Wednesday, April 19, 2006
CORKY, THIS COURT FINDS YOU GUILTY AND SENTENCES YOU TO 9 MONTHS ON A BLUE CHAIR
If you happened to stumble across this picture you might think to yourself that it's a picture of an auditorium set up for a graduation. Or it might look like a room being used for a business seminar. Either way, you probably wouldn't give it a second thought. But if you were as fortunate as I was you would view this room as a warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey used to store drug "addicts", bulimics, over eaters, and cross dressers. Sprinkle in a couple of people with behavioral problems and ta-da--you have a rehab called KIDS.
From the fall of 89 to the spring of 91, I spent most of my life drinking and drugging. I made countless poor choices at that time, from who I associated with to putting hallucinogenic toxins in my blood stream on a semi-regular basis. I tried to change my behavior at least a dozen times. One of the methods I used to change was enrolling in community college. Twice. I do not recommend enrolling in college without a plan or a desire to learn. It's a very expensive way to spend three days at a clip, carrying around expensive, heavy books so that you can play the part of a student. Fortunate for my parents, who were footing the bill for these "spiritual awakenings," I did have some sense left and I spared them the added cost of buying me a pair of glasses with out a prescription. I would also spend the better part of three to four hours after a night of tripping verbally expressing my chemically manifested negative feelings to anyone who would listen. Usually a person who had been there with me, doing the same exact thing, kind of like talking to yourself, only you're not listening. One particular place I would do this was at a donut shop on route 10 in New jersey. I would usually get a cup of coffee, smoke a pack of cigarettes and exfoliate my need to change my life (and, despite my wife's protest exfoliate, is the right word). There was a guy who frequented the same coffee shop, a regular if you will, who must have listened to me on numerous occasions. I can only imagine what he must have thought. If it were me, I might have said "oh no... Not him again, and not that same old song and dance". This is an example of the series of patterns I called my life back then. By the end of this "best of 24 game series" I was beaten, exhausted and just about feeling dead inside.
I finally went to my mother and told her I needed help. At the same time she was already looking to get me help, because she could see the toll the series had taken on me. So I spent a month in one of those dream vacation spots called rehab. This place was amazing by the way. I spent my time living in Florida, going fishing in the pond behind the rehab and catching monster bass and snapping turtles. I also gorged myself on ice cream and spent my afternoons at the beach. I think we took a field trip to NASA as well. And for a couple of hours a day we would sit in a room and talk about such things as child neglect, drugs and alcohol. You too could have all of this fun in 1990 for just 30,000 dollars a month.
On my way home from my vacation in Florida the councilor offered me two suggestions. 1.Go to a 12 step meeting as soon as you get off the plane and 2. stay away from old people, places and things. After getting off of the airplane I did the exact opposite. I got together with "old" friends and I didn't go to a meeting. Besides with the added 15 pounds I had from eating all that ice cream I was ready to take another stab at the game. But my mother playing the umpire threw me out at first base. In retrospect I am grateful to her for that. However, what I'm about to tell you next is very disturbing, and she was not aware of any of this at the time.
About a week after my 30 day stint in Florida my mother told me that i would be going away. Reluctantly I knew she was right and that I had to go. So I went to my best friends homes to say my temporary goodbyes.(I remember going to Doug's house and him not being there, and I remember crying on the walk home). And off to Kids I went.
When I arrived at KIDS the first thing I saw were a couple of cute girls drawing pictures. I remember thinking to myself that maybe this place wasn't going to be so bad after all. That might have been the most inaccurate perception I will ever have in my life. The councilors took me into an empty room they called an intake room. There they berated me for about two hours, asking me what kind of drugs I did. I told them and they would ask again. And then one of the girls who had been drawing pictures, with her pretty smile, told me how the program had helped her. So, I decided to give the place a try because I wanted something better for my life and, more importantly at that moment, I wanted to get into her pants. And then they brought me some papers and had me sign them and the rest is history, as they say. After that they stripped me of my dignity, i mean took away my cigarettes, they patted me on the back and welcomed me to Kids.
The next thing that happened is that one of these Kids took me by the waist with his hand, by placing three fingers inside the waist of my pants and putting his index finger through by beltloop, so he could control me. I could not move much more than a couple of inches but I could move enough to walk. Then they proceeded to walk me through a sea of blue chairs, into a group where the girls were separated from the boys. This is how they introduced me: "This is Corky everybody he smoked pot, drank alcohol, used acid, mescaline, mushrooms, wip-its, and liquid codeine" and a couple of other stupid things." Then they said I liked martial arts and watched alot of television. Just kidding about the television part. The group of KIDS then responded by saying "Love you Corky" and I was sat down. The next thing that happened was truly a bizarre sight to behold. The Kids started singing a campfire-esque song about the rehab (what the fuck?) that lasted about 30 seconds and, to further shock me, they started having what would appear to a normal human being to be a collective epileptic fit. This was called Motivating. Motivating, by swinging your arms wildly and making twisted faces, this was how you got recognized in group, or called on, the same way a student who raises their hand gets called on in school. After you got picked, you would stand up and talk about a specific past incident where your compulsion made your life unmanageable. You had to talk about one of these incidents with a certain amount of feeling or the staff members, 90 percent of whom had been former KIDS themselves, would sit you down. If you were Sat down in group, this meant you were in trouble and made you ineligible to receive the one reward you were working to achieve as a new comer, the chance to tell your parents about what else, your past. This is all you did from sun up to sun down at this place. They broke it up into 3 or 4 sessions throughout the day. There was morning rap, then you ate lunch. Then they separated the guys and girls and had guy and girls rap in separate locations. Then they had Afternoon rap. Then dinner and finally Evening rap.
