In 1972, San Francisco found itself the home of many flower children, hippies, spiritual seekers and other people who believed that the grim world of that day could and should be made better, and so they gathered there to find others who believed the same, in this age before Facebook and Twitter, blogs and websites. My mother was one of them, having conceived a child while seeking out her own path in that joyously turbulent era. She settled in the City by the Bay while awaiting my arrival, and did everything she knew how to care for us both in the meanwhile.
When I was born, she had allowed her dear friend to choose my middle name, and he chose “Anton” after the fad-of-the-day in San Francisco, the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. This upset her greatly, but he insisted that was his choice, so she responded by giving me the first name of “Christopher”, a Greek name meaning “bearer of Christ”. After my birth, she found that it was more difficult than she’d anticipated to raise a child with no real support net, so her parents invited her to come back home, and by Christmas, I was in Detroit.
My mother met a good man who not only came to love her very much, but also myself to the point where, along with marrying her, he went through the arduous steps necessary to adopt me, giving me his family name, Cloyd, as my last name. Ever since, he has done every and anything that a boy would need from a parent, and truly earned his place in my life as “Father”. With both him and my mother, I went to church and school, and moved into a nice house in the near suburbs of the Motor City.
By the time I was ten, I found myself too skeptical to have my worldview rooted within the teachings of my church, and began to look elsewhere. Atheism was considered alongside Buddhism, Judaism, Shinto, Hinduism and many, many others. I came to see that the world was far too varied and wondrous for any one path to explain it to my satisfaction. I am even now a seeker of truth, and someone that holds his fellow human beings as each being sacred in and of themselves individually and as a collective whole, and tailor my interactions with them with this firmly in mind.
I wed far too early in life, and for the adolescent reason of being deeply lonely and wanting a partner. That error doomed the relationship from the beginning, but no matter how poorly it served the needs of myself or my wife, I stayed for ten years, taking that vow very seriously.
It was during this time that I began to seriously question myself on who I was, at my very core. I discovered that I could not stand by and watch injustice and inequality occur unchallenged. I immediately began to champion, publicly, those who felt the sting of persecution due to religious and spiritual discrimination, being not of a standard variety myself.
I also realized that, while very attracted to women, there was the occasional man that interested me. That spurred me to begin to move LGBT equality to a priority amongst my activism as well. Being honest with myself about who I was, and that to act on that was unacceptable to my spouse, we separated and divorced, to allow each other to continue our lives, true to ourselves.
During the span of my first marriage, I worked in a variety of positions, many of them as a temp. My first steady full time work was at a Kinko’s, and I found that I greatly enjoyed bringing people’s vision to fruition for them. I devoured every aspect of print design and production from the angle of digital and copy center techniques, eager to grow.
As a side project, I began a bimonthly publication with some fellow truthseekers I knew. Now, keep in mind that I had never felt terribly connected to my name, given how it came to be. As I was going to be discussing topics that I didn’t necessarily want to embarrass some of my more religiously conservative relatives with, I decided come up with a nom de plume that I could use. However, I didn’t want one that was just meaningless to me - I wanted a name that I felt was truly my own.
I researched names, their meanings not only as names but also as terms and titles. The first one that caught my attention was “Tyler”, but it just didn’t feel right for my first name. Its mundane meaning of “tile maker” wasn’t what caught my attention, either: it was its meaning as a title within a lodge: the guardian and challenger, the one who keeps sacred space sacred. Looking further, the ancient name “Aldus” came to mind; it means “of the elder house” and as it has the same pronunciation, I opted for the more modern version, “Aldous”. Thus “Aldous Tyler” means “Guardian and Challenger of the Elder House”. This became the name I would be known as amongst my friends from then on.
Meanwhile, my talents in print design were noticed by one of my clients at Kinko’s, who hired me on full-time to manage his company’s printing (and rapidly, web) needs in re-selling used industrial equipment. I was glad to be helping keep these gigantic machines in operation and out of landfills and scrapyards, fitting in perfectly with my commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle. That lasted several years, until a market slowdown caused the company to contract. Thanks to the robust software industry of the time, I was able to immediately secure employment as tech support for a small database company. My ability to find bugs in their software promoted me to software tester (“bug hunter”) quickly, and I stayed with them through the BIG Y2K issue their programs had.
After that company was bought by a bigger software firm (which had their own support and testing department), I went back to Kinko’s to find my place leading the midnight crew. Working there again gave me a freedom working elsewhere didn’t - I could transfer from location to location if I wanted to move, and I’d have my job wherever I went. I used that freedom to finally leave Detroit, and explore a city I’d heard so many good things about: Madison, Wisconsin.
It was a completely different environment than the grim-yet-determined Detroit. Where in Motown I was known as a sunny-yet-determined optimist, here I came off as steely contender, someone who would do what it took to get things done, and all simply being the same person in both places. I grew as a person the more I saw, and finally broke through that shell it is so easy to stay trapped within - the one that says “everyone does things the way we do here, don’t they?”
Eager to see even more, after a year and a half, I moved to Minneapolis, continuing to work for Kinko’s. There I joined several LGBT activist organizations, most notably Outfront, TC-BOP and Twin Cities Pride, as well as spirituality equality groups such as Pagan Pride. At this time Kinko’s was preparing itself for sale to FedEx, and dropped overnight hours at most of its locations, including mine. I found full time work shortly thereafter at a large call center processing prescription benefit requests for insurance plans - it was soul-sucking work, essentially being forced over and over to tell pharmacists why they had to deny medication to their patients. While I greatly enjoyed my time spent in the Twin Cities, as time continued, I found that I was spending more and more time back in Madison on the weekends, so I looked for and found a job there that was somewhat better call center work and moved back.
