Let me start with a little background. I am an obsessive compulsive with a very addictive personality. By the time I met Kathryn Ann (my wife) at 19 years old, I had already done the following. Used marijuana, Hash, Tar, LSD, peyote and Morphine. Injected crystal meth, Dysoxine and Heroin. With LSD it was always a race to see who could go crazy first. Tripping all day, then dropping acid again when my friends wanted to. With Heroin you either can't do it, because it makes you to sick or you can and never should have. My saving grace was I was to poor and just honest enough not to get addicted.
I have been clean and sober for 45 years.
For a period of time when I worked as a Machinist, at Campbell inc press repair. I wore a straight jacket and a 1950s air raid warden helmet at work as a hardhat. Yes a Straight Jacket the kind you get in the rubber rooms of a loony bin. I bought it at a medical supply company. Then cut it, so I could wear it backwards like a jacket. On the chest area like a row of medals, I had 4 gold Catholic medals. Symbolism or just acting out, you be the judge. I like to think of it as personal performance art.
By the age of 19 I had been married and separated. I had also been in and out of the Marine corp. I joined the Marine Corp in 1968 to escape my druggie life style. By 1969 they decided it would be better if I went home. THe diagnosis was schizophrenic with masochistic tendencies. Bare in mind, this was 1969 and if you had a pulse, that was usually good enough. I had also been in and out of a drug treatment program. For a bonus round I held an audition at a mental hospital. The audition went really well until in a moment of clarity I realized something. This realization prompted me to make the following statement. You do drugs, don't you! The response or rather lack of a response, caused the interview to be canceled. It really is a shame though, I'm positive I could have nailed that role. Crazy is easy, sanity is the b***h.
When I met Kathy I was a full blown alcoholic, at 19 years old. We have been together since the day we met. Within the first 3 days, she smacked me up side the head. I haven't had a drink or anything else since that day. It did not take God or a support group to quit. Just the fear of a good woman. For the first year Kathy and I were together we slept with the light on. It took over 20 years to clear my head and become a better person. It is not an exaggeration to say Kathy is a very patient and good person.
A Jail Cell to Vietnam?
The story I'm about to tell had a very deep cost.
I slept with the light on for about a year following all this n it took about 20yrs to bounce back from the damage to me mentally.
So here is the hitch hiking story.
This all happened near the end of my time in the Marine Corp.
In 1968 I decided one weekend to hitch hike my way home to see my girlfriend. A rather normal thing. Except on the way back to Quantico Virginia I was arrested for hitch hiking on the Ohio turnpike. I spent the next 30 days in county jail because I had also forgotten to get permission from the Marines. In short I did not have a pass. Being detached to the US ARMY at the time for schooling as a Cartographic draftsman. A map maker. It took the Marines a month to realize I was gone.
Fact is I could have cared less. Going through a crazy period, I had a great time. My status was AWOL, absent without leave. This gets you a private room, Maximum security in county lockup. So for the next few weeks I spent my time sleeping or messing with the guards. Here is an example of what I thought was fun at the time. The maximum security cell I was in had walls on 3 sides. The only side that had bars was the front. For me personally having your toilet in plain sight for all to see was less than modest. One morning I decided to do something about it. I used my Sunday newspaper to build a fourth wall, by weaving it through the bars. Ah privacy at last. Which I promptly took advantage of. Once I had relieved myself, the guards discovered my renovations. The guards were not pleased at all with my gesture of defiance. They promptly took it all down. Like I said crazy is easy.
Other than that I read books and slept. Until I was informed one day that a mass murderer of some kind had arrived. The State of Ohio needed my cell to house him. So off to general population I went. Not pleased at all with this turn of events. I took the first opportunity to object, when meal time rolled around. I took the tin tray of food being handed to me through the bars and tossed it on the closest guards.
