"With the basest of companions, I walked the streets of Babylon..."
Augustine
Confessions, II, 3

"And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of the spirit."
Ecclesiastes

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities"

Feeding the cat
Feeding the animals in my room at the fraternity house.


I had always wanted to attend the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). I remember like it was yesterday at about six years of age shivering in freezing Milwaukee, Wisconsin on New Year's Day watching the Bruins play against heavily favored Ohio State in the Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena. I liked the blue and gold uniforms of the underdog Bruins as they went up against the villainous Buckeyes and their caustic coach Woody Hayes. And sure enough, the Bruins defied the odds and won! I remember feeling like I participated in their victory. Yes, I was a UCLA believer from a very young age.

      Unfortunately, it took me more than a decade to finally end up as a student on the Westwood campus. My wimpy 3.66 G.P.A. did not get me into UCLA right out of high school, and therefore I spent two years at the University of California at Irvine (UCI). I was a dedicated martial artist and student during those two uneventful years at UCI. But I had lived in Orange County my whole life and was ready for a change; having my own student apartment in Irvine was still too close (5 minutes driving) to my parent's house in Newport Beach. I was driving the same old streets as always and doing the same old things. GET ME OUTTA HERE! So I tried to transfer to UCLA and was finally accepted. I was a Bruin at last!

      My arrival in Los Angeles for my first semester at UCLA was a special time. I was so excited to be in this new place starting a new life (relatively) far from home. I used to walk across campus and feel overwhelmed by the profusion of scholarship, the promise of enlightenment and the potential for insight! I would get the new course catalogue the day it was released and then sit down like a child on Christmas morning to review all the fascinating classes I could take next semester. This notwithstanding, the most important lessons life taught me occurred outside rather than inside the lecture hall, and I learned nothing more important at UCLA than this: if you take some care about your clothes and looks, smile a lot, and be nice to a woman, she will more than likely want to date you. And if you are a gentleman when you go out, she is more than likely going to want a little more than pleasant conversation from you later on. It was a glorious discovery!, and I viewed the society of women like an explorer looking out over vast unexplored territories - O brave new world! I had so many awesome experiences with my fellow co-eds at UCLA; I would not trade them for anything! I learned that, if you just shut your mouth and listen, a woman will tell you the most amazing things (abortions, first loves and heartbreaks, parent's death or divorces, abuse, etc.) in the dark intimacy of a late night conversation. It was good clean ol' fashioned fun in those days when God only knows what might happen late at night after having imbibed many a cocktail. It was not the same after college - or better put, I was not the same.

      At the beginning it was all so new and exciting and exhilarating! I would wake up in the morning and say, "Can you believe what happened last night...!" ("Did Greg really put his head through the dry wall?" "Who is it in bed lying next to me?" "Where am I?") But that all passed, and within a couple of years it was no longer so new or exciting and as I grew bored the scene turned harder. It became dispiriting to wake up after an all-night bout of debauchery that leaves only a fearsome hangover for a souvenir. It was time to move on.

(NOTE: All this when the man-woman dialect on campus was dominated by militant feminists who looked at the male/female sexual dynamic as principally defined by power and exploitation and "sensitivity training" was mandatory for students and speech codes were called for. To listen to the humorless feminists at UCLA, women were nothing more than things to be exploited and/or raped by men. Their chant was "NO!" "NO!" "NO!" I wanted to hear "YES!" "YES!" "YES!", and I heard it plenty enough in those thrilling nights which remain treasured memories. I would leave the idea of rape and violence as the natural communion between man and woman for other more perverted minds (ie. the radical feminists and men who get off on hurting women).

      Academically, I was a lackluster student, often not reading my assigned texts (or even going to class). Yet even if I was the despair of my professors, I was always seeking and learning at UCLA - I never was one to let school get in the way of my education. And I thank my professors very much for giving me the time and space to really think in college. I was exposed for the first time to huge amounts of exciting new poetry, philosophy, and literature. I delved through W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, and F. Dostoyevski, racked my brains against the ideas of Plato, Voltaire, and Kierkegaard, and studiously listened to the Well Tempered Clavier of J.S. Bach and marveled at what I saw as a near mathematical perfection. If I was not in my fraternity house or some campus bar, I was in a bookstore or the library.

      Practically my last class at UCLA was a basic geography class and I could hardly force myself to open the text book. Igneous and volcanic rocks? Why the hell would I want to learn about those when I was busy watching people die or have their lives saved, reading huge tracts of Western literature in down-time, getting in brawls, and even helping deliver two babies in the UCLA Emergency Room where I worked to pay my last two years of school? Why would I want to learn about the differences between a plateau and an arroyo when I could seek adventure with another one of the 15,000 young women on campus? I needed this last class to graduate, and I got an "F" the first time I took it and a "D" the second time and graduated. All this during the semester in which I (a Pol. Sci./International Relations major) ghostwrote all the papers for my roommate's Bach music class in which he earned an "A."

      Even if I did not have the grades to show for it, my college years were a time of intellectual and emotional flowering for me. I was afforded the opportunity to think and learn full-time and my mind was young, open to new ideas, and absorbed concepts like a sponge. My female peers at UCLA - one and two of them, in particular - taught me more about the intimate joys and risks of love than I can detail in a few paltry words; the debt I owe them is huge. As a man ages he gathers life experience and perspective which is all, of course, invaluable. However, there is something special about a young person in the full bloom of enthusiastic learning and maturing. How I would dearly love to be able to do that again! In retrospect, I took it all for granted. I can hear my father's voice claiming, "Youth is wasted on the young!" These years were, in the end, the best of my life...

VITAE SUMMA BREVIS SPEM NOS VETAT INCHOHARE LONGAM

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

by Ernest Dowson


Bro' Jamie Moore and I in Palm Springs for fraternity formal in 1990.

      I finally graduated from UCLA in the spring of 1991 and at my parent's gentle but persistent urging departed for Europe.

PARTY!
See more party photos from my UCLA days!