I was born on the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington State and my early childhood was spent treading water in a cesspool of racism and alcoholic desperation. I spent the fifth grade in Abilene Texas which was then part of the segregated South and I had my first experiences with Black/White segregation and Southerner vs Northerner animosity. After Abilene, the remainder of my childhood was spent in bland blond Southern California. I was segregated/expelled from the Orange Glen Elementary school for refusing to conform to the local dress code. I expressed my adolescent angst through poetry, growing hair, playing drums, acting, and writing plays. When I was sixteen I dropped out, tuned in and turned on. I came to San Francisco for the first time for the Summer of Love and eventually moved there for the gay disco seventies. I was very interested in film making as a young adult and attended the Art Institute briefly in San Francisco and also took various classes at City College of San Francisco. Practically my entire life is documented through 8 mm, super-8 and video and can be found on my youtube channel, sylvanro. On this website, I am putting my life and videos in order and using video, photographs and other sources, I am creating a multimedia autobiography.
What makes old men want to write about their lives? Why would I think that anyone would have any interest in reading about my life? For me, I don’t think it has anything to do with the reader at all. It is more the need of the writing of it for me. When you are young and living your life, it feels like it will go on forever and then you see this person die and that person die and you realize the finality of it all. When you are young, life seems so slow and you are always eager to get to the next thing or the next part of it. You are eager to see the new thing or meet the new lover. Then one day it all changes and looking back, it seems like it has gone in a flash. You were so busy living life, that you realize you never really took much time to think about and reflect on it. Mortality is raising it’s ugly head and you realize you are in the last act and that there is a last act.
If the reader is interested at all, maybe it will be from an anthropological perspective. I tell the story of one common man that takes place over the last few decades of the twentieth century. This is not the story of fame or wealth or great sociological achievement. My story is just one story out of millions taking place in the last half of one milleneum and the beginning of a new milleneum. It is a story of a common man, a gay man, born to parents that had migrated to Washington State from Arkansas and Texas. There is probably nothing particularly special about my story that is any more special than the stories of all the other millions of stories taking place during this period, but from an anthropological perspective, I did participate fully in the cultural sociological changes taking place in this period. I participated in the dance crazes of the late fifties and was a hippie in the sixties. I was a homosexual in the gay disco seventies and watched my friends die in the plague of the eighties. I fell in love and became a part of the middle class suburbia of the nineties.,
I do think of my life as having been rather chaotic and another purpose of writing this story is to sort out some of that chaos and to try to put events in some chronological order since, as I begin, events just seem jumbled together and mixed up. My goal is to go from the beginning to now, and untangle the fragments of moments that were captured on 8 millimeter film, super-8 or in photographs or audio tapes and combine them with memories still retained in what brain cells I have left to form a coherent story. I do think of my life as having been a great adventure and I just want to organize the chapters of that adventure. These chapters will include stories of art, drugs, sex, music, murder and mayhem.
The struggle I guess that any author has, is the struggle with truth and how much of that truth does one tell? The people in my story are real and have their own memories and perceptions of the events in my life and their own feelings. I want to be sensitive to the feelings of others and my intention is not to hurt anyone in telling the stories of my life. Some of the people I mention in my story are deceased and I apologize to them for not having had the opportunity to set anything straight that they would have wanted to set straight. I’m sure it is possible that I misunderstood various intentions through my life. I wish no one ill will and am only telling the truth from my perspective… or at least as much as I feel I can tell without hurting anyone’s feelings who is still living. If there is anything in my story that offends you, or a story that isn’t complete or one that you saw a different way, please let me know and I will try to edit to accomodate the memories of others too.
Besides my concern for the feeling’s of others, I have egocentric reasons to minimize or de-emphasize certain episodes of my life. I don’t know if others will find that dishonest but it is the perogative of being the author I think. It is not so much that I have any regrets, as I have learned from every experience and every experience cntributed to the adventure, but there are some things I have done in my life that I am not particularly proud of and will spare the reader some of those episodes and details. The reader will know that I lived through the sixties and participated fully in the counter-culture and all that entailed but some of the details of excess will not be included in this tome. There were rare times in my youth when my body was my only perceived asset that I could use to get a few dollars to pay the rent or buy some food. My sense of morality has evolved through my life and my morals today are not necessarily the same as my morals at other times in my life. The reader will know that I came of age during the sexual revolution and I was at least as promiscuous as anyone else was, if not more so, but I will not go into the details of those excesses either. Suffice it to say that it was some kind of miracle that I survived the eighties when so many of my contemporaries of the time did not. Besides these caveats, I will try for as much honesty as possible in these pages but that will be tempered too by my narcissistic need for an old man’s need for his dignity as well.
I have been reincarnated multiple times over the span of my years. Each decade almost seems like a different lifetime: There was the chaotic and fragmented 1950’s childhood of wishing on many stars and wanting to fly away with Peter and the lost boys; the hippie 60’s where I expanded my consiousness; there was the gay disco 70’s where I really discovered sex and my sexuality; there was the plagued eighties of death and dying where almost everyone I knew previously was lost to a hateful scourge; then came the resurection and escape to the suburbs nineties; and now the reflective double oughts.