a large university town, I should ask them to investigate my case and my reaction to the one drug that finally did cure me-phentermine). But for me, lithium meant I listened and stared as the sweet dance music of life played, but there was no energy to move my feet, nor joy to inspire it. Prolixin was like you owed money to Guido the loan shark, and you’ve gotten behind, and he corners you in an alley behind your apartment, and as he’s telling you your defalcations will require him to up his “vig”, you say something smart and his hideously large, silent companion steps up and delivers a professional upper cut into your solar plexus, dropping you to your knees as you struggle to find enough air to allow you to live long enough to experience the agony of having your stomach stapled to the back of your spine, and you can barely hear as Guido tells you that should he and his unnamed companion be forced to have to look you up again, they will not be quite as friendly.

    But I never took account of Elavil. My prescribed drugs (in 1974) were lithium, cogentin (for shakes), Elavil, benadryl (not sure why; it was a prescription medication at the time), and my bi-monthly shot of prolixin. By 1976 the only change was I no longer got the prolixin shot (Lord be praised!) And like I said, I never paid any attention to that orange, candy-looking tablet (resembled a “Smart” confection) that I so insouciantly gobbled along with all the others. I overlooked it, just as I almost did in this narrative. My blithe disregard for its potential destructive power would have profound, life changing consequences for me. Indeed, this entire narrative is based upon the effect it had on me the evening of March 20, 1976 and on into the early morning hours of March 21.

    [ Author’s Note: I start my second round of chemo this morning. I shall return to my account once I am able. Godspeed ’til then, and God Bless Us, Everyone! (ref Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”)



    I think this may be the last detail about my stay in State Hospital South in 1975 that I need to relate. I mentioned that the “training square” punishment required you to sit in this area adjacent to the staff desk for 13 hours (bed was allowed at 9; you had to be in bed by 11). It gets dull. So to amuse myself I wrote pornographic stories. Most of it was derivative of, if not out and out plagiarism of, Terry Southern’s “Candy” ( “rolled her clitoris like a marble in oil”-I directly lifted that;Terry was a hell of a writer). It was all sexual with no violence, and it was also influenced by the underground comix I read, and specifically the work of the renowned artist, and my favorite, S. Clay Wilson (he had violence, but I did not incorpoarate it). Lurid no doubt, amateurish too, I would compose these nasty tomes and believe it or not read it to select staff. I particularly remember LuWana (I don’t know the spelling) listening to it, along with a male staffer. She didn’t care for me and it puzzled me why she would do it (she liked the “marble” simile, the Southern ripoff). Well, let me tell you some of this stuff got so down the male orderlies would go “Whoaa!” After I read them, and I admit I gave it no regard whatsoever, the staff would casually ask me for the pages (these were long) and since I no longer cared about them I obliged.I probably wrote a dozen or more of these until one day a cool Psych.Tech. II, Kevin Swann, pulled me aside. He asked me if I’d ever heard of “SOAP”ing-I hadn’t. SOAP is a standard evaluation model for medical consultation/investigation. It stands for subjective, objective, assessment, plan and is still in use some places. Subjective-what the patient tells you; Objective-what you observe; Assessment-the clinical profile that emerges from the previous plus anything else like lab results; Plan-the steps necessary to address the situation. Now, he told me that every single one of those “stories” I’d given staff went right into my file under the heading “Subjective”, and that I was developing an impressive oeuvre of some seriously fucked up shit. He wasn’t privy to what the “Plan” was or was going to be, but he advised me to cool it. I did. I do not explicitly know if those writings contributed to certain later developments in this story or not; I suspect so.

    I think that is as much background as I can relate leading up to March 20, 1976. We will focus now on the week leading up to it. One important point needs to be made: none of my crazy shit, jumping off balconies, hitchiking all over the Northwest with just a guitar, frightening people (in ’74 I walked around Boise with a large paddle on which I’d written “AUTHORITY IS NEVER LEGITIMATE”; people cleared out in a hurry), and all the crazy shit I’m about to go into now, NONE of it was done on illicit drugs. NONE. It was either me au naturale,or I was on legal, prescribed medication (plus alcohol). I was already in a steep manic upswing as the week started. I was working at the boiler room, B & B Press Service, and was having an increasingly difficult time focusing. My girlfriend, Becky (not the one from Blackfoot, although that gets interesting too) had, I assumed, broken up with me. The B & B job was very stressful, and I started to swing up into the higher end of mania. Many manics get religious, I don’t mean reading the Bible, I mean talking to God, then telling you what He’s saying, then telling Him what you said about it. I only had one conversation with Him; His only remark was “I wonder if it’s going to rain?”Frankly, I was disappointed. Another aspect of mania. and one of its most pernicious, is the maniac does not sleep, or very very little. After a while, as it has been explained to me, the body becomes too tired to sleep, confused almost, and then you get sleep deprived schizophrenia like meth heads do.Part of it is, for me anyway, being in mania feels so good you don’t want to sleep, you want to experience all of it, you get restless to enjoy more of it, you can’t wait to wake up and get back into it.There can be no other drug like it. I began spiraling away all week, still doing my job but becoming more and more unhinged.Towards the end of the week I even showed up at my friend Jerry’s house, spent the night listening to “I Wish It Would Rain” by The Temptations (based upon my conversation with God) and borrowed a shirt from him to go to work the next morning (he lived close to my job; I wasn’t driving). the only thing I’m truly ashamed of in all of this came next. At work there were a couple of racist dudes. As I walked in, I said to them “Guess where I got this? From a nigger.” (Jerry is black.) Forgive me Jerry;that was ice cold ignorant. This too came back at me, in a way so incredible I do not believe it myself.

  76. Where are my commenters?


    Saturday, March 20, 1976

    This Saturday started off like any other for a maniac. That is, I awoke early and was bouncing off the walls before I got dressed. I had a great many ideas in my head, all of them delusional and none I could focus on for more than a minute. I was very “religious”, a common expression of mania. I already mentioned my brief conversation with God; another manifestation for me was I intensely enjoyed listening to music and while doing so I believed that the song was not about love, infatuation, loneliness etc. but was rather God sending messages to all of us through the music. So for example the song “TIme Is On My Side”, from the Rolling Stones album “12 X 5″, instead of being about a lover willing to wait for his beloved to see the light and return to him, became a song about God’s infinite mercy towards us, the fact that He knows we’ll have doubts about Him, despair of salvation,turn our backs on Him for a time, but that ultimately through His perpetual love we will come to embrace Him and be restored to grace. That sort of thing.( BTW Charles Manson, no relation, also had this delusion; his interpretation of the Beatle’s “White Album” were the trigger for his conspiratorial imaginings that led to several deaths). I was doing that all morning, scribbling down random thoughts (the only kind I was capable of), revelling not just in the joyous sound of good clean rock but also in the deranged meanings I was finding in it.

    Of course, doing this reinforced my manic cycle; I was getting higher and higher. This is an aspect of mania not well understood by the clinicians, probably because for them it is irrelevant-the pharmaceutical industry, then and now (more so), has an array of psychotropic buzz bombs to deal with mania; who cares about the motivation of the maniac if you can “carpet bomb” him into a stupor,thus calming him, making him stay more or less in one place and shutting the fuck up? But this misses something important, something I will explicate here: I was always MAKING CHOICES, choices that furthered my mania, choices that made me feel “better” i e get higher, deliberately behaving in ways that were disruptive to me and those around me so I could get a “vibe” off the energy and thus increase and prolong the high. I am not saying there was no understanding of this then, and I believe there is even more now. But on that specific Saturday there was nothing standing between me and full blown psychosis but my little arsenal of pills and my own (highly dysfunctional) perspective.

    And the choices I was making were pretty wack. There was some sort of gathering for my company, B & B Press Service ( I was later to represent them; funny world). We were meeting at a restaurant, and before we did I went and purchased a bottle of Early Times bourbon whiskey. I then went over to a friend’s house to talk to him and his Dad.They were concerned because the youngest boy (late teens) had fallen in with some older guy who claimed to be a Hindu “priest”. As Bob (my friend)and “Doc” (his dad) were both Southern Baptists, this was an issue. I had seen this “priest” around; he wore a head wrap in the manner of the Punjabis. (I know what many of you are thinking: how many wackos are in Boise? Well, I’ll tell you-its in the water. It starts in Boise and gets more concentrated as you go north. Word to the wise: avoid Bonner’s Ferry.) I can’t imagine what I told them or how we even discussed the situation-my V-8 engine mind was stuck in neutral, and I had the pedal to the floor. Next I travel to the country club psych unit (Boise’s small, but this is a fair amount of driving around) to meet with my psychiatrist-a new one, on a state contract. Unlike “Papa Doc”, my previous one, Dr. Kruzich was ethical, but I rubbed him the wrong way. He just didn’t like the cut of my jib (I know, this makes 2; but I got along well with all of my other ones; the 2 I didn’t were on state contracts, and I was a lot more work than I was worth in their eyes.) So I get on the ward and run him down and tell him I think I’m going very seriously manic (duh!). He asks no questions, does not inquire into any of the circumstances, but after listening to me for less than a minute says ” I think you should double your Elavil.” Taken aback, I say “Are you sure? I think it may be contributing to this.”(even stone crazy I had SOME insight) But he’s had enough of the discussion, and leaves. Now, I only have 2 psychotropic drugs in my arsenal-lithium and Elavil. Upping lithium is dangerous, but at the same time I’ve never read that Elavil has calming effects. For years later I wondered if he set me up. ‘Course I didn’t tell him about the bottle of Early Times tucked away in my coat pocket. I went home and took an extra dose of Elavil.

    And so on to the B & B party. I arrived a little late to see that everyone was having a good time. The place we were in sold beer and wine but didn’t have a liquor license. I was unobtrusively spiking my Coke with ET(everyone saw it) and I noticed one of my bosses, Leo Compton, looking at me with a very sad expression. At first, I thought he was upset about the “extra” Coke, but then realized that wasn’t it. I thought I was getting along swimmingly, bantering and basking in the bonhomie of B & B. When I went to use the restroom my best friend, also named Tom, came in and more or less frisked me. I thought he was looking for the bottle and I said “T, if you want a drink, just ask and I’ll give you one.” We both laughed and I thought nothing more of it. It wasn’t until much later that Tom told me that he had been sent in there by Leo to make sure I did not have a gun. Obviously, there was a disconnect between how I perceived myself coming across and how I actually was.

    This was my last time ever with the folks at B & B. But there was an alleged incident that occurred right around this time that I must relate. Carl Oseen was the overall boss. Wes Thurston was a highly productive worker there, the best salesman. I was later to find out that their wives claimed they got an obscene phone call-from me. No fucking way. Crazy or not, I know what I do, whether it’s jumping off a balcony or walking naked around Boise (later). By the time I found out about this allegation I was already confined-there was nothing I could do. It would be months before I was released. I have no idea what motivated them to say that. All I can do is tell you it is not true.

    Other than getting frisked, I don’t recall anything memorable about the party. I don’t recall when or how the Early Times was consumed other than to say it was done by me. The rest of the evening also remains unremarkable in my mind. I think Tom and I went out for a while, the returned to his place to kick it. At some point, I returned home (I was living with my parents). I went to my room, intending to fall asleep. When I could not, I turned on the light to see if there was something to occupy me until I did. I began by degrees to feel the onset of a manic tsunami, starting gently but intensifying geometrically, overtaking me so quickly I did not feel any alarm. And then things got really interesting.

  78. Senior Beta on said:

    We’re here Tom. Weird stuff. When you are in a boring job, and had a relatively boring life, it’s hard to relate to over the top experiences like this. Glad you survived it though. And hope you survive this one.

  79. Senior B

    Thanks Kimo Sabe. What was weird that less than a year and a half after all this shit ended, I was in law school.Next installment begins the weird stuff X 100000000.

  80. susanawalsh on said:

    Munson, this narrative reads like a cross between Ken Kesey and Cormac McCarthy. Wow.

    • I have never read McCarthy, but The Sunset Limited knocked my socks off. I liked the movies based on his book, but I’ve never seen a theatrical work which operated on so many levels. “A Streetcar Named Desire” comes closest; oddly both reference public conveyances.

      Thanks for the “three week compliment” sis. xx!

    MARCH 20, 1976


    “Manic tsunami” is a very apt description of what befell me that Saturday night. Like a tsunami, where the waters retreat before cascading in, when I turned on the light and surveyed the room I was very peaceful and calm. Out of nowhere I got the idea that I wanted to become a Methodist. I took out a sport jacket, and placed in the breast pocket a note declaring my intentions and giving my name and phone number. I was going to place it in the offering basket at the Cathedral of the Rockies the next day. The first waters of the tsunami appeared when the light in the room changed; no longer a light, the room glowed, and not from its source, an old overhead room lamp, but emanating from everything in it, and there was a density to the glow, it seemed to coil around me, swirl, but if I focused on it it stopped. I took it as a sign I was on the right path, that spiritually I was destined to be a Methodist and this affirming light “agreed” with me (another Castaneda construct-affirmations from the world around us). I was exultant; I would now have a way to channel my rampant spirituality to a true religion which would help me temper my excesses and harness me to a structured approach to salvation.

    Well. That didn’t last long.There can be no greater drug than the rush of an oncoming manic cycle, and when that manic cycle is superimposed on one already manic it has a momentum that crushes coherent thought like a sledge hammer on a tomato can. To use the Mt. Everest analogy, my base camp was already several miles above a normal person’s as I took my first steps to embark on the trek to the summit, a full psychotic break. Which was wonderful.

    I now went into a full shaman fantasy construct. Oh yes-the first Methodist shaman ever. In order to properly attend to the Spirit I put on my special sweater that I considered my “prayer shawl” (manic shamans are highly ecumenical) (I still have the sweater; it’s the one with the Blackfoot “TV” label). Now, I had to be quiet as my parents were asleep. So I lay on the bed and began invoking the Spirit, sending my vibes out, and frankly not expecting anything in return. I felt good; it was like listening to music with no sound. I had the window open (not uncommon; my folk’s house is old with no central air or heat), and somewhere off I heard a dog howl. Then another. And another. And then it seemed like every damn dog for miles was howling, and I felt they were responding to ME! Yes, the more intense I got about sending “vibes” up, the more they howled. I remember laughing at this “agreement”. Yes sir I was in full on shaman mode now.

    Did it really happen? Well, if not it was the only auditory hallucination I’ve ever had, and this on good old Pfizer’s Elavil (plus ET). But at this stage you’re getting the drift-whether it happened or not, it helped push me further nuts. And one more thing; in all my hallucinatory experiences, I only had one where I was not able to identify the drug manifestations-my sugar cube experience down at the Boise river. And in that case I totally lost it and was “out of my mind”. Mostly acid (my primary) makes you see weird patterns in pavements (the lettering in psychedelic posters of that era depict it well) and may get you in goofy moods, but the light show like stuff is not common (least for me). I know-what credibility can I claim? An insane acid head is asking you to accept he can tell the difference between the real and the false as he’s headed to (as he admits) a complete and total psychotic break. That is why this very nearly was “The Weirdest Story Never Told.”

    The dogs stopped, but I continued, the quiet midnight shaman puttering about in a bedroom in his parents’ house. The ideas, emotions, insights, feelings, images now were coming as if from a faucet, running together, twisting into each other, consuming me as I was luxuriating in them, getting madder and madder with each tick but loving every second of it. I said mania crushes coherent thought; while that’s true, to the maniac all is clear, everything is unified, there is a perfect sense running through this rock formation of delusion like a vein of ore and you are mining it relentlessly. You are Midas, and everything is turning to gold.

    This could not go on, or I would have exploded. I turned off the light, hoping that somehow the darkness would help bring me down a notch or two. I had chased the Dragon, and now it was stalking me: no, it had me, and this was new, terrifying, exhilarating territory. What were we going to do now? Hours before sunlight, no possibility of sleep, enraptured in euphoria, every thought crystal clear, I tossed on my bed waiting for something to happen.

    And it did. I suddenly had a compulsion to enter my closet. I did not hear or see anything to suggest why I would, but I went in. There was a large dressing mirror in it. All acid heads know to avoid mirrors; they have very spooky effects on people who are high on hallucinogens. But since I hadn’t “dropped”, or indeed taken anything illicit, I went ahead and began staring intently into the mirror. The closet was dark, but there was enough ambient light that I could see my reflection. As I kept looking, the two dimensions of the mirror became three-it appeared that I could crawl in. I was looking intently at my reflection, and then I said “Genaro, let me see your face!” And then I was not looking at me. A man’s face appeared, Native American, that did not have my features nor my expression. He was looking at me quizzically, puzzled, appearing more surprised by me than I was of him. It was gone in a second, but I had what I wanted: I was confirmed. There was another reality, I had seen it with my own eyes, there was now nothing to fear or dread, the universe made sense. I would now share this with the entire world. My only words were “Cool!”, more to the disappeared vision than to anyone or anything. I rose and left the house immediately to announce the wondrous good news. Things would have gone a lot more smoothly if I had bothered to put on some pants.