Food fights on TV are a great source of humor. In county lockup not so much. I was placed in the hole. The hole in this jail was a 4 foot by 4 foot metal closet. Inside The Hole was a small metal stool fixed to the floor in the middle of the room. The stool was meant to complicate an already small space. After a few hours the guard came by and said. We will let you out, if you promise to behave. I asked him. Can I go back to maximum security? He said nope, general population. I told him. I like the hole just fine. After all, it was a private room. For days they kept asking and I kept answering. No thank you, I liked it here in the hole. Finally after a few days the mass murderer was transferred out of county. So the hitch hiker was moved back to maximum security. Crazy is easy.
I joined the Marines to escape my life of drug use and drinking since I was 15 years old. I came to the Marines already damaged goods. Also remember. I was 17, then just turned 18 years old when this all happened. Please also remember that this was roughly 1969 during the Vietnam war. When I said warts and all I meant it. Even the parts I would rather forget. Problem is if I don't tell the whole story, you won't understand who I am. Why things that don't seem normal to you, seem very normal to me. We are all the sum and total of our life experiences.
Finally after about 30 days maximum security in the county jail of Ohio, I was escorted to my transportation back to the Marine Corp. You see my mother had been burning up the phone lines with the Marines to gain my release. When I arrived back at Quantico, I had to stand before my commanding officer. He told me my mother had assured him that I was a good boy. That he was going to handle everything administratively. Basically he was embarrassed. Nobody even knew I was gone. Having been detached to the army for training. Nobody had actually been keeping track of where I was. I had fallen through the cracks for over a month. Resulting in my 30 days of county lockup in Ohio.
I now had a "ONE WAY" ticket to Vietnam.
I had one tiny problem with this. I knew if the Viet-cong didn't get me, someone from my own team might. I did not fit in anymore. My team player skills have always sucked. I'm not good with authority. The indoctrination from boot camp, had worn off. I was again thinking independently and challenging everybody. In Vietnam this would have been a liability that would have gotten other people killed. Not being totally gone, even I knew what being fragged was. So when my commanding officer asked me if I had anything to say. Not wanting to die at 18 years old. I indeed had a lot to say. After all why should now be different. I always had something to say or at least an opinion.
For the next 15 minutes, I had a lot to say. I told him that while on leave after boot camp I had taken LSD and shot Heroin. He asked if I had done LSD before joining the Marine Corp? I told him I had. Truth was, I had used LSD many, many times. There was one time period alone, when I had approximately 12 tabs of some blue concoction called purple haze or something. I remember vividly, it being rolled in paper like a pack of Necko's candy. Yes, I used most all of them. This was just one time period, not counting Mescaline/peyote. Sheets of paper with dozens of drops of LSD on it. Along with many other colors in tablet form. Yes sir, I had done a lot of LSD. Including freaking out twice, which back then was defined as a bad trip. Like I said I had also shot Heroin for the first time while on leave after boot camp.
All this rocked him back a bit. Thing is, I hadn't even gotten to the good part yet. Not wanting to leave my C.O. hanging I launched into the rest of the story. This part of the story is also true. What can I say. I had problems. I also was a major knuckle head.
The part I didn't tell him was, I had also tried on several occasions to get a friend to drive his car over my ankle. Honestly at a certain point there is such a thing as to much crazy. Rubber room or freedom. Skip the car part.
The shrink thought they had over reacted. After hearing my story he asked me. Do you still want to cut your toes off? I answered with a question. Do you think I will be discharged from the Marine Corp? His answer was very clear. Yes, you will definitely be discharged. Then no, my toes will survive. I was diagnosed Schizophrenic with masochistic tenancies. Today it would be called obsessive compulsive with a pinch of bipolar. Over the next month while I waited to go home my locker was inspected a couple more times. Not wanting to disappoint. I tried to make sure to have a hatchet in the locker for them to find. Which they would promptly take. Only to have it replaced with another. At this point, I was just screwing with them. Making them crazy was my new hobby.
Making them crazy was my new hobby. Isn't it funny how history repeats itself. Again now it's my job to make Pez Corporation nuts, by screwing with them as much as possible. Note, this is not a full time job, I only do what I can in my spare time, now that Pez Outlaw Diary is basically done.
