Aldo, Casey, Eugene, Isaac & Rafi
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Elsa: My Polaroid 20x24 studio is just a block away from my house. The boys are so familiar with my camera and my work that they themselves will say, "Oh, we should take a picture," and off we go. It's no big deal.
Aldo: This shirt reminds me that I was part of this great soccer league. It was called Cambridge Youth Soccer. Me, along with almost everyone I grew up with, played soccer from age eight, until maybe fourteen or fifteen, on the same team. It was like our lives revolved around soccer. We all practiced twice a week, then had games on the weekend. After games, it was pizza, and then touch football outside. We played soccer religiously, we never missed games. In fact all week, since we all went to school together, we hyped ourselves up for a game. It was really the most fun I ever had playing sports. It was a great way to socialize, and get to know eachother.
Aldo: You know in this picture, I'm a bit taller than Isaac, but for the next maybe seven years, we would go back and forth. He's a little taller, then I'm a little taller, and so forth. I think this was the age when Isaac and I began to become friends. We both had other, closer friends, but we began to hang out more and more.
Eugene: Isaac And Aldo (Probably 1988) -- Aldo looks mighty cool with his shorts on the outside of his pants. And yes, good old CYS (Cambridge Youth Soccer), I started playing with Aldo, Zephyr and Eliahu Susman to do something after school at Hoyt Field and everyone else was doing it (except Isaac), so I figured what the heck. I began to love it and we had a championship team. I met and had many friends on Abraham's team over the years and went on to play soccer at Commonwealth, I got pretty good at it and started every game in high school since my freshman year.
Isaac: A few interesting things going on in this picture. First of all, Aldo's wearing a soccer shirt and I'm not wearing glasses. These two facts may seem unrelated and unimportant, but I now believe that they had a major effect on my relationship with Aldo: At this age, Aldo was all about sports. He played basketball and soccer all the time with his friends. I never played sports. Why? BECAUSE I COULDN'T SEE! Or maybe I just wasn't athletic. At any rate, my not playing sports put a real distance between us. That's why I'm surprised that we look so chummy in this photo. Go figure. Eventually, Aldo and I became the closest of friends. One other thing, notice that Aldo's wearing shorts over his pants. You really have to wonder about that.
Aldo: It's funny to wonder what we could have possibly been thinking during this picture. Isaac looks as if he's aware it could come back to haunt us, and is having seconds. I on the other hand am really trying to save this young lady in my arms. I think in the years we did more fun pictures, but they had to be fun and cool. Well we tried.
Aldo: I guess the way we are dressed is what is most amazing to me. Certainly we were not projecting any future trends or following any present ones, so it says a lot about the times. Fashion for kids is still amazing to me, that parents would waste so much money on clothes there kids don't even need, and set the standard for the future for their kids. Our parents were clever enough to avoid this. Or as Isaac and I have rumored, had no fashion sense whatsoever.
Aldo: I just noticed that Isaac was taller than me here. It really went back and forth for so many years. These days, Isaac always jokes about his shortness in relation to me or Eugene. However, he's really wrong. He's average height, if anything, a bit above it. Send him to East Asia or Central America, he'd be a giant.
Aldo: We were thirteen in this picture, and this was a good time. It was right before high school so our workload was good. We had so much free time to watch movies. The world still felt like something we were not a part of yet. It was all just talk, as far as I knew. My biggest concerns were money for chips, and enough people to get a football game. No bills, no relationships, no numbers and figures, just friends and school.
Aldo: At this age I remembered that I began getting my own haircuts. It was the beginning of the time when fashion became important. Before this fashion was never a thing. My hair became a very important thing. Just in terms, it was a way to express myself. Looking back I can see that most of them were pretty bad though.
Aldo: Graduation from eighth grade was a big step for me. Only because I, like all of my other friends, had been hearing about high school since a young age. In high school you can do this, and in high school people do that. So, finally getting there was great. Although it was another reminder that you spend years getting to the highest grade, only to start all over at the bottom.
Aldo: Isaac had bought that coat, and he loved it, I remember it clearly. He wore it for a long time. Me and my stepbrother Danny had both babysat for Jordan for a few years. Jordan was a good kid, very energetic.
Aldo: I've known Jabula my whole life. His mom is like my second mother, so it almost feels like we're brothers or something. He was at the age in this picture when he wanted to hang out with the older kids, but we felt we were too old, pretty strange.
Eugene: This is a picture of Jabula and Aldo. Aldo and Lucas used to put him in a pillowcase and beat him. He was so tuff. He also was a very good swimmer.
Aldo: These are my mom's parents. They live in South Carolina, and don't often get a chance to come and visit, so it was always nice when they could come. They are both really nice and always tell my mom how proud they are of me and Alice.
Eugene: This picture of Aldo's grandparents reminds me of when Aldo taught me how to drive. It was on Polly's Island, which for those who don't know, doesn't have any stores. We thought that being in South Carolina would be fun for two weeks but after the fourth day we got pretty bored. We played chess and I cut all of my hair off. Aldo mistakenly put on tanning lotion instead of sunscreen and got a really bad sunburn.
Aldo: Alice is my older sister. She is 6 1/2 years older than me, so in many ways, she seems like a parent also. She always helps me out, is supportive of me, and I'm always asking favors of her. But these days as I get older we have more like brother-sister talks. I got to learn so much from watching her do things, I still had many years to think about.
