EDIT: Still answering questions! The response to this AMA is incredible, I wouldn't have possibly expected so much excitement for my book. My book is actually completely finished, it's just that I haven't actually gotten a publisher to bite. (Son here, please keep asking questions, I know there is quite the back log, but you should see the light in my pop's eyes when he thinks back to those times both good and bad. I'm at work right now, but soon I'll be back and we'll be answering as many questions as possible today!)

My son (typing this) is helping me answer any of your questions you have on my experience.

The key events from my childhood featured in my book include:

-shattering every single one of my teeth

-the murder of my father (for being a homosexual) > my theory

-living with my alcoholic mother

-hiding the above by deceiving the authorities and forging documents

-my rape and my meticulously planned revenge

-an unlikely friendship with an elderly Chinese grocer (who was my fence)

-abandoning life with my mother and living on/off the streets

-numerous encounters with the predators of San Francisco

(Son here) My father has lived an incredible life and only recently have I truly begun to grasp the harrowing childhood he had. My father has always been a happy-go-lucky man who could always make me laugh and never showed me anything but his classic quirky demeanor. Needless to say, I was floored when he sat me down on my 16th birthday and told me his story. It has taken me a long time to even wrap my head around the fact that my weirdo dad that binges Scandinavian murder mysteries, and plays the ukulele is deep down a hard-as-nails bona fide survivor that knows pain I can't even begin to imagine.

His words:

"The telling of this story has been 60+ years in the making, and it was with excruciating pain that I have finally finished recounting the demons that have haunted me since childhood into a 103000 word book. It is a story of my survival from age 7 on the streets of San Francisco after my father was murdered, and my mother that turned to alcohol for solace, amid a 20th century coming-of-age story of a hero's journey to the the depths of hell and back again."

PICTURE PROOF (kinda) as you can imagine we can't exactly show you proof that any of this really happened, but hopefully you can accept the second chapter of his book as a taste of a book to come. Also included, a working picture of the cover.

The Boy with the Broken Smile - Chapter 2 - Rodney

I'm gonna try and help my pop answer as many questions as possible (depending how popular this gets) Please feel free to ask questions unrelated to the book if you feel so inclined.

TO BE CLEAR: THE BOOK IS NOT PUBLISHED YET. Still working out the kinks about getting it published in the first place.

EDIT: Hope this isn't against the rules, but if it is don't take this down please just let me know:

This is my murder mystery I wrote, please don't mind the crappy cover, still trying to figure out how this Amazon stuff works

Comments: 625 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

mirdomiel1174 karma

Since your introduction post included a lot of painful experiences in your life, can you share with us some of your moments of joy?

Also, what lesson or piece advice would you tell to your younger self?

Last question: What's your favorite food?

oldman_jazz1440 karma

Oh yeah! I had a dog named Lucky, a little mutt!

Playing sandlot baseball every saturday with my friends.

Meeting my bestfriend Gerry which we are still friends today.

Having a girlfriend.

We used to sneak into the movies in downtown all the time. One of us would pay for one ticket and prop open an exit door that the rest of us piled through.

I ran track in highschool.

I tried to be as normal as possible and did all the things that normals kids of the days did.

There were points where my mother would go on sober binges and would take me to plays, light operas (gilbert and sullivan stuff), she was a very sophisticated woman when she was sober.

Advice I'd give:

I should have told someone in my life what was happening to me. My problem with this is that if I did I would have been put in the 'system' foster care.

Perhaps I would say to abandon my mother sooner, but even still I was very protective of my mother. I could have gone with my grandmother and lived the countryclub life, but I was a loyal son-of-a-bitch.


Back then was spaghetti at the greatest Italian restaurant where I lived.

Ooooh, hot-milk sponge-cake, I would make it all the time. I still have the cookbook from 1933! I'll make it again one of these days.

