Insubordination, pride, lese majesty....
Probably explain this resume
San Francisco Examiner, staff reporter
San Diego Evening Tribune, staff reporter
National Enquirer, staff reporter
Redding (CA) Record-Searchlight, city editor
Los Angeles Times, staff reporter
Washington Times, staff reporter
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, staff reporter
Orange County Register, staff reporter
Exotic assignments: Kosovo, Albania, Vietnam, Honduras
Published: Aces and Eights, M. Evans
Rancho Costa Nada, Loompanics
City Haul, Amazon
Revolt of the Sergeants, Amazon
Tenting Today, Amazon
Chuckwalla Days Parade, Amazon
MGM screenplay based on original story: City Haul
CBS pilots: Fun-Filled Vacation for Two; Exotica
Punches and badges:
A Navy attaboy
Student body president, SF State
Dinner and a plaque at a bunch of press clubs
Commercial pilot license with instrument rating
Well, you know we have to touch bases before the
reunion. Wassup? I'm living in Big Bear Lake but still going to Mexico as
often as I can get sent. Your enclosed vita is virtuously short, but ka-mahn. The stance of gravitas isn’t in register. These people know you. Blessings, Lynette
Fine. I’m glad to put you at speed about the last two
decades. I...well, I’m gonna spam the whole list with
this, which will save some air at the
party. Those curious can look, the rest,
When we left off, I had just given a
champagne brunch for the staff after I’d received a
big check from Hollywood which, as you’ll recall, you hid
from me, in your capacity as mail room bottleneck,
and wouldn’t turn it over until I pleaded like a girl.
Except for buying an airplane I was frugal with that
dough and lived on it for a year or so in a plywood
cabin I’d built in pieces in my backyard in San Diego
and trucked up to two and a half acres I had in the
remote fastness (whatever that means) in faraway
Single up all lines
Michael’s mom had dumped me in favor of
somebody promising, and I became a single parent for
the next interminable decade. If any social agency
had been alerted to this, the well-meaning guardians of
youth would have put a stop to it, particularly
the part about living in an Amenity-less Horror in a
wooded venue innocent of roads, plumbing and
But as you know, nobody cares. Despite
all his lack of advantages, Mike, now 25, has no police record
(after it was expunged), no communicable diseases,
and only one major addiction (tobacco). He has a job,
his own place, and a career (photography) that has
made him an entity. One of his arty portraits (of a
girl holding a fish) hangs in the gallery at YALE
He also shot the art for my latest cri de
coeur, a book about desert homesteading. Anyway,
during the ten years I had custody, child protective
services never tumbled, and I dodged that bullet.
Hired, by God
After the Hollywood money ran out, I went to work for
the Moonies. I’m sitting in the M&M (my saloon of record) in
San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon (after dropping
Mike off at his mom’s house). I’m the only patron,
the phone rings, and the bartender says, “It’s for
you.” Tom Breen had just accepted the job of city
editor for the Washington Times and he’s scouring the country
for anybody at loose ends who could leave
immediately for DC
Did the Rev. Moon, through divine
prescience, guide Tom to my whereabouts in a low
haunt south of Market? No. It was my mom who said,
“Try the bar.” I loaded six-year-old Mike into the
two-seat Cessna 150 and in a few days reported for
duty at the Times.
I’d already worked for the
National Enquirer for a year as a staff reporter so I had a
standard of comparison. At first the Moon had staffed
the sheet with graduates of his seminary but Tom convinced
him that his legion of zombies needed to be
stiffened with a phalanx of washed up alcoholic hacks.
They began trickling in, many plucked out of the
water after papers foundered in Philly and Chicago.
The Moonies, hand-picked by the Rev. himself, knew
that secular journalists would attempt to corrupt
them. We did try.
We took them to clam houses on
the shore and fed them schnapps. But we were no match for
the strange elixir the Rev. dished out. Obediently,
on the appointed day, all the Moonies on the staff
trooped off to Madison Square Garden to get married en
masse to strangers. Later, some Moonie staffers
admitted they’d been disappointed. Others, such as
Ralph, hit the lottery. First assigned to be a reporter,
he’d soon found a more comfortable berth riding a
lawnmower. At the Garden, he’d drawn a teenage Korean
girl of stunning beauty. And she couldn’t speak
English. He couldn’t believe his luck.
My role, basically, was the police beat in downtown
Washington. A free-fire zone. We lived on
Connecticut Ave., across the street from the zoo.
Michael went to Owl School hard by Rock Creek Park.
On weekends I towed him in a cart behind my bicycle to
see the sights.
It gets old
After six months or so I grew
weary, gave notice, put Mike in the plane, and we
headed back west. A leisurely flight, short hops,
camping at night on the verge of country air strips. The
Smokeys. The Ozarks. In Oklahoma at a motel we
watched “Red River.” The next morning we flew over the Red
River, and did steep turns with the hawks. Michael
was too little to see over the console, but I told him
After the requisite six months of holiday (partly in
Baja) thanks to unemployment insurance, I
signed on as health and science writer at the late
lamented Los Angeles Herald Examiner. I said to the
outgoing holder of that title, “I’m a quack.” It
doesn’t matter, he said, in two weeks everybody here
will be calling you Doc and asking for advice. Always say,
“Sounds like chronic fatigue syndrome.”
