Saturday, September 29, 2012

40 Random Things About Me

1. I’m afraid of snakes, eels, knives, falling into abandoned wells, exotic foods, deep water, mean girls, cell phone induced brain cancer, and the thought of having to run out into the street in the middle of the night naked as my house burns down.

2. I hate humidity, vegetables, ninjas, heights, roosters, musicals, Montel Williams, pirates, cartoon movies, the taste of fish, jewelry, tattoos, sunburn, parking meters, ticks, stacking hay bales, toll roads, cell phones, shoveling manure, cigarette smoke, littering, capitalism, bars, and people who hate the great state of Wisconsin.

3. I love beagle puppies, rolling down hills, socialism, Lake Superior, pay day, labor unions, northern Wisconsin, otters, black cats with white chins (“chinneys”), used book stores, news magazines, comfy couches, snooping around old abandoned farms, over-dramatic 80s rock music, country roads, big turn outs at our local anti-war rallies, ducks, spending time in Waino, taking pictures of Waino, and talking about Waino!

4. Before I was school aged, and my parents settled back down on the old family farm, we traveled the country following my dad’s construction jobs. We mostly lived in trailer courts and cheap motels, but there were a couple of times when I remember that we were homeless and lived in the back of the pick-up truck with our dog Rowdy.  Some of my very first memories are of sleeping in the back of our beat up old GMC pick-up truck.

5. Most of my ancestors were Hessians from Germany, but some were from the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The legend in our family is that one of these Scottish ancestors during the Middle Ages married into a noble family, who in turn married into the royal family of Scotland, who is turn married into the House of Windsor – the current royal family of England. So, I guess that makes me something like the 1,000,000th cousin of Queen Elizabeth I - kind of like in the movie "King Ralph"!

6. My folks tell me that I was 5 years old before I figured out that the toys at stores could be bought and brought home. Apparently I thought that they were just there for me to play with while my parents shopped. I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed!

7. When I was a kid I use to have these really terrifying recurring nightmares where the proportions of my room were all out of wack. Sometimes it would make me sleep walk to other parts of the trailer, and my parents had a heck of a time waking me up when that happened. I prayed and I prayed for the nightmares to stop, and then all of a sudden they did. In fact I stopped being able to remember ANY of my dreams, and that’s the way it’s been now for over 25 years.  I guess the moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for, you just may get it!

8. From Kindergarten to the 8th grade I attended school in a tiny two room Lutheran school in Cochrane, Wisconsin.

9. From 3rd grade to 7th grade I was the president of the Canada Club at Buffalo Lutheran School. We’d begin each school day by saying an oath, while placing our hands over a crayon colored Canadian flag, that we placed on top of a bible. In 5th grade we were suppose to dress up as our hero for “Hero Day”. I came to school dressed as Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney!  Oh how youth is wasted on the young.

10. I’m not much of an artist or a writer, but I can be creative and imaginative when I need to be. In the 6th grade my girlfriend and I decided to “go steady”, which meant that we needed to start kissing. Problem was we could never find any alone time at that tiny school. So, I devised a creative, master plan! Amy asked for a bathroom pass from the teacher, as planned. Only one student at a time could have a bathroom pass though, unless it was an emergency. So after waiting for exactly three minutes, I broke open my pen and spilled ink all over my hand. Presto – an emergency!  We met in front of the bathrooms. Up to this point every thing had gone according to plan. When I went in for our first kiss though, somehow I ended up planting it on her chin! I can still remember how embarrassed I was! Luckily she was gracious enough to let me have a do-over.

11. When I graduated from the Lutheran school in 8th grade, my classmates voted me “most likely to become the CEO of Coca-Cola and live in the tax-free Bahamas by the age of 40”. As you can see, my life subsequently went horribly, horribly wrong!

12. In 1992, which was a year and a half before I became a socialist, I campaigned for Ross Perot in our high school’s mock presidential election. I bribed a bunch of my classmates to vote for him by giving them my tator tots. He ended up coming in first place! George Bush came in 2nd, Bill Clinton came in 3rd, and Bo Gritz, the neo-Nazi, came in 4th. Yikes!

13. Growing up I planned on attending the seminary after high school and becoming a Lutheran minister. When I was 19 I changed my mind and became an atheist instead.

14. Back in college, despite my fear of heights, I climbed the massive Ashland oredock. I was intrigued about the rumors that there was a shack on the end of the dock that was filled with photos of babies being sacrificed as part of some Satanic ritual. Turned out to just be a sad, empty little metal shed out there. Still glad I did it though, since they’ve since torn down the oredock.

15. When I lived in San Francisco (1998-1999) I was mugged twice. Once by a homeless guy with a pathetic looking kitchen knife, and once by a group of dudes who tried to make it look like they had guns by pointing their fingers at me through their coat pockets. At least I was pretty sure they didn't have real guns, but just to be on the safe side, I handed over what I had.  Where is super-man when you need him?

16. I proudly broke the U.S. government’s travel ban and illegally traveled to Cuba in 2000 as a guest of the Cuban Young Communist League. Screw you Big Brother!

17. In 2002 I jumped naked into Lake Superior at least once each month of the year. And while I doubt many of them would want to think back on it, I do have witnesses in case you don’t believe me!