Now my favorite food is pussy. (he didn't want me to put that in there as he chuckles to himself lol), I don't know maybe udon noodles, and pan-fried cat shit. I've always loved fresh fruit. I lived a block away from the old SF farmer's market where you could always get fresh fruit and veggies.

sidekickbananaduck393 karma

How the heck did you shatter your teeth? Also, when is the book going to be released?

oldman_jazz621 karma

It's actually in the second chapter I linked above. There was a another time when my cousin when I was in the fifth grade threw a rock that shattered the bottom row of my teeth. Poor bastard never forgave himself. Didn't help that I ragged him about every chance I got. Should have forgiven him.

The book will get released when I can figure out how to publish the damned thing this year hopefully.

ricoza307 karma

What was San Francisco like when you were a kid? Was Tenderloin that bad then already for example, and Fisherman's Wharf already a tourist trap? Chinatown? Can you describe the city of your childhood please?

oldman_jazz635 karma

Very friendly.

SF was a working class city in my day. Not like now at all.

Fisherman's Wharf we went to all the time it was pretty casual.

If you wanted booze, you went to Chinatown where you could buy and sell practically anything.

Baseball was super cheap.

Movie theaters everywhere which was dirt cheap.

The De Young museum was FREE

If there is anything I dislike about the SF of today is just how ludicrously expensive it is now. Of course this is a pretty common thing for people of my age "back in my day yada" but it rings true.

BlackisBear281 karma

As Hellen Keller famously said she wish everyone in world goes blind for 3 days to truly appreciate their eyesight, do you have a similar opinion for people after having experienced homelessness?

Edit: Holy frick guys this blew up and thank you for the gold kind stranger... wait

oldman_jazz420 karma

I time I was on a LCM boat or a landing craft where the front comes down.

The front went down when were at sea and it filled with water. I thought I was going to die.

It's morbid, but perhaps everyone needs to experience something that makes them truly understand how fragile life can be.

StuartHind239 karma

The other obvious question is about that meticulously planned revenge ?

oldman_jazz206 karma

Gonna have to leave that to the book unfortunately sorry!

Hawk_in_Tahoe92 karma

Already found the leaked version - here’s a sample:

“Well, I could think of three things I'd like to do. One would involve some ice cubes and a nine iron. Two would involve a buffalo, live or stuffed, preferably stuffed for safety sake, and three, we bring back some of those ice cubes and switch it over to a pitching wedge.”

oldman_jazz52 karma

Ha nice try. Good ideas though

NVA9247 karma

It's a reference to the movie Billy Maddison.

oldman_jazz60 karma

Billy Maddison

Oh yeah heard of it, never seen it. Whoopsie daisys went over my head

Aramis92238 karma

Did revenge against your abuser give you solace or closure, or did you find that through other means?

oldman_jazz500 karma

Yes it gave me closure.

I didn't have to live in fear of them anymore.

Whenever I delivered newspapers in the morning I always carried an ice pick, a straight razor, and a pocket knife all the time. I still have the ice pick.

I wasn't the biggest guy in time, and I wasn't aggressive or anything, but sometimes I got bullied and pushed around. In general I was left alone because I didn't show fear, and the unlucky ones that pushed me too far found out they couldn't fuck with me.

Fullswell96193 karma

You've seen a lot of history made! What event in US history do you feel had the biggest impact on you personally?

If you could go to (or remain in) any decade in US history, which would you choose and why?

oldman_jazz378 karma

The assassination of Robert Kennedy.

After JFK, and MLK it was just overwhelming. They were three of my heroes.

  1. I know I'm not going to make it that far, it'd be nice to see what life is like then

brucenasty190 karma

What kind of things did you sell to your elderly grocer friend?

oldman_jazz306 karma

Cameras, jewelry, clothes, tools, anything I had he bought it. Won't go into detail how I got it, I'll leave it at that many times I was very hungry and I needed food somehow or another.

short_ther168 karma

Are you still friends with the grocer? Was there any habits you found hard to break when life was stable for you?

oldman_jazz270 karma

Dead. Long dead.

