THE 1970s: INNOCENCE
At 2:35 AM on July 18, 1973, a legend beginned in the old industrial city of Newport, KY, when I was born at St. Luke Hospital - which straddled the line between the cities of Newport and Fort Thomas - launching an extraordinary and seemingly improbable lifetime of butting heads with authority.
For my first 20 years I lived in a house which was about the size of a walk-in closet on the rough side of Highland Heights, KY. But we're honest, hard-working folks, and my humble beginning in this working-class background taught me some valuable lessons. In the 1970s, some of America's most challenging crises drew to a close, and the nation enjoyed superb music, a robust economy, and unparalleled social progress - so I couldn't ask for much better.
At an early age, I showed remarkable artistic talent when I used my brother's prized pink felt-tip pen to draw a mural on the bedroom wall. Unconventional endeavors like this were not smiled upon by the Establishment - and at age 6, after completing kindergarten, I was maliciously singled out by the Campbell County Schools for exclusion because my exceptionally high score on an IQ test frightened school officials.
THE 1980s: A LEGEND TAKES HOLD
Barred from the so-called "public" grade schools in my own county for 4 years, I instead attended Guardian Angel Elementary, a Catholic school across town. This damp, dusty imitation of an elementary education facility had some bright spots. For instance, one of my teachers once admonished the class, "What do you think God made paper for?! To blow your nose, wipe your butt, and to do math on!" Those words guided my life for years.
But Guardian Angel was also one of the earliest sources of bitterness in my life. Many school administrators think they have something to prove, and on a daily basis they wreak havoc on all dissenters. The tyranny at Guardian Angel in the name of education and religion worsened noticeably during my years as a student there.
I was removed from Guardian Angel in 1983 after incidents like the time the teachers intentionally locked me out of the building for an entire school day in freezing weather. I was enrolled in the more conventional environment of Highland Heights Elementary, as the Campbell County Schools relaxed their ostracism against me. I served one relatively happy year there before advancing to what was then Donald E. Cline Middle School, an armed fortress peopled by juvenile delinquents, drug addicts, and gang members.
My bitterness over Guardian Angel festered and grew into my 6th grade year at Cline, and the manifestations of this lingering feeling of helplessness are beyond the scope of this article. This is especially unfortunate because a lot of perfectly good anger was wasted instead of being directed against the system like it should have been. Because of a fantastically insane vendetta against me, all good things in life came to a sudden end when I was 11, and 6 important years of my life were stolen from me.
This was even more of a factor in shaping my political views than the fact that Jim Bunning supported year-round school when he was the 1983 Republican candidate for governor. (That loser later became a U.S. senator, which is just as powerful of a post for him to poison our young people with his moldy ideology.) The persecution against me is a perfect example of conservative hypocrisy: These self-styled guardians of public morality shriek about how everyone else should behave, yet they intentionally wrong anyone who has the misfortune of finding themselves in their crosshairs.
Cline Middle School had some value for its offbeat excitement. But for me it ground to a screeching halt in 1986 when the gym teacher struck me with a ping-pong paddle, prompting me to walk out of class. The result: expulsion.
After my dismissal from Cline - the first of 4 schools I was expelled from - I finished junior high school at the nun-run empire of St. Joseph's School in the posh Republican suburb of Cold Spring. One of my most popular endeavors transpired in 7th grade when, as a student at St. Joe's, I circulated a petition in an effort to force the school to abolish its ultra-strict dress code. Although the school refused to back down to reason, my reputation as authority's worst nightmare was established.
I take great pride in being expelled from 4 schools. It has character. (A friend of mine in college said she thought I should try to get listed in Guinness Book Of World Records for being up to 3.) It's unfortunate though that expulsions #2 and 3 didn't come sooner, since it would have been hard to find schools that were any worse.