  82. Amazing, Munch! Don’t stop now.

    MARCH 20, 1976

    And so it was I left the house wearing only my shaman’s sweater. I’ve often wondered had I inverted the sweater, put my legs through the sleeves, could I have avoided the drama which awaited me. Doubtful. Anyway such thoughts did not occur to me secure as I was in the certain knowledge of another existence, remote perhaps, incomprehensible, but there, real as rain. Nor did I have any idea exactly how I was going to announce my “news” to the sleeping denizens of Boise. After a time I forgot that I was sans pants, so I really wasn’t trying for an “Emperor’s New Clothes” deal either. My manic intentions had no form at this point, but I was drawn south towards Municipal Park, thence west towards Broadway, like a nightwalker fully awake.

    Boise is still a small city and in 1976 it was even smaller with not nearly as much lighting. The area I was moving about in was bounded to the west by the Morrison Knudsen building (on Broadway) and to the east by the Fish & Game Department (on Walnut-just a few blocks south of my folk’s house). I transversed this many times during the probably 2 or more hours I spent in this area. The walking helped me become even more intent on the sense of discovery building within me; it was a physical manifestation of the “pull” I felt, the feeling that if I kept exploring I would find an “answer” to a question I had not as yet formed. At some point I found myself in something akin to a courtyard; thank God it wasn’t someone’s backyard (at least I don’t think it was)-I could’ve been shot. As it was a courtyard. I sat and help ” court”. I spoke to the spirits assembled about me (I did not see them, they were silent, but I figured this much “magic” had to attract some) and took account of the situation. Now, the actual situation was I was for all intents and purposes naked in the middle of the night in southeast Boise. I forget what my council addressed, not that, obviously. And I started heading home, and might have gotten there, if I had not stepped into Municipal Park.

    Municipal Park is probably the smallest park in Boise. It is right next to the Boise River, and it’s a place where people gather to grill at small functions. The park probably cannot accommodate more than 3 or 4 such gatherings at a time. Unprepossessing and unpretentious, it is easy to miss it driving by. But that night it was a place of moment for me. I felt it as soon as I entered. I was Adam, and it was the Garden of Eden, and this was The First Day in All of Creation. We have overused the word awesome to the point of irrelevance. I invoke it now in all its grandest meaning. I was spellbound, enraptured, and it was here I ascended to the mountaintop I had been building to that night, that week, all of my 23 years. I was as full and complete in the Spirit as I honestly believe a human being can be. If I had only experienced it for a split second, it would have still been life transforming. But here it was was washing me in waves, coming out of me in waterfalls,infusing the ground and spreading in all directions. I have never felt so full of wonder, so at peace, so blessed, in all my life. I had stopped the world; it no longer rotated on its axis, but on mine. I did not think this as a concept, feel it as an emotion, nor want it as an ideal-my spirit and the earth’s were one, and I knew it beyond understanding, knowledge, or belief.

    I cannot explicate this any further. As I began to reenter the normal state of existence, I had an unexpected flash of contemporary politics. I began thinking (I was leaving the mountaintop) about the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, Our senator, Frank Church, may have started his CIA investigation at that time (March 1976?). Anyway, I was sure there was a letter to Fidel Castro that somehow would settle all outstanding grievances. I know, there were several that later turned up. But I’m telling you the truth-that’s what I was thinking about. If I was going to make something up I’d do better than that.

    And maybe that’s what led me to my next big mistake. Recall, I had been heading home before I got distracted in the Garden of Eden. I had accomplished my “vision quest”; indeed, I had stopped the world. If I had not got on this Cuba thing, maybe I would have just gone home (it was getting light out-maybe my folks were up; me walking in “Hi mom hi dad, oh, I just thought I’d take a walk and get some air”). Maybe I would not have made the decision to backtrack across my pilgrimage and cross Broadway Avenue.

  84. Is an arrest for indecent exposure imminent?

  85. I’ll explain is next installment.

  86. Senior Beta on said:

    This is better than any law school reunion bullshit stories I have ever heard. Had friends who had bad LSD trips; one got committed briefly. This is a whole different level of spacey.

    • “Ground control to Major Tom
      Ground control to Major Tom
      Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
      Ground control to Major Tom”

      BTW when I arrived in Blackfoot following my Lady Godiva strip, I DID have a big bottle of protein pills; they kept them and parceled them out to me 4 at a time.

    March 20, 1976


    And so, like Adam, I left the Garden of Eden. And for the same reason: I had sinned in a primal way. I had demanded (and received) a “here and now” manifestation of the divine, and we are simply not supposed to do that. I’d compare it to the Germans at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” opening the Ark of the Covenant, beholding its miraculous beauty, and then being annihilated. I interpret Capt. Ahab’s pursuit of Moby Dick as his misguided request for a metaphysical connection to God in the flesh here and now; by pursuing his path, he not only does not find transcendence, he is destroyed by a force not simply indifferent to but entirely unaware of him. Jamal Rumi, the great Muslim poet, makes the same point by comparing this quest to a mouse believing it is leading a camel simply because it holds its reins and both, for the moment, are headed in the same direction : a direct spiritual connection to the infinite may look easy, but there is unfathomable power behind it that you must be prepared for it or you cannot control it and the consequences will overwhelm you. In the Bible, Saul uses conjures up the witch of Endor so he can consult with the ghost of the departed Samuel about his upcoming battle; Samuel appears, tells him he and his sons will be killed, his family entered into slavery and everything he has scattered-oh, and sleep tight. In all of these we are warned against looking for shortcuts to the mystery, that there is much hard work to do to prepare us for even the smallest glimpse of it, that the religions that channel our energies in this regard do so that we may partake of our spirituality in its safe “over the counter” form, suitable for our daily lives and all we need now, and avoid the temptation of mainlining the pure heroin of religious ecstasy with its attendant madness. Pandora’s Box is not to be opened again.

    I had mainlined; the madness was soon upon me. As the new light broke on a bright and clear Sunday in cheery Boise, Idaho I began walking west,back over territory I’d covered in the dark. Broadway Avenue is about 1/2 mile from Municipal Park, and as I walked it with each step I grew more deranged. By the time I got there I was convinced I was invisible, and maybe I was because I crossed it unimpeded although it was now daylight, not the obscure dawn as before. I was walking adjacent to Julia Davis Park headed west (immediately south of the park, across the Boise River, is the “blue turf” Boise State stadium).I recall walking at a leisurely pace, taking it all in very calmly. It may have been at this point that I began to imagine, at each ear, some form of presence urging me on ( I pictured small angels), encouraging me, reassuring me that all is well. I say imagine; I did not hear or see them, and even at the time I was aware that they very probably were figments of my imagination. But I did not ignore them and took solace from them as an increasing apprehension dawned on me that I was not only not invisible but doing something extremely provocative, perhaps dangerous.

    If you knew how far down Myrtle Street I’d gone you be impressed-probably 3/4 of a mile. The “uh oh” feeling started just before the west entrance to Julia Davis Park; a woman came out on her porch and saw me and gasped (the house if still there; one of the few remaining of Myrtle). I turned around and headed back to Broadway with a little more spring in my step, or at least as much as I could manage being barefoot. I made it to Broadway and must’ve crossed the street. I sensed danger coming. My “angels” told me that If I just hung on and stayed true, I could be given the whole world. I recalled that was what the Devil promised Jesus if He would jump off a cliff in His 40 day fast; I was musing about this just as the cop car pulled up.

    A female cop was driving (very unusual back then) and the cop riding shotgun jumped out before the car had rolled to a stop. He was pissed; I can still see him, baleful, tense. I was handcuffed and placed in the backseat. I noticed while on the way to jail that the female driver was more or less amused, and appeared to be kidding her partner as he fumed next to her. At the jail they put me in some pants that fit rather well actually. I was led upstairs to be booked. The booking sergeant was cool; maybe he took pity on me. He said “We’re only going to book you for disorderly conduct” the most innocuous charge conceivable, and I was sure as hell guilty of that. I was being dealt “with sympathy”.

    And then I was led to my cell.

  88. The plot thickens…..

  89. Senior Beta on said:

    What got you straight so you could go to law school? That takes a lot of concentration.

  90. Just1X on said:

    Hi Tom,

    I waiting to see how a person of such ‘imagination’ (to put in mildly) came to choose law…

    Did phentermine bounce you from utterly free thinking into a fascination with rules?

    But hey, it’s your story, I’ll let you tell it your way.

    Cheers, hope you enjoy the weekend

    • I had always planned on being an attorney. I liked the blend of the philosophical with the practical. Phentermine (which I discovered accidentally in 1977) allowed me to control my mania (which manifests on a daily basis as ADD-very close connection) and when I started exercising this helped greatly with the depressed aspects of my bipolar. I was now able to focus. I completed my undergrad (I had been close for years but illness prevented me from doing do) and entered law school.1 1/2 years after my last discharge from a mental institution I was a first year law student. The University of Idaho is a humble regional law school, but most of the students have been doing very well academically their entire lives and have been “with the program types” from the jump. I doubt many had experiences similar to mine.

      • Just1X on said:

        “I doubt many had experiences similar to mine.”

        You know what? I believe you mate!

        Never have my thought processes felt so pedestrian as when I compared them to your tales of the ‘good old days’. So, ADD (approx / ish) is it to that that you attribute your sense of fun?

        I’ve been attempting to fill your enormous boots (dare I say clown shoes? purely as a good thing) chez Susan…
        Bob #47
        and my reply

        I realise that they fall short, but I offer them in tribute

        (off to bed now – it’s late)

        take care

      • Just1X on said:


        I’d appreciate some feedback on Susan::ISFJ::#50. It’s a tough audience there. I’m not sure they appreciate great humour like we do (tongue firmly in cheek), nary a LOL nor a LMAO.

        (@Susan, thanks for deleting the near duplicate screw up)

  91. Senior Beta on said:

    Good comment Just1X. Chimed in myself in HUS. Can’t wait to hear Tom’s evaluation. The world wonders.

  92. Valmont on said:

    Okay. I am absolutely riveted to this page now. Amazing story Tom and my thoughts and heart go out to you while you’re dealing with that medical monkey. Will be checking every day and I cannot wait for the next post.

    • You made my day-and it just started! ‘Tis for you I write-I cherish my readership as no author in history has. The medical monkey is being spanked hard-I had 4,5 liters of fluid taken out of my abdomen yesterday-feelin’ good. It was no big deal procedure-doc was there maybe 10 minutes, took a “pinch”, et voila’ no more giant tummy.

      Organizing thoughts for new installment-very likely post Monday.

  93. Just1

    You nailed it, but the readers had to work at it (i e go to link). Few do.

  94. Just1X on said:

    I thought that my inference that I could be compared to Hannibal Lecter meant that they must have spoken with my ex-wife was a cracker

    All I got were tumbleweeds and a clock dolefully tolling in the distance, then a wolf howled – how depressing is that? they’re never gonna get peak ‘Munson’ out of me without encouraging me, at least a little.

    Casting pearls before swine, we are.

    • Affirmations are affirmations Paul. As for pearls-well, we’re guys, we don’t need them. Let the pigs have them. Even gals don’t look good in them-which is why the only wear them to stuffy-assed events or church. Trust me even with everyone vying for attention you stand out. Your humor reminds me of what Travolta said about Europe in “Pulp Fiction”- “They’ve got the same stuff, only different.”

      • Just1X on said:

        So, you’re a quarter-pounder with cheese and I’m a Royale…hmmm…okay, that’s acceptable mon brave. (FTR ‘we’ have quarter-pounders with cheese too. But you’ve been ‘here’ IIRC)

        Fun ‘talking’ to to you (it’s probably pretty clear I was messing around yesterday)

    March 20, 1976


    I was not taken to the ordinary cells. The old Ada County Courthouse also housed the jail with the cells mostly on the 3rd and 4th floors.with various administrative sections interspersed among them. At the very top of the edifice (a WPA structure built in the Depression; you could make 6 modern buildings out of the concrete in it) was a very small floor that had mostly administrative offices plus 2 cage-like cells housed separately behind a massive door. These were used to house inmates who were on trial during breaks; rather than hassle with having to put them in the regular cell area, it was easier to just take them up there and dump them for a while. It was also where they housed the wackos and drug-addled, and I appeared to be at least one if not both of those so in I go. But I was not giving them any grief, not yet. And the sheriff’s deputies were cool to me, even when I did. One even bought me a pack of cigarettes. At my commitment hearing I took the stand and my only testimony was to thank them for the Ada County Sheriff’s deputies for their professional treatment of me.

    So I got to stay in the penthouse suite in one of the two adjacent cages. The best way I can describe them is the looked like larger versions of the basket-like perforated boxes people put pets in for plane rides, only made of tempered steel and painted that institutional slightly luminescent pale green then in fashion. Some of the holes in the perforated body had rust, but the floor was clean. There was a small circular hole in the floor where you eliminated body wastes, and that was it. I was laying on the floor reflecting on the Zen-like simplicity of my accommodation when the big door opened and a deputy and another man entered the room. The man was led to my cell, its door opened, and then he entered and squatted down to talk to me.

    He may have introduced himself, but I do not recall his saying his name. He looked to be in his 50s, all grey hair, but clearly limber and dexterous. He told me he was a Canadian narcotics officer, retired, and that he and his wife had attended church that morning with my parents and had gone back to our house for coffee when they got the news I was in jail. I simply do not recall our discussion; I don’t even remember being skeptical of this guy-it was simply another ultra-weird factoid in an already bizarre day that hadn’t hit noon yet. I was later to confirm all of what he said with my mom. Yes, they had been about to nosh with this Canadian narc when they got the call telling them where I was and why, and they decided it might be easier for me to talk to him (a total stranger and a narc to boot) than to either of my parents as I might be embarrassed. I wondered when she told me this if my parents hadn’t come under the influence of a “contact high” that morning just by being in the same house with me.

    To set matters straight, it is Sunday morning, March 21 (the equinox had occurred the night before, around the time of my breakdown; cue the Shit Fire Choir and their ghostly Gregorian chants).I have been in “the green room” for 3 or 4 hours. It suddenly dawns on me that I have not been allowed a phone call. Now, like a lot of people I was under the assumption the the proverbial one phone call was something like a constitutional right. Of course, it is not (at least under the federal constitution; some states may require it under their laws-dunno’). So I begin bitching and hollering about this, but since I’m in a walled off room, it does no good. Ok, so how’s about this-I start doing front kicks into that damn perforated steel. BAM! Good and fucking loud-striking with the bottom of my feet, pushing me back, giving me leverage for the next one. The structure is sound, but something about its installation was off-the cage should have been secured well enough into the foundation that the energy would be absorbed, which would’ve made it like kicking a wall. Instead, this fucker not only made a bitch of a noise when I hit it, but it was amplified as the thing shook into the structure of the building itself. Plus, with the massive door shut, it made an echo chamber, reinforcing my manic delight in disturbing the whole building, thus motivating me further, plus making me more nuts, plus the guards had to open the door to check I hadn’t hurt myself plus to tell me to knock it the fuck off. I’d give them 20 minutes or so of “leg music” then I’d hold off, letting them think I’d cooled it, then start up. Now recall this is next to a fairly large component of the sheriff’s administrative offices. Also realize that the more I did it, the better I got. I learned how to create the most noise with the least effort, a matter of timing and leverage; by that afternoon I’d gotten to where I could mimic the cannon shots from the “1812 Overture” with as little effort as it takes to kick over a parked bicycle. Around 3 that afternoon I gave the poor bastards a Pop’s Symphony I’ll bet the tell their grandchildren about. Plus I learned how to do Hiroshima-like spectacular ear numbing blasts-I’d save those to deliver singularly, at odd intervals, to build suspense. Had to be careful; those could cause injury.

    Speaking of hurt-you probably ask did this hurt? Well, I’m still manic. Also, in an odd way, I stumbled across something I suppose the martial artists know-purpose and focus reduce not only the likelihood of injury, but also pain. Although I was crazy I was intensely focused, believing myself denied fundamental rights. I hit with complete abandon, furious BUT “in the zone”, and didn’t get so much as a scratch or feel significant pain (the Hiroshima’s tingled some, but I learned to moderate without losing effect).

    I started this on Sunday. The following day there would be more people plus the courts were open. I wasn’t aware of this at the time of course, but my art nouveau “Experiment in Percussive Themes” would play to a much wider audience the next day, to decidedly “mixed reviews”( art columnist’s way of saying “everyone thought it was shit but I haven’t got the balls to piss off the performers or patrons to say so”).

    But before we get to Prof. Munson’s symphony on a jail house wall, we have an intriguing
    interlude to explore. Recall now that is has been roughly 36 hours since I’d taken ANYTHING, and that licit (albeit the combination with alcohol, I think we can all agree, was at best ill-considered (ahem)). It may have been due to all the exercise I got entertaining the jail staff and is concomitant relaxation of me, but that evening I took another walk into a suburb of the Mystery, and this one not forced, but rather falling as the gentle rain from Heaven.

  96. Senior Beta on said:

    The 1812 Overture. My favorite. Muscial talent plus a writer. I knew I should never have majored in accounting.

  97. susanawalsh on said:

    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better Tom. Also, is it OK if I’m laughing hard at some of this? Some of the imagery – the woman gasping on her porch – is cracking me up.

