To say that Karl Schwartz - junior English literature major, assistant music director of WGSU and frontman of New Karl and the Flannels in Motion - has had a unique upbringing is an understatement.
It is a wonder that a man from such an incredibly diverse background has it together at all these days, let alone has the ability to mastermind radio playlists, Herman Melville essays and guitar solos.
Schwartz said he focuses on embracing the moment rather than sweating the small stuff, a trait that might stem from his earliest childhood memories.
"I was born into a compound in Brazil run by the Children of God, a religious cult based on the teachings of our founder David Berg," he said. "When I was 12, a bunch of the younger members were rescued by FREECOG, an anti-cult group who spent three months deprogramming us. Up until this time, I had no idea of the outside world and it took me quite some time to adapt to modern American culture. Before I left the compound, I never even knew it was possible to get in a car and have someone hand you a bucket of fried chicken without getting out!"
Soon after his deprogramming, a prominent San Francisco news anchor, his struggling musician brother-in-law and their wacky friend adopted Schwartz.
"We weren't a traditional family, but the house was always filled with laughter and love … it was my first real experience being in an environment where every facet of my life wasn't based on the crazy beliefs of my upbringing," Schwartz said.
Schwartz's moment of solace in San Francisco, however, was fleeting. "When I was 16, I was contacted by several of my Italian relatives who lived in New Jersey," he said. "I bid a tearful farewell to the three men who showed me so much hospitality and was joined by my friends Carlo and Dean on a manic cross-country trip in which we experienced the underbelly of sex, drugs and jazz music in American culture."
Schwartz's nomadic lifestyle aided him in developing a social intelligence that extends beyond the traditional barriers of proximity and culture.
"When I finally got to New Jersey, I lived in a large house with family I never knew I had," Schwartz said. "It was in New Jersey that I immersed myself in the culture, learning such time-honored traditions as the fist pump and the spray tan."
Schwartz's college decision was his own entirely, something over which he deliberated extensively. "I was reading CNN's Money Magazine and Geneseo was listed as the 10th best place to meet someone and fall in love," he said. "Being a single guy and unable to refute such a meticulously researched scientific study, I decided the best way to live in this magical place of single girls called Geneseo would be to enroll in the college."
And who wouldn't be interested in Schwartz? The combination of his lustrous mustache paired with his coiled, flowing locks give him an ethereal mystique that is hard to grasp completely.
As for the future, Schwartz plans to take his diplomatic manners and stick them to the liberal media agenda. "I plan on becoming a campaign volunteer for Sarah Palin in 2012," he said. "As a 'real American,' Going Rogue has become my bible … I believe in volunteering my time to save us 'real Americans' from the evil big government that is trying to take away our semi-automatic weapons."
And where will his wanderlust take him next? For the first time, Schwartz is hard-pressed to think of a response. After a moment's pause, he muses, "I don't know, I've always wanted to eat at a Sonic."
This article was edited at 12:40 p.m. on Feb. 12