How does the Great Royal Tim spend his scarce leisure time? Throughout my life, I have traveled - by car or on foot - to 45 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and Mexico. My 1986 vacation to Philadelphia and Washington, DC, was among the more memorable vacation trips, because my mortal nature forced us to stop the family car near a road in Ohio called Tater Ridge Road for me to drain the main vein. I also hijacked the car to Delaware and bumped my noggin on an ill-placed monument near the U.S. Capitol.
But in late 1986, I began 8th grade at St. Joe's, and the ensuing confrontations with the school's right-wing dictatorship are henceforth chronicled.
In the "Saviogate" scandal, I was elected president of the St. Dominic Savio Club by an overwhelming margin. But this was not the scandal; the scandal was that one of my teachers overthrew my democratically elected government and attempted to replace me with a puppet figurehead.
I was well-liked by my 8th grade classmates. Such stirring slogans as "Fi outta fi!" and "Have a helmet!" helped establish me as a charismatic leader. But I was expelled a week before graduation because I was blamed for breaking a drinking fountain in a fight. In addition, hundreds of dollars in fines had been levied by the school that year.
Each new school I had attended since 6th grade was worse than the previous one, and this trend continued at Bishop Brossart High School - the most wretched school in the world. Brossart wasn't just violent. They had the most smug and controlling attitude I have ever witnessed from any organization - not to mention the fact that they were greedy and dishonest.
I had been embittered by St. Joe's, and Bro$$art justified more bitterness. The Holy War that peaked in the Brossart years spilled over into the outside world with assorted violent criminal acts that were not prosecuted because various perpetrators bribed right-wing politicians and others.
Years later, I used the handle "The Bathroom Bandit" because at Brossfart I was often forced to eat lunch in the restroom because the principal exercised no control over violent gangs in the cafeteria.
The principal also falsely accused me of setting toilet paper on fire in the restrooms. (It's not like the school didn't deserve to be burned to the ground, so even if I had torched the place I would have been doing the world a favor.) About a month later I was expelled because somebody vandalized my art sketchbook and I "conspired" in an elaborate investigation to find out who was responsible for destroying my work - which is positively one of the most ridiculous reasons I have ever heard of for expelling someone, but the fact that it took 3 years to get expelled fits Brossart's control freak ways perfectly.
To this day, I am very bitter about the way Brossart treated me, and I feel I was wronged to the tune of millions of dollars.
The crusade against me that defined the 6 years that ended with my expulsion from Brossart in 1990 clearly could not have been of my creation or of my imagination (as those who witnessed it know). If it was, why did it not plague a majority of schools I attended, and why did it create a threat only when school foes were present? Sounds to me like the problem is on their end, not mine.
THE 1990s: TURBULENCE AND TURMOIL
But the facts don't matter to the assholes. Me being a rebellious teenager and not a conforming robot continued to incur the thunderous wrath of the American Taliban - this time in what can only be described as a concentration camp in Covington, KY. For several months I was a teenage political prisoner. I was utterly shocked that this was going on in America - yes, America. This so-called "hospital" poisoned me with dangerous drugs, and I was physically assaulted there on a repeated basis.
Oh well. This illustrated that the Establishment viewed normal teenage hijinks as a symptom of a disease that had to be cured with ruinous measures. It illustrated it so well, in fact, that the so-called "mental illness" of teenage rebellion became a source of extreme pride rather than a stigma.
This experience emboldened my political causes even more. I authored several chapters of a proposed book titled This Is Not America about this ghastly event. I became more politically active - forming a coherent philosophy on the left wing of the political spectrum. My politics of rebellion fit in perfectly with progressive causes - personal freedom and opposition to racism and other forms of bigotry. In later years it became fashionable for the Far Right to soak the poor - and my opposition to their caste-baiting earned me a reputation as a rip-roaring populist, a pure liberal on economic issues if not on cultural matters too.
Throughout my adult life, I have been well below the poverty line even when gainfully employed - part of a forgotten class called the working poor - providing yet more reinforcement of my pro-labor politics.