After a while the Marine just let me leave. I hitch hiked home, while they handled my discharge. Believe it or not. Thanks to Jimmy Carter and the Red Cross. I now have a General discharge from the Marine Corps. That's like a "B" in school grades. Since all I ever got in school were "Cs". I guess it"s not so bad.
Another quick story. Shortly after getting home I joined the Lansing chapter of the White Panthers or as I fondly remember them The Lansing Cocaine Club. Activities seemed to center around, staring out windows and mistaking Mailmen for FBI Agents. The result of Cocaine induced paranoia. Luckily I got bored and moved on after about a week.
What can I say. I led the charmed life of an imbecile. Some of the people I knew when I was young and stupid did not. The thing that probably saved me over and over. Was my deep desire to get out. I wanted to change. Just walk away. I tried many times but always seemed to drift back. When I met Kathy, I walked away and never looked back. I was still crazy, but I quit drinking and doing drugs. Getting my mind back took another 20 or so years. I still look at things different than most but with every passing year I also walk further away from crazy. Though I do know where it is, should I ever have need of it.
So what is the point? Other than the fact that it is a good story. There are two possible answers?
Version #2. Like I said I could have nailed that audition, because crazy is easy.
I met Kathy less than a year later. My story would be very different if I had not met her. At least two of my friends from back then are dead now. Both deaths are drug related. One died of a Heroin overdose in Vietnam. The others body was found in the trunk of a car riddled with bullets.
After I met Kathy, I finally walked away. Said goodbye to my old life and all the people in it. After all, I liked her better anyway. I had been waiting since i was ten years old, to find her. Here's the thing you don't know. Unlike most males, I have been trying to find her my whole life. It was a very good trade. You now also understand why we slept with the light on for about a year.
One more quick story. After traveling in Europe buying Pez for about a year, where at the time everybody smoked. I had the genius idea that I could start smoking again but only in Europe. Well of course that didn't work. Within a year I was again 2 packs a day. After a few years I quit again, using the patch. Problem is like Dick Van Dyke and the gum. Well over over 10 years later. I still wear the patch. Now that I have established my bonefides. You can see how being obsessive compulsive, with addictive tendencies. That it made perfect sense, to travel once a month worldwide to find pez dispensers. The transition was very natural for my personality type.
Collecting is very natural to me, being compulsive obsessive. It has taken on many different forms. In the 1970s I began buying and collecting toys. During the same time period, also cereal premiums. It was later in the 1980s that I started with Cereal boxes. My kids rarely got the prizes in cereal boxes. In the early days, Kathy used to drive me all over Michigan looking for cool closeout items at Toysrus. Generally I was in an accumulating period from about 1970 to 1985.
|I also had a few year flirtation buying & selling Advertising promotional items.|
In the mid 1980s this led to McDonald's premiums. Accumulating and making sets. Usually not satisfied unless I had 6 sets of each release. This also required driving around the state, because as usual I could not confine myself. I began buying all the leftovers I could find. While doing this I noticed nobody was paying any attention to the cases and cases of leftover happy meal boxes. So I began buying all I could get my hands on. This phase of things peaked when Josh ( my son ) and I decided to do a McDonalds convention. In roughly 1990 we loaded up 2 mini vans full of happy meals boxes and headed to the hotel. We set up our room, with massive overflow out into the hall.
What we didn't realize was on rare occasions a special group from McDonald Headquarters, also came to these conventions unannounced. This Special group from McDonalds always tried to stay anonymous, while selling the really cool stuff. Remember we had a massive amount of one thing, Happy Meal boxes. Cases and cases of them. To be more exact, two mini vans full of them. It had taken me 10 years to accumulate them all. It was a very good selection. Topped off by the fact that they were leftovers to begin with. So I had cases of Happy Meal boxes from the 1970s as well as the 1980s.
