Short Skipping Decades of My Life in The American Dream
Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Located at the Kittery, Maine border along the Piscataqua River, I was born here October 29, 1949. I lived my small body cowboy-indian years here until age five. My grandfather was the city’s postmaster general, a big title back in them days. Many of my deeper relatives were from the historical Portsmouth, a quaint New England city renown for building the finest clipper ships in the world, rich in maritime history.
Most folks from the Portsmouth communities were employed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. My younger days saw me work there a couple of months as a shipyard janitor — I even got to go on a couple of submarines. Was I radioactive bait? Who knows what the janitor swept up back then!
After growing up in Hampton, hitchhiking all over the nation and living the ’70s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I eventually returned to Portsmouth for the 1980’s decade. The first few years I drove a cab, eventually becoming a typesetter/sports correspondent for The Portsmouth Herald and Portsmouth Magazine.
Finally, during my young ’30s, I taught myself how to play guitar. Also during this time I organized a top-notch softball team that played for a nursing home. The folks would come down to the ball park, sit in the bleachers, munch down hot dogs and french fries and root us on to win. They named us The Hurricanes!
I also organized several all-age charity events that brought together musicians and athletes — even The Boston Bruins made a visit — to help make elderly people feel young again and to teach younger people to respect elders. Often we’d hold concerts at the nursing home.
When the housing crunch hit and gentrification began setting into the city, I became so frustrated I entered politics and served two terms as a “Live Together or Die” — not a “Live Free or Die” — state representative. My politics were then and remain today left of Bernie Sanders. I gave up a potential career in politics in order to move back to Cambridge where, now a musician with original songs, I became a Harvard Square street musician — a step up in the pedigree of my life!
How’d I end my political career? I selected the most difficult issue possible and ran for Congress calling for drug legalization. Clearly, I was ahead of my time. I still am! Portugal legalized drugs 10 years ago and quality of life has improved. America’s drug war has become a scheme for profiteering, it’s kept people living an underground reality so they do not vote and it is a means by which to smuggle weapons as well as drugs. How fraudulent is it that we let people die by having more police than social workers and we can’t even keep drugs out of prisons, never mind a supposedly free society!?!
Video of Portsmouth:
My Hometown — Hampton/Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
In 1955, my family moved from Portsmouth to Hampton, located at the southern end of New Hampshire’s 13-mile ocean coastline. My father began his American Dream career by climbing telephone poles as a New England Power lineman. By the time he retired he was supervising construction of huge power plants and overseeing the power grids swathed throughout New England. Unlike so many folks today, my dad had a job of opportunity with a guaranteed pension. He was able to buy a modest home, a nice car for himself and one for his wife and he raised his family on one-income.
I grew up in a very safe environment. Although I never took advantage of it, my education was reasonable and provided me with potential. In my neighborhood, I had a sandlot baseball field, a skating pond for hockey and a basketball hoop over the garage. I played little league baseball, pee-wee football, was a cub scout and then a boy scout. Excelling in sports, I earned several team letter awards in high school. I was groomed. I would have been a perfect soldier … but I was a child of the ’60s, instead became a pacifist!
Of course, back then, part of the American Dream was when the kid finally got to drive the family car! Notice my hair was short because I got arrested twice for being “knowingly present where marijuana was found.” I had to look good when appearing in court. I had friends who’d visit Hampton Beach from city environments and they’d get tagged with worse charges — their future lives doomed to ruin.
I was never academically-inclined and repudiated higher eduction. I could have had a career playing baseball. I prided myself with being a smart player, letting nothing get by me, stretching singles into doubles and stealing bases. But I ended up becoming Triple-A+ student of counter-culture ultimately morphing into a lifelong ’60s Flower Child.
My fate saw me drafted into the army the same week as Woodstock. I’ve probably lived my life as if in revenge for being deprived of that concert. Eventually discharged honorably from the army as a conscientious objector, I never returned to the Hampton Beach scene as I was lured into Harvard Square, Cambridge.
Turns out Joni Mitchell didn’t make Woodstock either:
Pre-Hippy Video of Hampton Beach
— How did I ever survive the ’60s in this authoritarian town? A lot of my friends didn’t make it. Of the dozen or so I closely hung with, I’m the only one still going as most of ‘em ended up jailed or drug and alcohol-addicted withering the scorn of society. What saved me was I developed a political conscientiousness enabling me to champion changing the world rather than becoming victimized or subjugated by it.
Throughout the ’70s and ’90s I lived mostly in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During the early-’70s, I worked with Vietnam Veterans Against The War and The Legal In-Service Project (active duty soldiers) to help end the Vietnam War. When the war ended I went on to manage rock n’ roll bands. On to Portsmouth for the ’80s and back to Cambridge for the ’90s.
I’ve gotta say the ’90s were the best years of my life. In my ’40s, I hung out with folks both younger and older and I always held a close-knit circle of friends who were geniuses on virtually any subject. Then a reasonably good folk musician, I drank Guinness in pubs where insults were taken kindly and I pulled together a strategy for throwing the greatest parties Planet Earth has ever seen. I also had a great time playing ball for The Cambridge Tread Sox!
