I think my first experience of art, or the joy in making art, was playing the horn at some high-school dance or bar mitzvah or wedding, looking at a roomful of people moving their bodies around in time to what I was doing. There was a piano player, a bass player, a drummer, and my breath making the melody.
Capitalism would have never let me be a filmmaker, living in Flint, Michigan with a high school education. I was going to have to make that happen myself.
Not graduating high school on time leads to fewer chances of attending college and obtaining good paying jobs, and creates instead higher chances of incarceration and unemployment.
I was a rebellious adolescent. It was the ’60s. Everyone was rebellious. I hated high school.
It is one thing to take as a given that approximately 70 percent of an entering high school freshman class will not attend college, but to assign a particular child to a curriculum designed for that 70 percent closes off for that child the opportunity to attend college.
Albert Camus’s ‘La Peste’ – ‘The Plague’ – had an enormous impact on me when I read it in high school French class, and I chose my senior yearbook quote from it. In college, I wrote a philosophy class paper on Camus and Sartre, and again chose my yearbook quote from ‘La Peste.’
I rode horseback three miles each way to get to high school, and in bad weather it was a problem sometimes to make my eight o’clock class on time. Like others, I often missed school to help on the farm, especially in the fall, until after harvest, and in the spring, during planting season.
I grew up outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a little town, and went to a regular high school. I was a… very average student in that high school. Then I joined the Navy, and while I was in the Navy, I was in a motorcycle accident and woke up deaf in a hospital.
When I was in high school, I had a notebook that I filled up with rules about lying. It must have been a hundred pages long – one hundred pages of rules about lying!
When you tell people you’re in history, they give you this pained expression because that was the course they hated in high school. But history can be exciting, intellectually rigorous, and fun.