Eugene: The BBC: I'll always rep the BBC to the day I die. Aldo's brothers Danny & Renzo, Sean, Taha, Louis, Marco, Emerson, & Jabula, Casey, Isaac, Chad, Malcolm and me made up an elite group of men. If it were not for Danny & Renzo, Taha and Louis, neither Aldo or I would have gotten into college or been so successful on our college applications.
Aldo: Danny and Renzo are my stepbrothers. As kids it was so great to hang out with them, wrestle, play with action figures. I never had anyone to do that with that with at my mom's. My sister was too old, my mom was too busy. So, we've been close ever since we were little, and we still hang out these days. Danny, on the right, has two children now and lives in New York.
Aldo: This is my family that I lived with growing up. This might be one of the few family pictures that we have. All the ones I'm aware of Elsa has taken. My family growing up was small, but I felt like I was needed. Special attention, boy did I ever.
Eugene: Earlham College: Pronounced Url Ham College in Indiana, Aldo began his bold journey to the outer reaches of his imagination and life. Traveling to the heartland was good and bad for Aldo. He met new people, experimented in life, and developed into his own man. We rarely saw the White Lotus during his college career. I went to Earlham once, when he was going pre-freshman summer and once, after he graduated. Both times it was pretty........boring. But Aldo and his friends came up with creative ways to occupy their time. The likes of which I cannot disclose... He was closest with his man Walt, and Marlon but he got kicked out. Aldo used to come back with stories for days. And who could forget World Fellowship Summers.
Aldo: Zephyr I've known my whole life, but Walt I met at college. And since Zeph later ended up coming to my school, all my friends became his friends. We had some great times together, from playing intramural basketball to "hanging out" (interpret as you like). Since my school was really small, all of my friends are people that I got to know really well. There was no room for superficial relationships.
Aldo: This is my family. Well it's part of my family, the part I grew up with. When I was nine, I remember my sister who was six and a half years older than me, seemed to always be doing fun things. I suppose it appeared so fun, cause I was not allowed to hang out with her and her friends, so I never knew what they did. And not knowing, I just assumed it was really fun, like any kid would. The unknown is fascinating, and it's all unknown when you're nine years old.
Eugene: The Moses Family(1): June 13, 1986 -- The family resemblance among the Moses is striking to me. Carol has very strong genes. I was lucky enough to live with Aldo and his mother years later and that was great. I owe both the Moses and the Silverglate/Dorfmans so much for helping me to develop into the man I am today. I also remember looking up to Alice and especially when she went to UC Berkeley, I thought college was so far away and so big and bad. Now that it's over it wasn't so big and bad. Aldo used to tell me stories about Alice and all of her famous friends (actors, athletes, etc. ... fellow graduates of Rindge). I also remember one of Alice's girlfriends, Fanchin was the first girl to play for the boys' football team.
Aldo: Me and family. I think at this age me and my family were really close. I had not yet hit the stage, when it wasn't cool to be seen with your mom, and my sister had just finished it. My sister was off at college, so me and my mom spent a lot of time together at this age. I began to go out a lot more alone and hang out with friends.
Eugene: Aldo's Family(2)-- All I have to say about Aldo at this age in that he was our goalie for the soccer team. And he loved the Denver Broncos and John Elway. He definately lost some serious weight just prior to high school. Carol was so nice to us back then -- she would cook breakfast for us in the morning and pack brown paper bag lunches with juice boxes. And she stayed rocking those Birkenstocks. Alice was always very attractive. She could have been a model. I remember I used to try to act so cool in front for her. Aldo spent a lot of time hanging out with my sister Tasha when she worked at the Mobil station. She would give us advice about girls and pick-up lines. Aldo's family parallels mine in a lot of ways (i.e. single mother with two bi-racial children, one older girl and a younger son). Maybe that's why we get along so well. Who knows?
Isaac: I just read what Eugene wrote about this photo. That is so interesting about Eugene and Aldo both having single moms with one bi-racial younger son and one bi-racial older daughter. I don't think I ever thought about their close bond in that way. I'm the only one whose parents are still together, which might have put some distance between the group and myself at certain times (as if the sports thing wasn't bad enough!) Aldo's sister Alice was always really beautiful. She used to baby-sit me on occasion.
Aldo: What funny looking kids we were. About four or five years prior to this picture, we were young, cute children. But at this age Ithink we beyond cute, but were still young. So were still young......but no so cute anymore, a tough age.
Isaac: I guess short hair was the in thing at this point. I'm actually taller than Aldo here, which is a rare occurrence. In a few years he'd pass 5'9" and never look back. He still loves soccer... And I seem to be into Paris. It's funny to see how easily we'd put our arms around each other. During the teenage years, we wouldn't even stand close to each other. It's nice to see how easily we expressed our friendship at this point.
Aldo: The four of us spent at least four years together, always in the same class. Eliahu's father Abraham was our soccer coach. Since I was a great friend of his, along with Eugene, we always spent time at his house. We'd actually spend the week talking about our games, who was good, who was not, but basically about the greatness of our team.
Casey: This picture is very special to me. It is the only group picture with me with anyone besides the crew. The girl is my younger sister, Darrell, and the boy is my younger brother, Robin. Although we have had our differences, this picture shows how close we really are. Another one of these pictures is in my mother's living room in upstate New York, where my brother and mother live as a testament to the three bi-racial siblings.