    This is truly the weirdest story I’ve ever heard.

    • Susan of course not; it is funny. In fact, I probably won’t mention this in my narrative, but when I was on the country club unit (prior to being sent to Blackfoot) a woman knew a man who worked at the Armed Services Recruitng Center on Myrtle (the street I’m Doin’ The Godiva on. He tells her “I saw something this morning you don’t normally see-a naked man walking as calmly as if he was in a processional past right by my window”. As for that poor woman (looked to be early 60s), her front porch actually was enclosed with big windows. I had seen her come out as I walked past, and had been watching her over my shoulder to gauge her reaction (I’m still heading west; home, hearth and safety are a 1 1/2 miles east, and I still think I’m invisible). Because of the enclosure, she initially only sees me from the waist up (remember that short film of the alleged Bigfoot, where he’s walikng away from the camera and then looks back over his shoulder-kinda’ lke that). Anyway, she nonchalantly picks up her paper, sees me, our eyes meet, and then as I continue west she gets a full view of Thomas en’ naturale. I swear if she had been a comic book character her look of total surprise, alarm and horror could not have been more completely rendered.She tore off, doubtless to call the police. I feel bad about her: I scared her shitless.

      Like I said, this was nearly “The Weirdest Story Never Told”.


    I had been locked up for probably 12 hours as evening fell.The guards may or may not have fed me; I was so high I did not notice or care. I had not had a cigarette since the night before but I was not uncomfortable. I was wrapped tightly in a cocoon of manic energy, beyond fear or any emotions actually. I can honestly say I was empty, and in that state could sit in the cage with absolutely nothing to occupy me and be ok. Distorted as my mind was, it allowed me complete freedom of imagination; they say idleness is the Devil’s playground, well, I was at The Devil’s Disneyland. I’m sure some fundamentalist religious types would say I was consorting with Satan, and I’ll not deny it. Something was occupying me, and if you can accept it was simply emptiness than why couldn’t it also be Beelzebub, or Michael the Archangel?

    And then I began thinking of the peyote ceremony Blackfoot Becky had described. I started to imagine it in detail, only I could not picture it as she described. I kept conjuring an image of a very small group, all men, in Indian outfits such as seen in movies, and I knew that was not accurate. I finally erased that image, and then I found myself relaxing, almost like falling asleep but alert. I was facing due east, which was the direction of the Ft. Hall reservation (roughly). I closed my eyes and it was if a window had appeared (there were none) and the dark evening sky was available to me. Before I went further I took off my sweater and spread it on the floor. The sweater-I’m looking at it now; it’s nearly 40 years old. The sleeves and bottom are deep blue, the chest and neck are the color of dried straw. It has deep blue and green markings like hieroglyphic snowflakes across the back and chest, obscure, ill defined but with undeniable import. This was the canvass which inspired my efforts to create a ceremony, my own, here, locked up in a cage, and you can believe it or not but I knew even before I started that I and it (the ceremony) would connect to SOMETHING-it would not go into the ether to annihilated.

    I did not have to concentrate very hard; in fact, my ceremony was closer to taking a nap than anything else I can describe to you. I felt total calm; it was better than the time I stole opium from the narcotics display model of a certain government agency and smoked it (oh yeah, did that). I first bent onto my “prayer shawl” ( this was the first Jewish/Native American shaman ritual every performed in Ada County), then turned and curled up, slightly on my back. Eyes closed, the window vision returned, only now it was an opening,the wall disappeared,the luxuriant dark blue, not black, sky was with me. It was like a screen; no stars. I felt it; it had a frequency, some emanation that didn’t so much envelope me as go past me. I was drawn to it, not in a threatening way; indeed the slightest change in my focus and the feeling stopped, and I had to find the “frequency” again.

    I sensed intuitively I was reaching, well, how do I put this without sounding like an airport book stand mystic-let’s just say I felt an exchange occurring. Best I can do. And as soon as I was aware of that, I also became aware that the show was over. Finis. I had the dimmest awareness of something small next to my abdomen, small but not real,I knew I was imagining it and it was not part of the manifestation, but I was suddenly overwhelmingly tired. I remember consciously thinking “that’s it” before I fell asleep.

    I slept the sleep of the innocent. In fact, when the guards woke me I could tell the place had been hopping for quite some time. It was Monday, a busy day for jailers, and I could hear people bustling, hustling, doing the million one things necessary for the incarceration bureaucracy to function.

    And I, fresh from a solid night’s sleep, rejuvenated, was ready to go to work on the nervouse systeme of the entire Ada County Sherrif’s Department, the courts and staff, attorneys and clients, prosecutors-in fact every single living thing in the fucking building.

  99. Senior Beta on said:

    Surely there is a Tom Munson plaque on the wall of that jail today. If there isn’t there should be.


    But before I started my concert, I had to be arraigned. I was led down to the magistrate’s court, and before I’m led in my social worker appears. He wants to know what’s going on, and I tell him “I saw Genaro’s face in the mirror” to which he responds “And?”, I guess meaning “So how do we get from that to you doing a floor show across Broadway?” He had a point, but before I could respond (I didn’t have one actually) I’m in court where I meet my public defender who is literally just sitting down next to me, reading my file with something approaching wide eyed befuddlement. I do not recall the proceedings; my social worker told me later the judge was very disparaging on me (he later became a

    district court judge; in an interview I read he talked about that proceeding as one of his weird experiences, disguising the facts slightly). I do remember the court clerk suppressing laughter, and as a manic I must say you get used to people laughing about the things you do in a manic cycle. It’s a natural response; what people do not realize is that for every manic adventure, there are months of slogging soul sapping depression that precede it. I imagine it as a bow and arrow; the long depressive cycle is the drawing of the bow, building tension with each daily struggle to survive until the next day, and then the bowstring reaches the absolute taut end of its resistance and vhoom! the energy is released in the euphoric burst that, until it runs its course, likely destroys everything existing in the manic’s life, and when it does end, he is bereft, drained, left to survey and then deal with the destruction as the yoke of depression descends around his neck once again.

    But right then, the arrow was still in fly, and so back up I go to my cell where lunch is waiting.Cornbread-back in the day I think every Idaho jail had cornbread (I’ve been in 3). I ate my lunch and then began pounding those fucking walls. I was still pissed about being denied a phone call; at one point, a jailer came in and explained to me that as long as I could speak to an attorney, they didn’t have to let me have one. This really pissed me off. I now expanded my repertoire to include my version of Bruce Lee style kicks, using one wall to propel me into the opposite one, occasionally hitting it with my shoulder which gave it a nice baritone like bottom, and for treble noises I found a corner that approached exactly the right way made a sound kid of like a million icicles rattling. Whoever built this bitch obviously was thinking in terms of someone trying to get OUT of the cell. It never occurred to him that someone inside of it would be content to beat the living shit out of it and not only was not trying to get free, wanted it intact so he could inflict auditory hell on all and sundry (in truth, it was starting to drive me nuts, but I was already insane). I played it like a drum kit. At one point they sent in someone, I assume with some medical training, to assess whether I was hurt. By send in, I don’t mean he entered the cell but only looked in. Also, they came in later to tell me I was disturbing the courts below as if I would give a thimbleful of warm hamster shit. And a little later, they brought into the adjoining cell the star of those proceedings, Michael Hightower.

    Hightower was a rapist. He was standing trial for at least one, but it was widely known he was responsible for a series of rapes in Boise. Looking at him, he looked average, height, build, everything. Now this was in 1976. He was convicted, but released way too early. He went to Washington where he committed at least one more and I think got life. Should have got it then. He was the only guy to share the cells of the green room with me.

    I chilled while he was here, but he got a look at the sculptural aspects my multi-media presentation. What had once been a square was now almost a geodesic dome-my west wall infringed into his space, significantly. I’ve often wondered if the guards, who hated him, every said “let’s put him in Munson’s cell and see who comes out alive”.

    He left, and I got back to work. I’d been at it an hour or so, completing my tribute to Buckminster Fuller, when the door opened and I glimpsed as group of guards.In a flash I intuited that they had finally had it, were coming in to put a stop to me, and they were scared.

  101. Senior Beta on said:

    Did you ever appear before that District Court judge as a lawyer? What a reunion that would have been.


    So the big door opened, and 4 deputies entered the cell are. They all had game face on,
    and I noticed the 2 biggest were right at my cell door. I knew not to give them the slightest amount of shit. I do not recall if I obeyed commands or if they positioned me; all I know is that without incident they were able to shackle me. I was left resting up against the side of my cell, which was contoured now do to my cell block calypso, so not that comfortable. I had been allowed to smoke, in fact a deputy had bought me a pack, but now of course that was out. so I just chilled, for 2 or 3 hours. There was a toilet outside my cell and at one point this dude comes in to take leak and does something I’d never seen-before peeing, he makes the sign of the cross.I asked him who he was praying for and he looks at me and says “For you my son”. Ok, but wash your hands before we shake. I was raised Catholic, and i never heard of making the sign before eliminating. I guess God
    really does “move” in mysterious ways.

    So now I’ve been cool a long time, not so much as a peep out of me, and like I said my jailers were decent. A couple come in and unshackle me, and then move me down to a holding cell right opposite the main office part. It has a bench; that’s it. I was chatting with a deputy when he turned his back and I could see a court document in his right rear pocket. This was stupid, but I grabbed it, and when he walked away out it came. It was some sort of trivial transport/hold order, no big deal, but when I gave it back to him he was clearly embarrassed I had managed to pick his pocket while behind bars.Right after that the guards took me somewhere else in the complex. They opened this door, and there were three chick inmates, not only pretty but even in jail scrubs you could see their bodies were muy caliente. They even had make-up on, and if not for the surroundings could have been the Delta Delta Delta executive homecoming committee. They were in a large cell, and looked startled to see me. I surveyed their enclosure and said “I really like what you’ve done with this room. Green brings out the sense of space so well” etc. until the guards yanked me out of there.

    So back to the small holding cage. Left alone, I decided to “preach” to the workers. I wasn’t very good. I said things like “Keep you eyes on the mundane trivia because that’s where the action is”, “God loves tedium or He wouldn’t have made so much of it”, bumper sticker stuff. This landed me back in my geodesic cell where I found my cigarettes and began smoking and musing upon the “vision” of the previous night. I also began reciting numerology stuff; I didn’t realize I was doing it OUT LOUD. Yeah, I was decompensating here big time.

    I mused upon my vision it occurred to me there may have been a message in it. I had been impressed with A.B. Guthrie’s “The Big Sky” and specifically his references to the Blackfeet Indians. To the trappers of the early 1800’s, they could be a formidable menace. I liked the imagery of them, and I decided that my vision was somehow connected to them. Now, another aspect Guthrie describes is how the Indians would “black their faces” when going to battle-literally applying black paint. I sensed I was about to be moved, so I took my cigarette ash and-yep-spread it across my face as a signal I was ready. And sure enough they were soon in to remove me-and startled. They had me wrapped like Houdini by the time I left, and I must’ve been still doing numerology because on the deputies, a female, guessed correctly my sequence and gave me the correct number (2). Then I was led down to the squad car.

    And guess where we went? Yep, back to the country club. An what an assembly met me there. Staff, patients, everyone-was waiting as if I was a celebrity. I was laughing about this when I noticed a Hispanic male, about 30, looking at me intently. I stared back; something passed between us. I was then taken into a room with a bed and 4 restraints. Again, probably a dozen staff plus the 2 deputies plus 2 security guards-my reputation had proceeded me. I was 4 cornered on the bed, given 2 shots, and then everyone left. As I lay there my manic high evaporated, all my energy left me, and I realized pinioned as I was, that I had managed to reach the rock bottom lowest point in my entire life. I had destroyed everything. And then I went to sleep.

    About that Hispanic guy. I was later to spend a significant amount of time with him, and he was to influence me beyond our encounter on that unit. His name was Genaro Cardona.

  103. Senior Beta on said:

    I assume the chicks in the can were hookers. DId you ever run into them again like the judge?

    • They weren’t hookers. Boise hookers, then as now, are very very low rent, skanky beyond belief, and rinsed out. You cannot rent pussy like this here ever. If I had to guess it was DUI or maybe minor drug possession. Chemo in an hour-oh boy!

  104. MUNSON! Where you at?!?!?

  105. Sorry boss! had to work. See below.

  106. susanawalsh on said:

    So glad to have a Munson sighting!



    It has been light when I was sedated and it was light when I awoke.I took me a second to reconstruct the events that had placed me here, four-postered like a butterfly specimen, feeling like a spider spread over the drain in the kitchen sink of my life. Almost exactly when I awoke Joe Gonsalves, an orderly and a good guy I knew from ’74, stepped in and surveyed me and the room iwith a sort of “what the fuck?” expression. I said “Joe, how’s it going?” and he responded “Hey Tom”, and left, doubtless to tell staff I was awake and in a reasonably calm mood. He came back and took me out of the restraints by himself (he was a big guy, plus we were pals) but I was still confined to the “rubber room” (my expression; it was one of 2 cells they had for the real bull goose loonies like me). I ate breakfast there, then was let out to traverse the halls checking out the nurses asses and in general make a 4 alarm pest out of myself.I knew most of the staff from having been there for 6 weeks in ’74 and some knew me for ’72, so it was kind of like a reunion, more fun than depressing actually.

    Now, there is a purpose to this initial reconnoiter. You want to know who you are locked in with.This is not such a big deal in the country club which trends middle to upper middle class, lots of females with more emotional than mental issues, some drunks, and the remaining assortment of troubled teens, misfits and malcontents so introverted they have to hold the sides of the toilet to prevent being pulled into their own assholes and being flushed the fuck down. Not so in a state hospital, where you have full on crazies, criminals, and a variety of unpredictably deranged dementos. It ain’t a prison, but you want to conduct a thorough inventory in there.

    So I’m bouncing around the unit, temporarily distracted from the crash landing of my life. Food is good; I had my first lobster tail in then (on the real). There’s a kitchen stocked with goodies, a nice tv lounge, some decent books, and a very serviceable pool table (real felt, solid cushions, honest corners). No one gives a shit if you attend the various activities like group therapy, crafts (do psychologists believe belt making cures something?) and a host of other insipid dreary time wasting bullshit. In fact, since it’s all driven by insurance money, no one cares if you do anything at all (try that at “State” and you’d be eating puree ’till your ears spouted buttermilk). The nurses are young and pretty and not loathe to banter a bit with yours truly. I bit the bullet and made the best of it.

  108. (cont.)

    One thing they had there that you’d never see anywhere else was unrestricted access to telephones. They had a bank of 4 dedicated to the patients. Remember my Blackfoot Indian tribe reverie? Well, I worked with a woman who claimed Indian heritage, I called her and asked her to give a message to the chief of the Blackfeet: “The warrior is ready”. I called her back a couple days later and asked her if she spoke to him. She said no, but she left the message with the tribal council’s office. We’ll hear more about that later.

    I had forgotten about the compelling Hispanic man I had briefly glimpsed in the hallway before being impaled and immobilized. He had not been there when I awoke. I started hearing rumblings that “Ray” had been caught and was being returned to the unit but it made no impression, no impression, that is, until that afternoon a phalanx of deputies appeared and there, in the middle, shackled much as I had been, was the man with the piercing eyes, intently looking around until he spotted me. He froze, and then went back to regarding his captors. I lost track of him at that point, but I knew this was Genaro from the Castaneda books.

    I next saw him using the phones. He was speaking Spanish, so I said to him in my 8th grade Spanish “I’d like to present Tomas Munson.”He looked a little startled, then said, in English, “I just spoke to Larry Munson.” (He comes up later too). He then said “Follow me-I have some chocolate heroin for you.”(Hispanics were known to use it then; maybe the precursor to “black tar” smack now used?)

    This surprised me. In the Don Juan books, the drugs are peyote, datura (Jimson weed) and psilocybin mushrooms. Heroin? I followed him into his room and there, on the shelf, was a cup of hot cocoa. I grabbed it and downed. I was later to find out it contained corn syrup (packets of it in the kitchen-don’t know why), cocoa mix, chocolate Instant Breakfast, and real cocoa powder with sugar added. But I didn’t know it then, and I drank every drop.

    It was the beginning of an extremely interesting relationship.

  109. Senior Beta on said:

    “The warrior is ready.” Surely this is some more about this later.

    • Yes! and it all happened. It pissed me off I had this post 2/3s done, I hit the wrong key and poof all gone. I’ll have to learn to segment. My rewrites, based on memory, are never as good as my first take.Dont’ bother telling me how to save stuff- I can barely turn this fucker on.


