The Story So Far (About Andersen Silva)

Hello, friend. Welcome to my Web site. My full name is Andersen Silva. No middle name. (And yes, it's spelled 'sen,' not 'son.' I know, there's another guy out there also of Brazilian parentage with a name very similar to mine, but I was here first.) Until around the age of 16, I refused to respond to 'Andy,' but since then I've mellowed out a bit. Nowadays, I'm equally comfortable with Andersen, Andy, Andy-Andy, Andy-Man, And, Andy-Andy-Andersen, Ando... I even respond to 'Blondie.' But don't call me Andrew. Not my name.

I was born in 1970, on September 29 (a birthdate I share with the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as Madeline Kahn, Lech Walesa, Miguel de Cervantes, Mohammad Khatami, Pompey the Great, Les Claypool, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Silvio Berlusconi, Gene Autry, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Bryant Gumbel, Greer Garson, Enrico Fermi, Erika Eleniak, and Joel Schumacher, among others) at 8:15 PM in St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey, USA. As my mother was pregnant when my parents emigrated to the US, however, I like to say that I was 'made in Brazil.' I refer to myself as a Brasileiro sometimes, and obviously as an American, too, though I'd rather think of myself as belonging to the world than to any one nation. Of course, my (mostly) blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin can be traced back to my maternal grandmother's German roots, and they often cause incredulity in people learning that I'm 'Brazilian.' At any rate, Italian and Portuguese blood flow through these veins as well, courtesy of my other great-grandparents.

My younger sister Grace and I grew up in Paterson, although we moved a few times; I attended grammar school at P.S. Nos. 17, 19, and 5, and then John F. Kennedy High School. After graduating at 17, I lived on campus at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in south Jersey for a year, then came home to find my parents preparing to bolt to the next city over, Passaic. I lived there for three years with them (doing another semester of hard time, at Montclair State College {now University}, while there), then moved out on my own, to the next city over, Garfield, in Bergen County. Since then, I've also resided in Teaneck, Ridgefield Park, Franklin Township, Nutley, Franklin again, and (since November 2003) Lyndhurst. (Exit 153A, if you must know, or 16W off the Turnpike.) I've lived in five (Passaic, Gloucester, Bergen, Somerset, and Essex) of the twenty-one counties in NJ. I flirted with the possibility of moving to Arizona around 2008, but... no. If there's one thing I've learned over the years decades, it is that nothing is written in stone.

When I first put up a Web site in the late '90s, it was a simple four- or five-page introduction to my literary and musical ventures. Several domains and many years later, it has grown into something much larger. Around the age of thirteen, I started taking occasional notes of an autobiographical nature. I've actually set down a few random chapters of an autobiography, years ago, but it seems that this Web site has taken the place of the book I might have written. Perusing the contents of these pages will give you much insight into who I am, what I've done (and with whom), where I've been, and where I still hope to go. Maybe even why. Probably more information than most people are looking for, and it seems a lot of visitors get here while searching for that mixed martial arts fighter, or Toys "R" Us stuff, or "man walks into a bar" jokes, but... that's fine by me. Stay a while, as long as you're here!

The site's title, Extreme Close-Up, was derived from that of my short-lived 1995 publication, the Extreme, and refers to the fact that one can get a detailed view of Andersen Silva, the man, from this Web site. The 'zine's title was in turn inspired by one of Christian Slater's lines in the dark comedy Heathers: "The extreme always seems to make an impression." I conceived of and named my 'zine a few short months before extreme took off as a buzzword and everything from rollerblading to wrestling to, I don't know, grocery shopping and chess went "extreme." I never applied the term to my publication or myself in that sense, though the idea was to print whatever submissions I liked, regardless of form or genre or shock value (or lack thereof).

Prior to the Extreme, back in my Toys "R" Us days, I collaborated with Steve Augulis on an edgy "newsmagazine" called the Underground Giraffe. Come to think of it, that was around for an even shorter period of time than the Extreme... I have written some short fiction, essays, poetry, and song lyrics and music as well. One of the Extreme's semi-regular features was resurrected for my Web site for five years or so, the monthly column Vitriol. It was a place for me to do some much-needed venting, though I finally laid it to rest in April 2004 and replaced it with the kinder, gentler Being..., which itself was replaced by my LiveJournal 'blog... and now by the 'Blog... of Death! Published more regularly was the comic strip Slime, a collaboration with Laura Liston; we put a new strip out weekly, every Thursday from February 2012 through August 2013.