Aldo: This is mighty Casey's family. I never knew his family too well, but they did live in Cambridge, so I'd seen them since I was a kid. Casey has been a good friend since back in the day, but I really got to know him better once I started high school.
Casey: I remember this picture because it was my first solo picture. This is probably the smoothest I've ever looked in an Elsa picture. I really liked that hat and I thought it went well with my outfit. This picture was was part of a set of two -- the other one was a much smoother one and in this one I just relaxed and let loose.
Aldo: Casey is stylin in this picture. I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but it looks like about a few years old. At this time, Casey was finishing up his studies at Columbia. Now he is a very good teacher at a school in Boston. And he lives right around the corner from me.
Casey: This picture shows how close me and Isaac have become over the years. We weren't too close until he ended up at Columbia with me and we spent a lot of time at bars, joking or just watching TV. Isaac and I have many similar interests and views but what REALLY BONDS US IS OUR SENSE OF HUMOR. In this picture I decided to parody a lot of rappers and their blatant arrogance and materialism, by showing off all the money I had, two dollars -- hopefully someday it will prove to be ironic.
Aldo: These guys are good friends, but it took a long time. They've been living in the same city their whole lives. Went to the same high school, and the same college, and after all that they really became friends. Hanging out with these guys, you're sure to see something crazy. The only guys in the world who get enough laughs.
Eugene: CASEY: Mighty Casey, Case in the Place, K-C. Rapper/Intellectual/Producer extraordinaire. Known for smoking, drinking and rappin' up a storm. Casey has a huge ear and is was a child prodigy. It's always the great ones that they think are crazy (i.e., me & you). I KNOW YOU WILL BLOW, stay focused and disciplined, humble yourself to the will of God for your life. I hope that I see you at Church more than just at my wedding and funeral. Thanks for initiating me into the A1 Posse, and introducing me to Gabe & Bismark. You are a genius and don't forget it. I still contend that Casey has a PHOTOGRAPHIC memory, but can still work on his table manners and should get corn rolls. Casey's up to bat, not to bust a ball to bust a rap. He's that ill m@%&*)) with your girl on his lap�. Like a Jamaican playing cricket��white girls�...prank calls ����.egg'n teachers in the COAST, you're too much.
Aldo: Casey really became a good friend of mine when I was in high school. He went to high school with Eugene and Isaac. They were all part of this group, called A-1, representing the struggle of the upper-middle-class oppressed, in the wealthiest of private schools. But they did their job: to keep innocent career-oriented students on their toes, while raising hell for the faculty. And my Casey took the cake, with a snowball incident.
Casey: This picture shows how strong the bonds of friendship are. How else could two kids from Roxbury, three kids from Cambridge and a kid from Beacon Hill wind up in the same room? Malcolm and Carlos are two of my favorite people -- every time I see them I am guaranteed a good time. Originally Eugene's friends, Malcolm and Carlos started hanging out with the rest of the gang and fit in like we were all childhood friends. To this day we all have personal jokes together and even all went to IHOP together for Malcolm's bachelor party.
Aldo: All these guys together, what a crew. We would often all go out to the movies. Or play laser tag, a personal favorite of Eugene, who always won. And whenever we went out to the movies, or a restaurant, we were all noisy and obnoxious enough to make people move, or at least experience the movie or meal in discomfort.
Eugene: "Probably 2nd Grade" -- Everyone who sees this picture automatically says that I look like my nephew. I'm not sure if this is the day that I missed the class picture, because I was leaning back in my chair and fell and busted my head. If so it was actually 1st grade. I was sitting with Chad Milner talking leaning back and pow, I hit the floor. I touched my head to rub it, and pulled back a blood covered hand. Ginny Charmers my 1st grade teacher took me to the bathroom, called my mother and I was taken to Cambridge Hospital to get 7 stitches. I was upset because I missed the picture, but Elsa was very nice and took a special picture of me and my sister later in the evening. I still have the scar from that day.
Aldo: This is a good picture of Eugene. Although he is only five years old, he looks much older. In later pictures he looks very comfortable, but at this point, he seems very camera shy.
Isaac: Eugene smiling. Here's the paradox of Eugene: the better his life gets, the less likely he is to smile in a picture. Go figure. He'll probably be grimacing in his wedding photo. He had a trying childhood, but here he is, smiling adorably. He looks taller than he actually was, due to the optical illusion created by his short pants. Man, it's hard to believe such a big man resulted from this cute little boy.
Eugene: Me & Tasha: T- What can I say about my sister. She was tall at an early age and very beautiful. T and I are very alike, and very close. She protected me as a young boy, and taught me countless things as a grew up. She has always been there when I needed her. All of my family (Tasha and I and my mother are all very similar). Schneebergs in the house, represent, WHAT!!! I've never taken a picture with my mother at Elsa's but I anticipate doing so soon. My mother and sister are very similar although they won't admit it. But like mother like daughter, monkey see, monkey do. I have the best family in the world. Which segues into something else. My father -- although I never met my father Charles Graham -- I have a father. In fact, several. A village raised me and raised me WELL. So here is a shout out to all of my fathers/positive role models. Harvey, Oscar, Pastor Collins, Abraham, David, Boris, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, Myles Munroe, Tyreek, and most of all (JESUS/GOD/Holy Spirit)!
