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Personal - Making the Private Public

Hello, my name is Barry Drogin. You have either chanced across this page through a strange combination of Google search terms, or you want to learn more about my personal life. So let the interview begin...

I was born on May 2, 1960 and grew up in North Merrick, Long Island. My mother, who I resemble, died after a long illness when I was six. My father remarried when I was eight and moved us to Dix Hills in Huntington, Long Island. While my mother was in the hospital I was raised by my grandmother, known to all as "Bubby," but she did not move with us to the new house, so I, in essence, lost my mother twice.

Half Hollow Hills is the richest public school district in New York State. Our two high schools had a huge auditorium, a planetarium, a swimming pool and tennis courts. My father was a Depression baby and we were the poorest family on our block, but not in the school district. That would have been my best friend, who lived on the lucky side of the street that formed a border with the poor neighborhood (the one near the Long Island Railroad tracks).

I escaped Long Island a year early to attend Emerson College in Boston as a theater directing major and music composition minor. The latter didn't really exist and I went immediately into private study with Mark Kroll and Scott Wheeler. I was very active at Emerson, as their mainstage House Manager, as a playwright and director of student shows, and writing incidental music for plays. When I left Emerson to transfer to The Cooper Union in New York City as an electrical engineering major, everyone at Emerson asked, "You're good at math?" (790 on my SAT).

At Cooper I remained active as a composer, writing incidental music, a ballet score (inked in Physics lecture), songs and instrumental music for student shows, and studying privately with Elie Siegmeister and Gil Robbins (Tim's father). I also audited an electronic music class given by Laurie Spiegel, and enjoyed a long correspondence with Stephen Sondheim. I was more than active on the student newspaper (I was known as "Mr Pioneer"), and was later awarded a national Tau Beta Pi Laureate Award for Diverse Achievements in Music and Journalism. When I cut my hair to obtain a respectable engineering job, the school went into shock.

At my first job I designed and installed the first touch-screen laserdisk bank machine. I met the woman who would become my first wife at a summer sing, moving in with her at a converted refrigerator warehouse with few windows in December 1984, where I have resided ever since. I returned to Cooper to complete my masters degree and was a teacher for four years, most of the time at Technical Career Institutes (TCI), the former RCA Institutes. I was accepted and attended exactly one class at Columbia University before withdrawing from its PhD program and returning to work in the medical industry as a project engineer, where I developed for Denstply/Cavitron (the largest dental equipment manufacturer in the world) the PERSPECTIVE Dental Imaging System, the most successful product launch in the company's history. During this time my first wife, a semi-professional singer, commissioned a song cycle ("Love Poems from the Hebrew") and I collaborated with choreographer Peg Hill on a dance-theatre piece, "Typhoid Mary."

In 1987 my father died, and a year or so later I came home from work to find most of the furniture gone. The tale of my rocky first marriage became the basis for my one-act a cappella opera, "The Couch." Eventually I left the medical industry to work in avionics, working on diverse products for the Apache Helicopter, the Boeing 767, and the Raytheon (Beechcraft) Premier I. By this time I had met the woman who would become my second wife at a Shabbas dinner at a conservative synagogue. My first son was born in 1996. I became interested in a cappella music and started to attend The International Meeting of Small Scale Music-Theatre and Opera, renamed several times (now called NewOp/NonOp). I developed and premiered "Alamo! a scena for a cappella voice and Bible (King James version)." In 2000 my second son was born and I wrote and performed the theme song of the NewOp meetings, "NewOp Doo Wop." A year later I was asked to write a feature hyper-history of American Music Theater for NewMusicBox magazine (although I have a much broader breadth of knowledge, as per the bottom of this page, I am the kind of person who often quotes lines from Broadway musicals). By this time I had changed engineering fields again, working in Intelligent Transportation Systems for TBTA, for whom I developed the first virtual traffic management system.

I was working for TBTA at 2 Broadway on September 11, 2001. While suffering from acute traumatic stress syndrome (ATSD), I became the "new music poster boy for September 11," writing extensively on the subject. I collaborated with Rachel Sheinkin on a Raw Impressions Music Theatre production at LaMaMa ETC, was interviewed twice live on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar radio show, and was a regular columnist for New Music Connoisseur. During this time I suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome and chronic bronchitis (also known as "World Trade Center cough"). I resigned from TBTA in 2003, and my second wife, who I had been supporting as a full-time mother, divorced me and negotiated full custody of my children in 2004, who I see every Tuesday and live with me every other weekend. I started a consulting business which I abandoned in 2006.