But in late 1990 - after my illegal imprsionment ended - things were finally improving for me. Yet it was clear I had post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the events of the previous 6 years (including my false imprisonment), and ever since then I have felt that my purpose in life is to give something positive back to the world. In 1991 - after Bush was through beating his war drum in Iraq - I was hired to work at the local library, a job I held through much of the decade. School became far less treacherous - although a stormtrooper raid on my classroom in 1992 resulted in my arrest on unknown charges.
I finally received my high school degree in 1992 - long after I had rightfully earned it, considering how much more time I spent in school than is required for a diploma in most states - and moved on to Northern Kentucky University, where I planned to major in broadcasting and was a DJ on student-run closed-carrier radio station WRFN in 1993-94. In March 1993 I moved to a basement apartment a few blocks from my old house.
It was at that apartment where I began my most famous venture: The Last Word. This freewheeling newsletter, now distributed on the Internet, is a legend in its own right. The Last Word primarily reports investigative news stories to snuff out the lies and unadulterated evil of the Far Right and its media and Big Business minions. But The Last Word also has a humorous side - exemplified by its "Poopyisms" feature, a series of madcap vignettes describing not just the embarrassing quotes and actions of the ruling conservative Republicans but also (in the interest of fairness) of Democratic heroes as well.
In April 1994, I ran for Student Government Senate at NKU - and came within 20 votes of winning. In fact I probably led the field among candidates who were not members of exclusive social clubs like fraternities - but these cliques enjoyed disproportionate influence at NKU, so you can't expect a wholly clean election.
Nationally, after the 1994 congressional elections - which were marred by widespread fraud - America tumbled harum-scarum into dictatorship. One entire issue of The Last Word was effectively banned after that. What do you think America is? A free country?
In other aspects, the effect of the election was almost immediate. In March 1995 I received a letter informing me that I was expelled from NKU, although no reason was given. The real reason was that my political views disagreed with university administrators. Before 1995 there were more liberals than conservatives attending school there; after 1995, it was a different story, even though NKU's official enrollment numbers didn't decrease greatly, since many who no longer attended classes were actually still enrolled. (Even I was still enrolled at least through 1997, despite being expelled.)
Want more proof America no longer has freedom of the press? I was arrested for "trespassing" for distributing The Last Word at NKU in August 1995 and jailed for 12 hours - even though the charge of third-degree trespassing is not a jailable offense under Kentucky law. The case was later dismissed, as the university library where I "trespassed" was public property.
My illegal arrest was another event that was met with unanimous public disapproval. Not one person who I mentioned it to failed to voice their disgust against the university - not grandparents, not former classmates, not jail inmates, not anybody. In the court of public opinion I was again exonerated.
Something had to be done to combat conservatives' theft of America. Newt Gingrich appointing a known Nazi sympathizer as U.S. House historian was the sort of caper that underscored just how dangerous and evil conservatism is. I founded New America - something I had originally proposed a couple years back to protest a right-wing confrontation at a grocery store. We viewed New America as a breakaway democratic republic distinct from the United States. The point of New America is to combine the resources of America's silent majority - those who oppose the ravages of conservatism - and isolate conservatives until they no longer wield significant power. This micronation even controlled some sovereign territory in a 2-mile radius around Highland Heights. (Even in one of the most right-wing counties in the U.S. at the height of the Contract With America, conservatives were in the minority among the general public. Polls showed that fewer than 25% of folks in Kentucky and nationwide labeled themselves as conservative.)
When you lose all political rights as I did - ya lose! I was skipped in the notoriously inaccurate 2000 census, yet New America has been denied official recognition as a sovereign nation since its inception - so in other words, according to the U.S. government we exist only when it suits their purposes. Nonetheless, New America helps put into perspective our role in international affairs and allows us to award our own licenses and professional certifications. I practiced law for New America - volunteering my law expertise for personal friends whose legal needs were enriched by my warm, honest, caring, down-home advice.