Aldo: Eugene, just like me, has an older sister about six years older. And like me, he learned a lot about what he knows from his older sister. I've known his sister for a long time also, and she's really cool, even though she probably owes Eugene a couple thousand in babysitting bills. But she was cool to hang out as young teenagers; she always gave us good advice about life.
Aldo: The Adidas jacket. I remember when Eugene wore his new jacket. It was like having a leather coat, when we were all of thirteen. I also remember he lost it in an unfortunate incident. But he made good use of it. He even let me borrow it to wear sometimes.
Aldo: What is with that grin. Maybe this was the day Eugene realized he was not going to be going to Rindge. See, he really wanted to go to Rindge High School; it was where everyone from Cambridge went, and as kids you heard about it. Well, whatever the reason, he was probably not as bummed as he looked.
Eugene: Me & Malcolm: I was so fortunate to be Malcolm Lucas' best man when he became my first friend to get married on August 12, 2000 to Bre (Peterson) Lucas. He is a model for what it is to be a mature young man. He has always been a big brother to me, and I have an infinite amount of respect for his sincerity and integrity. He, Bernard, and I founded the GTP in the late 80s and although we have grown into men since, I will always owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me to develop into a man.
Aldo: Malcolm is one of Eugene's best friends. He has known him his whole life, and I know that Eugene always looked up to him. He lived in Boston, so I did not meet him till later. But Eugene would always talk about him, so I knew he was a good friend for Eugene. And later he became good friends with me and Isaac also. And today, he is a happily married man, wow, time flies.
Eugene: Me & Deitra: Deitra Kathleen Collins & I met and began seeing each other on June 6, 1993. She is and was my first and only true love. We thought we were being cute by wearing the same sneakers. She is wearing a chain with a big "E" on representing me. Those were good times, but we've had better since then and will have many more to come in a long life together. She is definitely the one. We have had our ups and downs, broken up and got back together two times, but through it all I have no doubt that she will be my wife. And I thank God for her, her family and everything that she has taught me. I love you baby!
Aldo: I remember the day Eugene met her. He was leaving my house, and her family lives next door to mine. They talked for a minute, then he ran back in like, "I need a pen, I need a pen, this girl next door, I'm getting her number." Well, that was many years ago, maybe 8 or 9, and now they are as happy as ever. They make a really good couple and really fulfill what the other one needs.
Aldo: These are two of Eugene's lifelong friends from Boston -- both of whom I know pretty well. Carlos, he's a really happy guy; no matter what we end up doing, he's cool. And Malcolm, I guess you could say he's one of the most sincere people you'll meet. I always have fun when I go out with these guys.
Aldo: These are most of the people I hung out with in high school. This picture seems like yesterday to me, and so does hanging out with these guys. But it's not. Two of them, Luis and Taha, are married and fell off the earth. And everyone else is working to save and pay bills. In high school it was common to have this many friends together when hanging out. Now it would take a death of one of us to bring us all together again.
Aldo: I'll give you three guesses who the two friends who love basketball are � and the first two don't count. Well, Isaac and I always knew basketball was not our thing, and having tall friends saved us the humiliation of proving that ourselves. So, we decided that having a sense of humor was our thing, and still to this day, we love to watch movies, people, and situations, and as Seinfeld said, "make shallow, fairly obvious comments about life."
Eugene: Zephyr: Secher, Splefer, Thor, The Great White Hope, a man of many faces. All I can say about Zeph is he has a great heart. He had the total package: tall, good- looking, long blonde hair, killer athlete, intelligent, but then URL HAM COLLEGE..... down hill baby.......just joking. Zeph is my man, since we used to play soccer on TEAM SUSSMAN. I remember many a night on Crownshield Road, sneaking into BU, MIT or Harvard to play ball. Zephyr was definitely resourceful from an early age.
Aldo: This picture was taken about midway through all of our college careers. Zeph had transferred to my school in Indiana (from UC Santa Cruz), a move which is still debated among friends behind closed doors. Actually me and Zeph had spent the first part of the summer in Cali, so we were bummed to be back East. But of course being able to hang out again with Isaac and Eugene made it okay. But besides that this picture has a really weird dynamic, but I can't really put my finger on it, can you?
Aldo: This must be the time when me and Eugene started hanging out together, all the time. About eighth grade, that was the time. All of our life revolved around playing touch football and other sports. This was the age, when we more than our parents, took the initiative to get haircuts, buy new clothes. I guess this age was quite a turning point for us. We were now teenagers, and we began to be concerned with all new things.
Eugene: This is me. I am wearing a Africocentric medallion. I think I got it from Born Wise, formerly Hakim Rashaad. I really looked up to him, since he had knowledge of Black history. He was in 8th when I was in 7th. I remember really clearly his Red Yum Yums. My flattop was really high.
Eugene: "My First Car" -- My first Car! I had it for three days. I will forever be made fun of for not putting any water in the 1982 Toyota Tercel. Hopefully I learned to take care of cars. It definitely was a hoopty. I was dressed like a "psuedo-thug" with my camoflage pants, hoody, big chain and name ring.
Aldo: Eugene's first car. I remember how excited he was that he had a car. Unfortunately he did not know enough about cars to notice it was out of water one day. So, for about one week Eugene had a car. And this license plate is the proof.
