The Nate Katz Press Juggernaut

Well, maybe not a juggernaut, but The Cooperstown Crier had a nice story on AlphaFOLKS.

Shirts have been selling and everyone who sees them is immediately won over. Yay Nate!

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Drumroll please…..AlphaFolks is here!

Long time readers know about AlphaFolks – how it started as one of Nate’s college art projects with the “C Boy,” how it developed into a full series of 52 individual characters, one character  for each letter, one character for girls and one for boys.

And now, after much work by many, AlphaFolks is up and running, all 52 designs ready for order on Etsy  (

Go have a look. You can see for yourself how cool Nate’s vision is and everyone can join in with the few who have been able to buy prototypes over the past two years.

We can all be AlphaFolks now!


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Happy Anniversary

Today is our third anniversary. Since Mission of Complex began on June 25, 2011, we’ve met a lot of good people and have seemed to help some of them with our stories of Nate’s life and our life with him.


The last year (actually, more than a year) has found this blog less attended to as I wrote my next book, Split Season (the story of the 1981 baseball season and strike, to be published in spring 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books). There’s another reason though: life with Nate has settled into a more predictable pattern. He’s post-school, living at home, drawing (his StripMallArt shop on Etsy is doing well and he’s slated to have several shows/exhibits in the coming months) and getting through his day-to-day with a certain consistency. And that’s good. Still, there are things to write about and one of them is very exciting. Keep a look out in the next few days.

Thanks to all of you who’ve been part of the Mission of Complex family. You’re all part of the team now.

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While You’re Waiting

I will have something big to unveil in the coming days (or weeks), but nothing of great import right now.

So, instead, you get to see one of the best pics of Nate. He always takes lousy photos. His smile face is a mix of scary wide eyes, arched eyebrows and Jokery smirk. Like this (he’s at right, in case you didn’t know):


But every once in a while you can catch  him when he’s not looking. This is the real Nate, the one we get every day:

Nate Father's Day June 15, 2014


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Days of Whine and Neuroses

It’s been a very long time since I posted (sorry about that), but the last month has been so busy on many fronts (including a visit to Cooperstown by President Obama) and Mission of Complex has taken a back seat.

On the Nate front, there have been some real joys (the arranging of up to three exhibits/shows for his strip mall art, arranging for a new aide and something else that I’ll keep to myself for now) and some real trouble spots. I’ve written before that Nate gets the occasional fever dreams that become real in his mind and points of obsessive freak outs. Lately, though, there seems to be no real cause for his daily, hourly, every minute, every second, mentioning of burning down or blowing up our house.

He says things in a way that, we think, is meant to calm him – “I guess I won’t burn the house down” (thanks Nate) or “Hope the house won’t blow up.” I had my own fears when we moved to this old house that the boiler would blow up a la The Shining (book, not movie). I kept those thoughts to myself and got the boiler replaced. Nate hasn’t read Stephen King, so it can’t be that.

Karen worries about it, me less so. I know Nate cares so much about his stuff that he’d never risk having them destroyed by his own hand. One day, he followed his burning/explosion remark with “We’ll move to Chicago one of these years.” It made me wonder whether he thinks that torching our Cooperstown house would automatically result in a move back to Illinois. Stanger conclusions have been drawn.

This unsettled period may be about Joey going off to college in August. When Robbie left for Brazil, Nate was similarly unsettled. We’ll see how it plays out. Until then, Nate has made it clear to himself to keep away from matches.


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Hole-filled Armor

I always take great solace that Nate’s autism gives him a protective coating against the pain we project – his lack of friends, lack of girlfriend or boyfriend, etc. If he doesn’t feel the void, then why should we? That defense mechanism has only been punctured once.

When he was in high school, Nate turned to me and said, with much hurt in his voice, “I don’t have any friends.”

I choked back my emotion and tried to explain how to fix his problem.