    I am going to pause here and discuss the historical figure I am discussing, Genaro Cardona. If you read back to just about the beginning of this saga, you’ll note I discuss “Genaro” from the Castaneda books in my second Prologue. You will also recall it was his image, or at least a Native American version of it as I envisioned it in my closet mirror, that propelled me to launch myself “Pant Less in Boise”. So the Genaro character has been with us at from the outset. There are two ways I can prove he existed. First of all, at one point he loaned me his driver’s license. When my social worker showed up to visit me, I told him “Guess what? Genaro is here”. When he said “Oh yeah”, I showed him the license. He said “I don’t believe this”. I still speak to him about that to this day. For you lawyers out there, if you can access the Idaho Reports or the Pacific Digest, there is an Idaho Supreme Court case involving him, State of Idaho v. Genaro Cardona (it involves his multiple DUIs). I even spoke to his lawyer; Cardona went by the nickname “Little Ray” and claimed to have worked for the CIA in Latin America.Was he the same man as in Castaneda”s books? Well no, because Carlos’ books are bullshit. And I guess you’ll have to take my word for it that I was on the St. Alphonsus psychiatric ward(called St. Michael’s ward then) with him circa March 22, 1976. If you do not believe me, fine; just stop reading. If you do believe me, then calculate the odds that I would have an obsession about in individual named Genaro, go insane to the point of walking naked around Boise for hours, be incarcerated and then placed in a psych unit with an individual with that name. By the way, how many Genaro’s have you ever met, or even heard of? The only other Genaro I’ve ever heard of got the crap beat out of him by Jake LaMotta in a vivid scene in “Raging Bull” (Jake’s wife had said he was good looking-Jake took care of that. At least I think that was the fight.)


    I want to pause here and discuss the historical figure I am presently discussing, Genaro Cardona.You will note I discussed that character in the second prologue to this narrative; he has been with us the whole time.I have two ways I can prove his existence. At one point he let me borrow his driver’s license.When my social worker arrived, the one I had told about seeing Genaro’s face in the mirror, I said “Guess what?” Genaro is here. When he said “Oh yeah” I showed him the license. His response was ” I don’t believe this”. Now, for you lawyers out there, if you have access to the Idaho Reports or the Pacific Reporter there is an Idaho Supreme Court case involving him, State of Idaho v. Genaro Cardona (dealing with his multiple DUIs). I even spoke to his attorney after the decision was reported. “Little Ray”, as he was known, claimed to have worked for the CIA in Latin America.So, I can prove he existed. Was he the “Genaro” of Castaneda’s stories? No, because Carlos tales are bullshit. Can I prove I was incarcerated at the St. Alphonsus’ mental health unit (then called St. Michael’s ward) crica March, 1976? No, unless there are near 40 year old records and I can get a HIPPA release, So if you don’t believe me, fine, stop reading. But if you do, calculate the odds that I would have an obsession about “Genaro” to the point of marching around Boise naked for hours, be incarcerated, then put on a mental health ward with a man with that name. By the way, how many Genaros have you met, or even heard of? The only other one I can think of got his face caved in by Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” because Jake’s wife casually mentioned he was good looking. And he was-before Jake got to him (at least I think it was that fight- LaMotta did cream a Genaro I know that).



    I hung around with Genaro pretty much the whole time he was on the unit. And I’ll tell you one of the most noticeable things I felt about him was his sense of learning-all the time. For example, there was a PBS show on tv that had an artist demonstrating the rudiments of sketching and drawing. Genaro was sitting there watching, with pen and paper, totally absorbed, as I was absorbed watching him. His intensity was amazing. He was aware of me, and at one point made a nod towards the tv as if to say “watch this, not me”. When the show was over, he showed me his sketch. The show had been about depicting perspective with shading etc. His pencil sketch was perfect; it had the three dimensional look the artist had been describing. His comment was “If you had been watching the show you could have learned to do this”.He was always observing everything in his environment that way. I learned something just watching him do it.

    Another thing he had, and this came out in various ways, was a keen if slightly askew social/cultural perspective. For example, on night “The Lords of Flatbush” was on tv. He encouraged me to watch it, saying “It’s bout the Saints”. Somehow this translated in my head to it being about the Disciples, and watching it from that angle, there is a certain sense to it. It’s not as focused as the modern retelling of the story of Christ found in “Cool Hand Luke”, but it’s there (or at least I discerned it in ’76, the only time I’ve seen it”.

    My best friend Tom actually saw Genaro once. I had taken Tom to the kitchen to make him some chocolate “heroin”. Now, Tom knows I am certifiably insane (his expression) but finds it amusing so goes along. As I am assembling the ingredients, Tom chimes in, kiddingly, “What happens if you just add more sugar?” instead of sugar/cocoa. Genaro, across from us in the kitchen, answers with “That’s how you get the cocaine”. Tom took an instant dislike to Genaro so we did not discuss him much.

  113. (cont.)

    Genaro, like me, was uninsured. This meant the our stays on country club units were not going to be long ones, and his was about up. One day he called me in to his room and began describing my experience as my initiation into The Seven Day Army. He had laid out various bits and pieces of ephemera that were part of his discussion and I was to keep. At the time the presentation was coherent, but then again we were both nuts.I only recall parts of it. As he hosted one leg on the window ledge, looking out into the parking lot, went over the details of my “assignment”. I was to meet an individual at the United Bank of Denver; he handed me some blank checks. I had important business as the V-C Bar on Aberdeen, Idaho, the precise nature of which was not disclosed. I was to make contact with an individual known as “Cool Cat”; I understood him to be a local. I was then somehow going to meet the Secretary of Defense to get my weapons and finish the assignment All of this was said in reference to the items, odds and ends, slips of paper mostly, that he had given to me. Looking back, it had a sense of Kevin Spacey’s scene in “The Usual Suspects” when Spacey conjures the fantastic story of Keyser Soze using the posters and various writings on the wall in the detective’s office as the visual prompts to his story.

    I asked Genaro what he was going to be doing and he said “I’m retiring”. I tool this in stride and asked no further questions. We still talked, a lot, but never had a “sit down” again. He told me in a previous life he had been “Geronimo”; in my confused state I asked him more than once what he did at The Battle of the Little Big Horn and he responded “I wasn’t there”. I finally asked him “So where were you?” and he replied ” Down Southk illing the Spanish”. I said “Did you win?” and he flashed the brightest smile I’ve ever seen and said “I sure killed a lot of them!”

    I later asked him if I could be the Chief of the Blackfeet Indians and he said sure. I also asked, a little later, and in keeping with my bipolar nature, if I could be General Custer (technically Lt. Colonel Custer). He replied “You want to be General Fuck up, sure, you be General Fuck Up.” He later did refer to me as the new Chief of the Blackfeet Indians, and then I heard him describe me as “The Mosquito.”

  114. (cont.)

    There was other delusion I spoke about to Genaro. One, and don’t ask me to explain it, was “the white tornado”. There was an old Ajax commercial that used it as a tag line (“cleans like a …) but I meant I believed I could conjure one on the real. This fits in later, but for now I’ll just mention it was late spring in Idaho and if we are going to get one (rare) that’s when it happens. Genaro thought it sounded like a good idea.

    I woke up one morning and he was gone-to Blackfoot. I need to mention three juveniles on the unit who were in some type of hold. By that I mean they had had done some crime but for now were on the unit, probably because mommy and daddy had insurance and their lawyers had convinced the court to conduct their mental evaluation there as opposed to Blackfoot some 300 miles away. I got to know them, and one in particular, also named Tom. They were an exuberant even though extremely immature group, even for teenage boys. Watching Genaro make heroin out of corn syrup, and believing I had the same skill, I convinced them I could make marijuana out of plaster of paris (we had tons of it for the goofy eye-glazing crafts bullshit we were always doing). I called it “mujito” (made up word, not mojito;I thought it sounded Spanish and down). I told them it was better than weed, because you could smoke it and no one could smell it. And they did, and so did I , and believe it or not, there was a half-ass buzz to it when I prepared it right. How did we smoke it? Well, here’s the shameful part. I had scored a lid (do people still say that? baggie of weed) and papers while on the ward from an outside source.I did the bathroom scene; wet towel pressed against the bottom of the door, stand on toilet and blow smoke directly into fan which had outside vent, afterwards smoke cigarette (usual custom anyway; the country club let us have lighters), leave with one’s head ” righteously together”. One day I did the stupidest thing in this entire narrative: I gave these boys actual smoke. And smoke they did,right in the room, right in the middle of shift change, the whole place stunk while these kids were convinced no one could smell it. Head nurse confronted me, I handed lid over, she flushed it (some staffers later told me they said to her “Are you nuts? Munson has the best smoke in the city”).

    As with almost everything I’ve told you so far, this will bite me in the ass too. And I don’t mean Tom’s dad threatening to kill me for giving dope to his son.

    I almost forgot an important part of my discussion and/or induction into The Seven Day Army. Genaro told me that I was to be given territories i e states that were mine. Exactly WHAT I was supposed to do was not mentioned. Genaro had Idaho that was out. I gave it some thought, but could not choose. I narrowed it down to Washington and Nevada; I had never been in the former and only 2 times in the latter. Genaro nodded; I seem to remember him remarking that California was too big, these were manageable sized states. I told him I’d think about it. I was leaning toward Washington, but when I saw Genaro in the tv room I blurted out, impetuously, “I’ll take Nevada”. His eyes widened like they did when he mentioned his killing Spaniards in his previous life and he said, very ominously, “There’s lots of Mafia in Nevada”.

    There’ll be a reference to those Nevada Dons later on.

  115. Good to see you, Munch! Great story! Hope you’re feeling well. If you want to avoid losing your work, write it in Word and then copy and paste it here.

  116. I guess I forgot to say how we smoked mujito. I had rolling papers for my real dope.

  117. Senior Beta on said:

    I gotta ask. When you did cease getting “the best smoke in the city?”

    • I stopped around 1977. It wasn’t so much of a conscious decision; i just wasn’t doing it anymore. If I ran into it I didn’t walk away, but I never bought any. By the time I met my now wife in ’78 it seemed a thing of the remote past.However, recent events have inspired renewed interest.


    That encounter with Genaro in the tv room would be the last time I saw him. He was whisked down to Blackfoot the next morning, before I got up. My guess is the state had some type of maximum stay rule:you got so many days at the country club then it was down to Blackfoot or north to Orofino (State Hospital North). I was kicking it around the unit one day when I am told Ray is on the phone and wants to talk to me. I grab it and say “hello” and then I here him say, in a raspy whisper, “Is this the Mosquito?” I say yes, and he responds “There are unbelievers down here.” Exactly what I am supposed to do about that isn’t clear, but I think he mentioned The White Tornado I could conjure up and make believers out of them. Anyway, I tell him I’ll see what I can do to address the situation. What I did was escape, heading east towards Blackfoot.

    Now, escaping from the country club did not require “Stalag 17″-like stealth, deception and planning. We were fed 2 meals a day, around 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (there was plenty to eat in the kitchen at all times). These were served on trays from a big cart rack, and afterward a kitchen employee would come and get the rack now loaded with empty trays. I am sure they were told a hundred times to make sure the door was closed behind them, but they never did. The dining hall was as far from the nurses’ station as it could be and not visible. I hit the 11 a m run. All it took was jumping out of the kitchen, placing your finger on the door just ever so slightly ahead of the catching point, discreetly waiting a millisecond, and then opening the door. Voila! I was close enough to the cart carrier to kick him in the ass, but there was a general commotion always going on and he had no idea I was following him.

    From there it was a hike to the freeway; I may have hitched a ride. Hitchhiking back then was easier back then; what am I saying-now, it’s impossible. No one picks up hitchhikers anymore. However I got to the freeway once there I easily got a ride east on the I-84 heading to Blackfoot with 2 guys drinking beer. Genaro must have mentioned Mountain Home ( an Air Force base is there) to me, because for some reason I had these guys let me out there (about 45 miles east of Boise). I walked into town, bought some food with one of the checks Genaro gave me (about $1.50 worth in ’76), hung around a bit, then walked into the Elmore County Sheriff’s office and announced I was an escapee from St. Al’s. I was put in a cell, and then 2 deputies placed me in a patrol car for the drive back. On the way back I mentioned Genaro (I don’t know if I called him Ray or not) and get this-they knew him. One of them piped in “Oh yeah-he’s the guy who’s always trying to get on base to meet the Secretary of Defense.” This of course affirmed my reality that Ray was legitimately ahead of the game; to anyone else, it would have confirmed Ray was totally nuts.

  119. Senior Beta on said:

    Why turn yourself in after The Great Escape? And whatever happened to Ray? Can’t wait.

    • I cut off the Great Escape because I had 300 miles to go to Blackfoot, no money, on coat (it was cold) plus getting a ride north out of Pocatello wasn’t easy plus they were going to send em there anyway. Also, I think Genaro mentioned something about Mtn. Home. My next escape ends similarly.


    So I’m driven back to the country by these Elmore County deputies, locked back in the padded room although one of the nurses made me a cold dinner; I still recall the feminine touch she brought to that simple meal. Turns out one of the staff had lost a set of keys, and they were sure I had them. One of the staffers even made a very urgent plea on the basis that the staffer was in deep trouble over it. But I didn’t have them, and finally showed them how I got out in order to placate them.

    Well, as you might expect, my shenanigans on the unit meant I was next up for transport. my mother packed a suitcase for me; at least I think she did-anyway, one showed up. My mother never saw me incarcerated and my dad only did because Papa Doc Heyrend (I’m naming-sue me you fuck) asked to confer with him. As I recall I left for Blackfoot on a Saturday; we arrived around one in the afternoon. Not much goes on on the unit furing weekends:there are no activities, anyone who can leaves the unit, and if you’re confined that means tv, pool, maybe some reading.

    Genaro wasn’t at the facility when I arrived. Most of you may imagine one big building, sort of New English, on spacious grounds with assorted wackos running around with staff in all white chasing them with butterfly nets.But it looked more like a very small college; I was in Treasure Valley, there was another building called Stepping Stones, a building know as “Y” ward for the long timers/lifers, a building we ate in, and an administrative building.I might be leaving out when general population building, No fence if any kind surrounded the site. There was a large field south of the building with a volleyball court, but security in the sense of a physical structure was non-existent. None of he judges in Boise 350 miles away knew this when they sent various and sundry sickos down there to be evaluated.

  121. I do not know where Genaro went; my best guess, because he intimated he had been in the military, was he was shipped to the Salt Lake Veteran’s Administration. I am informed then it had one of the best psychiatric units in the country. Anyway, I never saw or spoke to him again and the last information about him I have is the Idaho Supreme Court decision.

    One person I did see was Blackfoot Becky. Now, I just had my heart broken by Boise Becky; we need to keep these 2 straight as things come up we need to discuss. Blackfoot Becky was arranging some papers when she looked up and saw me. Without a hint of a smile, or any indication of recognition, she looked back down and said, levelly, “I was WARNED you were coming”. She never looked at me or spoke to me again. I was stunned. She had always reached out to me before, using my innocent infatuation as a means to help draw me out, engage me in a professional way with a touch of affection. Now-she was stone cold, as indifferent as a border guard. Somehow I felt it had something to do with my jail cell “vision”. What-I could not guess.

  122. Dan Bowen on said:

    Most of you following Tom’s story don’t know Tom. I do and I have for many years. Drooling,frying like an egg in a skillet, arguing the shit out of a case with his balls somewhere up around his earlobes I know Tom. What you’ve got here ain’t no failure to communicate, you’ve got unvarnished Munson.Outrageous, mercurial,incisive pure dick in the dirt Munson. This is the same Munson you would run into at Nick’s shoe shine stand in downtown Boise. Tom, your illness – tragic; your story compelling; your style – the format (including comments) perfect. A tale truely worth the telling: living-like-Tom.

    Blackfoot Becky must have terminated around then because I never saw her on the unit and only briefly glimpsed one other time. I did however make a real enemy about that same time, a 20 something girl named Jill. Not sure where she rotated in from, maybe Rexburg some miles north. She came in like gang busters, very animated. She rubbed me the wrong way. She was sitting next to me talking to another girl when I blurted in, appropos of what I forget, “He should have said ‘Get thee behind me Satan!'” (I was referring to Jill). She fixed me with a look that could curdle milk and said “DON’T YOU DARE TALK TO ME! You are demon possessed-I can tell !” Now, I was thinking she might have a point; I was unable to keep my eyes from staring, and I seemed charged with some type of foreign energy. For the next week or two various inmates would tell me sub voce that Jill was going to “kick you ribs in”. I avoided eye contact with her, never let her get behind me, and after a time she forgot about me.

    But I didn’t forget about her. We have to back up a little. One of the things Genaro showed me was an odd telephone number sequence,. I’m not sure what it did, but we had one local access line and when I dialed it, the line went dead. No big deal. But I overheard Jill talking on that phone one day and she said “What about the two girls in Seattle?” Well, you can believe me or not but that night I had a dream about two girls who get killed in an apartment. I think I was remembering a scene from “The Marcus Nelson Murders”, the Kojak pilot. The phone is right in the heart of the day room, so pretty much anyone who talks on it is heard by everybody. I grab the phone, nonchalantly dial the ersatz number, wait an appropriate amount of time, and then say “Yes, I’d like to speak to the prosecuting attorney.” Pause.Then I go on “I have information about 2 girls who were murdered in Seattle.” Most of the day room carries on as before because they are wack, but a few check me out as I walk away. I know the staff heard about it in 5 seconds, but they don’t say anything initially.