Isaac: "Remember Grasshopper: like mighty oak or limp grass, the 1982 Toyota Tercel needs water to survive." Even when Eugene�s elected mayor of Boston, I'll still tease him about that car. It was really sad at the time, but now we can (and quite often do) kid him about it.
Aldo: I always liked this picture of Isaac because of the expression that he has on his face. I did not hang out with Isaac until years later, but we went to the same elementary school. I always thought he looked so needy in this picture, which reminds me how young he was.
Eugene: Isaac's First Picture -- Isaac looks very cute and innocent. That was probably the last time that he was innocent. I used to have to tie Isaac's shoes for him, because it took him a while to learn. I don't remember much about Isaac at this age except that we both think we remember meeting in the sandbox in kindergarden. When Isaac was in a little older like 2nd or 3rd grade he used to have the best toys -- two that come to rememberance are the Slay/Bike that we used to take to Tufts with Elsa, the Nixon Mask, and the Knight Armor (Ben Nugent used to be a great artist and he was also nervous, he would always rub his thighs).
Isaac: I want this one to be on display at my funeral. I know people will start bawling when they see it on my casket. I can't believe how adorable I was. I really have no memory of this time. That's a shame. I bet I heard "Oooohhh, you are soooo cute!" twenty times a day. That must have been great!
Eugene: The Silverglates/Dorfmans: HAS, EDS, and IDS have been my family -- part of my extended family since 1983. Elsa and Harvey have been excellent role models, each excelling in their professions and their commitment to raising Isaac (and indirectly, me) correctly. Elsa's nagging and protective nature has taught me countless lessons regarding finances and responsibility, among other things. Harvey's life story is a testimony to overcoming and succeeding, and maintaining a genuine commitment to service and community throughout.
Aldo: Isaac has a good family whom I've known for most of my life. The reason I say he has a good family is that both of his parents are hard-working, and if you know Isaac, then you know it has rubbed off. Isaac and I will always admire each other for different reasons. I'll always admire his work ethic which I'm sure he's learned from his parents. What he'd admire about me, I just couldn't tell you.
Aldo: At this time, these two were best friends. Isaac and Eugene used to hang out all the time together. They were really inseparable. It wasn't until a few years later that I began to hang out with both of them.
Eugene: "The famous dirty sock picture" -- I was wearing one of my sister's sweatshirt hand-me-downs, and from the looks of it I had one of my mother's do-it-at-home haircuts. My pants sure were tight. I remember when Isaac got his silver ID bracelet. And Isaac and I had his first kiss with Sara R, and she gave him that Lion Ring which he still has to this day. I later inherited the red jacket he is wearing for my "name jacket," and Isaac got his black and gold name jacket, speaking of black and gold, that makes me think of Isaac's "Smile" flag, in kindergarten in Valarie's class.
Isaac: Eugene and I met in the sandbox in kindergarten. There have been times when we didn't spend much time together, but that really hasn't hurt our friendship. He looks kind of sad in this one. I look a little fat. I consider Eugene to be the brother I never had. We don't always see eye to eye, but I know that when things fall apart, he'll be there. I'd do anything for him. Aldo too. But not Casey. He's on his own. (Just kidding, Case)
Aldo: The two best friends. Man, these guys were always hanging out. At this age I also had one best friend. You learn a lot about yourself through your friends at this age. I'm sure these guys are still close today because of the impact they had on each other as kids.
Aldo: Isaac's dog Highland. I remember this was Isaac's second dog. His first dog, which was also a greyhound, was Moozer. The reason, I remember that this was his second dog is because he used to complain that his dog wasn't even clever enough to climb the steps. So, I always felt sorry this cute dog that would inevitably live its life on the first floor.
Eugene: The Silverglate/Dorfmans & The Greyhounds -- I remember trying to teach the greyhounds how to go up and down stairs at the Widener Library at Harvard Yard. I also remember Isaac making all kinds of clay Greyhound figures in art class, and they are on his mantel to this day. The Dorfmans have a line on their phone system named after their dog. I also remember me and Isaac used to walk Moozer, which makes me remember the huge chestnut tree in front of the Silverglates' first house (and while I'm reminiscing) that makes me remember all of Isaac and my birthday parties, with the clown and the truck and watching the court jester in the attic.
Isaac: Well, this dog, Highland, was just dumb. Some would defend him and say that he was timid, unadventuresome, or shell-shocked from a life of isolation at the racetrack. I believe he was just dumb. Couldn't climb stairs, walk on bricks, ate furniture... He didn't last long in our house.
Aldo: Isaac looks a lot older than fourteen in this picture. It's not just the suit, although that helps. This was actually the age when boys do feel older though, and maybe he's reflecting that. Boys feel older cause they're getting physically bigger, so people begin to take them a bit more seriously � just a bit though.
Aldo: Ohhh, graduation day. You're done, you're the best, you did it, congratulations. Now go stand in line over there, so you can start at the bottom again. To me graduations are just a sad reminder that wherever you're going from here, it's an uphill battle. Issac expresses these exact sentiments, or maybe he just has to go to the bathroom and is trying not to think about it.
Aldo: What a group this is. If this picture isn't screaming, "Benetton ad," I don't know what is. This like the Earlham-Boston-Cambridge crew all in one shot. It must have been almost four years ago that this picture was taken, but we all pretty much look the same. You hit your peak, then it's all downhill.
