“Liking” The Crazy Mike of Haverhill Page is Sad and Stupid

by Bill Brenner on April 19, 2011

Here’s the part where I lose some of my Haverhill friends. I don’t care.

In any city there’s a guy like “Crazy Mike.”

The stereotype is usually a long beard, ratty clothes and the fellow is usually living on the street. He talks aloud to no one in particular and falls asleep on playground equipment.

People like to laugh at him.

I’m no saint. I’ve made my share of fun of people like this, and in the rear-view mirror, looking back at my own struggle with mental illness, it makes me feel ashamed. It makes me the last guy on Earth who would be fit to judge others for poking fun at someone less fortunate.

But I have to believe that God put me through those earlier experiences in the hope that I’d come out of it wiser and more compassionate. If I in fact have, then I need to be the guy to stand up for “Crazy Mike” and others like him. I need to start by never making fun of someone in that condition again and, if I’m lucky, take a few people with me.

A friend of mine mentioned today that he was more than a little disappointed in some of his friends for “liking” a Facebook page dedicated to “Crazy Mike.” I looked up the page to find that the page has 1,166 “likes.”

The description of Mike reads: “Walking any and everywhere, Yelling at cars, Using imaginary machine guns, talking to myself, Having a court trial while walking down the sidewalk, Screaming racial slurs, Sleeping in and around Building #19 1/16, Lighting chips on fire in Market Basket.”

He yells at cars, you say? We all yell at cars. It’s just that we’re usually behind the wheel pissed off because someone cut us off in traffic.

Using imaginary machine guns? I’ve seen plenty of so-called sane people do that while talking about their favorite scene from “Lethal Weapon” or “Con-Air.”

Screaming racial slurs? That’s wrong of him, but many of us have used the same awful slurs. Not because we are racists, but because we tend to master stupid talk when we’ve had a bit much to drink.

Talking to himself? I do that all the time, and I’ll bet more than a few of the “Crazy Mike” page likers do it, too.

Sleeping in front of Building 19? That’s just because he’s not as lucky as those of us who have a home to sleep in. I’m sure there are twenty-somethings who like that page and still enjoy the comforts of their parents’ houses.

It would be easy for me to say you people are hypocrites and shitheads. But I am, too, so I would just be piling on another layer of hypocrisy.

Instead I’ll just end with this:

We are all God’s children. We are all crazy to varying degrees.

We all have the capacity for big acts of wisdom and bigger acts of stupidity.

Instead of laughing at this “Crazy Mike,” just thank God you’re not in his shoes.

I’d like to know more about Mike, now. We all have a history that molds us into who we are. I’m wondering about his story.

Did he fight a war and come home with post-traumatic stress disorder? Maybe, maybe not.

But if nothing else, his story — one of mental illness — deserves to be told.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

christine April 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

i “liked” it so that i could read the wall and see what people were saying. there are some people who really enjoy mike and his presence around town. i’m scared out of my mind of him, because he attempted to grope my daughter’s friend when we were walking in groveland a few years back.

i’m surprised at the amount of attention this is getting around the FB and blog scene.

Mike Kearns April 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

This is a great post Bill. We have all had our own demons to battle, with varying degrees of success. I am someone who was afforded every advantage possible. I made bad choices and had to live with the consequences.
I have been successful and I have also been to the very bottom! I am now what I can only classify as a miracle.
To see a page that is made for the purpose of making fun of someone who has no recourse is awful. I too made comments to Mike as a teenager that, I look back upon with regret. There are many things I did that I regret. My hope is not to forget them but hopefully use them to teach someone else to not make the same mistakes I did. I’m willing to bet that the people who started this page are the same ones in HS who made fun of the special needs kids, or picked people just because they were littler than them! It’s unfortunate that some never mature.

Faith April 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Thanks for writing this, Bill – I had the same feeling of disgust when I saw the “Crazy Mike” page. It’s much easier for people to poke fun at his antics than to try and understand the personal hell that he’s going through each and every day. I couldn’t in good conscience “like” a page that makes a joke of something like that. I should have known that you’d be the first to come through as a champion for his kind of suffering, and I applaud you for it.

Joe riot April 20, 2011 at 1:32 am

I’ve known the man known as “Crazy Mike” for a good span of life. Some will say hes a nam vet who lost his capacity in the war. Others will say he isn’t. I have had a few people in my family with disturbing mental illness. Sometimes you can’t help bit laugh at somethings. Mike is a man who is very disturbed. Making fun of his situation is a sad bit of humor. Although he’s made me genuinely laugh. Calling my grandfather Dr. Stroodlenaker. Asking him for tylenol for his headache in kmart was a funny time. My lobotomized grand aunt once told him “shes not his lil box of chocolates” in building 19. All I know is you cant rise above when you drag others down. So god bless Crazy Mike. You know that website wasnt made by him. Dont know or care who made it. Just know he’s a person with some hard issues and be helpful not harmful.

billbrenner1970 April 20, 2011 at 1:35 am

I love that Building 19 story. And you’re right that you can’t rise above when you drag others down. Thanks for the insight.

joey July 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm

My mom actually told that he lives with a couple of his relatives in Groveland.