In my younger days, I wanted very much to be an astronomer when I grew up; that scientific mind was hungry. I loved math and the physical sciences in grammar and high school, devouring algebra and geometry and trigonometry and calculus as well as chemistry and physics. During my two brief stints in college, I was a physics major. It wasn't the science I turned my back on, or learning, but the educational system and the concept that a sheepskin changes everything. I'm still fond of and interested in science, but I never did end up working in that field, or in journalism, something else I'd considered. Instead, after a few years in retail at Toys "R" Us, a year working with UPS' bulk deposits at United Jersey Bank (long gone), and almost eleven years at AA World Class where I started as an inventory control clerk and ended as MIS manager, I've found myself working with technology. At Microwize Technology, I managed the technical support department for a few years as we assisted our clients with practice management software and electronic medical records systems; currently, I am the data services manager and an IT specialist (with some technical support and marketing duties as well). I've had at least one computer at home ever since I started with the Timex Sinclair 1000 back around 1982 (I've got fifteen working ones at the moment), and I immerse myself in technology as much as possible, so the career is a good fit, though I'd never imagined myself working with computers.

My collection of nearly 500 LPs (yes, I still own vinyl, and a turntable on which to play it) began back around 1982 with a Beatles album or two. I didn't get my first CD until 1991, but I did eventually get comfortable with the digital era and now have around 500 CDs and over 12,000 digital tracks in iTunes. My musical tastes range from classic rock to industrial to the blues to Mozart to metal to jazz to punk to... a little of almost everything. I've seen a lot of concerts and shows along the way, too.

Some of those bands have inspired me to learn to make my own music. At least, some people describe it that way. Back in 1987, during the Rutgers Dean's Summer Scholars Program, I joined/co-founded the Hellevators, a parody band with five members, only two of whom had actually played any instruments at all before; I was one of the two... and not the good one. The little Yamaha keyboard I used at the time was eventually replaced, post-Hellevators, with a bigger and better one, and the acoustic guitar I'd taken off my sister's hands was replaced by an electric. Another T"R"U alumnus, Jon Wardell, and I began talking in the early '90s about working on music together, and Not An Exit was born. I finally started getting serious about writing and recording my own music beginning around 1997. These days, with left-handed guitars and a bass, as well as a MIDI keyboard controller, better equipment, and more experience, I've managed to release a double album, I'll Live, which is available from the iTunes and Google Play Music Stores, among other sites. Jon and I still work on Not An Exit music together from time to time, and in 2014 we formed a band called Greta's Unmentionables with Michael Perry (drums) and Anthony (bass). The four of us got together in the studio whenever we could get our schedules in sync, and managed to mostly write one song, "The Bite," together, and get a few other tunes to varying stages of completion. After three years, though, in 2017 we fell prey to "creative differences" and split up.

In addition to writing and music, I've done a smidge of acting. Well, "acting" might be stretching it a bit... but I do appear in Rick Ford's "Hassel Unbound" (as an unnamed CIA operative) and "Hassel Unleashed" (as a few masked Continuum guards who quickly get eliminated) short films. While there's very little information there, I do have an IMDb entry.

Well, I'm not the world's most physical guy... but I have been known to enjoy a match of tennis or three. My friends and I spent days and days on the courts around the last year or two of high school, and I would've been on the team if I hadn't started working. I was in the best shape, and also the most tanned, I've ever been, but since those days my racquet doesn't see daylight very much anymore. I have taught some basics to two girlfriends and a few other friends... In 2013, despite having always believed that I couldn't run and wouldn't like it anyway, I discovered that I could, and I did. I tackled three "mud runs" (the Spartan Sprint, the Rugged Maniac, and the Warrior Dash) with colleagues, and then my first "normal" 5K (finishing in a not unrespectable 28 minutes and 45 seconds) in 2014, and while I'm not sure if I'll do another mud run, or progress to a 10K, I do plan to tackle some more 5Ks.