Eugene: Carlos Finally Takes My Spot: Carlos is a perfect example of how two components of my life became one. I used to hang out in Roxbury and then commute to Cambridge. I had two separate groups of friends. Somewhere around high school I introduced both groups and everybody started hanging out. That was a big plus for me... Until........ I started hearing reports that my friends would hook up and chill without me... I was like WHOA..... what about me.... I was there for this picture but Carlos was so cunning and diabolical that he somehow tricked me into taking my spot.... I'll get you Losito... " I am the Last Dragon...," "What if you had wings, you, that would be ill."
Aldo: The last summer of the millennium. See that, just throw in a word like "millennium" and an ordinary sentence becomes one worth reading about. But it was the end of the nineties. When I speak about my time of hanging out with these guys, it will be of the nineties. My adventurousness was all in the nineties. My last true time to hang out, pretty much carefree was in the nineties.
Aldo: It's always an experience to meet your friend's girlfriends. Someone who knows your friend really well, but in a totally different way than you. I only met a few of Isaac's girlfriends while he was at Columbia, and Sonja was one of them. She seemed really nice, and even prepared a dinner for all of Isaac's close buddies. But Isaac never told me how it ended -- I took that as my cue to not ask.
Aldo: This was Isaac's first serious girlfriend and I'm sure he thought that he was going to marry her. In fact, I'm sure of it. He went to high school with her and is probably still in contact. I'm sure it taught him a lot. Like, no matter what side you're on, be careful of the opposite sex -- or don't be, it'll be tough either way.
Aldo: Isaac at twelve. That looks like a good cake he's holding there. I'm not sure I hung out with him at this age; it was right after we became friends. So, I can only imagine how lost he was before I entered his life and showed him the path of the righteous man. It's not his fault -- we can't all be perfect, but we can all try -- this is what I'm here for.
Eugene: "Being 13" - Actually I was 12, cause I'm a year younger than Aldo, Isaac and Rafi. I'm not sure why I am in the shopping cart, but I always(and still do) like to be the center of attention. Judging from the Adidas jacket I have on, that is when I first starting hanging out with Malcolm & Bernard in Roxbury.
Aldo: I remember this picture well, because Isaac's cousin Mathew was in it. And at the time he seemed like a really old person. And as we were walking to the studio, he took a tennis ball that I was playing with, and threw it across the street, and I lost it cause we were in a hurry. I remember being pretty angry about that.
Isaac: This one's a little confusing. There are a lot of elements thrown together. My cousin Matt's in there for no reason (don't get me wrong, I love him to death, but he's sort of just tossed in). Also, I don't know where the shopping carts came from. And why are we holding out three fingers? Huh. We should probably just move on.
Eugene: "Carrying Lucas" -- Lucas Hughes was 6'5" while we were in elementary school. He was a man's size well before his time. I'm not sure why we decided to carry him, but it made for an interesting effect. I'm wearing an African medallion, I remember I borrowed it from Hakim Rashad (Born Wise). I looked up to him at that time, because he was knowledgable about African American history and Afrocentric concepts. That was seventh grade. Football & Fummycon (sp?) (Aldo's first videogame system from Japan)
Isaac: Lucas was a frikin' giant. I don't know who thought of this pose, but I bet it was Lucas. Great idea. I love this one.
Aldo: I can't help but be affected by what Isaac wrote. It is really true; Lucas was very big for his age. Even when kids seesaw in height, Lucas never did. He was always the tallest of the group. I wonder if that does anything to a kid's psyche. I mean, he was always the leader of any group adventure -- brave, for sure. Maybe because he was always used to being viewed as the oldest?
Aldo: When Isaac first saw these pictures of as kids, he said something funny. He said, "they don't make kids like us anymore.....thank god." And I understood what we meant, we were a scruffy looking bunch of kids. He might have been looking at this very picture, when he came up with this.
Isaac: There's a lot of talk these days about kids having sex at very young ages. I think a simple cure would be to make kids look like we did. Who'd want to have any sort of contact with kids like this? I have the precursor to a mullet, while Aldo seems to have a huge caterpillar on his head. Also, it should have been a crime to sell me those glasses. That Batman shirt's pretty cool, though. It's worth mentioning that the pudgy kid next to me grew up to be one of the coolest and handsomest people I've ever known. So there's hope for everyone.
Aldo: Right about this time Isaac got a haircut, and started working out, so any picture a year later, he probably looks really different. You'll notice Isaac is wearing a Champion shirt. Isaac always was hip to the fashion, as I've mentioned before, and he always had cool sportswear. Actually I'm not too fond of this shirt, but he had the right idea with Champion apparel.
Aldo: Well, let's just say we're happy that that suspenders phase is over. No, but seriously, Isaac always had a pretty good fashion sense. And at this time I'm sure he was right in with the times. I on the other hand was behind. But the grin, well, he looks cool. That "I know exactly what's goin down look." That's timeless.
Eugene: Isaac and women.... ha..ha...ha...ha... He was a relatively late bloomer, but once he did, he really fertilized and pollenated.. E, S,O, S**, the list goes on and on....and on.... whoever is lucky enough to snare the ever so evasive and charming 007 will be one lucky (& busy woman, whom I pitty). Whatout HOTLANTA..the IVY LEAGUE Baskin Robbins lover is coming to your town... Isaac is like a Buff Jewish Austin Powers...The international lover man of mystery....LOL.... Isaac don't let me come down to Atlanta to suprise you and catch you up in 112 with all the honeys.
