This week Superstition Mountain Press published Richard Grayson's Springtime in Lauderhill. It is available in a 196-page trade paperback edition for $11.99, as well as an e-book published by Art Pants Company available at the Amazon Kindle store for 99 cents.
The promo stuff says in part,
Richard Grayson started writing a daily diary in the summer of 1969, when he turned 18, and has compiled daily entries since then. In the six volumes of THE BROOKLYN DIARIES (SUMMER IN BROOKLYN, AUTUMN IN BROOKLYN, WINTER IN BROOKLYN, SPRING IN BROOKLYN, MORE SUMMER IN BROOKLYN, and A YEAR IN ROCKAWAY), Grayson published selected entries from 1969 to 1980.
Now, in THE EIGHTIES DIARIES, Grayson describes his itinerant life in his thirties during the Reagan era. Following the three previous volumes, SOUTH FLORIDA WINTERS, WEST SIDE SUMMERS and INDIAN SUMMER: PARK SLOPE is this book, SPRINGTIME IN LAUDERHILL, recounting two months Grayson spent living in a mostly African-American apartment complex in a fading Fort Lauderdale suburb.
It’s 1986, and Grayson is struggling with his lack of success as a fiction writer after publishing three books, disenchanted with his past jobs teaching college composition and remedial writing, and starting a new career as a teacher trainer in the nascent field of computer education with the first Apple machines ever used in schools.
Meanwhile, he’s taking an assortment of courses at a couple of universities, causing controversy with a legal challenge for age discrimination to a savings and loan company’s discounts for senior citizens, amassing a huge number of credit cards and credit lines, obsessing about the AIDS epidemic and wondering if he is infected, publishing his humorous nonfiction in places like People Magazine, and being interviewed on The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and other media outlets.
Grayson’s diaries are a window into an individual sensibility and a particular moment in time: the spring of 1986.
Monday, March 31, 1986
9 PM. Today was one of the more satisfying days of my life, probably because I could see myself doing well in a variety of roles. If I’m not quite a Renaissance man, I’m something more than a dilettante.
Up early, I read the paper, walked to the credit union to deposit $700 I’d gotten in cash advances from ATMs, and paid the rent.
Stopping off at the Publix Teller on Broward Boulevard, I went into the supermarket and discovered the news dealer had arrived with a fresh shipment of magazines, including People, which I took from the his piled-high shopping cart before he put it on the racks.
I couldn’t find my story in the table of contents, but I thumbed through and discovered it: “Unless We Bag a Few New Stars, the U.S. Will Face a Tragic Celebrity Shortage” by Richard Grayson and Fred Bernstein.
Illustrate with a full-page photo of paparazzi shooting a bejeweled, glamorously dressed woman with a paper bag over her head, with the Hollywood sign in the distance, the whole article took up four pages, with another photo page devoted to a model pretending to be Barbara Walters interviewing a tree (“If you were a star, what kind of star would you be?”)
I’m very pleased with the piece. In Davie, first Jonathan and then Mom and then Dad read the article, and they all thought it was good; of course, they’re my family.
While in Davie, I got a call from Joyce Brown of the Human Relations Division, reminding me about tomorrow’s hearing.
Also, the People publicity department called to find out if they could give my number to radio stations wanting interviews. Of course I said yes, though Fred is probably taking the good ones for himself, but I hope he’s not going on Live at Five and getting TV exposure I could use. I’m kidding!
Tons of mail, including the AWP Job List, with some creative writing vacancies I’ll apply for; loads of banking stuff, including my CBI credit file, a Virginia Beach Federal money market account checkbook, the PIN number for my Chase money market account, and applications for credit line increases on my Bank One and Chemical cards; and the leader of Americans for Generational Equality told me to “give ‘em hell” on senior discounts.
After xeroxing the article at Jaffe’s and having lunch at the Broadway Diner, I came home to read newspapers and prepare for class.
“It’s the computer man!” said the Sunshine Elementary school secretary as she opened the door for me at 3:30 PM. I showed the teachers the SRI math software today.
It was kind of disorganized because I’d never seen the material before, but I enjoyed myself and I think they learned a lot just by using it and experimenting with it.
One thing I stress is that the computer is dumb compared to a teacher because it makes the teachers feel better knowing how limited the machines are. After a quick bite, I went to my FIU Community College class, where Kitty Hunter, BCC’s Academic Vice President, was our guest.
Like most of the BCC administrators, she surprised me by her intellectual depth. She’s very future-oriented and interested in issues ranging from the role of the community college in relation to business and government to the need to educate people for a world economy and a world culture. Her remarks and the discussion which followed were stimulating.
Can you tell me why today was so satisfying? I felt competent in all my roles as writer, “computer man,” banking maven, social activist, and educator. I feel integrated and whole. Let’s hope tomorrow isn’t a big disaster.
Tuesday, April 1, 1986
11 PM. Not exactly a disaster, but I need time to digest today. Before I left this morning, I got a call from a producer at WXYT radio in Detroit; I’ll do an interview tomorrow at 5:30 PM, which means I’ll have to get out of class and go over to my parents’.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I walked into the Governmental Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale this morning. A black woman ran the hearing, with me in my corduroys, sport shirt and sneakers on one side of the long table and on the other side, five business-suited attorneys and AmeriFirst Vice Presidents. One man was apparently an outside counsel, but a woman V.P., presumably also an attorney, did most of the talking.
I suppose it was rather intimidating, and I’m sure the absurdity of the scene – like something in a movie – will stay with me for a long time.
Of course the situation triggered all these weird childhood feelings, especially when I saw how much trouble the S&L had gone to in its marketing studies and accounts of other banks’ practices.
I couldn’t help feeling I’d caused these important people a lot of trouble and would be punished for it. But since I was in touch with those feelings, I could act and react more calmly.
First, they went over my complaint and each side agreed or disagreed with each charge. Early on after that, after a huddle between the attorneys, they offered me the AmeriFirst 55 plan.
But a condition of my accepting it would be confidentiality; I could not tell anyone about the settlement or I could be sued for breach of contract.
I asked to leave the room to “consult my attorney by phone”; actually, I called Mom. She said that if I accepted the offer, I would be doing something other than what I set to do: namely, to expose and to try to stop age discrimination.
Of course Mom was right, and her remarks confirmed my own judgment. I let them wait for a good while as I went outside and took a walk around the block a couple of times.
Then I came in and rejected their offer, saying I wouldn’t be happy until their discriminatory practice – the AmeriPlus 55 plan – was ended or made available to everyone, regardless of age.
Naturally they didn’t want to do that. The hearing officer took me aside and said that the S&L had offered me total redress of my complaint, and that if I didn’t accept it, she’d probably have to end the case on the argument that since I wouldn’t accept their offer, no hurt was done originally.
Had this been a class action suit, I could have gone further, but she said the Human Relations Division had a narrow scope. After some testimony and questioning about the plan versus other AmeriFirst accounts, the hearing was adjourned.
I expect to hear that my complaint has been dismissed. But in a way I will have gotten what I wanted: the public awareness created by the publicity I got over the senior discount issue.
Having rejected their offer, I was free to go to the press, so I called the Miami Herald and gave them a rundown of what happened. Since I intend to go to New York soon, I don’t really want to come back before another hearing before the Human Rights Board this time.
I guess there’s still a slight chance the case could go on, but it’s over for me, whatever happens. Right now I’m too close to the situation to tell how I really feel.
It will also be available on Scribd and Lulu for free online reading.