Nickieben Bourbaki

by Nickieben Bourbaki

Over the years some people have wondered who I am. Ten years ago I asked Richard Gabriel to perpetuate the fiction that "Nickieben Bourbaki" was a pseudonym he used back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I’m as real as anyone. Here is a blurb I put together that tells a little about my background..

Nickieben Bourbaki was born September 12, 1950, in Haverhill, Massachusetts to George Lanouette and Joyce Snow.
He attended School Street Elementary School, and Haverhill High School for 2 years. He would have been in the class of 1968, but he was tutored by his father to a level equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree. At least part of his education was in Paris, where his father took a sabbatical (or long vacation) for 2 years. Joyce Snow’s family is independently wealthy, so Nick doesn’t need top work.
Nick received a Doctorat d’Étât en Mathématiques Appliquées from École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud, France, in 1973, somewhat as an honor. He was given permission to list it in the US as D. Phil. in Philosophy, though it mostly signifies a mathematics degree.
George Lanouette was a math teacher at various junior and small colleges in New England. He was professor of math at Bradford Junior College—then a women’s 2-year college, now a co-ed 4-year school, in Bradford Massachusetts—when Nick was born and raised. The odd humor of George was responsible for Nick’s name, along with the large Greek population in Haverhill (Bourbakis, Valhouli, Bourzakis).
George was educated at UMass (BS) and Northeastern University (PhD). George is from Newburyport and Joyce from Merrimac.
Joyce Snow was a homecoming queen, part American Indian part Scottish (hence Nickieben), former ski instructor in Tahoe. She worked as a croupier for 2 years, and has a BS from UNH (Durham NH).
After graduating in 1973, Nick traveled a bit in Europe and the American Southwest. He developed an interest in Renaissance art, Samuel Johnson, and the Old West (1875–1890) in New Mexico and Arizona, in particular the period surrounding Billy the Kid and the OK Corral.
He maintains four homes: His primary one is at 1 River Road in West Newbury, overlooking the Rocks Village Bridge; one in Benson, Arizona, near the Four Winds Bar; one in Paris, and one in Florence. He is not married, has no close friends, and is reclusive to the extreme.
He lived on Kenoza Avenue until he and his parents started to travel. His house was large, about 2 blocks from the Ames house and about 1 mile from Winnekenni Castle.

I met Richard in 1966 when he and I were both campaiging for James Schiller in Haverhill. It turned out he and I were both dating a girl named Ethel Culanine, and we both discovered this the Saturday she invited both of us to a Haverhill High School football game. I’m still not sure what she wanted from us, but Richard and I became friends after that. We had a lot of common interests, but I was rich and he was poor, I was privately tutored by my father, and he went to Pentucket Regional High School. I had my "doctorate" right around the time he graduated with his bachelor’s—he was ready to join the world while I was ready to leave it. You see, he had grown up on a farm and hadn’t seen the world, and my parents had already taken me just about everywhere there was.

I went into seclusion, reading and eventually taking a vow of silence, but I kept in touch with Richard through e-mail (yes, we had it back then), and I helped him with his studies as best I could. In the 1980’s he asked me to write a column that he thought would help the Lisp world. I asked why he couldn’t do it and he said he was way too busy. I did. Later I asked him to pretend he was me, and he did.

At the end of most of my columns I would put a short description of where I was and a little bit about me. I’ve gathered up the ones I could find, and here they are.

Nick Bourbaki (not related to the famous "mathematician") was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was never formally trained in Computer Science but is reasonably well-read. His friends include many leading researchers. He lives on a farm overlooking the Merrimack River in nearby West Newbury, where he sometimes carefully, sometimes carelessly, observes the flow of Computer Science from a Lisp point of view. He consults for Lucid, Inc.

Nick Bourbaki was privately tutored in Haverhill, Massachusetts, never receiving a formal degree, though he attended classes at several prominent universities. This article was written in Fiesole, Italy, near Florence.

Nick Bourbaki studied the Samefringe problem during the year he spent working on a cattle ranch in Wyoming.

Nick Bourbaki faxed this article from the Four Winds Bar in Benson, Arizona.

Nick Bourbaki is in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, where he is studying the mysterious death of John Ringo in 1882.

Nick Bourbaki is in Paris, where he spends every spring jamming and reading Hemingway.

Nick Bourbaki is in Gough Square, London, on pilgrimage.

Nick Bourbaki is in Brandenburg, GDR, observing, but not participating in, ordinary life.

Nickieben Bourbaki received a Doctorat d’Étât en Mathématiques Appliquées from École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud, France, in 1973, but is self-taught in Computer Science. He is a writer and Principal Consultant for Lucid. His interests include languages, environments, and design. Nick wrote this article while attending the recent meeting of the Atkins-Dadi Guitar Pickers Association in Issoudun, France.

Nick Bourbaki wrote this column by the graveyard at Ho’omau Congregational Church, site of Lindbergh’s grave.

Nick Bourbaki wrote this column near home, at John Greenleaf Whittier’s birthplace.

This fall, Nick Bourbaki renewed his vow of silence, marking the start of his second decade of silence. He wrote this column in Gourdon, Provence, at the Nid d’Aigle restaurant.

Nick wrote this one afternoon while watching the snow spiral down into the swirling Merrimack River, past the deadly inviting Rocks Village Bridge—while looking out his back window.

Nick wrote this behind the clock—back there, you know—at the Four Winds Bar.

Nick wrote this in the Ninemile Valley, Montana, while observing wolves.