There were five phases that were designed to integrate you back into becoming a productive member of society. Phase one was designed to make you come to terms with the fact that you were a drug addict or that you had an eating disorder or that you [insert any addiction or compulsion here]. A person with an eating disorder might describe a past incident as looking in the mirror and noticing the sores on their mouth caused by the stomach acid they were throwing up in order to stay thin. Very disturbing and very real. Phase 2 turned you into a person who could go home and babysit phase one people. You see at Kids the parents played a vital role in the "recovery" of the Kids as well. They got to feed and warehouse the Kids at night when the other warehouse was closed for the night. These were called host homes. And you basically did the same thing at the host home you did at group, you ate and, drum roll please..... you talked about the fucking past. Phases three through five integrated you back into school or college or work, and Yes, these Kids did not go to school on phase one. There were a ton of rules at this shit hole. Rule number one was honesty, a rule that this place's very existence broke.
HERE IS WHERE THIS EXPERIENCE TRULY BECOMES DISTURBING: I will only give a handful of examples. You could not talk about a person who was removed from the program. A person would simply disappear from the Kids program in what appeared to me to be the same manner as if you were a resident in Germany in the late 30's and early 40's and your neighbor was a Jew. He was there one day and gone the next, with no explanation. You were told that if you did not succeed at Kids you would be dead within the year. And then they would give you an example of a person who this might have happened too. You could not look behind your blue chair, as to look in the back of the room. So at this point you were now being treated like a horse and if you did look behind, you were stood up and berated or RIPPED INTO.
You had to eat whatever was served you and finish every bit of it because it was deemed uncompassionate to the people with eating disorders if you did not, and they would not serve you anything else until you finished your original meal. On higher phases you could not associate with anyone who the program did not allow you too. You could not even go to the bathroom by yourself on phase one. As a result of this rule, Corky became very constipated. The rules are endless and they are all meant to break a person down.
This is the point in this story where I will tell you the true tragedy of Kids: the age range of the kids in this program were 12 years old to 24. So when I was off pretending to be a superhero at the age of 12 for example, some of these children were spending their childhoods on blue chairs talking about a past that they really never had. Of course some people had serious problems, but this place wasn't equipped to deal with them. Another tragedy was the Kids that were being punished for their sexual orientation or for their clinical depression. As an example, there was one kid that was there because he liked to wear dresses. There was also a girl in there that had a bi polar disorder. Instead of treating this disorder with medication, like they should have, Kids treated it with having this girl talk about a time she put her fist through a window, or the time she was too depressed to get out of bed, for example. They kept this girl in what amounts to solitary confinement for months at a time.
When Kids were disobedient they were punished by not being able to proceed with their program, a process called being frozen. Kids were also punished by being stood up in group and humiliated. A person who didn't comply with these rules was referred to as rebellious and sat back in their blue chair and didn't motivate or participate. This was me for most of the 9 months I was there. 9 months is just a drop in the water for most of the children who were imprisoned by this program. There were people who spent over 5 years easily on their phases, being reconditioned how to think and how to talk. I must mention that one of the main reasons a kid would be kept on his phases for so long was perhaps his parents were paying in cash. This program was subsidized by the government as well. A good majority of the kids that were in this program were from inner cities and what not. One time the police came and pulled a kid right out of group and arrested him on the spot. I know this guy was relieved to be going to jail, because the court gave him a choice. He was over 18.
At this point one might be asking themselves "how did Corky not go crazy"? I did to a point. I wound up getting restrained, a process where 4 to 6 other Kids, depending on how strong you were, held you down by your limbs and stretched you out on to the floor. It hurt like hell, sometimes. I wound up punching one kid in the face and one time I built up a really thick wad of spit and launched it into another person's face. At times, you could say I was becoming a caged animal. But most of the time, dare I say it, I dreamed about the past... the real past. Not the one concocted by this asylum.
When I finally got out of this place the first thing I did was take a monster shit that I had been holding in for as much as one can for 9 months. I was a raw nerve to say the least. After that I visited with the same three friends I went to say goodbye to before I went into KIDS. And we did what we always do, we laughed and made fun of each other. I could not explain to them what had transpired over the previous 9 months except to say that it and I were very fucked up over it. Could you imagine trying to explain Motivating to someone? I couldn't until I started writing this. I also had a recurring nightmare that was always the same. I would break out and cross the Garden State Parkway in extremely slow motion. I had the dream for years but it's been a while now...
This place was ran and operated by a man named Virgil Miller Newton. A so called doctor of Anthropology or some shit. I would best describe him as a child molester. There are many people who are still haunted by this experience and a lot of others who moved on with their lives.
There are also people who still follow this man. Can you believe that? You can learn all about him if you go to kidsofnorthjersey.com. I will say that the girl with bi-polar disorder was awarded 4.4 million dollars or something like that for her mistreatment and others have followed suit as well. I am happy for them. As bad as I felt in that coffee shop on route 10 it was nothing compared to how bad I felt when after a couple of weeks in KIDS.