Yes, fear. I was afraid of the dark and I used to sleep with a hammer. Even when I lived in a nice house with my first wife I would sleep with it under my pillow. Other times a screw driver.

EthelMaePotterMertz21 karma

How did you let that go? Have you been able to completely?

oldman_jazz52 karma

Yes. Life goes on. It helps me to be a Secular Humanist. I write poetry and a few actually have been published. Write stuff and stick it away in a drawer or burn it.

NearbyComfort164 karma

I have two questions:

1) Given your life sounds incredibly tough but also incredibly interesting, what was the most difficult experience you've had in your life?

2) If you had to pass on one piece of advice to the younger generations, what would it be?

oldman_jazz439 karma

  1. Most difficult? God that is way too hard. I was in the Marine corps for 10 fucking years that shit is difficult.
  2. Hone your bullshit detector, because there is a whole lotta bullshit out there.

Most important: get laid ( he chuckles)

But actually: Take a fucking risk in your life, but always have a PLAN B, or C, D E etc.

NearbyComfort85 karma

Thanks for the replies! I'm glad you were able to keep your sense of humour and your spirit. Bad things happen regularly to alot of good people but it's truly tragic when they lose both of those traits.

oldman_jazz144 karma

(Oh he certainly kept his humor. He's the absolute funniest guy I know. He's a true gem and I thank him for making the man I am today.)

there_is_no_why141 karma

How did you maintain positivity through all of that? (And wow, I’m so sorry to hear that you had to endure that, but so grateful you did!)

oldman_jazz211 karma

It was just life. I wish I had a better answer for you, but when it comes down to it I am a consummate survivor. I did what I had to survive. Thank you for your question.

StuartHind131 karma

So that means you were in San Francisco right after ww2, run into any beat poets ?

oldman_jazz217 karma

Yes, they hung out in North Beach. I didn't go to North Beach often, I couldn't afford it. We were kids, we were into black RNB on the black stations, and just hanging out where we lived around Haight and Fillmore where I grew up, Mint Hill.

Beat poets weren't really a big thing for us as teenagers.

Asmond49er100 karma

  1. Was there any one event that helped you get a stable home? (A job, help from friends, etc.)

  2. To anyone in a similar situation what is your advice to them?

  3. What is one of the challenges of being homeless that you think most people would not realize is a challenge?

oldman_jazz281 karma

When I was in the Marines, I was based in Coronado CA.

An officer I knew well I asked what being an officer was all about. He told me people saluted you, and you got paid more. I asked how you became an officer and he said college.

College became my number 1 focus out of the Marines.

When I started, I was 2nd percentile in spelling on the entrance exam, and the 36th percentile in english comprehension, but 92nd percentile overall. I was accused of cheating because I was smart, but functionally illiterate.

I worked hard until I got a BA in History, an MA in English, and an MFA in creative writing.

HellHathNoFlurry95 karma

How do you think the world is doing compared to when you were younger? Is it a better place or worse?

Also take a look at Gumroad for publishing your book. I've heard good things.

oldman_jazz264 karma

To be totally honest it's actually a whole less fucked up. We just know more.

We didn't have instant communication with the world. When I was growing up during WW2, Korea, the Cold War you would get the biggest news in news reels and newspapers days later.

There wasn't really a bombard of news like "5 dead in multi-car wreck" or "rabid dog rips the face off a small toddler"

You get this stuff all the time I see it when I peruse through google and yahoo news you would think this happens all the time, but the reality is a whole lot less violent crappy stuff then.

musicsexual1376 karma

What part of San Francisco did you reside in mostly while you were homeless?

Did you ever run into the hippy culture around haight & ashbury?

What do you think of San Francisco nowadays giving out free needles to the drug addicts?

oldman_jazz255 karma

Hermann street was where me and my mother lived until she got evicted for being a drunkard.

