There are many Jon/John/Jonathan Mack’s in this world. There was a John Mack, M.D., who was a Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize Winner who gained notoriety when he asserted that he believed his patients, who, under hypnosis, said they’d been abducted by aliens. There’s an opera singer who’s renowned to have a beautiful tenor voice. I’m not either of them.
To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only Jon Mack who lives in South Newfane, Vermont, and runs the Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery in Brattleboro, VT.
Over the past few years I’ve had a wonderful time playing a number of roles as an actor in the Brattleboro area. I’ve walked a catwalk dressed as Madame in Jean Genet’s The Maids, played Scrooge a couple times for the the Vermont Theater Company (too many people told he I was “ideally suited” for the role — wasn’t sure that’s a compliment!), worn a “pregnancy belly” to waddle out as a licentious Alfred Hitchcock in Shoot the Moon’s Cameo, run a stake through the pretty-maiden-turned-vampire in Dracula, played an even more frightening Donald Trump in Trump’s Fifth Avenue, and am about to play sax and flute as “musical accompaniment” to The Glass Menagerie. As a younger man, I spent many years doing political theater in NYC’s East Village.
In my professional career, I got a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at NYU in the early 70’s and then become a tenured prof of Clinical and Community Psychology at the State University of New York. When I first moved to Vermont in 2008, I was Visiting Professor of Education and Psychology at Marlboro College. Completely separate from college teaching and psychological consulting, I was an IT consultant/programmer/architect for large corporations and banks for about twenty years, so I know a good deal about both corporate America and the fine art of banging one’s head against a wall in utter frustration.
When I finally retired from all forms of remunerative work, I signed up to run for a three-year term on the Newfane Selectboard, was elected and then Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011 and I ended up, as chair, having the most wonderful time dealing with the recovery from the enormous hit our tiny town was clobbered by. Dealing with governmental bureaucracy and local “politics” proved to be just as miserable and sometimes nasty as they’re stereotyped to be. I wouldn’t say the job was thankless — I got tremendous support from the great majority of townspeople and ultimately I’m very glad I did serve my town.
I was an undergraduate at U.C., Berkeley, at the height of civil rights, anti-war, communal/ hippie era . After I got a doctorate at NYU, I took off to Chile, doing volunteer work in support of the government of Chilean President Salvador Allende, as his coalition of parties of the left tried to transform Chile into a socialist society. I was back in the US, when, on September 11, 1973, Augusto Pinochet brutally crushed those aspirations.
For more than twenty years I was a member of a group in NYC variously called “The Sullivan Institute,” “The Fourth Wall,” or, pejoratively, “The Sullivanians.” We performed theatre in the East Village, supported demonstrations with street music and theater, drove around all night monitoring radiation levels near nuclear power plants, made films and lived an unconventional communal life-style. Though it’s long ago now, I still have close friends from those days and strong feelings about what was right and what was wrong with what went on.
For most of my adult life, I’ve taught college-level psychology, always with a political edge. Sometimes too sharp an edge for some students. I’ve taught prisoners and guards, septuagenarians and teenagers. I’ve had students with brilliant, lively, challenging minds and students I had to wake up by slapping a yardstick on the lectern.
Although I’ve recently stepped down from being President of the Board, for many years I’ve been on the board of the In-Sight Photography Project, a wonderful non-profit organization that I continue to support whole-heartedly.
I play sax and flute whenever I get the chance.
I have a lovely wife (at whose request I don’t write about here), three terrific sons, three delightful grandchildren, and a wonderful dog, Mucca.