Aldo: I could better say something if I knew what exactly Isaac was trying to do this in picture. If it is to look cool, I have no comment. Just kidding. Isaac had some nice dressup clothes also, something I'm still trying to get my hands on.
Aldo: Well, I guess I should have listened to Isaac years ago when he said I looked better with long hair. My sister always told me this too. Looking at this picture with Isaac, I now realize he's right. Although I still prefer short hair -- maintenance reasons -- he was right, I get more compliments with long hair. And who doesn't need a compliment.
Aldo: Who would have imagined that these kids would grow up to be responsible members of society? Not me, I wouldn't have even guessed that they'd grow up handsome, but as it now appears I've been a remarkably poor judge about the way things will be. But since it did work out well for all of them, I'm glad to be their friends, and like to believe I had a small role in some of their development -- they sure did on mine. But Rafi, I honestly don't know much about. Maybe lucky for him; these other three hear from me all the time about the mundane details of my life. And they listen � what friends.
Aldo: All of these guys would swap being best friends for a long time. These two hung out a lot then, these two. Little kids are fickle you know, friends and then not. At least we were young enough never to say anything that might jeopardize our future friendships.
Aldo: Isaac was really jazzed when he met Steven Tyler. I suppose I would have been jazzed also to meet anyone famous. But I never have, I don't even know what it means to be jazzed. I just like to say jazzed � jazzed, jazzed, jazzed. All right, no more of that personal Insecurity slipping out. Isaac was not a big rock fan, so I suppose this picture was much more memorable at the time for Rafi. Rafi was always into rock n' roll. Isaac - well, he's a swing � music � chooser, if you know what I mean.
Eugene: Rafi and Isaac with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. That's when Isaac and Rafi first made the jump to rock n' roll music. I never got down with that. But gotta give them props -- Aerosmith are big dogs. I think Rafi knew Steven because he was from Marshfield, MA where Rafi's grandmother was from.
Aldo: Cambridge is such a small city that if you live there as a child, you pretty much know everyone. I never hung out with Michael too much, but he lived down the street from me. That's the way our city is; it just keeps on getting smaller, and you seem to see more and more people that you knew as a kid.
Eugene: Michael Nichols-Dunn, Rafi and Isaac. I used to look up to Michael a lot as well. Although he used to pick on me I still admired him. He was tuff and cool. I tried to be down with him. I saw him recently at my church; he just had a little one, Mike, Jr. I'm happy that things are coming around for him and his family.
Aldo: Rafi always tends to dress differently, or me, Eugene and Isaac are all conformists, whatever. But what this picture reminds me of is Batman. Isaac is wearing that shirt I hope in tribute to all the time we spent waiting in line with his dad to get tickets to see Batman when it first came out. I know they suck now, but the first one was good. We never had a Star Wars, well, besides Reagan's, I mean. But seriously, this was our big movie. This shirt brings a tear to my eye (note: slight sarcasm intended).
Aldo: See this shirt Lucas is wearing. It was actually mine to begin with. I got it as a birthday present, but my mom would not let me wear it. Obviously, I was outraged, so I thought that it should never get worn. Hence it became Lucas's shirt, and he wore it with pride.
Aldo: Isaac is 007 to me and always will be. So seeing this picture makes all his friends feel better about having branded him with the name, 007. He and Rafi are stylin. I'm 24 and still yet to own my first suit. I guess they were ahead of their time. But in these times, one has to wonder if that's really a good thing.
Aldo: Rafi and Isaac starting their filming career at an early age. They formed a group called RAIAW, which was their group. But later they began making short films. These are the main characters for the feature film, "Fluke the Jedi." It was a lot of fun filming these movies. We were really young and so it was not like we could have anything else more productive. I have not seen the tapes in many years, and if Isaac wants to remain healthy, he will keep it this way. My biggest concern is understanding more about my childhood than I want to know.
Aldo: So, this was basically the filming crew. Eugene and I were stand-ins at best. But we really wanted to be part of this filming crew, and eventually, I worked myself into the role of the faceless, nameless guy who gets beaten and killed in every scene � ahhh � the sweet swell of victory. Let that be a lesson, kids -- hard work is often rewarded, as long as you weren't working to gain self-esteem.
Aldo: Rafi's mom worked at this real cool store. They sold all types of leather stuff. It was cool as a kid, cause they sold some sexual stuff. And as kid there was nothing I knew less about. Rafi and I became good friends for a while, but when high school started, he moved away, and no one has heard much from him since then.
Eugene: Rafi's family: Liza, wow, she was a very big part of my childhood. I spent a great amount of my time at Rafi's house on Mass. Ave. I remember she had a loft for a bed, and a computer room with a modem that took like five minutes to plug in. I remember when Rafi's brother used to be a techie -- before there were IT professionals.
Aldo: I don't even know all of these people's names, but I think that they're mostly friends of Rafi's. They're all from Cambridge, so I've seen them around. It's nice to live in a city where you recognize most people. But it isn't cool when nine out of ten times you have to make coffee table talk. Nothing is worse than that. Well, maybe I overshot a bit, there's worse.
Aldo: Getting pictures taken was always fun. By thirteen we all had a lot of experience in front of the camera. It's hard to remember what was going on in my life at this point. I was thirteen, ten years younger than I am today. I certainly feel like a different person, and I look like a different person. But all my friends still look the same to me, just smaller versions of themselves now, so maybe that's true for me too.