Yes, I thought they were full of shit, I met too many of them at upscale colleges who faked being distressed. One phone call to mama and papa could fix their situation right quick. I resented them because there was no one for me. Those communes I thought were all bullshit.

Prevents disease. Dirty needles cause illness and god knows if a drug addict needs a fix they will get it one way or another. We address the wrong part of the problem. Every alcoholic and addict suffers from childhood abuse. Virtually every as far as I would guess.

You listen to any drunk and they had some fucked up shit in their life, real or imagined, most of the time real. A lot of abused kids out there and criminalising them and treating them like trash doesn't get at the heart of the issue of broken people with nowhere and noone. Take it from an alcoholic who is 16 years sober this time around. I don't think I'll ever go back but to give you an idea, I've been sober since I was 18 around 50% of the time. It's a hard road and it doesn't get easier when there is nowhere and no one for you.

nana_375 karma

Did you experience PTSD or complex trauma? Was there any resources for people with trauma when you were a young adult?

oldman_jazz298 karma

Yes, and yes, kinda.

Resources were probably there for me, but I never knew of them because I kept my mouth shut. I was hardwired to shut that stuff down. I didn't come to terms with the rape until I was 40 years old and my first son was 8 years old. Many many many years of pushing it down came out at once and then I had a revelation:

I always thought it was my fault, and I always felt guilty because I didn't hate the act sexually. I thought it made me a homosexual because perhaps I liked it. When I was 40, I made a revelation when a therapist asked me if my son (8) was sexually active.

I said what??? He's a young boy he doesn't know what sex is. And then it dawned on me...

I was too young, it was never sexual. It was violence and it wasn't my fault. I attached sex to it when I passed into puberty and realized I liked girls. It was a remarkable revelation that lifted a considerable amount off of my shoulders.

geuis64 karma

I moved to SF in 2007. I’m turning 40 in a couple days. I live in Lower Haight.

So many questions. What parts of the city did you frequent? What were they like (safe parts, bad parts, where did you sleep, where did you spend your time, who helped, who hurt?)

I know a lot of people that were born and raised here or have spent decades in the city. I frequent a bar in Lower Haight called Nickies. It goes back to 1946 and has a storied history. Did you ever encounter it? There was an old fellow named Henry that used to frequent the area that passed away a few years ago.

Guess I’m generally just asking a wide net of questions here.

oldman_jazz101 karma

Hey that's where I lived!

One thing, you never went to Hunter's Point, Bayview, or Silverstreet. All very sketchy then.

On Silver Street you had a pretty serious gang called the White Shoe Boys and you didn't screw with them.

I frequented Fisherman's Wharf with my friends, and went to the movies all the time. The Paramont, and the Fox theaters (torn down now) we used to sneak in by sending someone in with a paid ticket and having them prop the back door for us.

I did have a friend in an elderly Chinese grocer that would buy my "aquired goods" which helped me make money for food. Other than that I kept to myself.

I usually slept in cars and trucks if I was outside, people left the doors open a lot more then. I did a lot of couch surfing with friends when I could do some work for them.

Never went to Nickies or knew a Henry sorry!

lalahss63 karma

How were you able to break free from adversity? Were there any moments where you felt as if you weren't going to make it into adulthood?

Also, your story sounds fascinating, and I hope you both have an excellent day!

oldman_jazz142 karma

Well it's hard to answer because I never really broke free from adversity. Not to be a negative nancy, but life as it is for so many people was a constant upward climb for me. Not that there weren't moments that kept me going, but the clouds never really broke through the clouds and revealed a shining sun. When I was 17, 5 days out of HS I joined the fucking Marine Corps which was the biggest fucking mistake I have ever made.

