Within months, I knew that moving into Ft. Greene Park in Brooklyn in the midst of the crack epidemic was a mistake. Gangs ruled the street. The public schools were the setting for gang standoffs. My family had to run a gauntlet of hookers, drug dealers and petty crooks to buy a quart of milk at the corner store. Our apartment was a gem crafted out of solid oak, with a splendid view of the park from the 3rd floor. And, we were prisoners.
I made the move from San Francisco to New York to play out my big time ambitions in the music biz. Now, I had to make a lot of money... and fast... to rescue my family. And, so, I found myself employing the strategy of the David Bowie character in the great movie, The Man Who Fell To Earth. I became half techno/intellectual freak and half rock and roll star.
PCs had just entered the business office world in a really powerful way during that era (late 70s/early 80s), and that presented an incredible opportunity. Typesetting, word processing, spreadsheet and primitive graphics applications were transitioning from standalone, extremely expensive, machines into software packages that could be run on a generic PC. I learned the old standalone machines quickly by volunteering to sit down to any machine available and working through the manuals. The IBM System 6 and Vydek machines were among the first I learned.
Soon, I was making $20 an hour... quite a large sum in that era.
But, I quickly spotted an even greater opportunity. It was the dreaded c:\> that was all that appeared on the screens of those early PCs once they were powered up.
Few people knew how to use a personal computer. The lack of a graphical interface shut people down. They had no idea how to enter a command line and execute a program file. So, I wrote a batch file in BASIC that generated a checkoff menu of the available programs and carried it with me on a floppy disc from firm to firm. My clients thought I was Thomas Edison and Leonardo DaVinci combined.
The huge expansion of corporate law firms occurred within the same era as the explosive proliferation of PCs in the workplace. Corporate law firms became my best clients. I dictated my own terms. $30 an hour with a guarantee of a 6 to 8 hour minimum. I'll come into your office when I've got the time. Soon, I had the keys to the offices of half a dozen elite corporate law firms. The gravy rolled in.
During the day, I babysat my kids and played music. My wife came home in the late afternoon and took over the kids. By 5 p.m., I started making the rounds of my clients. They were very happy to see me. If I had a rehearsal or performance in the evening, I had a great time playing, and when it was over I started making the rounds of my clients. I seldom arrived home before 8 a.m.
That was a fascinating and exciting period in my life. I learned that opportunity abounded in NYC. It's a city for hustlers. I loved hustling!
And, I very quickly got my family the hell out of Ft. Greene Park.