Mike's Story, Part 4; Friends - by Jenna OrkinUpdate 04-22-2014Mike's Story Part 4; Friends
By Jenna Orkin
Mike's father's job with the Air Force required the family to move so often that Mike changed schools virtually every year. It's notoriously hard to make friends under those circumstances and it left him lonely and angry, especially after "Dad" started staying away from home for longer periods. He took out his frustration on the family dog, kicking and abusing it. When Dad returned, he immediately got the lay of the land, understanding he was the root cause of the problem. But he also realized that for everyone's sake, the dog had to go. I always felt that Mike's yearning for a "dawg" was partly to make amends to that childhood pet. He needed to prove to himself that he could care for a dog since, as no one questions, he loved them so much.
One day shortly after the family moved to Denver, a kid in Mike's class said, "Hey, Mike! We're all down by the pool. Love it if you could join us. Bring some cookies!"
Mike got excited - Could it be he would finally have some friends?
"I said, 'Ma, quick - get some cookies!'" he remembered.
"She drove me down there. They just wanted free cookies. They laughed at me..."
As he relived this story, Mike looked like the miserable kid he had been that day.
This is the background to the pride that shone from him in recent years when he would say with awe, "I have 5000 Facebook friends!" UPDATE 04-21-2014Mike's Story Part 3: Dad
By Jenna Orkin
"My dad had a great life," Mike said one day. "War hero in two wars. Fought in one; was a [I didn't catch the term] in the other. Made money. Died taking a shit, which he loved. So do I," he added, with a defiant smile. "But what did he do to make the world better? Paid his taxes; took care of [his second wife.] He just kept the system going."
On another occasion: "My dad was so in control, even after he had a cerebral hemorrhage while taking a shit, he managed to get himself to his favorite chair."
A major reason Mike worked so fiendishly to finish Crossing the Rubicon in 2004 was that he wanted to present it to his father before he died. (The other reason was that he hoped to sway the 2004 election.)
He succeeded with the first goal and got the satisfaction of watching his father's entrenched Republican views transform into an acceptance of Mike's. And he got to bask in the pride his father felt about his achievement.
"He did love me, though," he reflected.
"When I was five, I had my first eye operation. When I woke up, I had a patch on my eye. And next to me on the pillow was a teddy bear with a patch on his eye. I think the doctor put the patch on.
'My father did do some things when I was very young. We went to a Baltimore Orioles game. He took the cub scouts to something.
'That lasted 'til I was ten. He abandoned me to my mother. He was never there; he couldn't stand it. He was always traveling. I thought if I was just good enough, he might come and get me." His father only showed up, he said, when Mike had won something and Dad could preen.
One night at a party, Dad gave Mike, who was in his teens at the time, a drink. Under the influence, Mike told an anecdote which ended, "And then Dad beat the shit out of me."
His father was furious.
"He gave me a drink, then got mad when I acted the way people act when they've had a drink."
From the diary I kept during the period Mike stayed in my apartment: January 21, 2007 This morning, he awoke with a start from a nightmare that black-clad guys in jackboots were coming to get him. This had followed two other dreams in which his father was beyond reach.
In a fourth dream, Mike was going on a trip, leaving his wife, Lindsay, with their two daughters, ages five and nine, who were in the bath. He had chosen that moment to leave so the children wouldn't make a fuss.
In discussing the dream, he said that his father used to leave that way when he went away on business, without saying good-bye, and leaving defenseless ("naked") Mike in the hands of his mother.
Long time Ruppert aficionados may remember Lindsay Gerken as the plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit against Mike which she would eventually win. However, she was never able to collect. More on this (though it's not worth much time) later.
"He was a war hero; he worked hard, made a lot of money. But he didn't do his duty by me."
"Not only that," I added. "He left you to do his duty." (In many ways, some of them unhealthy, Mike took over his father's role in the household.)
"Son of a bitch." He looked towards the ceiling. "Dad, you're fired. That son of a bitch. I used to have a shrine to him in my office in Ashland, with all his war medals. It's time we execute my Dad."
*****Mike's Story - Part 2
by Jenna Orkin
April 20, 2014
One morning a few weeks after he'd settled in to my apartment in Brooklyn, Mike said, "Honey? I'm having a hard time this morning."
He was supposed to call his therapist but the prospect was causing him such anxiety, he broke down in tears. I comforted him until the storm abated - at which point he said, "Would you make me breakfast?" Is that what this was about? An appeal for pity so I'd make him breakfast?
"Why?" I asked suspiciously. I provided the first B of B&B since he was otherwise homeless, and the ingredients for the second since he was living on donations from his long-time followers. But why in God's name should I have to make it? Was he seeing how much he could get away with?
Mike's lifeline was honesty. A legacy of AA, it was what had bought him his sobriety from which flowed his connection to other people, their affection and help, his sense of belonging, his credibility, his integrity.
"I want to feel taken care of," he said, but it was not so much an explanation as an admission. The question had brought him up short and he was retreating with the grace that marked his many apologies, both public and private.
We sat down with our respective breakfasts, obtained by our respective selves.
"How does it feel to be taken care of?" I continued, veteran analyst that I am.