Just when we thought things couldn't get worse, in 1997 it became unbearable. University officials admitted my expulsion was improper and void - but by that time I could not afford to go back to school. One rare bright spot was that a rebellion against organized religion got under way. Another was The Last Word being credited with defeating the Boone County Schools' plan to switch to a year-round calendar. (Year-round school is one of those things where the more it fails, the louder its right-wing cultists scream to extol its alleged greatness.) Still another rare positive event was my founding of pirate radio station Tantrum 95.7. But life was disrupted mammothly in November 1997 - and it was all because of local government incompetence.
Sewage backed up from rich subdivisions into my Highland Heights apartment and destroyed it. The backup and the fact that the city did absolutely not a damn thing to remedy it was a perfect example of everything America stood for being turned on its ear following the 104th Reich. To add insult to injury, those new subdivisions - exclusively for the wealthy, and not for me or you - drove up rents faster than wages increased (which was zero), so I could not even afford to live within a few miles of where I had lived for 24 years.
This is yet another entry to a long litany of the many failures of capitalism. I could tire you with a document the size of an Encyclopaedia Britannica set describing all the ways America declined around that time. Since the 104th Reich, America's cultural tone has been set by self-centered yuppies, raw racists, corporate stuffed shirts, and religious extremists who live so comfortably (at the expense of the working poor) that they have to invent crap to stew over.
After my Highland Heights apartment was ruined, I found a smaller apartment - this one in the old river city of Bellevue, KY. There I remain.
Naturally, I suffered a nervous breakdown in December 1997 - and we limped through 1998 on the brink of further disaster. I had planned on running for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Kentucky's 4th District as an independent in 1998, but this effort was reduced to smithereens by another Holy War: This time, a gang of right-wing whackjobs posted reams of defamatory, abusive nonsense against me on the Internet. Never had I encountered so many poster children for arrested development (not Arrested Development, but arrested development) outside of Brossart. And these were ADULTS?!
This, plus the censorship of The Last Word, meant the world could kiss goodbye to the open Internet that was widely ballyhooed a few years earlier.
At that time America was also at the height of the worst economic recession in decades - which the media utterly missed as it was reporting made-up statistics like the lie about a majority of Americans owning stocks. The prosperity of a few was built on the backs of the Jo and Joe Sixpacks like you and me. Under the laws of economics, when the stock market prospers, the average person suffers - because money that is not invested becomes less valuable. I delivered phone books in 1998 and still wasn't making enough cash to live on. Americans were hungry, broke, and miserable - and they didn't like it fine that way (to borrow a "Weird Al" Yankovic line).
It's hard for life to get much worse than it was then. America's spirit was broken. But those who won't take America back are as bad as those who stole it in the first place.
THE 2000s: DEFEAT...THEN A COMEBACK!
Following the disastrous Contract With America, I still wasn't making much money despite my best efforts - but a few interesting events transpired. In 2000 I fled on foot to avoid an arrest during an altercation with Bush followers (who assaulted a Ralph Nader supporter) and police at a campaign event in Covington. In another incident that carried on my tradition of run-ins with authority, Tantrum 95.7 - which broadcast a clear signal for about two miles to the northeast despite moneybags stations across the river doing their worst to jam it - was raided by the FCC in 2001.
In 2002, in spite of postdemocratic America's authoritarian political climate, the years of extreme economic marginalization for this onetime congressional hopeful seemed to become slightly less toxic. I embarked on a satisfying community project of topographic mapmaking, sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Being a cartographic field technician is not a job that will make you rich - but neither is anything else nowadays unless you're swimming in moolah to begin with.
The thrill of this didn't last, and I was more broken than ever by the mid-2000s.
But in 2005, I published my first book - The Fight That Never Ends. This was an account of the harassment I suffered at school, particularly at Cline, St. Joe's, and Brossart.
Only later did things finally turn a corner. I hit my stride in the late 2000s, when I particpated in a series of public protests to have an abusive youth confinement center shut down. These protests were a huge success, as the facility was closed in 2009.
What will the future hold in the unpredictable life of the Bandit? As I write this, I'm preparing to publish my second book!
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