“Nate, to make friends, you need to be a friend,” and went into a list of things he could do – ask questions, show interest in others, and so on. He retreated (not my intent; I thought if I made a list he could follow it) and he’s never brought up the topic to me again. But he felt some loss and now I felt it for him.

On Saturday, Joey had his senior prom. Yup, our baby is on his way out of high school and into college. Cooperstown kids are very lucky to have their prom at the Otesaga, a grand hotel on Otsego Lake. There was limited picture time for parents, so Nate and I trekked over there for an hour.

We sat in the lobby, waiting for Karen and her aunt and uncle to show up. I, of course, was camera-less. Nate slouched down in a chair, asked for my iPhone, and started playing around with it. Then he spoke.

“I wish I’d gone to my prom.”

That stung. I remember we encouraged him to go to the prom, or, if not the prom, Project Prom, the all night after party. In Cooperstown, kids who go to the prom have the option of spending the night at the Clark Sports Center, where they can eat and be entertained with inflatables, mechanical surfboards, DJs, live music, swimming, bowling and more eating. If they go, they can’t leave unless a parent picks them up early or at the 5 AM end time.

“Nate, did you want to go to the prom?”

“Yeah,” he answered very sadly.

“But Nate, we asked you if you wanted to go to the prom and you said no.”

He seemed to remember that and stopped talking. I tried to delve deeper, attempting to find out what he recalled and what he felt. Whether he stopped talking because he was suddenly at peace with the matter, or because he wanted me to shut up, it’s hard to tell, but there we were.

Nate has developed the ability to reach far back in his memory and recount for us how he experienced things when he was uncommunicative. To hear him reflect on what occurred only five years ago was different, because it felt that maybe we missed something that was so close in time.





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Not Walking, But Talking, Autism

Saturday was the annual Walk for Autism, sponsored by The Kelberman Center, a Utica based autism services organization. I was asked, as Mayor of Cooperstown, to welcome the crowd at Glimmerglass State Park, on the northern edge of Otsego Lake, far beyond Cooperstown‘s borders, but close enough. Plus, obviously, I have my own autism connection.

Nate wasn’t there. I think he has a love/hate relationship with autism (don’t we all!). He can check his speech with a “That was autistic, wasn’t it?” or laugh at the ramblings and sounds of cartoon characters and say, “That guy’s pretty autistic.” When I asked if he’d come to the autism walk he gave an emphatic, “No!” He was still sleeping when I left.

There was no way I was going to walk. I’ve got a lot of leg issues to deal with, but of course I could stand and say a few words. There was a pretty good turnout on a gray cold day, the norm around here. (Will it ever end?). I was happy to meet Rob Myers, the Executive Director of the Kelberman. We’d been trying to connect and, after many failed phone attempts, kinda gave up. We talked a long time about Nate, our family efforts to create a career for Nate around his art, and, in general, what to do when autistic kids are no longer kids. Rob and his wife Beth, herself Director of Special Projects, knew Karen from when she helped create an autism classroom in Cooperstown.

Rob and I talked long enough that we lost track of the 10:30 start time. Hurriedly we dashed out to kick off the event. Rob did an intro and explanation and turned it over to me. I rarely prepare remarks; I give things a lot of thought and then, when it’s time to talk, let ‘er rip. What I realized at the moment I was handed the mike was that I couldn’t be simply the Mayor, giving some generic hello. I had to share our story, at least a little.

After the obligatory thanks and welcomes, I talked about our family’s experience with Nate’s autism, where we were and where we are now. It was a very condensed version of this blog itself, an attempt to give the many parents in the crowd, most with young children, a little bit of hope that there is a future, regardless of what it might be.

When I was finished, and the walkers set out, one of the organizers came up to me. “That was really great what you said.” I was glad to hear it. I’m a pretty private person, but when it comes to our Nate story I feel compelled to share. Once Karen and I were lost and could’ve used a story, any story, to give us a glimpse of a less than bleak future. Hopefully, on a dreary day, I was able to give some parents a slight break in the clouds.

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