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Gypsy & Willy - The Original Libertarian Bloggers

How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Willy Chaplin

No. 1

The first day in the rest of my life...

March 1, 1998

Gypsy Willy

Hello. I'm Willy Chaplin. I am not here to praise Bruce, nor to bury him, but to merge with him. For you see, I AM Bruce Madison. And, I want you to know it. What's going on? Here's the scoop; three events that combined to produce an epiphany.

  1. The other night, while suffering through a bit of insomnia, I caught the Bill Maher Politically Incorrect show. It airs at 12:05 a.m. here in Minneapolis, and I, an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person, usually am not up that late. That evening, one of the guests was Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco. At one point, he exclaimed to one of the other guests, "I lie cheat and steal! So do you. YOU just won't admit it!"

  2. Last week, I watched the Howard Stern movie Private Parts, for the second time. Like the first viewing, it had me rolling on the floor with laughter. However, this time, I particularly noted one event. Stern's wife was telling him, in a response to an inquiry about how she had liked one of his shows, that she liked him best on the air when he was just "being himself." This admission led Howard (at least in the cinematic version) to change his act; to be more "real;" to stop imitating other disk jockeys; to finally just "be himself."

  3. Finally, just after I had finished editing Bruce Madison column number 156 and had written it to disk, my youngest son, Roger, handed me $300 in cash. I had earlier solicited it from him in order to pay our gas bill. The gas company was threatening to disconnect our service if we did not come up with the back payments in full and I had reluctantly asked Roger and his sister Miranda if they could "help out."

Now, things have not been going all that well the last year. In January our house was invaded by armed bandits. In July, my last computer programming contract expired and I have been unable to find new work since...mostly because of my age...I am approaching 62. By September, we could no longer afford to finance our Web site and we were about to let it go, when Minnesota OnLine, a local ISP, offered to host us for free if they could use our site for advertising, thus keeping us alive, but limping badly. My wife was forced to get a job as a waitress in a local diner, making just enough money to keep us from being evicted from our home, but not quite enough to pay all the bills. In October, we began the process of filing for bankruptcy. In November, I slipped a disk in my back, confining me mostly to bed for a month and curtailing my usually active exercise regime. In December, I experienced a minor heart attack, leading to expensive heart surgery and forcing me to go on Medicaid. This is what led up to my asking Roger to front us some cash. He had worked his butt off to make this money during the previous years, both as the Teen Movie Critic (for which he occasionally got paid and which earned him a well deserved fifteen minutes of fame), and as a checkout clerk at a grocery store.

All of this has been very depressing. Only the wise counsel of my dear wife Gypsy (who incidently developed the fitness sub-site called The Gift of Youth on our Web site), and her willingness to jump back into a waitressing job (after several decades of not holding a paying job while she was raising children) kept me relatively cheerful and thankful to at least still be alive and to have her by my side.

Miranda, Roger's next oldest sister, whom I also asked for help, works as a waitress in a cocktail lounge (which she detests, because of the cigarette smoke and the sexist nature of the job). They, Roger and Miranda, also have 13 other older brothers and sisters, all of whom have families of their own to support (Gypsy and I have 26 grandchildren between us). If you want to read about them, Roger has a page devoted entirely to his siblings on his site. Needless to say, after 42 uninterrupted years of being the main breadwinner for this large family, it has been extremely difficult for me to ask them for help in return. As I said, they have their own problems and, in truth, I am completely recovered from my medical problems, back to my vigorous aerobic exercises each day and am fully capable of working full time. I simply can not, in an economy which supposedly boasts a crying need for high tech workers, seem to get a fucking paying job! If I seem angry about this, I am. If one more young punk pimp (head hunter) asks me to "send me a resumé" after my telling him that I have 38 years of programming experience and have written almost two million lines of code in every computer language he has ever heard of, I'm going to throw his punk ass out the window!

The main problem is that I am "old," at least for this business. A second problem is that I have been working out of my home for over twenty years and am somewhat unused to the corporate climate (to say the least). Finally, I am, as they say, a bit eccentric. Not only am I Bruce Madison, the author of this column, I am also Lenny White, the author of the science fiction novel Farm Boy, which we are publishing as a serial on our Web site. Both these names I adopted as a fugitive from the FBI many years ago. Why I chose to use them on this Web site is a long story, but boils down to the fact that I did not wish to reveal how much of the work on this site was done by me personally, trying instead to make it look like a whole lot of people were involved. I wrote or edited each of the more than 4000 Web pages in our Dream Machine site. Although Paul Larsen, a close friend, came up with the idea for the Web Poetry Corner and Stan Gotlieb, another old friend, writes the column Letters from Mexico, neither are a computer persons so I did all the HTML setup and editing work. Oh, and by the way, I also wrote the backgammon program (in JAVA) which resides on our site. Some of it I took credit for, some I did not. All that while writing contract code to support my family.

Well, that is OVER! At this point, like Willie Brown, there is no reason for me to deny that I have also lied, cheated and stolen, especially about my life. So has everyone. Whether you have done this is not important, but when you did it, for what purpose you did it, DOES matter. I had my reasons. I'm sure you had yours. But, now it is time for me, like Mayor Brown, to come clean and quit doing it. Now that my children are all adults and nobody but me (and my family) gives a shit about my problems, like Howard Stern, I want to be...no, HAVE to be...myself. Completely myself, all the time, in every way. Not partly myself and partly pretend, not part programmer, part scientist, part commentator...all separated into neat compartments...but, Willy Chaplin, a nice guy, a guy you want to read about, to know and, hopefully, to love.

So Bruce Madison is dead. At least THAT Bruce Madison is dead. Having lived that identity off and on for some time, I enjoy it and have fond memories associated with it. But, no more secrets. I AM Bruce Madison. For those of you who want to see the last column I prepared as Bruce, it is on the Web and is called For the sake of posterity.... Enjoy.

I have had a full life and now it is time to write about it, to reveal it with all its warts and wrinkles. I intend to continue this column as myself, writing a new column each and every day (or, more often, if I feel like it). Since I can't get anybody to pay me to do anything, I intend to write down everything I can remember about my life, to continue making pithy commentary about the political scene as Bruce Madison, to finish the novel, to insert commentary about scientific issues (a lifelong passion), to publish letters from readers and my respoonse. In short, to just let it all hang out. As long as Minnesota OnLine continues to host us and as long as I can still get myself out of bed in the morning and pound on this keyboard, I will stay with you and try to entertain you, try to give you things to think about. I love doing it and will do it for nothing if I have to. By the way, I gave Roger back his money. I will deal with gas company some other way. There has got to be some more honorable way to pay the bills.

As an Internet friend once said to me about the possiblity of selling my autobiography, "Well, you are a good writer and you have lived a very interesting life, but you aren't a Kennedy or a member of the House of Windsor, so I can't promise you that anybody will want to publish it." So I will publish the damned thing myself. Right here in River City. Maybe lots of people will read it, maybe they won't. But, I'm gonna do it.

Oh, well, if nothing else, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and so on) can find out something about their ancestry. Just by logging on to the Web. Stay tuned, you ain't seen nuttin' yet.

See you tomorrow...

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If you wish to read a proposal for remedying my current financial situation and for possibly enriching yourself, read Want to own your very own Renaissance man? - II

WorkTo view my online resumé, click on the word resumé or the Dream Machine icon. In the spirit of my new found personality integration, it is a no-bullhit resumé. I guarantee you have never seen one quite like this before!
To contact Willy and comment on what he has written...or anything else...write to willy@dreamagic.com.
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