Haha there were several times where I might have not made it. I was totally focused on survival, and every day was a deliberate battle to survive. In terms of near death experiences, for fucks sake the Marine Corps didn't help with that. Almost got blown up with a land mine on Iwo Jima. LCM boat dropped its door in the sea and almost died. I try not to think about it too much.

Thanks (Thanks -me)

GtotheBizzle59 karma

Wow you've seen an awful lot of the bad side of humanity, what did living on the streets teach you about humanity as a whole?

oldman_jazz171 karma

There is no such thing as black and white. Good and bad people for example, but most people were something in between.

Hone that bullshit detector because there are always some people trying to bullshit you.

The predators and awful scum of the Earth look for the vulnerable so always hold your head high.

There are a lot of good people, I've had some wonderful mentors in my life that guided me through the toughest parts of my life.

remymartinia54 karma

What Scandinavian murder mysteries? I love murder mysteries!

oldman_jazz80 karma

Thank you so much for asking I love talking about them.

Authors of various murder mysteries I love:

One of my favorites is Jo Nesbo

Karin Fossom (hope I spelled right)

Robert Galbraith

Donna Leon (im butchering these huh)

Denise Mina

TV shows:

London Kills



Goodnight Darling





Sandhamn Murders

Department Q

So many more. (as I write he lists them off from his bookshelf full of them)

(My dad really wanted to rep the movie About Time even though it's not a mystery. I showed it to him and we both cried when his dad and son run along the beach around the end)

ShiibbyyDota50 karma

What's your favorite memory of you & your son?

oldman_jazz134 karma

I would take my son to the pool all the time. When he was very young and learning to swim he would jump into my arms and I would push him to the steps to do it again :) (Also one of my favorites)

I remember him coming down the steps at our house and he was bundled in every little bit of clothes he owned because his mother thought it was too cold outside. (EMBARRASSING)

Nowadays he's a bit to old for the cutesy stuff, but we still watch foreign mysteries together (which we are doing right now as we write) which is an absolute joy.

billder_burrg38 karma

How did you manage to break the cycle of violence, alcoholism, and poverty to raise your son so he never suspected all this bad shit you grew up around? How did you learn what was normal and what was not?

oldman_jazz77 karma

I compartmentalized it all.

All that shit was behind me, and looking at it now it was just one step in a grand journey that is my life. I've had so many other experiences, I'm quite the old-fuck now haha.

I seem to be able for the most part to focus intently on the moment. The things that happened to me happened to me and I don't feel sorry for myself. To me growing up, it was just normal. I knew what was really normal because of my peers. I tried my best to emulate the happy kids I knew my whole life at school.

Things weren't all bad in one stretch. I would stay with Aunt Mebs in Pasadena where I had my own room that was bigger than the entire apartment I stayed in with my mother. I even had a membership at the country club. You might ask, well why didn't you stay with her? I always felt I suppose a misguided loyalty to my mother. I always wondered what would happen if I wasn't there to take care of her. Perhaps my biggest mistake was tying myself to tightly to her.

My mother wasn't always drunk. She had periods of sobriety that would last 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 months at a time and she was actually very sophisticated during these times hence the periodic-ness of my homelessness. Things were quite normal then at least as much as they could be considering the circumstances.

RichBitchDress34 karma

Did you go to school?

oldman_jazz152 karma

Yeah, I never missed a day of HS. I couldn't because if I for one second ever let up that I was living like I was they'd ship me off to a home.

I left HS, joined the Marines, got out and went to college (missed the fucking GI bill) graduated with a BA in History, MA in English, a MFA in Creative Writing and I have the debt to prove it.

Al-GirlVersion33 karma

I spy an electric guitar in the background! Do you play? If so, what’s your favorite song to jam to?

oldman_jazz59 karma

(That's actually mine lol I play the guitar some, but I like playing the Ukulele with him. He is learning pretty damn good I'd say)

aballofunicorns27 karma

I admire your strength.