"Loved. Indulged. Worthy." Indulged. Exactly.
"Those feelings may come more readily to those of us whose birth was not met ambivalently by our parents," I commented.
"My parents weren't ambivalent about me; they wanted me. My father did, anyway. My mother may have wanted me in order to please him."
On another occasion, Mike had said that he believed his mother married his father in order to escape her own father.
"They'd tried for a long time to have a child," he went on now. "I was two months premature. My mother spent the two months before that in bed.
'I was pronounced dead at birth. I cried on the way to the morgue."
It was my turn to cry now.
"Who are you crying for?" Mike asked.
"Your mother... I don't know." I believe that in addition to losing a baby before Mike, she also lost one after him.
"I met the doctor who delivered me when I was twenty-five.
'He remembered it. I had no pulse. I was blue. They tried to get my heart going. Then he handed me over to the nurse and I cried."
As he put his dishes in the dishwasher he continued, "Some spiritual people have said I'm a take-over, a soul waiting for a body to enter."
Perhaps it was this entry into the world, or at least his awareness of it, that accounted for his upset when we once happened upon a news article about terminally ill newborns.
Mike's last fb post:
I pray to all things seen and unseen, known and unknown, for we are all One.
The prophecies are being fulfilled. The hour of birth is at hand. The waters break and rend. There is blood. There are screams of pain. There is death and much anxiety in the air. Things look very bad for our Mother and all of her children.
The Truth awaits just on the other side of the ever dissolving veil where all the screaming and the mess is going on. The Truth opens its arms wide to lovingly receive the newborn and to comfort it.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” The Truth exclaims.
I am your scout and this is my report.
(JO adds: Lakota for, "We are all related" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitakuye_Oyasin
by Jenna Orkin
April 18, 2014
Mike left us an abundance of gifts, not least of which was his story. As an investigative journalist, he loved a good story even more keenly than the next man. And perhaps the one he loved most (as we all do, or would like to) was his own.
It was indeed a fascinating story, which goes some way to account for his thousands of friends and followers around the world, both "Facebook" and otherwise. Whether uncovering dirty dealings between politics and Wall Street that even Matt Taibbi wouldn't touch or enduring the flip side, "I'm done in; I'm about to jump off the roof," the Mike Show was a production which a certain kind of reader - a thinking man's action junkey - yearned to be part of.
It is left to us now to piece together that story and it's an obligation which his friends and admirers are undertaking with a thoughtfulness that would make him proud. Some of the insights on the net, particularly at Rigorous Intuition, http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/ ... 1&start=30
are as illuminating as Mike's detractors during his lifetime were maddening. (Beyond a few snarky headlines about the "conspiracy theorist's" suicide, the latter have been lying low this week, no doubt biding their time.) By pooling recollection, we may come to understand better how he could be such a hero to one group of people while at the same time appearing to another as a lunatic. This in turn may lead us to recognize how the whole concept of "hero" is a dangerous drug, not only for the "Leader" who becomes infused with his own importance and deaf to the insights of others but also for his followers, who sell their birthright of independence of thought.
In fact, no one was better acquainted with his "lunacy" than his inner circle. We got the hard-to-deal-with side of his personality in our face as long as he stayed close. I believe this is one reason he moved so often, living with no one person for much longer than a year, a trait he and I shared, by the way. His marriage, to a woman almost two decades younger, lasted eighteen months; his sojourn in my apartment, fourteen. My marriage lasted twelve years but shouldn't have.
He had long since outstayed his welcome in my one bedroom, but he was even more desperate to leave than I was to go about my business without worrying about his disapproval (as I would with anybody.) Not, I hasten to add, that we often argued. There were one or two blow-up fights but mostly, in spite of profound differences of taste - (he hated New York on principle; the machismo of the West, where he felt most at home, left me cold,) - we got along smoothly, frequently slipping into a George and Gracey domestic routine complete with New York accents. Mike was a razor-sharp impersonator and I wish someone had taped his Russian, French and German personas.
Re Mike's story, reading Wesley Miller's account of how Mike came by the gun with which he shot himself is one fascinating piece. Another is Charlton Wilson Cht Ccht's description on Mike's Facebook page of Lakota traditions of giving one's body "for the children" as Mike said in his suicide note to his friend and landlord, Jack. "[I]n Native ways, we don't have money or animals or whatever to give. we have our flesh and our blood." If Mike is going to be cremated as some recent reports said were his instructions, I don't get how the earth will benefit and will be watching for clarification. Anyway, Mother Earth receives our body no matter when we die; in the modern society in which Mike lived, however deploringly, hastening the process doesn't help anybody. But since he was not Lakota by birth or upbringing, though he revered Native American culture and became steeped in it once he moved out west, and since, as shown at Collapsenet.com, he'd been suicidal for years, a psychologist might opine that the Native American references were a cover for a longstanding suicidal drive.
Here's another piece of the Mike puzzle:
He was born DOA, "dead" on arrival. The doctor who delivered him told him when they met 25 years later, that the medical team had done everything possible to revive him but to no avail. Mike's mother had already had one stillbirth so a second was not much of a surprise.
As Mike was being carried to the morgue, he cried. The rest, as they say, is history...