I've done some traveling, though not nearly as much as I would have liked so far. I've been to Brazil four times, twice with my family as a teen and twice as an adult; I've visited Ponta Grossa, Curitiba, and Paranagué in the state of Paraná, Joinville in Santa Catarina, and Rio de Janeiro in, well, Rio de Janeiro. I've also visited London, Cancún, Chichen Itza, Costa Rica, Hawaii (Kona on the "Big Island"), Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Providence, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Austin, San Antonio, Atlanta, Louisville, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. (not to mention New York and Philadelphia, which are right next door). There are lots of pics from my travels (and tons of other pictures, too) in the infamous Gallery... of Death!

Politically, I'm something of an independent liberal socially, though fiscally I suppose I'm a wee bit more conservative; I don't consider myself a Democrat, but I'm much more likely to vote for a donkey than an elephant. That's not to say that I wouldn't vote for a Republican if I felt that he/she was the best candidate for the position, however. I've also cast ballots for members of the Reform, Green, and Socialist parties (I've still got a "Perot '96" button around somewhere, and even "Duke 2000: Absolutely nothing to lose"), as well as those unaffiliated with any party, and I don't believe in following any person, any political party, any ideology blindly, though far too many others do, apparently. I prefer to think for myself, and wish more people in this world would do so as well. I've marched against the Iraq war, and marched (and played guitar) with Tom Morello and the Occupy Guitarmy on May Day 2012. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary, and I've taken part in a few demonstrations against the Trump regime and its troubling policies. The 99% would do well to remember that they are the majority. I served as a grand jury foreman in NJ's Bergen County, which was an interesting experience. Yes, that was a bit of a non sequitur.

I have not owned a car since the early 2000s. That's mostly a green thing (I try to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible), though it's also a financial thing; it costs me less for a monthly train pass for my work commute on New Jersey Transit than it would to buy, insure, maintain, and fuel an automobile. That's not to say I don't enjoy driving from time to time; I have a Zipcar membership and rent cars from them, or from Budget, on occasion when I need wheels. That's also not to say that I do enjoy NJT. For about a year starting in November 2002, I wrote a New Jersey Transit Blecch! noting my travels (and travails) using the public transportation agency. I mostly gripe about NJT on Twitter now, and in early 2015 I attended a public board of directors meeting to say my piece about why a proposed fare hike shouldn't happen; I also submitted comments online.

As far as religion is concerned... don't have one. I spent the years between thirteen and thirty or so as an occasionally militant atheist, and wrote an essay defending my lack of belief. As a man grounded very firmly in logic and the sciences, I find it difficult to put stock in religions and superstitions and rituals and spells with no objective and incontrovertible evidence. That's not to say that there's nothing "spiritual" about me, or that my lack of fear of punishment in the "afterlife" means I'm amoral. I also remain open to the possibility that I'm wrong; these days, I'm really not militant about it at all, and think of myself as more of an agneist (half agnostic, half atheist) now, although I am intrigued by both the Dalai Lama and Pastafarianism. RAmen. The bottom line for me is, everyone should be free to follow any spiritual beliefs he or she wants, or none at all, and as long as one isn't infringing on anyone else's rights, it should be no one else's business.

Let's see, I've brought up politics, and religion... My love life? Nosy, ain'tcha? I've had my moments, and been on both the giving and the receiving end of heartbreak... but I'm pretty certain that doesn't make me unique. Of course, unlike most of you, I sometimes write songs about my romantic ups and downs... I asked Laura Liston to marry me on St. Patrick's Day 2013, after we'd been together for a year and a half, and she said yes, making me the happiest man on the face of the planet for a while... but our relationship ended before July did, and I've been back to being lonely ever since. We did have two girls together who I also loved very much, Meguilla (the chinchilla) and Preeti (the kitty), but I tragically and suddenly lost both, the former in February 2014, and the latter in January 2015. Love hurts...

When was the last time you checked out an 'About' page that told you this much? Maybe you wish you'd turned back earlier... Heh. You can check me out on Google+ if you'd like. Tchau, for now!