When room hopping started nobody knew us. They all just assumed we were that group from McDonald's Headquarters. Massive amounts of old happy meal boxes, cheap. We must be them. Word spread like a wild fire and chaos soon followed. This of course led to the hotel actually trying to shut us down. What happened was, our setup sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. Other dealers were going nuts, because all the money was being siphoned out of the hotel for the night. Neither the hotel or the other dealers could stop it. We continued to be mobbed. We sold out that first night and as we were no longer welcome. We were asked to leave. Having no reason to stay, we drove home that night. Two very empty mini vans.
I hate to admit it, but that happened quite often over the years.
You know how sometimes people will say,
'"Well you were lucky. It was easy for you. All you had to do was..."
It took 10 years of driving all over Michigan in my spare time buying and collecting all those boxes. That's how I created the potential for that one night of success. At every point it was the doing that made it possible, not the idea.
The other project or scheme that I had going around the same time was cereal premiums. Mailing away for the free toys or items you got for sending in upcs. You know the limits they now put in forms on the backs of cereal boxes. That was me. In a one year period I redeemed over 30,000 items from cereal companies, mostly Kellogg's. After doing it for about a year I realized there were no limits to how many toys you could send away for. So I started buying upcs from the refunder ladies, by running ads to buy them in there news letter. I also began working weekends at 3 recycling locations. Through all of these methods and a small inheritance from my grandmother. I accumulated a huge amount of upcs, along with the required original cut off the box forms. At this point I put my plan into action. I spent every night for months filling out forms and licking stamps.
The avalanche of stuff that started to arrive caught our little post office by huge surprise. Finally they just started calling, saying we have 5 bags of stuff. Can you come and get it? This went on for months, resulting in that line on Kellogg's forms that limits how many you can mail away for. As I said, that was me. I don't think until that 1 year period anybody had ever really taken it to that extreme. Crazy is easy.
The big difference with the first 2 projects and the pez project were. With McDonald's and the cereal premium project, my timing was perfect. I saw the loophole. Exploited the loophole to the maximum. Then got out. With the 3rd project, pez dispensers. I saw the loopholes. Different Pez product outside the US and warehouses with huge amounts of old Pez inventory. Well as usual, I aggressively exploited the flaw in the system by accumulated all the Pez dispensers I could. I mean come on traveling to Europe once a month for almost 10 years, even I thought that was extreme.
People always think, man that must have been cool. All the places you went to. All the stuff you saw. Man what I wouldn't give to have done that. Buzzer Noise. I'm a hermit. A recluse by nature and to top it off I don't like to fly. Plus as a bonus prize. I've got this clean thing about my hand. Why do you think I always carry a paper towel in my left hand, with spare paper towels in each left and right front pocket of my jeans. The thing that keeps it from getting out of hand, are my big dogs. They require of me that I pet them. Otherwise, I would happily slide down the Howie road. Yes I will shake somebodies hand, but I will not touch my face or mouth until I wash my hands.
I came close on the clean thing early on with Pez. Then came Boomie. Chica Boom was my first Bull Mastiff. When I returned home from Europe early on in my pez years. There she was waiting for me at the airport. Boomie made it very clear all that crazy was not going to get it done. So I modified. As I soon learned Boomie always won.
Chica & Soupy have both passed away. The job now falls to Rudi a 4 year old Bull Mastiff. Rudi is my constant companion & monitor of crazy. She very shortly will be joined by Proby, a 12 week old brindle Bull Mastiff. I keep thinking, I'm to old for this $-!t. Raising a new puppy. Crazy is going to get a workout, but Rudi needs some backup. She's been doing the job of 2 dogs long enough. It's cutting into her beauty sleep.
My aversion to travel was overridden by my other thingy of being compulsive obsessive. Which in this case manifested in my need for lots of something. It really does not matter what it is, just lots of it. The bigger the pile, the happier I am. I find massive piles of stuff very satisfying.
