the voice
The early years. Craig Pinto was born in a hospital in Richmond, California near the auditorium where a roller derby game was in progress. He was, at birth, six feet tall, could read and write, and had a complete set of pre-uterine memories. The pattern for his early life was made clear almost immediately as he said to his non-plussed mother, "You must be my mother," and she responded angrily "You think you know everything." His father added: "We'll see how smart you think you are when you enter the working world." "If he ever gets a job," said his mother. Ah, fuck a duck, thought baby Craig. . .

telling the truth, babyUnlike normal children, grade school was an utter waste for him. He would sit on the floor by himself planning unemployment insurance scams while the other kids struggled with primers. Likewise, in sports he was, effortlessly, the star with every team he bothered to show up for. Girls would experience their first vaginal emulsions when he entered a room. In short, he was a prodigy, a golden boy. In any other circumstances, he would have matured into an insufferable giggolo in high school.

look out girlsBut two things would save him. The first was the petty jealousy of his parents whose constant taunting nurtured in him a cynicism so majestically deep that it approached an Eastern detachment. The second was his enrollment in Pinole’s famous Elysee du Songwriting, which removed the hard beveled loneliness he felt until the rest of us grew up. I have seen him like a mad Chinese poet laugh his way through an entire San Francisco Chronicle. He popularized the word "hilarious" in 1975.  He would have been a hero to the rest of us if we were not so jealous. Our struggle to do what he could do gracefully would, however, bear some fruit. Like George Harrison, or Diane Keaton we would occasionally manage to surprise ourselves. More, he embued in each of us the same strain of happy cynicism which permits one to refer to Camus as "that dope", and to imagine that relationships need not be long to be successful.

As he left for Yale late one summer night, we assumed we would never see him again. We were assembled like bleary apostles at the picnic tables just behind Andy's Oak Pit under the awning, smoking a final joint, studying the carvings of hoodlums in the table wood, watching the cars aimlessly pass by on Pinole Valley Road. "Cheer up," he said, as his girlfriend braked at the curb in her green Volkswagon. "Remember, boys: there are no risks." He put his bags in the back of the car, sat behind the wheel and drove off completely unprepared for the adrenal ice-storm of the 1970s. (Coming soon: The Post-early years.)

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