ANYWAY, if your book is taken to the big screen, which actor would you like to play you?

oldman_jazz61 karma

Hard question it have quite a few young people from the age of 4 all the way to 18

Someone blond and blue eyed

Robert Di Niro hahaha

Verbenablu21 karma

In your dealings with the fence, was that your only contact with the Chinese underground? Were the tongs a visible entity to you?

oldman_jazz69 karma

My Chinese friend was once known as "English Charlie"

He was basically a thief and he got into trouble because he wouldn't work the slots. If you don't know that was basically the prostitution rackets. He got out of the way of the tongs somehow or another no idea how or in what capacity I was very young. He got married, bought a little grocery store on the corner of Waller and Fillmore, had one kid and then his wife died. He was the only one I knew, it was small time stuff, not really noticeable. He would take my mother's social security checks and cash them for me. He was a good man.

I knew of the Tongs, but never had dealings with them. Near as I knew, he didn't anymore or ever did. I think he was more-or-less outside of that. He was a small time con man.

bigfatgato14 karma

We have matching glasses :)

Do you believe that San Francisco has changed for the better, and is there anything you wish would happen to the city for others that might encounter the same journey?

oldman_jazz58 karma

They are pretty snazzy yeah?

No not really. I like the way it was. It was casual and cheap and working class. They should take all the tech people and put em on bus and send em to milpitas.

real_human_person13 karma

If you could be either the richest man in the world right now or have eternal life, which would you pick?

This goes for both of you guys.

Looking forward to reading the book.

oldman_jazz49 karma

I'm an old-fuck now.

I wish for more years. I don't know too much about having eternal life until the suns melts me into the cosmos, but I like living I don't want to leave it.

Ludicrous amounts of money just makes you miserable, but I wouldn't mind having a few more bucks to throw aroun. Good question.

(Bruh, I'm tryna get them bezos dollars naw mean?

Just kidding, I agree with my dad here I'd default to money since seeing all my friends grow old and die would suck, but stupid amounts of money is just not something I want in life. Not to make it too political I'd like to see a future where that kind of money in just one person's hand doesn't exist anymore.)


coldislander11 karma

How did you find the spirit and energy to keep trucking forward, instead of allowing your experiences to manifest and consume you whole?

It’s so hard to find the light when it seems like the world is always working against you, especially when you’re a child. I feel as though it’s a constant, lifelong battle.

So glad that your bad ass self is here to share your tale! Will definitely be purchasing a copy of your books.

oldman_jazz21 karma

I am what I would call a consummate survivor. I did everything I could to survive, many things I am not proud of, but do not regret. I made a conscious effort every moment to keep myself going for survivals sake. There was no way to have it consume me whole because if it ever did I would never have made it.

There were good times, and bad times. Horrible times, and times of utter joy. Life is a constant, lifelong battle filled with everything and the kitchen sink. My advice is to grab it by the balls and never let go.

pistachios200210 karma

If you could pick one moment that really really stood out to you and made you happy from your childhood what would it be?

oldman_jazz58 karma


I loved baseball, sandlot baseball to be clear not organized.

When we didn't have enough players we would make do, for example if we didn't have a firstbaseman you couldn't hit it right field. Throwing it to the pitcher was an out.

A lot of times we had a pitcher, shortstop, and a left fielder and that's it.

We had so much fun playing all day for fun.

I hated team organized baseball. Too man rules and everyone was always so serious. We just wanted to play fun ball

phi_array0 karma

SFO is the city when you can pitch even the dumbest idea (delivery gasoline for example) and still get at least 100k USD from someone. Do you thing this is the cause for many people to be in your situation? Do you blame risk capital alone?

oldman_jazz4 karma

The reason people end up in my situation isn't the cities fault. It was my broken home and lack of support network. Risk capital means nothing to me because I, and many of my peers were too poor to even think about starting a silly business idea.

RaoulDuke209-6 karma

Who really killed Kennedy?

oldman_jazz32 karma

How in the fuck do I know