    About a week later I meet three guys from another unit. Since they looked like bikers, I called them “The Gypsy Jokers”.They must’ve heard of me as they called me “The Flash”. They also asked if I had inofrmation about a football player that had been murdered. Now all this is within 6 seconds of meeting me. I vaguely recalled that there was some sort of case involving a jock and either The 4th Reich or The Sundowners in Utah, but that was it. I told them “Look, I’m no snitch-my business with the prosecutor is a one time deal, and it’s personal.” They appear cool with it and we go to the dining hall for dinner. At the time, I am smoking a pipe AND a cigarette; one of them (covered with tatoos-I nickname him “The Illustrated Man”) says “We notice you’re smoking a lot these days Flash.”

    (to be continued)

  124. (cont.)

    So my little telephone gavottte had gotten around. About a week after I pulled this stunt Rose Sise (phonetic) who was another “jumped up” nurse with some administrative function, an enrolled Shoshone Bannock and a good lady, called me in and asked me about my call to the prosecutor. I remember her exact words: “Nobody is talking about it.”(everyone is a snitch in a state hospital-see previous) I could have said because it’s bullshit, but I wanted to keep the mystique. I blow her off with some sort of dismissive remark, leaving the door open that IF a certain unspecified quid is given, I might “qou” up some information. You gotta’ remember it’s mostly boring as hell on a psych unit and anything you can do to stir things up, especially among staff, is worth it’s weight in gold. I had stirred things up, but didn’t realize how deep the pot went. Specifically, I did not realize that more than one can play my telephone “head game”.

    Which is as good a time as any to introduce John, the one who dominated my stay at SHS. John was probably in his earl 50’s, and strangely enough reminded me of the Canadian narc who had made a brief visit to me in my cell. Slender with a full head of graying hair, John had something of the stare that Genaro had. He claimed to be an accountant from Meridian, Idaho, and knew my father because he dealt with my dad’s law firm.He told me (and everyone) that he was headed to a detox center and would only briefly be staying at SHS until a bed opened up there. I remember one of the first things I asked him was how to pay for college. He answered with a federally guaranteed student loan.

    Another shameful admission is about to be made. Remember when I prided myself in telling you that I had not hurt or threatened anyone with violence, unless you consider being confronted by a naked 23 year old while you are simply trying to get your newspaper a violent act? I should not have said that. I did threaten someone-John, that very night. Some personal property of mine was missing, and I got it in my head that John had it. As hard as this is to write I’ll have to tell you the truth-a got a handle from a mop bucket, basically a 1′ pipe with a grip, and confronted John while he slept. I told him to give it back to me or else. He said “go to bed”. So I repeated my threat. He said “What did I tell you to do?” The tone of his voice in telling me that was amazing. Here he is confronted by an armed, young maniac in an insane asylum, and his tone is as level, controlled,and clear as I’ve ever heard the English language spoken, screen, stage, oral argument, anywhere. It recalls for me even now the scene from (the original) “The Day the Earth Stood Still” when Patricia Neal repeats the phrase the alien has taught her to Gort (the redoubtable robot ) “Klaatu barada nikto” and escapes from being vaporized.I was Gort; John was the alien. John’s tone, the command, the energy, the insistent thrust of his logic. literally disarmed me and I obeyed and went to sleep.

  125. (cont.)

    So my telephone gavotte had gotten around. About a week after I pulled this stunt I was called in to Rose Sise’s (phonetic) office. She was another “jumped up” nurse with an administrative function an enrolled Shoshone Bannock and looked every inch of it, and a good lady. She asks me about my call to the prosecutor’s, and then adds : “Nobody is talking about it.” (everyone’s a snitch in a state hospital-see previous). I blow her off with some nonsense, hinting that if an as yet unspecified “quid” id met I might “qou” up some more information. You have to understand it is boring as hell on a psych unit and anything you do to stir things up, especially among staff, is worth its weight in gold. I had stirred things up, but did not realize how deep the pot was. I also did not realize that more than one can play my telephone head game.

    Which is as good a time as any to introduce John. John was in his early 50s probably, full head of graying hair, and had the piercing look I had noticed in Genaro. he claimed to be an accountant from Meridian, Idaho and indeed had several volumes of the Code of Federal Regulations with him (that’s a puzzler-you were usually only allowed one suitcase).One of the first things I said to him was a question:how to pay for college. He responded by saying with a federally insured student loan. He claimed to know my dad because he transacted business with my dad’s firm. He told me (and everyone) that he was on his way to a detox center (I believe in Sheridan, Wyoming) and was only staying here until a bed opened up.

    Another shameful admission here. Remember when I told you I never threatened anyone with violence, unless appearing naked while you’re out to get your paper in the early morning is violent? That is not true. I threatened John, the very first night he stayed at SHS, Some personal property of mine was missing; I got it in my head John had taken it. while we were sleeping in the dorm (probably 35 or so beds) I grabbed a mop bucket handle, a 1′ long piece of pipe with a grip, and confronted him while he lay in bed. I forget what I said, but his response was “Go to bed”. He was completely composed, this with a 23 year old maniac (drug addict he would add later) less than 5′ from him. I repeated my threat. What John said next, and how he said it, lives with me to this day. In the most level tone, emphatic without stress,firm, insistent, beyond contradiction, he said “What did I tell you to do?” The closest analogy I can draw is to the scene in (the original) “The Day the Earth Stood Still” where Patricia Neal says to Gort (the all-powerful robot) “Klaatu barada nikto” thus saving herself form vaporization. I was Gort, and John was repeating the alien’s phrase with such calm deliberateness that my will was overcome. His words literally disarmed me, and I went to bed.

  126. I’ve out my next installment up twice but it’s been erased both times.

  127. (this is my 3rd fucking attempt at this installment-I’m going to break it down by paragraphs. I hate this-my first take is always my best).

    So my telephone gavotte had gotten around.About a week after I pulled that stunt I got called into Rose Sise’s (phonetic) office. She was another “jumped up” nurse with an administrative function, and enrolled Shoshone Bannock and looked every inch of it. She asked me about my call to the prosecutor’s office, and then added:”Nobody is talking about it.”(everyone’s a snitch in a state hospital-see previous). I could have told her “that’s because it’s horseshit” but I rather liked the attention. I blew her off with some noncommittal remark, leaving open the possibility that if a certain unspecified “quid” were met I might “quo” up more information. You have to understand it is mind numbingly boring on a psych unit and anything you can do to stir things up, especially among staff, is worth its weight in gold. I had stirred things up, but did not realize how deep the pot went. I also did not realize that more than one can play my telephone head game.

  128. JOHN
    Which is as good a time as any to introduce John, who would dominate the rest of my stay at Blackfoot. John was probably in his early 50s, slender, tall, with a full head of graying hair. He had the same intense eyes as Genaro. He said he was an accountant from Meridian, Idaho(indeed, he had several CFRs and other source books with him, a puzzler because usually you could only bring a suitcase). He knew my father because he did business with my dad’s law firm. he told me (and everyone else) that he was on his way to a detox center in Sheridan, Wyoming and was only lodging here until a bed opened up (we had several alcoholics at SHS, again not really what a state hospital is for). John intrigued me.

  129. (cont,)
    Another shameful admission here. I told you I had never threatened anyone other than showing up naked off their front porch while they retrieved their morning newspaper or advising them with a 2′ paddle that “Authority is Never Legitimate”. Not true; I threatened John, his very first night at SHS. Some personal property of mine was missing, and I got it in my head that John had it. So in the middle of the night, I find a mop handle (not for a mop; it’s used to squeeze the mop, and is essentially a 1′ pipe with a grip) and confront John. I forgot what I said, but he said, levelly and firmly, “go to bed”. I repeat my threat, and the next words John said to me I can hear just as if he’s saying them: “What did I tell you to do?” His voice was totally affect-less, betraying no sense of alarm or even concern, to the contrary it asserted his complete control over the situation. His command, the absolute unassailable momentum of his words-the only thing I can compare it to is from (the original) “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, when Patricia Neal repeats the directive given to her by the alien as she faces Gort, the uber-robot, “Klaatu garada nitko” thus sparing her (and probably us) from vaporization. His mesmerizing tone and manner in dealing with a young maniac literally disarmed me and I went to bed.

  130. ERRATA: “klaatu barada nikto’


    The next morning 17 kinds of hell break loose. I am summoned, along with a few other guys, to the administrative enclosure which constitutes the staffing area (there is one office but we were outside it). In my mind’s eye I see people running around, serious agitation among staff and patients, and as yet no idea what is going on. Presently the phone rings and one of the staff, a non-nurse Psych. Tech. answers it. I hear only her side of the conversation, but the salient part is “Once we sort this out, one is going to prison, one is going to Y ward, and one is our courier for the next 5 years.” Hearing this, and while not necessarily crediting the threat, but noting that staff is incredibly pissed and agitated, I break it down like this: at least 3 random acts occurred, perpetrators as yet unidentified. One is seriously criminal, a violent physical assault, one less so but still very serious, and one, the last one referred to, maybe not violent but sexual. Prison is clear-if you commit a crime off you go (although Idaho still had the insanity defense). Y ward-if you got placed there it meant you were in for life. It would be like being forced into a nursing home full of wackos. The last referred to the courier, a guy who carried parcels of documents between the various buildings. The guy who did this had “creep” written all over him-think of an R. Crumb drawing of himself, complete with pencil moustache, glasses, and 100% weirdo vibe. Allegedly he had been some type of sex violator (he was a patient) and was going to be there a long time so he was given this job. Anyway, that was the lore of the nuthouse and that was the threat being leveled at me and the others. I hadn’t hit John, but was apparently suspected because of my threat. Exactly who got hurt, what had happened, was never made clear to me. But one of the staffers, James Hofer, my personal nemesis, never gave up on his search “for our courier for the next 5 years.”

    Another thing, and you can believe this, or go to hell. Recall in the mid 70s there was the strange phenomenon of cattle mutilations. (cont.)

  132. (cont.)
    We had this group of retired men and women who came and visited us on the unit from time to time. It was some type of federal program; they came, milled about, ate lunch (always) and I think they got some money for it.A couple of them, not so subtly, started asking me about livestock, as if that was something a 23 year old from Boise would know anything about. I knew where they were headed, just as I understood their references to ” a necktie party downtown.” I cannot say I found it amusing, having no allies and surrounded by this sort of hostility. It took a while before I realized that was not the only thing I was being suspected of.

    We now come to the real trippy metaphysical part of the narrative. This is the part I have no explanation for, and I doubt one in 27 reading this will find any credibility in what I am about to recount. If you want to say it’s all bipolar imaginings, fine. I held off writing this for 36 years in fear of that very condemnation, and only began writing it after being told I have a year to live, so no longer care about issues of disapprobation. I also will have the sequence in strict historical terms a little screwed up.Compared to what I am asking you to accept as the literal truth it’s sort of like stating I’ve ridden a UFO but forgot to get the license number.


    What started me into the real trippy metaphysical part of the narrative was an incident that occurred on the night shift.By way of background, you were allowed to get up one time, to have a smoke or whatever. We had a very sick patient, Harry Roller. I’d heard he had had a very high fever that had literally cooked his brain. He had a few phrases he repeated endlessly: “Do we have lighters and cigarettes?”, ” I have to go shit and pee”, and “You’re a fucking bitch!” the latter said to anyone, male or female. A very tall man, with long arms, he was scary although he never hurt or attacked anyone. He was causing problems on the other sleeping bay and Chester, one of the night orderlies, was going to allow a group of guys (including the boys I’d met at St. Al’s who were now there) to jump him, or as Chester put it, “to take care of it ourselves”. I knew of his plan, and told him if Roller got hurt I’d see to it he was held responsible. I didn’t know it then, but Chester had done time for aggravated assault so my threat carried more leverage than I was aware of. Nothing happened, but Chester did not appreciate my intervention.

    At this point John and I were pals, despite my introduction. I hung around him most of the time in fact. One night we were bullshitting, listening to his radio after lights out, and he says to me “Be careful with Chester-he’s a maniac, and he’ll break your nose.” I had in the not distant past made a similar threat to an Albertson’s executive (ain’t going there)-i’m sure John had heard of it and was using it. I jumped back on my cot seconds before Chester opened the door. Chester, also tall and rangy, but built, was looking at me with the most baleful stare I’d ever seen. He could see I was awake, and we both knew he was a step late in catching me off my cot and God knows what would have happened.

    I finally made the mistake he was waiting for a week later. I must’ve been sleep walking; anyway I got up and went to the orderly station and next thing I know SLAM! I’m in the sideroom. I ask for my down jacket and they get it, and that’s all I have in there. But, I have cigarettes in my jacket plus unknown to them some matches,and I can smoke. There’s a radiator, but it’s a large room with linoleum floors so cold. (cont.)

  134. But I’ve got my jacket so I’m warm, can smoke, so fuck them.

    The next morning things get weird. I cannot ask you to accept what I am about to say as the literal historical truth. I can only swear to you, as a man soon to exit this existence, that it is. If there is a logical explanation for it, fine. In 36 years I’ve been unable to come up with one. The cell (which is what it is) I was allowed me, for some reason, to hear the radio in Mrs. Sackett’s office, another nurse/wunderkind social worker. Her office was not near, but these old buildings with their thick walls created odd acoustic variances, and this sounded like an echo, not uncommon, and also augmented both the sound and its texture, and as I’ve said it was often surprisingly quiet, so I heard it quite well. It was very quiet that morning. I’m listening to her radio and then I hear her say apparently to someone else “This is the funny part”. Next I hear, on the radio, a voice I recognize but can’t place, and employee of SHS, telling someone “So I looked, and there was this guy, who looked like a patient of ours. He said he was from Mars and disappeared.” Mrs. Sackett then adds “I love to hear him say that.” So help me God. But even weirder: A little later, I hear the voice of my good friend Jerry, again sounding like he’s on the radio, unmistakable sound to it, and he’s talking to Kathy, my ex-fiance, again unmistakable voice. I hear only part of the conversation: Jerry:”You’re the reason tom tried to kill himself” (unfair, but some truth); Kathy (exasperated) “Jerry I’ve been through this a thousand times and I’m not going through this again.”

    How in the hell is this coming to me? An auditory hallucination? I can very well imagine such a conversation as I was later to learn (years later) that Kathy had been attempting to stroke Jerry off at a movie we’d been attending 3 days before accepting my engagement ring. How did i hear that in a side room cell in Blackfoot? You tell me.

    The last thing I hear, later still, is the voice of Dr. Ackley, the Psychiatrist to the Many. He says (again on radio): “Well, if he really has a delusion he’s from Mars, he’ll want his own atmosphere.” Now this gets me thinking; is he talking about me?

  135. I reach in my jacket and find, of all things, a little container of orange model paint. I sketch out an interplanetary outline on the floor, figuring ok if they want delusional, I’ll give them delusional. I mist be if I’m hearing 4 year old conversations from my best friend and ex bouncing back to me over a goddamned radio. As for atmosphere, not only convenient: I rake a long hard piss directly into the piping hot radiator, instantly creating a cloud of urine steam that covers the only window (barred) and makes the entire room look like the execution chamber at San Quentin (gas). The steam cloud goes well with the institutional green walls, and I light a cigarette and am admiring the same when the staff walks in. I silently point out my artwork and they nod as if to say “we get it”.

    We leave. And from that point on my relationship with the staff, patients, and-how to say this without sounding melodramatic?- myself, was altered in a manner that I have never been able to comprehend.

  136. errata: “not only convenient, but necessary”

  137. Rivetting!


    The staff returned me to the side room after I had used the toilet.There being nothing to do, I smoked. I had previously told you that we had one lighter, down in the first floor day room, the only place it was allowed. When I smoked enough, it actually sent an alarm to the local fire department who called and said “whats what?” (there must have been some direct line to them). Staff arrived to search my abode. The floor was a linoleum pattern anyone from the 60s would recognize but I’m struggling to describe; streaks of black, dark green, yellow, over a mostly beige motif. What I’d do is tear the matches out individually, lay each one directly perpendicular at the seams formed by each square, take the strike patch and place it as near to under the door as I could, and keep my smokes loose in a hidden part of my parka, keeping one or 2 in the pack in case they searched me so they find something.They never took away my smokes nor find my matches.

    Being in the side room cell was no big deal. One time John came to the door. There was a small opening where I got medicine (they had to completely open it to feed me). All I can see is his face, and I ask him “John, can you give me a drink. The drink that always restores and refreshes.” I don’t know why I added that; I could not tell that he not only DID have a glass of water, but also was holding some type of effervescent tablets, Alka-Seltzer, Polident, I never did find out, but he plopped them in. All I can say is that it was delicious, and soothed my parched throat better than a cherry coke.