Ben November 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm

he is my friend’s uncle. he was in vietnam and was a medic. and obviously he went a bit crazy, but many did after ‘nam.

ej March 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm

THe guy over dosed on drugs and is fucked and a bum he aint no war hero real talk thats from people that know him!

Scott Pettipost July 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Mike IS indeed a Vietnam Vet, a medic that has seen things in real life you all think is awesome in the movies til you see it in real life!!
Today people thank veterans of our current wars for their service, very few did that after Vietnam, a druuged out bum? NO, he’s a man that served his country and all the liberties that we have today and paid a price for it!!
what have you done EJ?

Richie August 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

Charles Whitman – former Marine sniper who killed his wife, mother, and then proceeded to the University of Texas Tower and picked off sixteen people using his sniping skills.

Dean Corll – former Army man and serial killer known as the “Candy Man” who killed at least 27 young boys and buried them in a storage facility in Houston, Texas.

David Berkowitz AKA “The Son of Sam” – New York serial killer and former Army vet who shot and killed at least six people during the 1970s.

Jeffrey Dahmer – former Army vet and Milwaukee cannibal who murdered at least sixteen young boys and men. He performed experiments on some of the victims and ate others.

Timothy McVeigh – Former Gulf War Army vet responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.

Just because you people claim he was a VET what is your point? hes still an asshole that loves to look for trouble.

Juli July 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Mike is my uncle. It’s sickening to me how many people claim to know his story and share “facts” that are completely untrue. He was indeed a Vietnam vet. He was a medic in the war and has his purple heart to prove it. The expiriance and horrible things he saw there triggered his mental illness. To be honest if I had dying children torn apart by shrapnell placed in my arms while thier mothers begged me to save them, I’d probably end up with a mental illness too. He doesn’t come from a wealthy family and have tons of money as some have claimed. He does however have family, and we’re all sick and tired of hearing the bull**** stories people come up with. Before the war he was an incredably smart young man with a beautiful fiance and bright future ahead of him. He gave that up for his country, for YOU. Shame on you people who spit in the face of that. What have YOU done for your fellow humans? His antics may be humorous for you, I’m so glad you’ve found such a wholesome form of entertainment. I didn’t grow up calling him “crazy Mike”. He was just my uncle until I got ridiculed in school because of my relation. He gave me my first puppy and helped me with homework. To some of you he may be just a joke or a legend it’s fun to tell stories about. For us, he’s family, despite the fact that he’s sick.

Debbie July 18, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I am in my forties and remember him well. Though he frightened me as a teen. I always felt for him. I heard that he passed away and for all the people still in the area that he touched in a nervous way or anyway. They should show for his services just out of respect for the horror he saw and suffered these years because he fought for our country. God Bless him and his family and shame on the rest of you. My heart goes out to Mike and his family

Grovelander August 9, 2014 at 11:12 pm

There is no proof mike has ever been anything other than a mentally ill person that lives on route 97 in Groveland. He lives in a shed out back while the rest of the family lives in the home. He has always been mentally ill. My employer (in Groveland) was a drill Sargent during the Vietnam war and can attest to the fact that mike is not even old enough to have been in the war. Steve Kredjeski was the only really Groveland causality in the Vietnam war. Prove he was there or keep your ideas to yourself.

Rose LaFountain August 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I for one have great respect for crazy Mike. He fought for our country.

Jon Gore August 24, 2014 at 11:41 pm

@Grovelander – Mike was born in May, 1950. Do the math. BTW – The shed burned down over 5 years ago.

Bradfordite May 5, 2015 at 2:05 am

Sad to say he just recently passed away on May 4, 2015.
He will be missed in our city.
May he rest in peace now!

Susan Robertson September 22, 2015 at 6:07 am

I loved Mike because he was with us growing up. I would see him all the time when I would go to the store for the elderly on How Street. He was everywhere. We was taught to respect others. Our Uncle Harold was in the war. they put him in a mental hospital this is what the war did to him. I used to go see him. We had him at our house on weekend visits. Our Uncle Harold when My children was 1 &2 years old I would take them to see him. When my son Bobby was in Whittier Tech School He would go see his Uncle Harold. Then When our uncle passed my son was there with him. When my son came back to Texas he brought memory papers with him. ‘Mike” be in the park in Haverhill when there would be music playing. He was as calm as you and I. Mike was a blessing in a lot of ways. Praise God he is home with our Heavenly Father.

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