At Sierra Community College a year or two previous, my friend’s mom recalled that the UCLA Economics and Business program was dominated by “smart Jews.” That caught my attention. I was used to thinking of myself as the smartest person in the room (or close to it).
At UCLA, I proudly identified as “an atheistic communist.” I would talk about Marx to anyone who would listen and before Economics class with visiting professor Russell Roberts (a baal teshuva aka a Jew who became Orthodox), I would write my recommended books on the blackboard, including, Marx’s “On the Jewish Question“, which I thought was the best short introduction to Marx’s thought. A guy with a yarmulke questioned me about the book. With trepidation, I said that Marx saw the Jew as the embodiment of the bourgeoisie. I said there were anti-Semitic parts to his writings but they should be ignored.
I think the guy who asked that question, Steve S., was someone I’d get to know a decade later, but we could never nail down whether or not that was him.
This was my first experience of life in the big city. I felt like I belonged. I’ve lived in LA since 1994 (from 1989 to 1994, CFS forced me back to the country).