18. I am the undefeated northern Wisconsin boxing champion of the Commie Sporting League! A few years back some friends and I put on several amateur boxing matches in an abandoned school out by Lake Nebagamon. My undefeated record though had more to do with my being 50 pounds heavier than any of my friends than any kind of fighting skills. My lack of real fighting skills was vividly demonstrated when I later tried to stop a guy who was slapping his girlfriend in front of a bar on Tower Avenue. That altercation ended with me lying curled up on the sidewalk with a black eye, and clutching my just kicked testicles. It was there on that sidewalk that my dreams of becoming the next Jean Claude Van Dam died . . .

19. When I first moved to the Twin Ports I was really active in an attempt to unionize the hotel I worked at. We did all kinds of awesome stunts! We use to sneak into the hotel at night and slip leaflets under the room doors. Then at 4am we’d come back and march around outside banging on pots and pans. The idea was to wake up the guests, who would then see the fliers, and angrily demand that management recognize the union so they could get a good night sleep! Another time, when the city of Duluth was hosting a big summit on tourism, we snuck into the convention center disguised as catering staff and put 500 union leaflets made to look like conference programs on all of the seats in the dining hall. When all the fat cats sat down to eat they started reading our fliers. The owner of my hotel flipped out and futilely ran around trying to snatch the leaflets out of everyone’s hands! Subsequently the hotel distributed a letter to each of my co-workers, warning them about me, by name, as a trouble maker. Good times, good times!

20. In April of 2006 I was elected to the Douglas County Board of Supervisors by a landslide victory of 49 votes to 0, making me the only Trotskyist ever elected to public office in the nation. Woo-hoo!  When my term was up, I declined to run for re-election.  The novelty had wore off.

21. Also in 2006 one of my best friends was arrested and convicted as a sex offender. Dealing with this was one of the most trying experiences of my life.

22. My family’s farm in western Wisconsin has been in our family for more than a century and a half.

23. I have sworn that I will never, ever get into any vehicle with a Confederate flag on it.  So far, so good . . .

24. I don’t like the taste of anything that happens to be green – especially greens beans, peas, asparagus, broccoli and cabbage. To compensate I take multi-vitamins and force myself to down a can of V-8 every day.

25. I have never consumed alcohol, and haven’t so much as even ever taken a sip of beer. I’ve also never smoked, chewed tobacco or done any dope. I'm quite the square.

26. I’m known as an erratic gift giver. For my brothers 16th birthday I gave him a car. For his 17th birthday I gave him a package of socks.

27. I have never, ever voted for a Democrat or a Republican.

28. Every Ritscher male, going back several generations, has “Adam” as either their first or middle name. Ritscher men also have a tendency of not eating breakfast, and of shouting “you dirty devil!” when we accidentally hit our thumbs with a hammer.

29. It has been over a hear since I've had any caffeine.  And yes, I'm still alive!

30. I bought my first car in 1996. Since then I have owned 18 different cars. The average amount that I’ve paid for each of them comes to less than $400.

31. I have a compulsive need to name random body parts and other objects in my life. Examples include my car (“Monkey Butt”), my pet rock (“Fred”), my right hand pointer finger (“Ninja Finja”), the cow statue in front of Dan’s Feed Bin (“Sammy Sampson”), my houseplants (“Willy”, “Billy”, “Nilly” and “Silly”), my left hand pointer finger (“Judo Junior”), and, well, lets just end the list there before it gets embarrassing.

32. I’ve never once separated my brights from my whites when doing laundry in all of my years. I always tell the other folks in the laundry mat to stop dancing with the ghost of George Wallace and to join me in saying “NO!” to segregation once and for all!

33. I take ridiculously long showers, and it’s where I do some of my best thinking. Not to brag, but in my opinion some of Duluth’s coolest activist projects of the last decade have originated in my bathtub – the Northland Anti-War Coalition, Students Against War, Lake Superior Socialist Action, Northwoods for Mumia, the Commie Sporting League, etc. The end result of all these shower sessions – a lot of clean politics, and a lot of really high water bills!

34. An essay I wrote on the history of Afghanistan was featured on the Afghan government’s website. I’m guessing they put it up because there must have been a shortage of English language materials on the web about Afghan history at the time, since the essay was extremely critical of the Karzai regime. Still, I think that’s pretty darn cool!

35. Despite having socialist politics, which is all about change, I sort of hate change in my everyday life. It’s kind of embarrassing how old fashioned I am. I still write letters to friends on paper; most of my music collection is on cassette tapes rather than CDs, let alone those MP3 doo-hickeys; my phone is not only not cellular, it’s not even cordless; I’ve never had a vehicle new enough to have power windows, power locks, or any of that kind of new fangled hoo-hah; and my old trusty black and white analog TV sits proudly, defiantly and silently in my living room – unable to pick up the new digital signals.

36. I think it should be illegal for guys to wear sandals or flip-flops.

37. I can’t explain why, but I am absolutely obsessed with learning anything and everything that I can about the old American Motors Corporation, East Germany and Waino. Do I know how to have a good time, or what?

38. My favorite song is a toss up between “I Remember” by Skid Row, “My Hometown” and “Youngstown”, both by Bruce Springsteen.  

39. My run-ins with celebrities have been pretty modest to date. I once took a leak in the urinal adjacent to Dave Newby, the then president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. Another time I met Jesse Jackson when we paid to fly him to Duluth to speak at one of our labor rallies. I was introduced to him and he shook my hand saying “it’s an honor to meet you young Allen”, as he handed me an unsolicited pre-autographed flier. And then finally there was that time when I was staffing a literature table in San Francisco at an event that Jim Hightower was speaking at. When he came by I offered him a copy of Socialist Action newspaper, to which he replied, “fuck off.”

40. I hate to be tickled!

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