    I was not entirely without weapons to drive the staff a little nuts. Some people who get placed in the side room start ranting and raving. That’s no good. Staff expects you to rant and rave, and when you do it they know what you are up to and are thus reassured. I’d wait for things to get very still, and then scream with every ounce of energy in my body my best blood curdling “Help!” and then shut up. I mean not a peep. And only do this maybe twice a day. This worked a few times and then staff got wise. But one time I could tell Mrs. Sackett had some type of muckety muck visitors. I am not sure how I divined this; let’s just say when you’re used to how people sound when they are doing the pitching, you can tell when they’re doing the catching. And she was. I couldn’t follow the thread of the discussion (her radio was louder than she was) but I know an interrogation tone when I hear it, and the people with her (more than one) sure as hell had it going on. I’m inspired. I give it a full on Pavarroti, I mean a real bell ringer-“Help me!” It echoed it was so loud, and totally stopped the conversation in Sackett’s office. The silence that follows is better than the scream. I then clearly hear a male voice, completely abashed, near quivering, say “What was that?” and I hear her respond “It’s a patient in lock up.” I cant’ hear anymore conversation-damn. There must’ve been a back and forth exchange along the lines of “Oh he’s ok-he just does that to rattle us”, arched eyebrows on the other side of the table, maybe a glance or 2 shared between the mucks that says “Are you getting this?” followed by-well, anyway, in probably 10 minutes the door opens, staff (not Sackett et al) forced to do an evaluation of me in my urine-clouded environment, me asking for a cigarette break (disallowed) and otherwise settling in for life in the cage. All good fun, except I’m wasting my 23 year old life away.


    We are coming to the weird part of this narrative, journal, whatever you call the truth that’s so strange no fiction writer would dare touch it. I’ve so much to explain, so much to tie together. We’ve got the Ted Bundy murders and cattle mutilation as outside factors. We have 3 types of assaults on the inside,yet to be reckoned with, and I am #1 suspect in all. And then the hardest thing you’ll have to accept, if you grant me any credibility at all-the weather, and it’s consequences. But first I’ll tell you about John and his telephone mind game on me, a classic.

    I mentioned to John one day that I never hear from my parents. John persuades me to come with him to the day room phone. He calls a number, and then he says “Hello Bonnie (my mom’s name), this is Ted (my dad’s).” He even sounds like my Dad, tone, inflection, everything. He then remarks casually “That’s ok, I said they could use it.” Then his face changes, anger and alarm registering simultaneously. “WHAT!! WHAT did they do? Oh for Christ’s sake (exactly as my dad had said it 10,000 times). That’s just the kind of stunt I’d expect from those 2.”(just as Ted would have worded it) I’m of course thinking of the weed, and my idiotic behavior back at the unit. Then it gets interesting. Now his voice is not only angry, but truculent, he’s adopting a fighting tone (just like Ted). He snarls : “What did Dr. Heyrend say? Repeat that- let me hear that again. (Pause) Oh, I’d love to hear him say that!” BACKGROUND: my dad never accepted my use of psychotropic medications (see previous) He used to say Dr. Heyrend makes a living getting half his patients on drugs and getting the other half off. In my mind, my mom has just told Ted (John) that Heyrend had called me a drug addict, this after Ted has seen me lay out a kitchen counter full of meds rx’d by none other. But it gets even weirder. After another break John says “Wait-what did Becky say?” Remember, I’ve got 2 Becky’s; the one who broke my heart in Boise (she was from near Blackfoot BTW) and Blackfoot Becky. Long, long pause. Then John says ” I don’t care about Kathy and Joann and Ruth Ann-it’s this Becky that I want to hear about”. Another pause, then John again:”What does Becky say? Oh, I’d love to hear her say that.” Ok, John had just named,in order, my ex and 3 girls I had been seriously involved with, the last being Boise Becky. I’m thinking what in hell would those 4 have to say about me? What could possibly connect them all?

    Suddenly John becomes very animated, face red, veins showing (Ted did that too) and I do not recall all of the exchange but here’s how it ended, with John yelling “There’ll be no jail! There’ll be no prison! There’ll be no execution!” Pause. “Well then don’t call me Ted.” (I assume a directive from the other side to not call her Bonnie). Call finished. Me left wondering: Jail? Prison? Execution? What?

    One more phone game fits in here. There was a girl we had there who went by Mikey. Don’t ask me why, she was very feminine and sweet. She was the one Jill had been talking to when I said my “get back” remark. I told you every one is a snitch. One day “Phantom” Tony, a total loser, had told her about an incident with me and an inmate. I’ll confess it to you.He was in delirium tremens, but scary. One day, god damn me, he did something and I took my shoe off and hit him. The poor man; he grabbed his head with such innocent helplessness that I immediately regretted it, and even now I see him and I expect no understanding from you it was a rank cruel rat bastard thing to do. I imposed a sentence on myself: he became my charge. I called him “Mr.” (I forget his last name now), I made sure he had food and ate it, I bathed him (staff was present but trust me they let me do the work), I usually got him dressed although after a while he started to get the hang of it. I looked for him in the morning, kept an eye on him as best I could, and he accepted me so I’d get him through the med line although staff was needed to herd him to bed. I felt true affection for him; I’m not sure, but I think he even made a joke once to me weeks after I started his care. It was the only time he overtly acknowledged my presence.

    But Tony the little snitch ass punk told Mikey about me and “Potato Nose” (my name for him before I hit him). The incident was over 7 months old (my first stay) but Mikey was pissed. She’d heard me talk about my Boise Becky and how hung up on her I was. She grabs the phone, flashes me a look of pure hate, says something like “I’ll get you your Becky”, dials, and then says in a southern accent (very good-that was the only time i heard her use it): “You know who this is. Remember that lil’ sweet tangy Chick-Hen (her phrase) we sent down to Boise? Well tell her to get her butt back to Blackfoot-we got a bag for her.” She hangs up, and now looks at me in cold eyed satisfaction clearly sending the message you’ll get yours.

    She would followup that call with another in the not too distant future. Which brings up the subject of the weather.

  140. Senior Beta on said:

    What I want to know is: did any of this staff ever see you once you became a respectable lawyer? If so, I assume they wanted to take credit for your “recovery.”

    • No. Kevin Swann, who I mentioned, did run into me In Boise while I was in law school. He said something to the effect that he could tell I had more on the ball than the others there. Honestly, a lot of it had to do with being middle class-most of the inmates were just plain poor and from dysfunctional families, no support. The St. Als’ people knew all about me and what I did. I deposed Dr. Papa Doc Heyrend,and get this-he tired to pump me to help get his son a job. I did visit the SHS “campus” 16 years later. Most of the people I knew were gone, but did run into one guy who was there then. But no, no one took credit for my recovery. Even the guy I credit the most, my social worker, gets embarassed when mention how much I owe him. He went to bat for me every time, helped me get financial aid, did every thing to spare me from the justice I so richly deserved, and was the best one-on-one therapist I’ve ever known.



    I had been talking about a “white tornado” since I arrived at SHS in early April. Following my emergence from the side room, there was a new level of scrutiny to everything I said and did. Or you can say I was paranoid. But sometime in April a series of severe snow storms hit the area. I got it in my head that the more water I drank, the more it would snow. Crazy, huh? The staff picked up on it somehow and started monitoring me (the drinking fountain was in the day room, visible to staff). They’d start counting the beats, and then would comment on whether I was “short” or “long” (4 or 5 gulps was average). They knew I had a delusion that I was keeping it snowing, and they were having fun with it. You can ask yourself whether this was therapeutic or not; I’d say 90% of the interaction with staff was more along the lines of ego tussle, bureaucratic mind games, and the sort of static created by people who are by turns bored shitless but have no intention of doing anything beyond the absolute bare minimum necessary to accomplish their job with the least possible expenditure of effort and energy. This was no exception. But keep in mind the “white tornado”; the storms lasted a long time, and each snowfall added to the water level building up behind the newly opened Teton Dam.

    I told you everything I said now was subject to heightened scrutiny. Not just what I said, but what I wrote. Having eschewed a career as an erotic novelist (?!), I began writing in an apocalyptic vein. At the country club nuthouse, Bibles are verboten ( I think it’s a good idea).Not at SHS. So while it snowed away I would read the Bible and write these tomes, plagiarizing a certain Psalm-like quality. Most started like my “Lavabo” poem; for example:

    And I saw you behind barb wire fences
    alone, defenseless
    huddled in fear, resigned, hopeless

    I wrote pages of this stuff. I wrote about General Fuck Up, the 5th Rider of the Apocalypse, sort of the Harpo Marx of the gang. I really didn’t think about the writing, it was more stream of consciousness stuff, and once written I hardly paid attention to it, so I didn’t think staff would care. Wrong. After I had a pile, I’d throw them all away. Hofer had some patients retrieve them from the trash can; not as gross as it sounds, it had a plastic liner and everything in it would be my stuff. But like my other “writings”, these to went into the “S” category, and I’d get to see some of them again.

  142. (cont.)

    Let’s review where we are circa spring 1976. We have 3 assaults that may or may not have occurred, may or may not be under investigation, and for which I may be suspected. We have murders occurring in Seattle that I have made at least one reference to, and the fact that NO ONE is saying ANYTHING about that is more significant than would be the opposite case. We have cattle mutilations; I’ll tie that in later. We have a “boy from Mars” who may or may not be me. We have John’s litany of “no jail, no prison, no execution” that I’ve yet to puzzle through, plus my 4 lovers who have said something about me but I don’t know what. I may have Boise Becky on her way to “bag” me. And we have me at the water fountain causing the biggest snow storm in decades.

    If you’re having a hard time keeping this straight, that’s probably a good thing. If not, you may need some lithium yourself (joke). Writing this is hard; reading it must be harder. Imagine living it.

    Another weather incident; around the end of April, a very peculiar wind storm hit Salt Lake City. We got a lot of tv news from there, and it showed the wind frolicking almost as if it had a mind of its own. I got it in my head that it had something to do with me (another common delusion), and when Ron Lake, another patient who had been released, called on the day phone I said “Hey Ron, do you like what we did to Salt Lake?” He said “yeah”. How Tony figured out what I meant I do not know, but he tells Mikey that I think I worked some magic on SLC. She gets back on the phone, calls, and again using that southern accent says “Remember that ‘bag’ I told you to tell our lil’ Becky about? Well you tell her it’s as big as the Great Salt Lake.” This added one more thing for my pile of neurotic/psychotic concerns-but I’ll cut to the chase. Boise Becky did not show up.

    But what started happening was even weirder. Around this same time, our building started getting buzz bombed by an airplane, and it dispensed some kind of chemical. We’d hear on the radio “This is for College of Idaho Tom” (referring to my destructive behavior while there) and then this sick smelling sour chemical would hit us, in the building. Maybe they were crop dusting (there was acreage across the street). I do not know. But this went on for at least one day, and damn it I heard it and smelled it and lived it.I wish this was the most implausible thing I have to tell you but it isn’t it. I’m tempted to water this down but won’t. This happened.

    BTW the snow had stopped by now. (cont.)

  143. (cont.)

    I have to relate an incident before we get to the main event. A woman patient from Boise and I struck up an acquaintance. She was from Britain and had a good sense of humor. She had a friend [see 4/9/12 sidebar to S. Walsh] who worked at the Recruiting Center on Myrtle and saw me that fateful Sunday morning and told her: “I saw something you don’t see everyday- a young man strolling totally nude” (wrong-I had a sweater on). We talked a lot. She told me about an incident that involved a “little Lord”, some very lesser member of the British hierarchy. Seems he was invited to some exalted function, but couldn’t find the proper sash so tied a rope around his waist and said “the hell with it”. He arrives, Everyone is initially scandalized at his complete lack of decorum, but his “in your face” attitude prompts them-“He must be SOMEBODY” if he can diss the whole gathering like that, and now the crowd starts to feeling like ITS the one on the outs because they don’t recognize HIM, buzz builds, by the end of the show there’s a stretch limo for him, crowd in awe, his calm nonchalant air lending credence to their assumption he was BIG BIG BIG.

    Nice story-kind of a reverse “Emperor’s New Clothes” when you think about it. I don’t know if it happened, but we discussed me as the “lil’ Lord”. I see myself suitably dressed, gray trimmed beard, pot bellied, harrumphing “What’s this I hear? We’re having some sort of party or something?”A dance of some kind?” We both enjoyed me in the role.

    I haven’t given you many hard dates, but I have 2 I can give you. First is May 24, 1976-Muhammad Ali v Richard Dunn. Leading up to the fight, I had been hanging around with Marty, a red-JO from Boise. Marty had done time at the old Idaho State Penitientiary, and he’d done solitary there. Hard time. Back before a lot of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on prison conditions the state prisons were really tough (not exactly cupcakes now). Solitary then meant a cell with one long trench, like an irrigation canal, where your water came in. That was it. If you wanted to drink or wash, you yelled up stream so no one would defecate or urinate while you got it. that was your toilet AND drinking fountain. Your Sunday treat was you got to clean your cell and maybe shower. He didn’t mention being naked so I assumed he was allowed clothes. That was it. He stood up to the guards once and lost his top 4 front teeth; ironically, the state had to pay for his bridge but he seldom wore it. He told me how he’d do relentless numbers of push ups, 500 or more a set, in order to tire himself so he’d sleep and ignore the conditions.He had the arms to prove it. Normally he looked like a solid dude, shorter than I, probably 5’7″. When he puffed up his arms though, his biceps expanded, became defined like an anatomy chart, swelled-the only thing I can compare it to is “Popeye” after the spinach. Marty had boxed too; he once took a towel, draped it around his neck, and showed me how to “pop” a left hook (we’re both righties). Someone said this had been in a movie; dunno’. All I can say is mine still felt like a jab your sister could take; Marty’s felt like a refrigerator had fallen on you. Unlike me, Marty never had to assert himself in any way around anyone there. His missing front teeth went well with his redoubtable arms.

  144. “Heightened scrutiny”-sounds like the legal standard for U.S. Supreme Court appellate review of lower court decisions involving matters of great moment, doesn’t it? One of the things I mentioned during this interval (everything I said was reported to staff, thanks to those insufferable snitch bitches) was my fear of dying in a tsunami. This stemmed from an incident at San Juan Capistrano ten years earlier. I was body surfing, CJC had the worst beach, terrible shore break, undertow, rip tides-you name it, but it was all I had (parents belonged to Club La Quinta, which was just getting started). Today in addition to all the other shit, it had the worst fog I’ve ever seen-it was like a giant phosphorous grenade had gone off. I’m standing in about 4′ of water trying to get some feel for the sets (waves come in 3s) when I see through the fog, a bird, just ahead of me and 8′ or so in the air. I’m pondering this just as the wave hits me-no bird, I had briefly glimpsed this bastard, and it was 8′-10′ if an inch, perfectly formed, and nailed me full force, totally unprepared, no air, knocking me straight butt over teacup, pile driving me like Hulk Hogan in his prime into the sand before a Niagra Falls of water pounds me like Bull Connor’s firehouse, up the beach, totally “in the washing machine” to where I don’t know my asshole from Santa Claus, I’m not even scared or registering any emotion ‘cuz I had no chance to comprehend. The lousy beach save me; unlike the (then) tended beaches which sloped gently into the landfall, this was one was bowl shaped so the wave’s momentum had to go up and was thus dissipated, releasing me. I’d have never gotten out of there because not only did it knock the shit out of me, I had no idea where “there” was: at Newport or Huntington, I’d have still been in 6-7 feet of water, not insurmountable but unless you’ve been in an underwater situation where you did not know which way was up you do not know what I am describing. It was a close call.

  145. (cont,)

    How did we get from the Muhammad Ali fight to San Juan Capistrano and back? How the hell did we get anywhere in this saga? I’m just telling you the things that were on my mind and, if they were on my mind, I was talking about them and, if I was talking about them, the staff was getting an earful. Bear in mind they never, NEVER, forgot about those 2 girls in Seattle. Others were interested in my tsunami obsession, and we had a crazed crop duster on or hands. On the day of the fight, I run into the Gypsy Jokers and ask them who’s going to win. “Ali” pipes one. “Ali has too much money” says another, pointedly, and I sensed he was making a reference to my last name. Another asks “Tom (not The Flash)do you have a pair of jeans?” My mom was supposed to pack jeans, but she instead packed dark blue cords. I told him that.later during lunch he asks me to go get them. I do not have status to leave the building but do so unimpeded. While going I hear a tech say “That’s Hutt!” (my nickname because I talked Boise State football so much). I go back to the ward, grab the pants, and head back to the dining hall where I give them to the Joker. This violates another rule- you are not allowed to give anyone anything. I know goddamned well why I was allowed to: someone wanted to get a good long look at me.

    Marty and I watch the fight that night. Marty notes that Ali is setting Dunn up for a “big right”, which he delivers I think in the 6th round. It was to be Ali’s last knockout.

    Next day one of the inmates says something odd to me. We did exercise every morning; that morning accompanying the tech there was a guy I hadn’t seen before, nor again. Afterwards Roger Thomas (he played for Idaho State), the tech, looked at me and said “you’re in good shape.” The inmate tells me the unidentified guy is a scout for the WFL looking for a “half back”. Yeah, plenty of professional caliber athletes in your state hospitals. I immediately flash to my FBI statement (3/11/12 above) and wonder how this is going to play out.

    It didn’t take long. I’ll introduce a patient I thought of as Sacajawea. Again, lots of Native American stock although not a local. She was an alcoholic, but nice gal. We talked a lot, and she spoke fluent Spanish. (cont>)

  146. I do not know if the blue jeans/cords incident had any significance to our account here. I will say this-the Jokers acted like it did, like there was some secret ritual going on. I never found out if there was. But against this backdrop let me tell you how the “half back” from Seattle gig played.

