Every picture tells a story.
Had you asked me a few months ago whether I considered myself to have a good memory, I would have answered yes. However, when you think about it the question of whether or not you have a good memory is by it's very nature sort of foolish, since how can you be aware of what you've forgotten? A bad memory would itself cause you to forget what you've forgotten and thereby cause you to falsely reply that your memory is good. Or something like that. In any case, a few months of sobriety has taught me that my pre-sobriety recall was actually quite poor. In fact I'm amazed at all the buried memories that have come bubbling up from my unconscious in recent weeks.
For example, earlier today walking through downtown Amherst I suddenly remembered the first time I ever visited Amherst as a child. I'm not sure of the year, but it was during the 1960's and I was riding in the back seat of my Grandparent's green Chevy. We were passing through Amherst center when my grandmother expressed amazement that there were young men walking down the street with long hair. It was the 60's so of course we had heard of hippies, but that was a West coast phenomenon not to be found here in the East except maybe in New York City. Now here were long hairs in the flesh on the streets of Amherst as the first pioneers of that cultural trend in the Valley. My grandparents were shocked to see something so ridiculous as boys letting their hair grow as long as a girl. My grandpa, a blue collar guy who worked as a machinist at Springfield's Westinghouse plant and who in the 60's supported the presidential campaign of George Wallace, remarked that the long haired guys must be "fairies." That was a term they used back then for gays, and it was not said in the tone of a complement.
Of course most of the guys who had long hair in the 60's were not gay, but I wonder what my grandfather, who was a good man but a product of his times, would have thought had he known that his grandson in the backseat would grow up to be a fairy with long hair.
How odd that such a minor moment from my past should spring to mind. Was the biological code in which it was stored simply lying there in my brain, dormantly waiting until my dope induced fog should lift so that it could activate the synapses that would bring it to my recall? What inspires our minds to sometimes behave like a computer that retrieves data unbidden? That's especially strange since on the other hand sometimes the things we want to recall are impossible for our minds to retrieve.
Such was the case with the password to the old Baystate Objectivist site. Veteran readers are aware that there was an earlier version of this online journal that was sponsored by Geocities , the company that was one of the original pioneers in amateur websites for the masses. They required you to write almost all the code yourself and today Geocities is shunned as a dinosaur by nearly everyone except old fogie internet pioneers like myself. This year even I said to hell with do it yourself cyber-individualism and sold out to user friendly Blogger.com and I've never looked back.
But I also didn't destroy the old site. Instead I left it floating in cyberspace like an old shipwreck from the early fronteirs of the blogger revolution, leaving it out there for the internet equivalent of deep sea explorers to discover and go in search of lost treasure. You can visit there yourself by clicking here.
However, an annoying thing happened after I stopped using that site - I forgot the password to get into it! As time passed I kept coming up with ideas of things that needed to be changed or updated on the old site, but try as I might I couldn't remember the password! There are prompts I could use to get Geocities to send me the password or create a new one, but I had also forgotten the answers to the prompts!
Then this afternoon, only hours after the memory of my first visit to Amherst came to me, just as suddenly the old Baystate Objectivist password returned! And not vaguely either, but with a clarity and certainty that I couldn't doubt. I immediately put it to a test, and sure enough I was allowed entry to the lost catacombs of one of the Valley's oldest websites and as far as I know, it's first blog.
There was some stuff stored in there I had forgotten all about, and some of it I'll dust off and show you from time to time. Today I can't resist posting a handful of old pictures of myself I found in the digital photo vaults, such as this odd picture of me drinking kethup. I can't tell you why I struck that silly pose, but if you look at my glazed eyes you can tell that my road to rehab was paved with such moments.
What is also odd about that picture is that I am wearing a dress shirt and tie, something I almost never did except when I worked as a librarian for the Western New England College Law Library. That would date the picture as being taken in the late 1980's.
Here's a fancy photo, the black and white version of which was used in an ad promoting a radio special I did for WNNZ called The Wit and Wisdom of Tom Devine. I don't know how witty or wise I was, but the promo picture was pretty cool. Date unknown, but I look pretty young so I'm guessing mid 90's.
Flashing forward to about three years ago, I'm striking an opinionated pose in this photo taken in the WAIC studios.
Here's a picture of me appearing on WGGB TV-40's Dan Yorke Show. Again I look pretty young, so I'm guessing it was the early 90's.
Here I am doing a TV interview about six months ago at UMass. I don't know how I could concentrate on what I was saying with that hot stud Tom Parnell wielding that phallic microphone!
Here's a shot taken of me by Jay Libardi in the old International Headquarters of The Baystate Objectivist when it was located in Springfield. As you can see, the office dress code was very casual.
Here's a picture taken in the International Headquarters of the Baystate Objectivist when it was located on North Prospect Street in Amherst. My tastes in fashion did not change.
Now I'm living in Northampton with an old fuckbuddy, having lost everything in a crack fueled downward spiral. Yet it all feels more like an adventure than a disaster, perhaps because it has led to me finally getting clean from all the terrible addictions that have crippled me my whole life.
Ever since the Springfield School System put me on Ritalin when I was eight years old I've never tried to discover what I can do using my natural mind. When I look back on the extraordinary things I've accomplished over the years, and all the while dependent on dope and booze, I feel great anticipation toward what I can do now that for the first time in my adult life I am fully in control of my faculties. Look out world, the full, complete and undiluted version of Tom Devine is on the loose, and you can read about all my adventures as they unfold right here on this historic blog.
In the meantime one of the best videographers in the Valley is Bill Dusty of The Springfield Intruder. He recently put together a kind of sampler of his greatest video hits taken throughout the Valley, which should whet your appetite for the complete versions.