Isaac: You'll never see a picture of Zephyr and me by ourselves. We never hung out together. He was all about sports (and very good) and I wasn't. However, in school, all our friends were in another class, so we bonded (that might have been a year or two after or before this photo. I'm not too good at dating these things). At any rate, it's too bad we never took one together. I consider him a very dear friend and a great guy. Also in this picture, Rafi was experimenting with time-travel. He'd just come back from the 50's and didn't have time to change clothes.
Aldo: Zephyr and Isaac for some reason always ended up in the same class. The other eight or so friends were always together. So these two have a unique friendship. While they never hung out exclusively, they got to know each other really well. I remember they used to make fun of each other all the time. And they both liked the same girl; I don't know if they'll fess up to it, but it's true.
Letter from Aldo in Japan
20 January 2003
How are you? Sorry again for waking you and Harvey. I was able to reach Isaac afterward. It was great to catch up with him. He sounds like he is doing very well. I can't wait to see him at Eugene's wedding. Also, I spoke with Eugene and he seems like he is doing very well.
I just recently looked at PALS on yr site. It has been almost a year since I last saw it. It still brings back a flood of memories. I 'm sorry up till now I have not sent emails or a letter detailing my life here, so I thought I could do that in this letter. So, I will start with my arrival.
Well....first I should tell you that I have been here for 20 months already! So, upon arrival I stayed with a Japanese host family for one month. The family was very kind and they have two kids, a boy who is 29 and girl who is 24. The boy lives with his wife and new born daughter. The girl lives at home. My host mother's parents both live at the house, but the grandfather recently passed away. The family helped me to do many things, even after I moved into my own place. I continue to see them on a regular basis. They work 9-5 jobs, but are farmers. They grow rice, various vegetables. The last two seasons I have helped grow rice and plant, the whole process. It is hard work, but I am happy to help them.
I now live on my own, in a nice-sized apartment. My next door neighbor is also an english teacher. We are both on the same program and work at the local elementary and junior high schools. There are 4 junior high schools in my town. I teach at 2. She teaches at the other 2. We never switch. So, for 4 days a week, we teach at Junior high schools. On the fifth day we teach at local elementary schools. The two are very different for us. At junior high schools we assist the Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in class. I usually help with pronunciation, correct homework. It really varies with the teacher. Sometimes I'm very involved, other times not so much. At elementary schools, I am usually in charge of class. I am given a schedule and I improvise or change certain things. That's up to me. Some elementary schools want to play games, others are more serious. Again, it varies from school to school. At the junior high schools there is one person who can speak some english, but at elementaries, there are none. When I first got here it was very difficult, and still today i'm never 100% sure what is expected of me. My schedules for elementary schools are written in Japanese and explained in Japanese. Even after 20 months my speaking is basic and so is my reading. So, as you can guess, I've had some interesting days.
My town is in Tohoku. It's a very rural and old-fashioned part of Japan. It's often referred to as the Tibet of Japan. It's the countryside and farming is the biggest profession here. Although sometimes I crave the city, I'm very happy to have been put here. I'm able to see a part of Japan that has kept many of its traditions and still practices old-fashioned rituals concerning holidays and festivals. Also, I get a chance to interact with Japnese people. Whereas if i lived in the city I might have instinctively surrounded myself with English-speakers and foreigners. I do though have foreign friends, people who are on my program. Without them I wouldn't have any chance to speak English or vent or ask advice, so for their presence I'm grateful. The population of my town is about 16,000, but it feels much smaller. The nearest city is about 1 hr away. The city Morioka is a nice getaway. It has many restaurants, bars, movie theaters, shopping places, etc.
My social life has steadily improved the longer I've been here. And the more I've learned to speak, the more I've been able to do. Social life here really revolves around the seasons. For example, now it is winter, so most people snowboard or ski during weekends, go to hotsprings (indoor/outdoor public baths), have drinking/eating parties. In the summer everyone is out and about, going to picnics, sightseeing, concerts, outdoor drinking parties. Drinking is something that is done all seasons here. No social or after work gathering would be complete without drinking. Socially, I do as everyone else does. These days I'm learning to snowboard, go to hotsprings a lot and eat hot dishes at night to stay warm, and drink of course. In my 20 months here, i've been fortunate to have traveled in and outside of Japan. In Japan I've visited such famous places as Nikko, Nagano, Kamakura, Tokyo, Yokohama, Sendai, Kagoshima and Yakushima. Outside of Japan I've visited Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines and S. Korea. Just rereading that, I'm amazed I've been able to do so much. I only get 20 vacation days a year, but grouped with weekends or national holidays I've been able to do and see plenty. It's been a bit hectic trying to pack so much in every vacation, and it's drained my savings, but it's been well worth it. Seeing the places I've seen has given me a much deeper perspective of not only Japan but Asia.
Well, I hope that i've included plenty of info that is interesting and can be used for PALS. Feel free to use as much as you want or cut and paste where you see fit. Isaac told me that you're doing some work in NYC these days, that great. I hope business is going great for you. You certainly deserve it. It was a great experience for me to work for you and all those years. It still ranks as one of mybest jobs and defintely the nicest boss. I hope Harvey is doing well. I hope you enjoyed the letter. Take care. Aldo