Jimmy Neurosis: A Memoir About “Being Young and Gay During the 1970s Punk Revolution in America” is James Oseland’s raw, riveting coming-of-age memoir about his tumultuous teen years between 1977 and 1980.
Long before he was an award-winning food writer and editor and a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Oseland was an awkward, bullied, gay 15 year old living with his mom in the Bay Area suburb of San Carlos. Jimmy Neurosis starts when James’s father abandons the family, the ensuing hurt and vulnerability, for better or worse, prompting a powerful metamorphosis. There were some key crucial moments to Oseland’s emergence from boring San Carlos, like turning on the TV to see the Sex Pistols performing. Young James would sneak out at night and hop the train or bus to San Francisco to explore arthouse films, punk rock clubs, and the wonderful world of pre-AIDS cruising. In the midst of diving head first into these underground experiences, James renamed himself “Jimmy Neurosis.”
The three years encapsulated in Jimmy Neurosis include the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and the subsequent voluntary manslaughter conviction for their murderer Dan White, a former police officer, whose slap on the wrist so outraged the gay community it ignited the violent White Night riots. All the while vindictive police raids of gay bars occurred in the city, as well as frequent gay bashing, of which Jimmy was a victim.
“…it was a form of terrorism,” Oseland recently confirmed with John Birdsall during an interview for the Los Angeles Times. “In a way I realize I’m still recovering from the post-traumatic stress of a number of things that happened in the timeline of Jimmy Neurosis, and then a few years after that during the AIDS pandemic… But we do overcome. We do get better, and we do make progress.”
Jimmy Neurosis: A Memoir is now available through Ecco Press/HarperCollins.