A friend of mine made me aware that there was much better work to be had in a call center, and I began work at a relay center for the deaf, taking typed calls for folks who can’t hear, and voicing for them while typing responses spoken to me back to them. It was so nice to have work that allowed me to feel I was doing something worthwhile with my time. But it wasn’t to last.
I came down with horrible stomach pains and problems, and, despite the call center not offering health insurance, I knew I had to get it seen. The polyp problems I faced wound up putting me around $15,000.00 in debt and the time I needed for the multiple medical absences cost me the relay job. At least it was taken care of with no recurrences.
I was able, then, to gain employment managing the membership database of a scientific society in Madison, and get enough of my feet back under me that I could take up local activism to keep our Progressive Talk station on the air, and develop a solid and deep relationship with the woman who is now my wife. I then had to face down the massive medical debts I had accrued, and realized the only reasonable way I could deal with them was to do what so many do faced with such an issue: I declared bankruptcy. I’ll say that this single experience brought home just how horrid our health care system is in the nation far more than even Michael Moore’s “Sicko” did.
My employment with the scientific society continued until, as timing would have it, they needed to cut my position just as a friend of mine told me about a digital document production company that had two full time openings. They snatched me up, and I remain employed by them to this day.
Since then, I worked hard to campaign for Barack Obama in 2008, knocking on doors and making calls to try and make sure he was given every chance to make his campaign happen. Also that year, I headed up a Progressive Talk conference in Madison, bringing together many starts of Progressive Talk to help promote the genre across the country. The event wasn’t fiscally successful enough to repeat it, but it did accomplish its goal of having a venue for the talents of Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, Cenk Uygur, Jon Elliott, Peter B. Collins and other progressive media professionals together with activists from across America who continue to fight to increase the amount of Progressive and Liberal media on our airwaves.
On a personal note, in preparation for marrying my fiancee, I decided I wanted to marry her with the name that she knew me best by, the one that meant the most to me. I legally changed my name to Aldous Cloyd Tyler, moving my family name to the middle position as I truly honor that my father chose to take me in as his, and wanted it to remain in my name.
A few months later, my then-fiancee and I early-voted for Obama/Biden, and then were wed, taking our honeymoon to a wonderful island where we spent our time relaxing... except for the night of November 4th, which saw us with our eyes locked on the TV as we watched the election returns come in, and included my wife’s amusement on Keith Olbermann’s pink tie. Left with elation at keeping the GOP out of the White House, and frustration at the Norm Coleman / Al Franken deadlock in Minnesota, we finally slept at about 5:00 AM.
At the urging of a good number of the Progressive Talkers I knew, I began my own program, “TMI with Aldous Tyler” in early 2009. Airing at first in only live-streaming mode, I was able to still garner guests including U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (repeatedly), Cenk Uygur, Jon Elliott, Peter B. Collins and many others. At about the same time, I looked for work that would earn decent money while not taking much time and discovered a local mobile DJ company was hiring, where I still work to this day, alongside my full-time document production job.
About a year after I’d begun “TMI”, the University of Wisconsin’s radio station, WSUM (91.7 FM Madison), invited me to have an hour a week at the same time slot I was already streaming at. Being one of the few non-students at the station is quite the honor, and being given this platform to broadcast has helped fulfill my desire to help get more Liberal and Progressive view out there.
In the meantime my first child was born, and the family expanded with the addition of my mother-in law and my niece as my foster daughter. Family life has been fulfilling and time consuming, and all the while I’ve been promoting local and national activism via “TMI” and personally participating as much as possible in all the local political events that have occurred over the past year (many gathering national attention).
From the position of putting together a political talk show, I’ve been watching since President Obama’s inauguration as he continued to tack more and more to the Corporate Right, and did my best to cheerlead when he did what I felt was correct. Those opportunities continued to dwindle, until I realized I was speaking more often negatively than positively of the man. I have been looking for someone to stand up and challenge him for quite a while now, and realized that more and more of those who could do so were deferring from it. Finally, seeing what was happening with the Keystone XL Pipeline, and then the protests that were washing upon the White House only to be summarily ignored, I realized: no one else is going to do it. No one.
It was up to me.
Asking the advice of several politically savvy people who knew me and could also take into account my drive to make this nation (and by extension, world) better, I began gearing up this campaign.
I hope this helps give you what you wanted to know about me. I’m just a working man supporting his family who believes that we can’t let our nation continue to be pulled into the gaping maw of Corporate power. If someone else had come along who would see this thing through, and do a better job of it, I’d have supported them. But, funny that - no one did.
I am now raising funds for the first phase of ballot access to obtain a spot on the ballot in 15 states, which will require an additional $14,300 dollars for filing fees alone, and more for an election lawyer and to fund the necessary petition drives. Once that is successful, I’ll press onward and get more state ballots to show that there’s an alternative to Obama’s Center-Right drift.
Throughout my life, there's been one consistent theme that I have adapted to become my personal slogan: "See reality for what it is, and be bold enough to change it." Whether that's my nomenclature, my spiritual reality, my personal reality, our media reality, or our political reality, I never flinch from seeing it as it is... and then moving forward to change it.
America Changes Today
Aldous C. Tyler