Where I fell down with the pez project was, at the point where the massive amount of Pez I had accumulated was starting to run out. I could not let it go. It had become a habit, a groove, a routine. It became what I did. How I defined myself. Then there was the money, the money was just to good. Kathy and I used to call it Pez Money. Even today my frame of reference is. Well it is or it isn't pez money.
There was one more factor at play, I had grown to love these odd little Pez dispensers. Along with the relationships I had with the people who collect them. I broke the cardinal rule. "Don't fall in love with your product". The dance was over but I didn't want to leave. If I had put that 1/2 million from 1998 into my next project, Party String Lights. I can't begin to tell you how different things would be right now. Though if I had, I probably would not be writing a book about anything right now and you would not be reading this. Pez Outlaw would not have seen the light of day. If I do sell this as a book or movie, I plan to invest at least half of it in Party String Light inventory. With the rest I will try to make a dent in the Pez project debt.
Personally, I think Pez Outlaw would be a fun movie. I will say this out front. If somebody wants this for a movie, they will find me the most flexible of people on everything about this story they have ever worked with. My best contributions would be on texture not exact content. The ticks and feel of it all. Examples; at every point of movement here and abroad I had a personal pat down ritual. One more little bit of trivia that would add character to whoever played me in a movie. Also as mentioned. I always carry folded paper towel in my left hand.
The pat down ritual.
I always wore cargo pants, as they were the only type of trousers that provided the required pockets for large amounts of cash while traveling.
The leather passport ticket holder, went in the left front pocket of trousers. When traveling the airlines provide paper holders for tickets. Problem is you need something that keeps, tickets, passport, bill of sale and customs forms all together. As this is a group of items needed frequently together at borders, when driving or flying.
Large Zipper type wallet, right front pocket of trousers. Never carry a wallet in your back pocket while traveling, as it is just asking to be lifted. Getting a wallet out of a back pocket is easy for a thief, bump and gone. Getting a wallet out of a front trouser pocket, is much harder as you will notice a hand near your groin area. The wallet is for your show money. Containing an amount you allow others to see when paying for items while you travel. Make the amount in the wallet a believable amount ($300 to $400) so if robbed they feel they got your money. Yet an amount you could afford to lose and not damage your goal.
For me it became instinct when leaving one area to another to do the ritual 4 pat, pat down. Get bumped while walking, do the pat down. It is also very important to be aware of your surroundings. Notice where people are around you. Could what they are doing potentially involve you? Don't be friendly. Your friends are at home, you have enough friends. Be polite but maintain your space. I also minimized my exposure to potential problems by only conducting business or once a day walking to a meal. Other than that I stayed in my hotel room. In over 70 trips I carried well over $500,000.00 cash in small bills. I was never robbed, never even came close to being robbed.
One more thing about the 2 ziplock bags containing just under $5,000.00 cash each. As most of the cash I took in selling Pez at shows were $20 bills, most of the bills in the ziplocks were $20s. Can you believe it, this upset people who always wanted cash. In the last couple years I would have to change $20s for $100s at banks before leaving for Europe. Very annoying. It added an unnecessary degree of exposure to the whole process. Here I am spending over half a million dollars cash in ten years with these people, yet down to the smallest details everything had to be done there way.
Being a bit paranoid, personal safety enters the mind. On this one I am covered. Two of my closest personal friends are Bull Mastiffs. This is a very large breed of dog similar to Hooch in Turner and Hooch. My Neo, and Fila passed away last year. So now it's Rudy, Proby, Lou and Pink. Might surprise you but Pink & Lou are the ones who hit it the hardest. I sleep like a baby. These are very good dogs and I love them very much.
|Rudy n Proby. Training is going well.|
For all of these reasons even a paranoid person can feel comfortable writing this book. Besides I believe you will forgive me a little paranoia after Pez Corp in effect wiped out over 20 years of my life. Over 20 years worth of work, gone.
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Other Books By Pez Outlaw/sj glew
The Cereal Box Price Guide
Princess Puddy n The Golden Bowl
The Barrel Book