16 February, 2000
New York City
The infamous and quixotic Mr. Adon is back. There he is after a ten-month disappearance wearing a pine-green jumpsuit and a white beret. He is urging his compatriots to get organized. He proudly proclaims that he has become a communist. No one is entirely sure what that means. He says that drugs and alcohol keep us from our full potential and that we have to become a movement of young people dedicated to retaking our society. No one has really ever heard a person talk like that around school. He wants us to become revolutionaries.
Within three days of his reappearance he has made quick rounds of the NYC magnet high schools to organize a meeting. Trikhovitch certainly isn’t going to give up alcohol and become a communist, but he is intrigued by the concept of this ‘change by struggle and fight’ that Sebastian Adon has been preaching since his sudden return.
There are about forty kids sitting on the Rock on February 16th, 2000. They are mostly Sebastian’s old crew from the public magnet schools as well as his little brother Benjamin and a few of his friends. Everyone is milling around near the summit smoking cigarettes until Sebastian and Nick Trikhovitch arrive wearing black suits and dark sunglasses. The dress code was Trikhovitch’s idea.
Sebastian begins his call to arms.
“As many of you know I committed a string of vile and self-serving acts in my previous life. I was sent away because of them. If I’ve put any of you through bullshit, hell or otherwise, I sincerely apologize. I’ve been locked up for ten months and I have learned only two things of any value from this trial. The first is that we have been deeply wronged by the forces, which govern our nation. The poverty, misery, and general oppression, which are the fruits of our American comfort, have raped the soul of our generation. Our dreams have been perverted and our ideals warped. We all used to think that we could the world. Now, all we want to do is get fucked up, shut down and drop out so we don’t have to acknowledge the fact that we once believed in things. All that is left is for us to make money, make babies and die. The second thing I learned is that it is never too late to revive our lost hopes and dreams. We don’t yet have a plan. We don’t yet have points of unity or a list of concrete grievances. We just know something is wrong within this nation.”
Those assembled process his proclamation in different ways. To some it is a minstrel show from out the 1960’s, to others it is like witnessing their pent up frustrations and middle class rage being channeled into pieces of a dream.
“Mr. Trikhovitch and I want to create an organization, an association of young women and men ready to fight. We don’t even have a name yet. We just want to get ourselves organized and learn how to take our country back.”
Trikhovitch doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t have to. Those assembled know the boys worked out the particulars behind closed doors. This is Sebastian’s second attempt at making a speech. There is no applause this time like there had been when he ran for Freshman Rep. Just 40 youngsters in the February cold, hands stuffed in coat pockets, thinking with fire and breathing out smoke. No one says a word. No one walks away.
“We can use the copy machine in my Dad’s study to run off your little manifesto,” volunteered a husky and extremely wealthy Canadian named Belfy Andrews.
One of the first things I did as a free man was to go down to 23rd Street and 7th Avenue to the Communist Party USA Headquarters and sign up to join the party. The building looks run down. Everyone inside calls each other comrade, which for some reason seems a little silly. I have to be honest with myself. I’m still not exactly sure what dialectical materialism really means. I don’t have class-consciousness. My knowledge of communism is limited. My understanding is that capitalism is a system of competition that pits people against each other and benefits only a select few. This select few is a group called the bourgeoisie. They control something called the means of production. Throughout history there has been a constant struggle to take back the means of production. With each struggle a new group lands on top. Communism is about achieving equality. The group that is able to do that is called the proletariat. Once the proletariat seizes the means of production in something called a revolution there will be freedom. There will be opportunity. And there will finally be true equality.
After haggling with an elder statesman on the fourth floor of the office, I receive a Red Card and become a 16-year old, card-carrying member of the Young Communist League.
I decided somewhere along the way home from the Family School that I will no longer drink alcohol or take drugs. It is not so much that I associate substance abuse with my previous condition. It is more to prove to myself that I did not need the Family School to be sober. I looked up some AA meetings in the City and have started going to a group called Midnight in the West Village. People are really shocked with my ability to give heartfelt survivor advice but I am used to the sharing rhetoric of AA from my time at the Family School. I found a sponsor at my second meeting. He is a gay news reporter from CNN.
I bounce around friends’ houses for the first few weeks. Then after a long dinner with my parents, they decide to let me move back in. I assure them that I am able to live in the City and not get into further trouble. We try to figure out what schools I can get into this late in the school year. They are nervous, but happy to see me. I guess a few people are.
Nick Trikhovitch has been reading the Communist literature I brought back from the national office. I have been trying to turn him commie red. We are attempting to put our ideals into writing.
“Largely from here on out it becomes an issue of good propaganda,” he observes. “The message is good, right? But we got to give ‘um some quick victories, show them their time and energies yield dividends.”
“Go on,” I say watching Nick collect his thoughts.
“I’m not saying that I’m a theorist of any kind. I’m not even really convinced I get everything Marx is saying. But I understand enough. I understand that I live in a society with massive inequality and that one solution is rooted in this text. But we can’t call ourselves commies. If we do, we won’t get anywhere.”
“It’s always been like that, right? The lie that this society is better than the ones a couple hundred years before? The history books in school make you think it is,” I respond.
“The books are filled with lies. There may be no real way to quantify human suffering but like I said, if our manifesto smacks of socialist crazy talk no one will join.”
“So we’ll stick to the basics,” I say.
I pause smoking my Newport. We are sitting on his roof with a typewriter in the bitter cold.
“The unpleasantries of life,” he says as he types, “are to be blamed first upon our own inaction.”
“I like that,” I tell him.
“What did you really learn in the camps Sebastian?” he asks me for the first time.
“Self-reflection at gun point.”
My silence and perhaps hateful stare communicates to him that this is a subject I am not yet ready to talk about in depth. He types a few more notes. Feels like we’ve been up on this roof writing for days.
“This organization is being created to get our compatriots to understand that something must be done about the way we live?” he suggests.
“Not exactly. This organization is being created to train revolutionaries.”
“What is that fucking phrase? Don’t use words that set off red flashing lights. That phrase is used to sell cars and beauty products too, you know. No one knows what it means, not even you,” he tells me.
“Teenage angst is society’s way of marginalizing the confusion and breakdown of our ideals. We are all being changed living in this country. We are being force-fed conceptions of beauty, economic relationships and the necessity of material things. Our social circle is the perfect example of bourgeoisie youth reeling from the contradiction of what we know is right and what we are taught to accept. We grew up with everything in the world at our finger tips, but it is all based on this grotesque system exploiting other people for us to have our comforts,” he tells me, “Revolution means we’re gonna tear it all down and blow it all up and start from scratch.”
“Well isn’t that what we want, Nick?”
“It’s a stupid buzz word and a scary thought to the sane. You’re talking about different kinds of exploitation here, Sebastian. Are you saying American wealth is predicated on the suffering of the international working class or are you saying that we’re suffering because of our socialization to accept this reality?”
“I’m saying that we’re asking some pretty big questions for kids who are just sixteen. What I saw in those camps was the tip of the iceberg. We need to keep asking these questions and we need this organization to put these ideas in a format regular people can understand.”
Nick pauses looking at me intently for a moment while he flicks his Newport over the railing.
He reads as he types the second sentence of our treatise,
“This organization is being created to absolve us of the horror our nation has unleashed upon this world.”
“That I can dig,” I say.
“What are we gonna call this little outfit?” he asks me.
“I’m not sure yet. Something militant.”