The parties began when I was living in Harvard Square and was graced to find 110 bottles of still-boxed, un-opened corked bottles of wine from Harvard’s graduating Class of ’67. Somehow the booty got ditched into a Harvard dumpster.
That fateful day of discovery began when a rough and ready contingent of Harvard Square’s homeless, each with an open bottle of wine in their hand, passed by me yelling out where the wine was stashed. Nobody will ever successfully inform me that homeless folk do not share! I grabbed a two-wheeler and began shuttling home boxes of wine. I removed the food from the pantry and re-stocked it with very fine red wine.
Never wanting to disrupt the weekend energy, I selected Thursday night as party night. I fit together a couple of tables with a nice tablecloth, placed some candles and invited musicians over for a musical spaghetti dinner. My theory was a Thursday night party would provide folks with the option to take Friday off from work and thus they’d have a beautiful four-day weekend. With method to our madness we celebrated life!
The magical gift from the homeless, began as a party of slightly more than a dozen of us in 1992. By the end of the decade it had evolved into three-to-five dozen people showing up every single Thursday night … whether I wanted ‘em or not. Why were the parties so great? I invited only musicians and women — the magic formula! We had electric music in the basement, acoustic music on the upper floor, a chess parlor set up with three tables, a huge dance room with a loud stereo system and every political problem on earth got solved while in the kitchen cooking the spaghetti.
Sadly, the parties ended when I fell in love with a girl and moved to NYC for a short spell.
Videos of Harvard Square:
From NYC to Nantasket Beach (Hull Massachusetts)
Although madly in love, leaving Cambridge for the Upper East Side of NYC in year 2000 was a huge mistake. The city no longer was like it was during my earlier week- and month-long visits of the past. Rudy Giuliani, as mayor, had closed down lots of the neighborhood rock n’ roll clubs and the city reeked of Trump money. Greenwich Village no longer seemed real — even the Washington Square chess players seemed in it only for the money! My only solace was Central Park’s rollerblade-dancing on weekends or playing on its ball diamonds. ’Tis a sign a city has gone downhill when you can only have fun playing in the park!
Now at age 50, having grown up at Hampton Beach and wanting to become a kid again, I moved to Nantasket Beach (Hull, Massachusetts). Having always done organizational work tied to a phone, typewriter and a desk, online stock trading or driving a cab, I felt an imperative to finally do physical work. Living on a tiny peninsular at the mouth of Boston’s harbor, I became a painter of beach houses.
At Nantasket Beach I was finally able to make my dream come true. I put together a rock n’ roll band at age 62. As a young teenager, I quit my guitar lessons when my teacher told me to stick to Little Brown Jug and Yankee, Doodle, this when I wanted to play Apache and other Ventures tunes.
Although I eventually taught myself how to play, I became only a backbench folksinger and one who would only pull out my guitar at the end of the party before the sun would come up, this after other musicians had performed everybody’s favorite cover tunes. I’ve always insisted on being original!
My Rock Band: Climate Change
Today, at 70 years old, I continue to live at the beach and now have an all-original rock band named Climate Change.
Climate Change Band
Boston's Climate Change Band consists of Michael Weddle (songwriting/rhythm guitar/vocals); Matt Gilbert…
Heart issues eventually placed me on medical disability. These days, in an effort to give back for the care I get, I spend my time organizing charitable concerts raising money for fire and storm victims, veterans, opiate awareness, animal rescue shelters, social service agencies and for high school musical students. I also grow aloe plants to raise money for the local animal shelter.
View and Video of Nantasket Beach:
The wheel of time and the hands of karma now find me living in a cool house with my two cats, Winkles and Twinkles. I learned early on in life to live my life in the spirit of living for others. As always, life is good!
Below, my good neighbor Al has a drone video of our community. My house is positioned behind the two brown houses where the drone takes off and where it returns. My music studio is on the top floor, my deck in the trees.
The American Dream
I am one of the lucky ones. I was born into it, I was raised within it and I’ve lived it … I know it exists! Most folks in the world never get to experience this. Today, for the most part, the American Dream is gone. It’s out of reach for most Americans and one can only imagine what it’s like for those who live in under-privileged nations where median age is sadly near 20.
I’m also fortunate I experienced, during my critical growing years, the Civil Rights Movement and went on to become an integral part of the Vietnam Peace Movement. I learned young to believe in strong and noble ideas and worthwhile causes. Although form and mobility have changed, I continue today. Below are several articles I’ve recently written on the writing site, Medium.com. To the extent I can, I try to make the world a better place.
Michael Weddle - Medium
Read writing from Michael Weddle on Medium. Founder of Climate Change Band; former NH State Rep; Supporter of Bernie…
My only regret is I never raised a family. That direct element in my life has always been missing. Instead, I “marched to the beat of a different drummer.” Early on, I discovered Thoreau, Voltaire, Camus, Gibran, Ken Kesey and Kurt Vonnegut — always kept a good spin to Socrates and Plato. I’ve always embraced those who’ve helped to shape my conscience. As if in a dream, I even met the very great poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I converted his poem Kubla Khan into song:
Below, are videos which well describe what happened to The American Dream: