by Ben Fong-Torres
New York, 1994, 260pp, $11.95 (Paperback)
By a noted Rolling Stones writer and San Francisco DJ
t sounded like the longest pee ever taken. Lying in my bed, listening with wonder, I'd time it, counting the seconds off in my head. Thirty seconds. Amazing! And on it would go--forty-five, fifty, a full minute.
My father accepted the deal, and he wanted me to go with him.
I didn't like the idea of being uprooted, leaving school and friends. But I had no choice. As bad a boy as my parents thought Barry was, he'd gone off to Reno and proven himself to my father. I felt like some of the clothes I wore: a hand-me-down, a boy who'd never be quite as big, as strong, as his older brother. This was my chance to prove myself worthy. I began to feel better about leaving.
One spring night, Sarah sat me down in the kitchen at our flat. She was sixteen, and she seemed envious that first Barry, and now I, had managed some kind of getaway. "You're so lucky," she said. "No more Chinatown. You can do what you want." Sarah was a junior in high school, and all around her were Chinese boys being pressured toward college and white-collar careers.
We took a train to Texas in the summer of 1957. My father and I rarely talked, and I buried myself in the latest issue of Mad magazine. I'd recently discovered its inspired mix of goofiness and anarchy, and had a stack of issues with me.