I just got back from my bike ride. Bike riding is a daily ritual for me. My goal is to be at one with my bike and environment and ride as often as I can. Hot or cold, rain or shine, except for icy conditions, I traverse several fifteen mile bike routes that run in opposite directions from our country home. It takes about an hour to circle around over Vermont back country roads and forest trails. I’ve traversed nearly 4,000 miles of dirt roads on my bike over the past couple of years. Old logging roads are exhilarating when I’m in the mood for obstacles like ruts, potholes, gravel, rocks, boulders, logs, branches, sharp curves, steep hills, and muddy weather conditions. Mother Nature constantly challenges me with her ageless beauty, timeless transformation, and capricious temperament while she nourishes and encourages me to become whole, centered, and peaceful.
After my candle factory fiasco, I no longer wanted to be married to manufacturing. I decided that it was better to hire someone else to manufacture products while I concentrated on designing and marketing them. I formed a fourth partnership that we dubbed ‘Universal Media’. I became the executive vice president. We subcontract manufactured injection molded plastic mushroom lamps, along with a variety of other plastic items. I no longer have a picture of our actual lamp, but it looks a lot like the one in this picture. Our best-selling lamp was created by mixing colored plastic beads together in the molding process, which resulted in an unpredictable marbleized effect. Each lamp was different and exotic in its own way. Our products were assembled and packaged in sheltered workshops.
“This is It”, I thought. I’m helping handicapped people, giving consumers attractive and useful products, not doing the dirty work, and making a profit. It didn’t take long; however, for me to become extremely frustrated by being forced to do police work. I’d have to show up unexpectedly, roll up my sleeves, and dig my work out from the bottom of the pile. When a product is not proprietary, it’s not a priority. That was a hard pill to swallow, but as the money rolled in, my new partner’s no longer secret gambling addiction made it easier. He would effortlessly throw away five thousand dollars at the craps table in Las Vegas. Following numerous yelling matches, I walked away empty handed, but relieved.
That was the end of subcontract manufacturing for me. I decided to manufacture design only. I’d create products and completely remove myself from manufacturing problems, pollution, police work, and pathetic partners. In my quest to sell my first new product idea, I bounded from one potential client to the next, living in the cheapest fleabag hotels in the largest cities across the country. I’d wake up and look at my date book to see what city I was in and who I’d be seeing where and at what time.
After two years of not selling anything, with finances by the seat of my pants, I moved to New York City where I had one friend, my Dad’s sister, Aunt Lil, who expressed great consternation as I settled into a seedy fleabag hotel at 43rd St. and 8th Ave in Times Square. I ignored Lil’s disgruntled pleas and warnings, figuring it was cheap, centrally located, and within walking distance of never running out of doors to knock on. Once a week, Aunt Lil treated me to lunch including a care package of home cooked comfort food. I never told her, but often shared her nutritious meals with my homeless neighbors. Aunt Lil was a personal secretary to one of the top VP’s at Citicorp. She volunteered dutifully to also be my humble secretary, never judging, criticizing my choices, or complaining about the work. I adored Aunt Lil and couldn’t wait to see her each week. We confided in each other and shared our deepest secrets. By day, I wore three-piece suits as I knocked on doors with my design portfolio and prototypes in hand. The rest of the time, I did piece work in local machine shops. I’d operate a drill press and do repetitive work all day long. Other times, shop owners would take on specialized projects if I agreed to fabricate them. At night, I patronized misfits in local bars in exchange for their stories and frequented the glut of porn and martial arts theaters in the hood.
Of course, Aunt Lil was right. One dark evening, I was mugged at knife-point while innocently exploring the outskirts of Times Square. I naively got backed into a dark corner of a parking lot. As my predator probed my pockets, he allowed his knife hand to drop by his side for a moment. I slammed him with all my might in the chest with my fist. He flew through the air, landing on his back. With my heart pounding like Olatungi on crack, I ran red-faced, jackrabbit style for several blocks. Suddenly, I stopped and thought, “I should have grabbed his knife and killed him”. I considered going back. That’s when I realized I had watched too many Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood movies.