    Leading up to this I’d been having all kinds of hell with staff and even the inmate members of the Action Committee. Gene Beckstead, the inmate leader, and I had a number of run ins and it was looking like we’d be going to Fist City soon. He was a prick. He’d done time and was tough. On my first stay I’d even snuck him some real food ‘cuz they had him on 100% eggs because he was such an alcoholic he’d near killed his stomach. But that cut no ice now. The staff was fucking with me over all sorts of shit, just picayune stuff but with a million rules if they want to they can give you endless grief. All of a sudden that stops. Sac tells me she’s been downtown shopping (there were occasional excursions like that) and had bought me a sweater, specifically, a brown long sleeve turtle neck sweater. Now, first of all, I ain’t partial to t-necks. Plus it’s near June in eastern Idaho, and it’s hot, especially in an old building with no central air. I had plenty of clothes; I didn’t need this cheap Penney’s knockoff. But I thank her, knowing she’s in on whatever game is afoot. And presently I am escorted into the staff meeting room where the “game” is laid out. Gene is there, but now we’re all buddy buddy. Everyone is buddy buddy, my good earnest friends. This starts with someone mentioning I have difficulty staying awake during our large community meetings (3 x per week). Well no shit; you have me drugged within an inch of my life so when I stop moving I near pass out. Staff loves it because they can then write you up for sleeping, which for me means training square but no puree. But not today-no, today everyone is so concerned with my plight that they’ve come up with a solution: I’ll stand at the front of the group, that way I won’t fall asleep. I was wearing the brand new sweater too that they had just gotten me even though there’s 700,000 parcels of discarded clothes plus I got me a month’s supply of my own. It was that pathetic; seriously, their over the top attempt to fool me took on elements of a Kabuki dance. I almost felt like saying “Look, you want someone to ID me, lets make it simple-I’ve got nothing to hide” but they were having so much fun playing detective and also stepping on their fun could have adverse impacts-I went along.

    So the meeting starts after lunch. This takes place in the large lounge with the tv, the largest room in the facility. There is one door which I am facing from the head of the assembly. The staff area is immediately past the door, and that is where they have the witness who is going to check me out. About 15 minutes in, one of the staffers appears in the doorway, looks in the room, and leaves. Of course, she is only confirming where I am so she can tell the witness who to look for. And presently she appears, walking casually in the doorway, arms folded. meandering about, as I’m facing her she appears from the right where the staff area is, as if on her way somewhere but in no particular hurry(that too was a give away-unless she’s on her way to the laundry room, there is no where for her to go) and then our eyes lock. She takes me in in about 4 seconds, a dead on appraisal. I still see her; very pretty,very thin, blonde, late teens/early 20s, hair more ornately curled than the usual LDS look. Then she turns to her left and is gone. But just before she left my view forever I see her shake her head, negatively, emphatically.

    Tom’s paranoid right? Before you pick up that stone, a little Bundy research. Ted was over in eastern Idaho in ’76, maybe ’75 too. Several credible sources place him there, and he is suspected in a couple of murders. As for that brown turtle neck, pick up a copy of “The Stranger Beside Me” by Ann Rule. You don’t even need to buy it. Leaf through ’til you get to the photos. In one of them you’ll see Ted in a brown turtle neck, exactly the same as the one provided to me by the staff (they had Sac do it so it wouldn’t be obvious).

    Oh and yeah-that was the last time I stood during meeting.

  147. Recall that I told you about my borrowing a shirt from my black friend, and how I characterized it? The week following Ali’s knockout of a Dunn, there was a rumor floating around the Ali, the heavyweight champion, was going to meet Carlos Monzon, the middle weight champion, in an alley in New York and have it out. I even heard Howard Cosell refer to it on the radio. So help me. That Saturday I’m in the day room watching tv. Because I’m so medicated, this isn’t a smart thing to do. Staff catches you napping, it’s instant write-up. But I’m doing it anyway. I’m probably either asleep or just on the edges of it when I hear a commotion. From the tv I hear “That’s the type of guy who can take the shirt off my back, turn around and call me a nigger the same day and that’s a guy like that right there!” and this dude is pointing at me! I’m fully awake, a couple of other people in the day room check me out, and I wander over to the staff area where Jim Hofer is waiting. He asks a question: “Were you asleep?” I say “No, I answered to my own name so no, I wasn’t asleep”. This satisfies him immensely, as in his eyes I had lied, and somehow this is of great importance to him.

    I’m back to being on the staff’s shit list not the least of which is due to an incident with Barbara Rush. This gets really strange.So one day Barbara, a pretty gal but not all there, takes me aside and starts looking at me very intently, saying over and over “I know.” This occurs in the day room, empty except Harry Roller is wandering around. Normally he’d be at his usual “you’re a fucking bitch” routine but today he’s quiet, even more unsettling. He’s wandering around us and I’m trying to keep him in sight because you can’t tell what he’s going to do. She notices that, and says matter-of-factly “Qantas knows”. Why she chose the name of an Australian airline to call him-dunno’. So now she’s alternating between “I know” (said many different ways) and “Qantas knows”. But what is she getting at? She’s pretty, willing, and so we start to makeout a little, some above board exploration. This lasts all of 5 seconds. No one except Harry sees it, but everyone knows about it, and now I’m back in 8 kinds of hell.

    One more curious thing. We usually had daytime tv on. If nothing was up, you’d sit and watch Merv Griffin or Mike Douglas. Now I’m watching one of those guys and he’s introducing someone, and he says “And she remembers us (pause) when we were a bunch of dope users and sellers at Boise High School.” Did I dream it, hallucinate it-I have no explanation, once again. It would have occurred in the summer of ’76.

    I guess this will be the final note before we arrive at the denouement of my story. I had alienated a lot of staff by now, even people who had been somewhat partial to me. I make no apologies; I was sick, and damn few of them were doing anything I could see to help me. I got to where I avoided everyone, just kept moving so no one would have a chance to engage me. This last is really ironic. I’m walking past the staff area and Gary Lemon (Leh-mohn), a staffer I liked a lot, about my age and a rocker, spots me and yells “Hey Noah-is it time to build an Ark yet?”

    I fixed that date in my mind. It was Thursday, June 3, 1976.

  148. (cont.)

    No story of absolute bell ringing bull goose insanity is complete without a a (usually detailed) reference to the Bible, and mine is no exception. Around the end of the snow covered “white tornado” times, and well before the events I am about to recount to you, I had stumbled upon a small copy of the New Testament. (I mentioned I thought Bibles are a bad idea around mental patients; here’s a small example). And of course like most maniacs I seize on “Revelation”, The First Choice Among Demented Biblical Scholars. And not just any part either; I choose to narrow my focus to John’s missive to the Church at Philadelphia (the only name I recognized) and, again in keeping with the tradition of my deluded brethren I hear these words speaking directly to me, now, in the present, exhorting me and supporting me as it was intended to do 2,000 years ago in support of the original, small, frequently preyed upon Christian churches. Which might have been ok, if I had kept it to myself, but as the readers here can by now see in abundance I keep practically NOTHING to myself.

    I still recall my first “sermon” on Revelation Ch. 3 verse 7; it occurred at the height of those late spring snow storms. The campus (how I thought of SHS) was snowbound, the tree limbs heavy with snow, the walkways having to be shoveled 3 or more times daily so we could go eat. I began by pointing out that there is no admonition to the Church at Philadelphia, as opposed to the other churches, all of which are chastised in varying degrees, some getting a real earful. John notes that the Church at Philadelphia has “a little power” (my version translated it thus; others say “little power” or use another euphemism).I of course seized on the phrase: Castaneda’s books are all about “power”, a necessary part of the warrior’s journey and what he uses to attain not just enlightened states but the ultimate metaphysical act a human is capable of-defying death and allowing his consciousness to slip past the “beak of the Eagle” (annihilation) and into the next plane of existence with his present sense of self intact. Power-and there it was, spelled out, right there in my little green Bible.

    I now had a way to connect the disparate spiritual longings I had, from Catholicism, Methodism, shamanism, and any other piece of spiritual fabric caught in my enlightened lint trap of a soul. I saw all of spiritualism reflected in that phrase ” a little power”, and this not coming from two dudes wandering around the Sonoran desert but from the Bible. It started to make sense (remember who’s writing this). My vision of the Hispanic dancer on Chinden Blvd. now suggested that the Christian Church’s arrival among the pre-Columbian nativist churches (which is where I thought Don Juan’s “knowledge” came from” ) was not a “clash” but a joining, that the Spirit cannot be in contradiction to anything that comes from it, whether it be the Christian wafer of communion or the consumption of a desert cactus.I thought I had permeated to some deep truth, I thought lil’ ol’ me had solved a riddle none had posited, I thought I had arrived at some amazing and powerful synergy (a word not in vogue then, thank God).


  149. Senior Beta on said:

    A few more like this and I will start going to church again.

  150. (cont.)

    But I couldn’t leave it at that. John of Revelation goes on to tell the church at Philadelphia that because they have remained faithful, God will force “those who say they are Jews, but are not”, to bow to it in recognition of the church’s steadfastness. Mormons of course believe they are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel, and I seized on John’s false Jewishness phrase to rile ’em up some more. Not intelligent since I was surrounded by LDS and reliant on them for my every need, never mind the tactlessness of using the Bible like that. Surprisingly not all the Mormons took a strong dislike to me; I was introduced to several families on “family” day which was Sunday. I did make the mistake of taking a Book of Mormon and randomly opening it and pointing to a phrase; I had seen this in a movie where a man pretended to be a rabbi. My thought was if it’s all sacred what difference does it make what part you read? It was not well received, even after making allowances for the circumstances.

    Let’s just say as a preacher I did not cause Rev. Robert Schuller to hear footsteps. But I seized on a lot in that little section of Revelation. The name of the New Jerusalem was to be given to that church. It was going to be honored among men. I read all this against what I perceived to be a backdrop of oppression, but I need to be careful here. I often thought that in responding to me the state (including SHS staff) had fulfilled nearly every obligation in the Sermon on the Mount. I was naked, and you clothed me; hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was imprisoned, and you visited me; and (my addition) I was afflicted, and you sought my recovery.

    I’m done lingering in the maelstrom of my addled religious striving. Either you get there was a spiritual side to my struggle, or you don’t. Either you get I tried every form of therapy I could access, or you don’t. There is nothing heroic or noble in this; I had no choice. I remember once telling Dr. Ackley why don’t I just give up, accept my “pot of porridge”‘ existence in the hospital, and live my life here? His response was “There is a that life here, sure, but it will cost you your soul to get it.” He put it nicely; I had no choice-I had to recover.

    That’s it for magic,voodoo, religion, and hermetic psychiatry. I will proceed to conclude this narrative with just the “facts” and you shaman-junkies will have to look elsewhere for the overriding cosmic connection if there be one. I very seriously doubt there is and, to the extent there may be one, it is of very limited to use. I believe we are all attempting, each of us, in our spirituality something akin to the pure forms of the martial arts.In those physical arts there are perfect ways to achieve the effect, but even the masters are not perfect- they just get the job done. In our metaphysical kung fu, we all strive to achieve that indefinable sense of it all, but are forms are off. Still, some of us, are able to get the job done.It does not matter how provocatively we accomplish it; a stone is as good as a jade hammer.

    We move now to the final segment. Hold on, this gets weird.

  151. Senior Beta on said:

    That did it. Adding “learn a martial art” to my bucket list.

  152. But before we go one last touch of levity. My reinterpretation John of Revelation along with some other stuff got me of course placed in the training square, only this time staff was determined that I be uncomfortable so really cracked down on me sneaking smokes. I was jonesing on close to 2 packs a day, and going 13 hours (technically, I shouldn’t have been able to smoke at all) was unbearable. I could randomly get a few in, but I needed a lot more nicotine. My answer was to break off a cigarette, surround it with toothpaste, and stick it ” ‘twixt my cheek and gum” a la Walt Garrison and at least get some partial relief. It worked ok. One morning I am newly arrived to my station and hadn’t even bothered to comb my then curly hair (I had had a perm-very mid-70s thing to do). I am sitting there chomping away on my homemade Skoal brother when I hear an unusual amount of noise echoing down the stairwell. There is obviously a large group of people gathering outside my vision; they must’ve been on the landing, and I can tell they are very young women. I can also hear a mature woman’s voice suddenly rise out of the cacophony but cannot tell what she is saying. Unbeknownst to me, a group of student nurses from (then) Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho has arrived to do some type of practical course work here. Also unbeknownst to me, my toothpaste improvisation had left my mouth rimmed with a white foamy residue-I literally looked like I was a foaming at the mouth rabies victim. The last segment of the stairs will take them directly at me, albeit there will still be some distance.Presently the first wave descends the stairs, 6 abreast, and at the very last step they look across the staff area and see-me, alone in that staff area, no one else around, no one to protect them from the classic foaming at the mouth lunatic they had probably been bracing themselves for since they learned they had to do this gig. They freeze-I mean they stopped right on the last step and just regarded me with blank abject horror.I am of course unaware; I recall wishing I’d brushed my hair a little. I was puzzled as the first group took their tremulous steps to my right,clearly shaken at something, then each succeeding wave in the processional, all of them, 20 or more, eyes averted as we go through the same process with each wave of these students, walking down, seeing me, peeing in their pants, resolutely moving on because they have no choice. I think if I had stood up and chased them they’d have broke for Rexburg and still be running. When I went to use the bathroom I saw the problem and corrected it. During their 10 day stay I did my best to reassure them I was not a violently insane wack job about to go ape-shit on them. I must confess I never did develop any rapport with any of them; first impressions are hard to overcome.

    BTW the staff did no formally reinstate my smoking privileges, but after my meeting the Ricks’ girls we went back to the status quo ante i e I could smoke with discretion.

  153. Oh, and almost forgot to tell you about my escape from SHS ( I mentioned this earlier as one of the ways you get to the side room lockup). It is hard for me to place this in terms of the events I’ve recounted; I’ll put it roughly around the middle of my incarceration. Don’t ask me what prompted it; maybe just the need to prove I could do it. I put on two pairs of pants so I could remove one and thus foil any description. This was based on the assumption someone would pay enough attention to what I was wearing to describe it (dubious). I got together a small bag with extra clothes, got some money from my account, and made my escape. Not exactly Steve McQueen propelling his motorcycle over a barricade; I just walked away. Precisely, I took a path that allowed me to leave the campus unobtrusively. As I’ve mentioned, there was no barricade or anything around this place. I walked as if going to the commissary which was across the parking lot from my building, and kept walking. Once in downtown Blackfoot I waked someone for a ride south and they were amenable (much different era on that score). I got as far as Chubbuck (70 or so miles south, just west of Pocatello) and, like I did in Mountain Home, began questioning my premises. I did not think about holing up; I didn’t have enough money. I could have tried to reach Boise, 300 miles or so west, but then what? I should not portray this as some involved intellectual struggle-I just gave up. Called the cops who put me in lockup until the SHS staff could arrive. Had a lunch of hot dogs and beans with a guy, probably late 40s, who claimed he had shotgunned his wife’s lover. He was telling me about it and I remember thinking he shouldn’t be talking with all the guards within earshot but he didn’t give a shit. He had a deep rich voice; I still can hear his response when I, startled, said “You shot him?” and he nodded and added “With both barrels”.He did not appear to be trying to impress me; to the contrary, his matter-of-fact recounting of the events made me wonder if they really happened. When we finished lunch the van from SHS arrived and back I go. In the side room (not the same as previous) I am hog tied to the bed and left. I don’t recall getting a shot, nor did I then (or now) see the point in hog tying me in a locked room. I sleep for a couple of hours, wake up, am let out of the restraints, and I think I was even let out of the side room that same day. Not exactly Papillon eat your heart out.



    My first awareness that there was something wrong at the Teton Dam began around noon on Friday, June 4, 1976. At least I think that’s when it was; I frankly was not paying much attention and it’s possible all of my memory comes from Saturday when it actually collapsed. The staff had the radio out, the same one that had the buzz bombing mad crop sprayer a month before. I had no idea where this dam was other than generally north. Going with my best recollection, beginning Friday there were reports of problems and attempts to ameliorate them. At some point wet spots on the surface of the dam were mentioned. I did not appreciate the significance of that, nor do I recall anyone remarking on it. The radio was left on and staff and patients would wander by, listen for a moment, then go off to their various pursuits. There was nothing beyond a desultory interest at that point.

    This all changed Saturday. Everyone was if not actually listening to the radio at least checking in often enough to be apprised. I do not remember the radio giving a lot of details, like the guy with the big CAT trying to fill a hole on the side of the dam (what balls!). I recall more of a vague running commentary on the situation, with allusions to “efforts are continuing” blah blah but no real substance.But clearly this was a serious matter; in that part of the state everyone has family everywhere, and there was palpable concern. At the same time, no one was alarmed and I had the sense that everything was under control, the problem, while potentially catastrophic, was manageable, and I think my feelings reflected the overall sense that prevailed most of that morning.

