Let’s be quick about it. From what I can remember, and I believe this to be true but many memories become fogged with the haze of the dream world unfortunately, I was born in the City of Buffalo, NY to Hilary and Donald Haskin.
We were a calm middle-class lot, father a truck driver and my mother an ex-pat Brit who arrived on these shores in 1957. There are many uncertancies with the nature of who my father actually was, many stories of a US GI, a British academic accountant, a French Canadian, but I will leave it at that. Whatever caused my mother’s family to make her cross the Atlantic at the age of 22 to live with her unwilling sister and her family I will never really know. But families are like that. A twist of fate that brought me to be reared in this Iron city town.
Like many kids of the 50’s and 60’s I was a withdrawn and solitary child but I had an artistic edge that I nurtured with really no assistance from my small upbringing. I remember owning a wonder pack of Krayola colours, a large pack with all the colours when had really, and spending hours on my drawings. Drawing fantastic creatures or designing outragious Sci Fi vehicles with numerous wheels perhaps inspired by Lady Penelope’s Rolls-Royce FAB 1 of Thunderbirds fame, or wheeling through my Spirograph creations, I kept my inner-life busy. I had an imagination and being a child with few friends and even fewer family connections I had to create my own little world which didn’t make me any much less an introvert. I remember getting a guitar for Christmas and, not knowing what to really do with it except banging it with a Fisher Price xylophone mallet, getting any sound out of it I could. A budding musician I was.
In the first of my parents two separations and reconciliations my mother took me and my Brother John back to her home to Chelmsford Essex UK, thinking that this was going to be a permanent stay. There we stayed with my grandmother Grace in her modest counsel house, with it’s outdoor attached toilet and detached brick bomb shelter with blast wall which held my Uncle Barry’s stacks of pre-60s British comic books like The Beano and The Topper made this stay memorable to say the least. From what I remember life in England was quite different from what I experienced growing up in Buffalo. First I was enrolled it Kings Road Primary School where I soon found out what it meant by being the only circumcised boy there, and where the institution of the May Pole was still used along with it’s archaic dance.
This was 60s Britain, where if I was any way older or had much of a brain I would appreciate the music and culture that was all around me. This was also the time when I was first introduced to records like The Who Sell Out, and Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Their Satanic Majesties Request, and Songs like Itchycoo Park by the Small Faces and 2000 Man by the Rolling Stones, all sitting in my cousin’s record collection. This was the first time I was exposed to anything that resembled pop-culture since my father banned rock and roll from the house and my mother’s tastes fell somewhere between a bit of Elvis and 101 Strings.
On our second trip back I stayed at the home of my aunt (my mother’s older sister) and her husband, and son. This time I was housed away from my mother and brother who I rarely saw perhaps twice a week.
This was also a time where I picked up my first guitar. My cousin was a natural lefty and I’m sure I became left-handed because of this. I’m also pretty sure he put it in my hand left hand style and taught me a few basic chords. But this was also a time where my aunt taught me what it meant to be obsessive compulsive. There I was a right-handed child being taught to do everything left-handed, how to use my knife and fork left-handed, again how to play the guitar left-handed, basically everything except writing. I was taught to check everything over and over again, to make sure things were off, doors were shut, and so on. There I lived with my aunt, uncle, and cousin in their house on Trent Road. My mother choosing to live with her sister Betty and her family on Ockelford Avenue which was a mile or two way. I was disconnected from the supposed sanity of my immediate family.
In their house I experienced all forms of social deprivation. I had to come right home after school immediately, bypass playing with any form of friend I might have since I had to be home in time to help my aunt with her knitting projects. Usually a night spent next to her at her knitting machine. I have to tell you this really didn’t help a young lad who was already insecure and isolated to begin with. She had a strict control over us and I could even see it in her treatment of my cousin. I even remember them telling my mother that she couldn’t take us to Catholic Church in case the neighbors saw us going there. Supposedly Catholicism is looked down upon in her neighborhood, and unfortunately so were the Irish. My mother’s husband Donald, coming from a Irish family was one strike against us I suppose.
This woman was the embodiment of all the depression and all the insecurities that my mother’s family could muster. I remember a time sitting in her kitchen sitting across the table from her as she held my wrists tightly demanding that I tell her everything that my mother and the rest of the clan were saying about her. She was paranoid to say the least but frightening because as she was telling me this she was also saying that she would kill herself by putting her head in the oven and turn on the gas, a traditional British housewive’s way of suicide. Oh happy days.
Writing this actually helps me come to grips with my past and the moments that pushed me to where I am today. Perhaps things liked these help nurture my creativity and my imagination and help me create the styles of music and art that I produce. Well, something good has got to come out of this
To end this I would’ve rather stayed with my mum and brother at my aunt Betty’s house who I loved, especially my uncle Bill who was extremely funny, smart, and amazing man who cared about us all, but as they say there was no room at the inn so I stayed put until it was time to go back to the US for another round of marital bliss for my mother and father.
David Lynch once said that he was advised to take psychiatric drugs because of certain tendencies he had but in doing this Mr. Lynch knew that it would alter his State of imaginative reality, thus destroying his creative style so he refused. My opinion is that we are all products of our history and that nothing should change that.
I once thought that maybe I should question my mind, my depression and my OCD and how they affect my creative beliefs, thinking that perhaps this time in my life changed me in someway. But then I read this article by David Lynch concerning the psychiatric profession and creativity.
According to David Lynch
“It’s better not to know so much about what things mean or how they might be interpreted or you’ll be too afraid to let things keep happening. Psychology destroys the mystery, this kind of magic quality. It can be reduced to certain neuroses or certain things, and since it is now named and defined, it’s lost its mystery and the potential for a vast, infinite experience.”
“Well, like they say: ´People who go to psychiatrists ought to have their heads examined!´ I did go one day. I wanted to find out about something. I observed a circle , a pattern, in my life and I wanted to take a look at it. So I talked to this psychiatrist for a while. He was a very patient sort of person. I was doing all the talking – which is what you are supposed to do, I guess – and I realized some important things. But when I asked him if he thought the analysis could interfere with my creativity, he said ´Well, David, I have to be honest with you, I think it might,´ And so I said ´Thank you very much.´”
“It’s a tricky business. People always say artists need to suffer, but they’re not suffering when they are creating. The struggle can teach you something you can use when you are healthy, you can share that experience in some medium, but while you are in a depression, it doesn’t free you to create. I think [psychiatrists] can help you to a point if you’ve stopped moving, but if you’re moving about, then I’d say, if it’s not really badly broken, don’t fix it.”
Back to the USA
This is an ongoing thing so check back soon.