RS: and when did you stop being frum?
yr: i was in los angeles in film school and my girlfriend moved out to L.A. from NY. she was my first girlfriend, and in the course of our relationship it was revealed that she had slept with a nonjew and therefore was forbidden for me to marry, 'cause i'm a cohen. Because this was private knowledge, in fact, halacha would not stand in the way of any such marriage, but i would know the truth. and i had a manic episode.
RS: a manic episode? sounds like a series from the early 70's
yr: you mean a mannix episode. no. just to give the raw facts. it was the third sabbath that i was busting and i drove to las vegas and i picked up some hitchhikers and on the way back to los angeles they threatened me, but somehow i got them to get out of the car and i drove off without them. and the experience of the day led me to messianic thoughts and to phone calls to president jimmy carter with my middle east peace plan.
RS: sounds exciting.
yr: it was. if they could bottle mania and sell it, the FDA would outlaw it. so we're stuck with other drugs and alcohol that never quite measure up.
RS: and this trip to Las Vegas changed your life
yr: i moved back to nyc and my parents had me see a shrink and take medications that dulled my mind and i dropped out of school. i spent one summer at aish hatorah in jerusalem, but then i returned to new york and drove a cab and by this time i no longer wore a yarmulka.