    Part of that feeling, at least for me, was due to the radio announcer’s calm, measured voice and his “flat” delivery. When I say “flat”, I do not mean his voice was not interesting; he reminded me of the BBC voices during WWII who read with such assuring cadence and kept such obviously high morale while delivering even the worst news. He had some of that, and maintained it rather well right up until the dam fell.It was announced in an unadorned manner-“the dam has collapsed”. Everyone was crestfallen; what would it mean to those people up north? Maybe no one knew. We at SHS did absolutely nothing as far as changing our routine went; we went to lunch, listened to now tv and radio broadcasts, but otherwise kept on as before. There was a field across the road that was being watered with sprinklers; I wondered if that was going to be necessary in a few minutes. As I said, I had no idea where the Teton Dam was and thus could not calibrate the danger, if any, I was in.

    Later that afternoon I heard 2 things on the radio that stay with me. Jim Hofer was sitting in the chair behind it as a different announcer began recounting the confirmed dead. He said “You can write Captain Idaho up for murder one, two…” As he said this, Hofer began holding a finger up for each one. I got the reference. “Captain Idaho” had been a cartoon strip by Greg Nutt (real name) that had appeared in Boise State’s student newspaper The Arbiter. I had talked about it, and the announcer (and Hofer) were putting this on me. A little later, we hear Senator Franck Church say ” It looks like our little lord turned out to be a dictator after all”, which is too much even for Jim, who turns the radio off.

    My fault the dam fell? Well, that’s how I saw it. And I wasn’t alone.

  155. (cont.)

    The rest of Saturday was taken up listening to the news and hearing accounts of the response to the disaster. We are told that Sunday any of us who choose can go fill sandbags. I volunteer. By late afternoon helicopters are flying all over the place, and this continues into the night. Rexburg got hit hard; just south, Idaho Falls dodged a bullet when a retired army officer got an army of high school kids to sandbag the river as it runs through town, sparing it from immense flooding. Our sandbagging in Blackfoot was to protect buildings I suppose; I never saw where they went.

    We arrived at the sandbagging site, I think it was a school parking lot, around 10:00 a m. Things are bustling; trucks lay down a track of sand, bags are stacked and shovels given, and ad hoc groups of 20 or so start filling them. It’s not too long before I get my first earful; a woman sidles up to me on my right, then says to me “Here General Blood and Guts-here’s your blood and here’s your guts”, apparently apropos of the immense mound of sand we are confronting. She then crouches down, looks up at me, and says, with menace, “Get the message?” I had never seen this woman before but she made it clear she hated me.Hers was the first in what would be several challenging remarks I heard that day, almost all pointedly referencing my “general” status, asking me if this final destruction was sufficient for my purposes. I did not respond; I did not know who these people were, but they seemed to know each other. I’m not sure how many people were there; at least 200 or so, maybe much larger.I’m not saying I got attitude all day, or that it was constant, but I got enough reminders that people knew exactly who I was.

    One incident stands out. I was walking to get more bags when a pickup truck starts backing up in my direction. On the back is a movie camera, aimed right at me. I’m watching this and someone says to me “There’s your movie.” Standing next to the camera is a large Native American man who yells at me “Hey Mr. Jack Nicholson-I’m your big Indian”. It was early afternoon when this occurred, and after that people let up on me. I did my work, went and got meds (SHS set up a table), and tried not to dwell on the incredible weirdness of absolute strangers visiting so much hostility on me.

    While taking my medication (they always gave us a juice drink, and by God it was usually very very tasty) I had an odd insight, maybe due to the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” reference. In the book, the scene where the patients all go fishing contains a poignant moment. (cont.)

  156. (cont.) As long as Jack is there, the hospital patients feel confident,assured. But he leaves for a moment, and while gone another group of guys starts yelling at the 2 women Jack has brought along, importuning them to ditch the patients and hook up with them. None of the patients has the guts to stand up to the interlopers, and they are ashamed. Luckily Jack arrives and the spell is broken. Standing getting my meds, I am aware that the staff is also ashamed of us, that it is obvious we don’t fit and everyone can tell it. Nothing was said or acknowledged, but the feeling was palpable. The staff was embarrassed to be seen with us; that stuck with me. And even though I was working every bit as hard as anyone else (we all were) I was ashamed.

    By late afternoon, the sky had darkened. A message from the President of the LDS Church had been read, blessing the efforts of the volunteers (many were from Utah, having driven up to help us). I thought the hazing was over, but I was wrong. I was working a pile of sand away from the main group with a wiry, athletically built man, probably mid to late 30’s. He didn’t say anything until a helicopter arrived, apparently settling around 1/2 mile away out of our vision. He stops his work, looks at me and says “That’s the governor. This is going to be legal.” I notice he has the bluest eyes I’d ever seen as he is fixing me with them so intently. He does not need to explain what will be legal-he meant my execution (“There’ll be no EXECUTION!”) As he says this, I whirl around and can see the crowd off in the distance, the dark sky,the black asphalt now almost silver due to the odd illumination of a late afternoon thunderstorm, and have instant deja vu’. It is exactly what I had seen 2 years earlier, on the Boise River, while on the sugar cube hallucinogen. Every detail was the same. A pure acid flashback, except there was a real live human being standing next to me who looked like he wanted to cut my head off with his straight edged shovel and a very large crowd of people who would’ve cheered him doing it.

  157. (cont.)

    But they didn’t hang me, or even hassle me anymore that day. I returned to the unit unscathed. The next day one of the mechanical staff asked to have a word with me. Guy looked like Jack Elam the actor, complete with the lazy eye. I forget how he pitched into his subject so I’ll skip to the highlight: “Jesus’ message was anyone can do it”. Really? I hadn’t been aware of that. I think he meant anyone can perform supernatural acts. I was pondering this when he tells me, ominously, “You’ve got a lot of people here really down on you.” It isn’t made clear what I’m supposed to do with this information, but as he’s a burly guy and appears to be on my side I go along with it. It was an odd mix of hostility and concern, but getting to be par for the course for me here in eastern Idaho.

    With the catastrophe we get an influx of government workers, patients from elsewhere, lots of people suddenly all over the place. I’m eating lunch when a guy I went to school with at College of Idaho comes over. He’s some type of social worker with the state and we exchange pleasantries. He was cool about my situation. I did have a problem with another new staffer; well, not with her so much as with the administration. She took a liking to me, and as staff, I more or less was supposed to do what she told me. She signed me out and we went exploring the campus, which included a make out session. She was blond, attractive, great body-and 16! Yes, 16-how in the hell can someone get a job as a licensed tech and be only 16?

    So now the director of the unit, Roger Thomas, and my hated enemy, Jim Hofer, have a new way to fuck with me. They tell me I’m going to get prosecuted for lewd and lascivious (“L & L”). Forget that i’m locked up because I’m supposedly out of my mind, forget she’s staff-oh, they played it out goddamn them. They even have Marty come explain what it’s like doing time for L & L. Jim’s even bragging he’s found the courier for the next 5 years. You may be wondering what therapeutic value this has-well, when you get on an ego level with staff they forget anything other than getting their egos assuaged-period. Their priority levels of involvement are :1) laziness 2) ego-fueled game playing 3) potential therapy mixed with mundane bureaucratic flotsam. My contretemps fell into category 2.

    But it all blows over. Mostly they just wanted me to leave the staffer alone. Since I had no choice, that was no big deal. Things got calmer after a while as the newbies left and we went back to our normal census.

    The flood wasn’t the last of the metaphysical coincidences. I was talking with staff about the Blackfeet Indians, and they told me a story I hadn’t heard. According to them, the name derives from the fact that following a large fire, the Indians (local) walked across the desert and the bottom of their moccasins were blackened. Two days later, there was a huge range fire. I couldn’t see it, but it left the sky fiery orange and you could smell burnt sage et al. Around the same time, I’m watching tv and it’s announced that the Blackfeet have declared war on the U.S. It was some sort of symbolic thing-if it really happened, it would have been in the summer of ’76.

    One other thing. About this same time, Bob Chilton, another patient and great musician, starts playing the telephone game. Don’t know where he got his information, but the calls he’s pretending to field have some detail about my life. Seriously spooky. This all ends when he gets a call from Roger Price, looking for me. I hear Bob say “Who’s this?” Pause. Then Bob says ” I remember you when you were ‘Old Muscles’ and I was a big fairy.” (see PROLOGUE II) Call ends, game ends, and, nearly, my stay ends.

    The rest of my stay at SHS was uneventful. Just before I left, one of the staffers played the song “The Streak”, I think a comment on how I had expanded everything out of proportion. Adn one dy, probably in early August, I’m told I will be released. I pack my suitcase, put the remaining clothes into a laundry bag, and me and 2 other patients get into the back seat of a non-descript State of Idaho vehicle for the 5 hour ride to Boise (for me). I vaguely remember one guy getting let out, maybe in Twin Falls, but of course I clearly rememeber my drop off, which is what it was. Heading west on I-84, we took the first Boise exit which is at Broadway Avenue. Car pulled over; there was a driver and one of the techs in the front deat. The tech counts out about $27 and some change, including the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins the state was trying to foist off. She hands this to me, I collect my stuff, and the car crosses the road to get back on the freeway to drop off the last patient in Nampa or Caldwell. As for follow up, instructions as to who to contact, where to get my meds and therapy-Zip. Nada. Bipcus. Niente. Zilch. Nuthin’. I begin the 3 plus mile walk to my parents’ house, not knowing if they are even there.

    I arrive and walk up the back steps. The door is not locked, and I enter. My mom is in the kitchen, my dad soon joins her. Both barely acknowledge me; no questions at all about my 5 month absence.

    I am home. No place like it.



    My long “stay” in SHS was not my last one. I made one check in to the “country club” in early fall. It was lie a holiday (probably not a good thing). I’d forgotten how nice it was especailly compared to SHS. Staff very professional, Psychiatrists charting every day (you couldn’t always see them, but they came in) I had a fine psychiatirst, Dr. Cornell (not sure how I pulled that off) who at one tiem had been the only practicing psychiatrist in Boise. Not just a good shrink; I had been trying to tell the nurses that 2 infection sites near my inner eye were not zits but impetigo, and I needed to get it addressed. They ignored me, but luckily Dr. Cornelll was there and when I showed it to him he gave the 2 duty nurses a seminar on it. I had been away awhile; “Saturday Night Live” had become a hit (we were in bed at 11; it came on at 10:30, so I had seldom seen it). We were allowed to watch it all, plus following it 2 1/2 hours of “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” (it was serialized other places; here we played them all, into the wee hours.) I was astounded at this interminable length of a program plus the staff just watching it with us.Even the female patients were pretty (SHS-not so much).

    Got out of there and spent the rest of the fall trying to avoid my dad. He was teaching his first semester at Boise State, which meant he had a lot of free time. His main message to me was “get out”, but as I had nowhere to go, we were at an impasse. My mom was no help. Her answer was to ring her hands and ignore everything; there was never a productive discussion intra-family about what we could do to address the situation. I’d bet what’s left of my life they never had one.

    I went back to SHS in late September 1976. I do not recall how long I steyed, but I did not accomplish much. Returning to Boise I held one job, briefly, a telephone sales job like B & B but even ,lower rent if that is possible, but could not maintian it. I decided to go back to school, live with my folks if I could, and re-enter the world that way. I enrolled spring semester. When school was out I got a job in housekeeping at St. Luke’s, a night job, and my goal was to work the summer, keep the job and go to school. During that time I went to a nurse practitioner for weight loss. She prescribed phentermine the marketed undet the brand name Ioanamin.I noticed it steadied my moods, lessened my depression (it’s speed after all; it’s the phen in fen/phen) but also gave me a certain degree of control over my manic side. It was if I’d had a 5th gear, and when I went manic I was involuntarily stuck in that 5th gear. With phentermine , I decided when the 5th gear went in,how long it would last, plus the “downside” of coming off it was for me relaxing.I was able to complete my undergaduate and start law school in the fall of 1978.

    Do I credit it all to phentermine? Well, up until that summer of 1977 I was in a cycle of depressive/manic mood siwngs (depression always came first; in my case they should call ?depression/manic) that were becoming steeper, more severe, more long term. All of that stopped in 1977. Now either the ohen played a critical in not singuar role in that, or you have to chalk it up to “spontaneous remission”, science talk for “who the fuck knows but the bitch is gone.” You decide; I’ve placed my bet.

  160. (cont.)

    I am explicitly NOT advocating anyone being treated for bipolar change anything about their treatment based on anything they have read here. I am not advocating that you start pushing your doctor for phen. My situation may be literally unique. And I have experienced quite enough of bipolar to respect it-it can kill you. I have no idea why phentermine did what it did for me, nor has any professional offered me a pharmacological explanation.

    About my illness. I have thought of it as “the disease that feels good”, at least on the manic side, as the person gains access to experiences not accesbile in any other way. I think I have chronicled the cost. Maybe mania is like heat lightning, illuminating, brilliant, but utlimately unprodcutive. Maybe it underpins a lot of what we know of as poetry, mystical religious imagery, art in every form, especially as it approaches the near reaches of psychotic rupture but while the mind is still capable of some clarity and structure.The problem of course for the garden variety maniac is he cannot maintain that fevered ptich, he breaks before he Van Goh’s; it simply destroys. Our its counterpart, depression, like ivy slowly leaches its way into the mortar of his soul ’til the building collapses.

    I do offer this as a message of hope. Approximately 1 1/2 years from being a foaming at the mouth lunatic (ok it was toothpaste, and there was a reason, but keep the image) at a state hospital, feared by staff, patient and visitor alike, I was in orientation in my law school class. I met my future wife at that same time; we’ve . I graduated, went to work at a presitigious law firm, made partner. I turned 24 in a state hospital, but recovered to be on my way to a successful life before I turned 25. When I hear of problems people are having with their kids, I reflect on my situation circa 1975-6 ( I share it with a very select few, for obvious reasons). I have had issues, yes, but surmountable. So are yours. Keep looking. There are answers.

    Finally, as a summing up, you often hear when people say following a description of some crucible period in their life “I wouldn’t do it again for a million dollars, nor would I take a million dolars for the experience.” I do not know if it occurred to any of you to ask me this question, but I’ll answer it for you.

    I would do it all, again, for a million dollars. Cash. I wouldn’t sell it you for 100 million.

  161. Meant to say my wife and I have been together 34 years. Sorry for all the typos; chemo yesterday.

  162. andrewmichaelmedina on said:

    One hell of a tale my friend.

  163. Just1X on said:

    I’m still in shock from hearing that you had a perm! I’m picturing you with a porn star moustache at the same time. Do you plead innocent or guilty (with entenuating cicrumstances, I presume), counsellor?

    Hope that you get over the chemo quickly


    • It ws the 70’s-I plead guilty. I realy don’t have the face for it-made me look like an owl.

      • Just1X on said:

        You caught me in a good mood, so I’ll forgive you!

        I’m trying to remember which 70’s US detective series I’m getting flashes of, or is it the Brady Bunch guy?

        On a more serious note I did register your message of hope, it’s a good one. One I will remember.

        And back to the comic side; which was your most embarressing look “70’s porn star moustache and perm” or Boise-ZZ?

        (catch you tomorrow)

  164. Pat Olssony on said:

    Tom, thank you. The editing offer (and I have neighbors who publish ID writers) still stands. This is the real Tom – always. Like Bowen I got to know Tom a few years later, but that intense honesty and cut to the essence intelligence has always been there. That bicentennial summer was something.

  165. Elizabeth on said:

    An epic if ever there was one. Remarkable.

  166. Munson has passed away. I will keep this page open for further comments. He will be missed.

  167. Mark in Boise on said:

    The Muns was strangely brilliant and brilliantly strange. He made life interesting by focusing it on what was important and poking fun at what was not.

  168. Fucking cancer.

  169. Senior Beta on said:

    Shit. What a roller coaster of a life, though. And we all got to share it at the end.

  170. Mark B. Perry on said:

    Tom passed yesterday June 28, 2012. He will be remembered by all those who knew him and we fortunate enough to call him a friend.

    Mark Perry

  171. Mark in Boise on said:

    One of the last things he told me was that he hoped he would make it to 60 (we were both 59, but he was a few months older). I just looked it up. He made it by less than 2 weeks. I hope he had a good birthday party.

  172. I’m a writer, author and small time publisher. I’m not the guy to do this, BUT this really should be a book. Properly structured and written it’d make the NY Times List and then be optioned for a movie. I write that out of respect for Munson’s life and marriage NOT out of any sense that making money is the goal, here. His story should be shared, widely, and the world will be a better place because of it.

  173. Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW, what a ride!”

    I read your blog, Tommy, but not til after you left us. Damn, you did it! Sweet dreams and love, my friend.

  174. Hi Everyone

    I am 66 years old and teach at Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa CA. I teach Theology/Faith/Spirituality and have used Tuesdays with Morrie as an into read for the seniors. My friend told me about this because she knew Tom and I haven’t even read his blogs! Can someone send me a link to the blogs.Your heartfelt, serious appreciation to what Tom shares is something I need to share with my high school,seniors.

    Bless you all!


  175. Mark in Boise on said:

    If you are here, you have the link to his blogs. Just scroll up.

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