Larry Livermore ran Lookout! Records and writes. He also plays in The Potatomen.
Where did you go to high school?
Cabrini High School, a Catholic school in Downriver Detroit.
Did you like high school?
No, not at all. It was a very unhappy time for me because I really didn't fit in socially or academically.
What were the people like?
The people were basically working class, mostly the children of first or second generation immigrants who worked in automobile factories. They tended to be pretty concerned about material success (or lack thereof) and about fitting in. They weren't particularly bad, just sort of mediocre.
Did you "fit in"? Were you "popular"?
No, I wasn't popular. The only group where I was really accepted was the hoodlums, and most of them went to public school, so by 10th or 11th grade I didn't hang around much at all with kids from my school.
Did you ever flunk a class?
No, I never flunked a class in high school. I waited until college to do that.
Did you enjoy P.E.?
I hated it. I was very weak and skinny and self-conscious, and the coach couldn't stand me. Luckily I was able to ditch out of P.E. in 11th and 12th grades.
What did you do to keep yourself amused in class?
Read books about other stuff.
Were you ever suspended or expelled?
No. I was pretty good at sneaking around and getting away with stuff.
Has your permanent record followed you?
No. Actually, it did affect me, by keeping me from getting accepted to the university I wanted to go to, but as it turned out, I wasn't really ready for college then anyway. Later on in life I was able to go to the University of California at Berkeley and get a really good education. It's almost always possible to get over a bad high school record, though I'd say you're probably better off not getting a bad record if you can help it, because it does make things a little harder on you. Although I never realized it at the time, I decided later that it's not really that difficult to have a good time in high school and still do OK in class. Of course it's easy for me to talk now; obviously I wasn't smart enough to figure that out when I was in high school.
Has high school influenced what you're doing now?
It's influenced me in the sense that I've always felt like an outsider and like I had to prove myself to the world. Also, although my high school had a very bad effect on me emotionally because of the religious brainwashing and sexual repression, I got a pretty good basic education in the fundamentals of history, language, economics, political science, all of which has stayed with me and formed the building blocks of most of what I have done in my adult life. So it wasn't all bad; I just wish I could have gotten a little more enjoyment out of it, and been able to put it in a little better perspective.
Do you have a message for "the kids"?
I don't believe in "the kids." I believe in people. To lump people into a group because of their age patronizes them and limits the possibilities of communicating with them. Education is one of the most important aspects of life, and it's a tragedy that schools often make it so hard to obtain. But it's worth seeking after; I know in my own case, the education I was able to acquire both in and out of school was the main thing that made possible most of what I've done so far in life. So while I hope people don't let the inanities of school drag them down, at the same time I hope they don't use them as an excuse for not learning the many things that are there to be learned.