In 2007 I joined an architecture/engineering firm, SUPERSTRUCTURES, the number one exterior restoration firm in NYC. I became Director of Non-Destructive Testing & Evaluation, and give AIA Continuing Education Seminars in the subject. I released a CD of studio versions of "Typhoid Mary" and "Alamo!" and struggled to complete a song cycle, "September 11 Songs." I completed a manuscript for a book, "Play," which gathered over two dozen rejection letters. In 2008 I decided to close down my music publishing business, Not Nice Music, and become an "unprofessional musician." I coached my younger son's soccer team for a season and attended Barry Lewis's Continuing Education course at Cooper on the architectural history of New York City. I don't consider myself a ba'al teshuvah, although some at the Modern Orthodox/Open Orthodox synagogue I belong to (the West Side Jewish Center on 34th Street) might.

In 2010 my youngest son was given a multi-year full scholarship to the National Dance Institute after-school program, and I am his biggest fan. In 2011, "Mr. Pioneer" returned to The Cooper Union to help fight the threat to eliminate its full-tuition scholarship mission, by acting as publisher of The Alumni Pioneer, writing articles for The Villager, appearing in media such as NPR and Reuters, giving a "riveting" presentation in The Great Hall, and creating and posting several YouTube videos.

My PTSD and chronic bronchitis had dissipated until the trauma of Sandy in 2012 brought new ATSD symptoms (for a while, brought back the chronic bronchitis, too - maybe from all of the candles?), this time related to darkness instead of airplanes. When no one else in the city formed one, I organized a Sandy Blackout Zone Support Group.

Despite work, synagogue, classes, and kid's sports and dance recitals, like many New Yorkers, I suffer from social isolation. As E.B. White wrote:

On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy. It is this largess that accounts for the presence within the city's walls of a considerable section of the population; for the residents of Manhattan are to a large extent strangers who have pulled up stakes somewhere and come to town, seeking sanctuary or fulfillment or some greater or lesser grail. The capacity to make such dubious gifts is a mysterious quality of New York. It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.
As Graham Greene wrote:
The only love which has lasted is the love that has accepted everything, every disappointment, every failure and every betrayal, which has accepted even the sad fact that in the end there is no desire so deep as the simple desire for companionship.
(Keeping) my job, (raising) my children, and (pleasing) G-d come first. I enjoy contemporary music, theater, and music-theater, contemporary painting, sculpture, and architecture, and, in this economy, some contemporary cinema, television, and comedy. I walk to Shul every Shabbas with and without my children. I'm Flexidox - I keep a kosher home but do not eat kosher outside of it. I like cats who purr when rubbed right and dislike dogs violating my personal space without my permission (those aren't metaphors, but could be...). I do not own a car but have a license. I hate cars in crosswalks. I have a loud laugh and love to sing. My passions are large.

Turn-offs: short cancer-patient hair; chronic lateness; inattentive; psycho-analytical; atheist

Turn-ons: zaftig; warm; sense of humor; trustworthy; moral

What I'm not: sugar daddy; violent; predictable

What you're not: suburban; in therapy; in recovery; hates children; impregnable

Deal breakers: must get married; can't have separate apartments; smoker; loves dogs (just kidding)

Please listen to the four very different pieces at http://www.myspace.com/notnicemusic

If you found this of interest, you may also enjoy "Personal Ad Don'ts (for women over 45)" and "The Seven Stages of Internet Dating" - or maybe you've already been there, and are trapped in a loop. Sorry!

I've learned to respect that you can never really know another person. I try to respond to what someone is saying, not to analyze and assume I know what someone actually means. Everybody lies, everybody has secrets, everybody is hypocritical, and everybody is crazy. A photograph, a personal ad, a dating site profile, an e-mail, a telephone call, and a website may reveal a "deal breaker," but only through face-to-face interaction can anyone know whether they can actually stand to be in someone else's presence.

So, if, after all this, you think you know me, I assure you that you do not. Is the interview over?

MARVIN:
Tell me, Trina, what was the impetus?
Sorry, Trina, look in my eyes.
Really, Trina, this is ridiculous.
Jesus, Trina, how I despise
Your need for stupid conversation.
You are trying to ruin my sleep.
I'm sure you chose him to make me look bad.
How could you ever deny what we had?

TRINA:
We had fights and games.
Marvin called us funny names.
Marvin always played the clown.

MARVIN:
I am so dumb.
I never wanted to love you.
I never wanted.
I wanted.
I never never never never never
Never wanted to love you.
I never wanted to love you.

-- William Finn, "March of the Falsettos" (excerpts)