The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson


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July 3, 2009


I presume my readers know that to keep up with this blog they have to click on the last listed entry over there at the right. This blog opens to the same page every time, so navigate to the latest if you are keeping up. Also, email addy is MYOB@brucebramson.com and I am always pleased to hear from my readers.


I had my first and last post-op exam by the surgeon yesterday. He says I’m fine, and he’s right. I still have a little bit of soreness around a couple of the incisions, but I know this will go away. Altogether, the removal of my gall bladder was close to being a non-event!


I suppose way back somewhere I saw MJJ and thought it might be interesting to know more about him, particularly what he looked like sans clothing. But as for following his career or becoming any kind of MJJ groupie, it was not on. I don’t get along well with “Type A” individuals, and at least when on stage, MJJ struck me as a Type AAAA. And since I know nothing about dancing, his moves always looked frantic, often as if he was having a fit of some kind.

Somewhere along the line I did find a recording of his ballad, “She’s Outa My Life”, and I really liked it: I still play in now and then. But as time went on, there’s no denying MJJ got more than a little “strange”. The tragedy of his untimely demise lies in his inability to control his intake of drugs, and there was no one with enough power over him to stop the carnage until it was too late. I hope his tortured soul really is at rest now.


I’ve mentioned before that tattoos, generally, put me off. All this hype on TV, with entire series devoted to tats and tatters leaves me cold: many of the designs are over the top, and woe be unto any who decide they should be removed!



Johnny and I bought a house together in 1962. We were both gainfully employed (he teaching, I an analytical chemist); it cost us $17,000. We worked it over, then traded up to something larger. But as it became apparent our relationship was going down in flames, one night in 1964, in a drunken rage he made me quit claim to the property and chased me out at knife-point. To make matters worse, he burned most of the deeds and other paperwork involved. Nevertheless, he was able to sell the place shortly thereafter (it was planned!) and pocketed about $40,000 . He drank that up in just a few years; but, I digress.

That year I filed my income tax and claimed a sizable loss on the property. Three years later, in 1967, the IRS objected, pointing out I had no proof: all that burnt paperwork came back to haunt me. The IRS concluded that I owed them the princely sum of $1800, and I was forced to agree that I did. I was willing to pay it, except that the IRS demanded I borrow the money from a bank at 8% interest. My position was the IRS was charging 6%, and there was no reason a bank should make money on my misfortune. [Imagine 8% interest at a bank in those days!}

The upshot was a series of meetings with low-level functionaries who tried to cajole me into taking out a loan. Throughout, I maintained that I would pay the amount owed, but over time, plus the 6%: there was enough “slop” in my budget that I could spare something each month: I was pretty much living from paycheck to paycheck, as my salary was not all that great. But, the IRS would have none of it, and the more they pushed, the more stubborn I got. I quickly realized they have no ability to deal with someone who simply says “no” and refuses to budge. I used to load up on aspirin: I was like a zombie, and no matter what they offered, my answer was consistently “NO”.

Someone told me I could take a person with me to those meetings, and did not even have to introduce them. The theory was that if there was a witness to their coercive tactics, they would not be applied. So I set it up with a friend of mine: he was a large fellow, a clerk in a dime store, but he had one good suit and an imposing cough. The IRS would harangue, I would say something like I was going to yield, and Jim would cough loudly: then I would say NO! It drove the poor interviewer nuts, but got us nowhere.

Another time, after several guys had taken turns at me, I decided to “lose it”: without warning I jumped up and shouted loudly, “Why don’t you guys just take me out in the hall and shoot me? Put an end to all this shit.” (And so forth) Jeezus! We were in a room full of cubicles, so everyone  heard me, and for a moment, I thought they might take my recommendation! Such a hub-bub. But it got us nowhere.

Then there was the day we finally came to some sort of agreement, and the interviewer wrote it up long-hand on a special pad with carbon-paper (remember carbon-paper?) and told me to sign it. I was about to, when I noticed printed boldly along the bottom, this line:


Say what? They explained that was to protect their interest so if I were to have a wind-fall, they could take their share out of it. I explained that it was no contract at all, and tore it up and threw the fragments at them. Whooooie! They were pissed!

The resolution came when I decided to devote an entire day to getting this thing off my back. When I reached an impasse with the first interviewer, I demanded to see his Supervisor. When I got nowhere there, I demanded to see his Supervisor, and so on up the ladder. About five rungs up, I was allowed to explain the whole problem to a fellow sitting behind a desk: I repeated my offer to pay over time with their 6% interest.

“That sounds reasonable to me,” he said. He wrote it up, and it was a done deal.  I’d won!


The whole mess with the IRS put me right off. Work was getting boring. Money was tight, especially with monthly payments to the IRS. I needed a change. One weekend I visited my older brother in Southern California, and was perusing ads in the LA Times. On a lark more than anything else, I responded to an opening for a chemist in VietNam, and promptly forgot about it.

Several months later, I got a call in my office: “Are you ready to go to VietNam?”

Well, no I wasn’t, but I quickly decided I sure as heck could be!

What happened next will be my next page.



Written by Bruce

December 14th, 2009 at 8:33 pm

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