In 1980, I had just dropped out of Nassau County Community College for a job in the mail room of the Beneficial National Life Insurance Company, located at 2 Park Av, between 31st and 32nd St. My buddy Starsky worked there during the summer, because his mom was one of their executives, and she got me the job there, as well.
I went in to interview, and they gave me a test, with over a thousand questions, and told me I had to answer as many correctly as I could in 15 minutes. I answered alot of them (the number 141 seems to jump out as I write this), and then they hired me on the spot. They also told me that I would be smarter than my boss; kind of "off the record." I was clueless, of course.
I knew nothing about the insurance business, and even less about the mail service it required. I was a fast learner, however. I found the mail room to be full of characters: Linguini, the former gay whore, but an all-around fun guy to hang out with; T from the Bronx, a Black Italian; Brooklyn Pete, a typical guido; Periscope, who tried to be the old man among the group at 23, a recent departee from the US Navy, with full mustache, beard, and '70's hairstyle. We had also two Joe's, both from Brooklyn, though one was Italian, and one was from Haiti. There were many other people still to be mentioned, but no women worked in the male-room.
I haven't written much about this part of my life before, so hold on to your seats. Though I'm nowhere near finished with the "Tales From The Vendome" stories, I decided that I have to start telling some of the later stories, and 1980 came right after the 1970's.
During my year at Beneficial, they got sued by Beneficial (toot, toot! -you're good for more) Household Finance, and had to change their name to National Benefit Life Ins. Co. The president of the company was Gerald Tsai, who is still mentioned on Page Six occasionally (not that I ever met him, I just know old company gossip).
You will read funny anecdotes about these people, this company, and most of all, about me. I ate over 500 hits of LSD during 1979 - 80, and everything changed in my life that year. It lead to a breakdown, of course, and a recovery, of sorts. I joined the USMC in June of 1981. You will want to read about 1980, in NYC, as seen through my eyes.
PS: The Canadian rock supergroup Rush came out with the "Permanent Waves" album that year, which is where I took this title from. Rush Limbaugh is now the "spirit of the radio," to quote one of the songs from that album. Take some acid (or not), and think about that. "Take off...to the Great White North!"
Stories About the Permanent Waves:
STREET PHOTOGRAPHER ON PARK AV.
FIVE WINDOW PANES ON THE SUBWAY