I stayed in my hotel room the following night with a fifth of Jack Daniels from the liquor store. I’d never been much of a drinker, but managed to polish off the entire bottle. The next morning, I felt sicker than I could ever remember. I lay incapacitated for three days; feeling dizzy, barfing my brains out, inhaling the musty smells of poor housekeeping (a sordid stench), and hearing echoes of human pain and suffering that I had previously ignored or failed to notice.
Immediately, I engaged a roommate service. At first, my leads led to lonely gay men looking for love. I finally ended up lying about my diet and living on the upper west side as a single carnivorous man in an apartment full of lovely single vegetarian women. The experience made me crave sex and rare hamburger. After a year of too much rabbit food and not enough decadence, I moved to a large loft space in Tribecca where I set up a design and model-making studio. I shared a wall with Meryl Streep who was not an icon at the time. She was living in an adjoining loft with her sculptor boyfriend.
After several months, I sold my first design concept. Kitchen Art was a line of finely crafted expensive cutting boards, knife blocks, rolling pins, and other wooden-ware. I’d been designing and fabricating limited editions of expensive kitchenware for crafts fairs, galleries, and fancy retail gift stores. I’ve included several of my favorite pieces from various collections. I envisioned each object as a symbolic charm such as a talisman or an amulet with an ability to attract and protect. My artistic creations became “lost leaders” in department stores. My cutting boards and knife blocks made their expensive staple products sell better because they were much less expensive in comparison to mine.
I believed I was on my path to fame and fortune. I worked tirelessly for about six months, producing hundreds of prototypes, which lost much of their magic in their commercial translation.
All the `at a boys’ and ‘pats on the back’ from buyers and merchandise managers fueled my optimism and idealism. Cutlery companies provided sample sets of their highest quality knives for my blocks.
It seemed like a short jump from laminated cutting boards to designing clocks. All I needed to do was mill a space in the back large enough to accommodate a battery operated movement. I foraged into designing decorative electric clocks and novelty night lights for exclusive markets.
I was unable to market plug in products to department stores because they didn’t have UL (United Laboratories) approval, even though I’d used all UL approved parts. I needed to have my designs tested, which required many thousands of dollars of initial investment and a long waiting period.
I explained in an earlier entry that when I arrived in NYC, one of the first things I did with my limited resources was to consult top hand readers, astrologers, and tarot readers. I was warned that New York City was a dangerous place for me and as predicted, I was accosted several times at knife point and once at gun point over the years. I was also informed that I was a late bloomer and that I would continue to have a series of disasters and misadventures until I finally settled into my proper niche, at which time I’d become a very well-known authority on that topic.
“The lips of wisdom are closed except to the ears of understanding.” I began my life as Hermes (Peter Pan). I personified Aphrodite as an adolescent, Apollo as a young man, and Chronos in middle age. At sixty-seven, I’m a maturing Hermes (Mercury), father of modern wisdom. Every one of us embodies all archetypes in varying degrees. Although we always have a dominant archetype, secondary archetypes become temporarily dominant at different periods in our lives. An awareness of our archetypes and archetypal relationships corresponds to actual changes in our current behaviors and relationships.
My Sun/ Uranus conjunction in the sign of Gemini symbolizes my need to be rebellious and an inventor. I have Aries on the cusp of my astrological sixth house of work and health. Aries and Mars rule fire; a single candle or a candle factory burning down. Aries represents my passion for work and my need to pioneer. Taurus rules arts and crafts. My Moon Mars conjunction in Taurus embodies my desire for security, comfort, and prosperity. It also corresponds well with my Aries partner, Joanna, who has Venus conjunct Taurus rising. I sometimes call her ‘Rambull’. Aries and Mars rules arguments and disagreements. I had more than my share of those with business partners. Taurus on the seventh house cusp can symbolize having partners who are stubborn obsessive-compulsive types. Having a Taurus Moon helps me stay pragmatic and calm in the face of adversity. Scorpio rising and my Saturn/Pluto conjunction in the sign of Leo on my mid-heaven presided over my many business disasters and my frequent encounters with sex and violence on the streets of New York.