The job was kinda fun. I went to conferences. I got to see an
autopsy. I wrote about disgusting diseases that you
might get. I also did some GA, including a trip to Mexico
City for the big earthquake (a dinner and a plaque for
that one). But work palls. Doesn’t it. And after a
few years I moved on. The sheet was hemorrhaging
anyway, and in a few more months everybody else there
was on the street too.
The same agent who had sold my unpublished novel to
MGM (occasioning the champagne brunch)
reappeared to infuse more money into my flattened
wallet. Now he was a junior mogul at CBS, with green
light power for one-hour pilots. I did two.
“Exotica,” was preposterous nonsense about two Crunch
and Des beachcombers recruited by a mysterious agency to
perform missions which required plausible
deniability. This was for Glenn Larson, producer of
Magnum P.I. and Battleship Gallactica.
The main point of the script was to provide a write-off for his
luxury yacht, Exotica. I wrote the script on his
boat at Marina del Rey. Two weeks, thirty grand. Another
year of modest life paid for. The other one was “Fun-Filled Vacation for Two.” Two dissimilar womenwin a radio contest and have adventures at a beach
resort in Mexico. It was in contention for actually
being filmed, but got edged out by a pilot called
“Laker Girls.” I can’t blame the jury. Anyway, another year
of life covered.
Almost an MD
Oh yeah. To achieve escape velocity after chucking
the Herald, I ghosted a book about cancer
prevention for a Beverly Hills oncologist named
Howard Bierman. Howard the Doc. I got to go on
rounds and see his badly stricken caseload (he took victims
who wanted to fight to the last ditch). The book
said, basically, don’t smoke. Avoid fried foods. Wear
sunscreen. Refuse to be born into families with a
history of cancer. And after your parents die, make sure to
have them autopsied to see what’s coming in your
Because I tried to be a responsible parent, I shifted
my flag to bucolic Petaluma, far from the
horrors of Southern California. After going through
the TV money, I flogged tidbits for the magazines,
mostly Outside, and the late California Magazine.
Travel. Arcane weirdness. One assignment took me to
South America for five weeks to demonstrate the
techniques of sub-bargain travel.
Somewhere along in here I was editor of a weekly for
a week. A classified in E&P had called for
an “editor-pilot” to run the Calistoga Weekly (in the
Napa Valley) and chauffeur the publisher in her
private plane. I put out one issue and then got fired after
a drunken interlude that involved a visiting reporter
from the Chronicle, two local belles we met at a tavern
called the Pine Cone, the weekly’s advertising rep,
and the Calistoga police. I never got a chance to fly the
Michael by this time had reached sixteen, and we were
having the usual discussions that typically
arise between teenager and parent. “Why can’t you be
a normal dad?” He decided to shift his berth to his
mom’s house. She and her husband owned a photo
processing lab in San Francisco specializing in
fashion and fine art black and white. Michael went to work
there, and the rest....you can Google.
Having habituated myself to a life of leisure, my
study upon returning from Mexico was to figure
out how to collect another six months of unemployment.
To do that, I needed a short-lived job that would
lay me off. That’s how I briefly became a temp
postman. I thought, delivering the mail. How hard
could that be?
But I was fired after a few weeks for
crashing one of their boxy little trucks into a house.
I’d got out of the truck to put mail in a mailbox that had
fallen over. The truck popped into reverse, made a
J-turn across the street, backed up a driveway and at last
slammed into a granny unit, caving in the door. I
hadn’t made enough to qualify for unemployment, so I took
another temp job as a parking lot attendant at the
Pleasure Faire. In the employee lot, where every
Volks bus wore a bumper sticker that said, “Question
But I never benefited from any of this,
because I wound up with the editorship of the
Clearlake Observer, in Lake County. The office took up half of
a decaying warehouse, and the foyer was furnished
with seats salvaged from cars. Clearlake, a Dogpatch
best known for water pollution and meth , had one
advantage: the owners of its paper really didn’t care
what I did, and pretty much left me alone.
Six months later an old pal alerted me to a job
opening at the Orange County Register. Regional
reporter. Travel around doing features on stuff
outside Orange County. It’s amusing to me, that
during a lengthy interview process, in which I spent hours
being questioned by a Conga line of editors, no one
actually seemed to check....
Anyway, I got hired, and
fooled around there for almost four years. The first
coupla years, I cruised the perimeter, mostly in the
Southwest. Train robbers in the Mojave. Dope growers
in Mendocino. Flying saucers in Roswell. Butterfly
in her tree. Blah, blah. I also got to go to
Honduras for El Mitch, to Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo for the
UN squabble with the Serbs, and to Vietnam for
the 25th anniversary of what we call the Fall of
Saigon, and what they call Victory.
But eventually certain fissures began to appear in
our relationship. This is all explained in a funny
piece I did for the Orange County Weekly, which you
can find by going Google.
But to make it short, I was the featured participant
in a lay off of one. Attitude was cited. After the
obligatory six month’s of vacation, I then took
another minor post as editor of the Palo Verde Valley
Time in Blythe, which you remember is that dismal hole on
the I-10 where your car overheated on the way to
Phoenix. The enjoyable thing about parachuting into a
small town and taking the reins of the local
astonisher is that immediately you become a large frog
in the puddle. Regardless, nine months later I was
fired for insubordination.
During this desert period, however, I became a land
baron. I did a story on the tax-default land
auction in Imperial County. One parcel on the list
was ten acres with an opening bid of $100. After a
desultory bidding war, I became the owner of the
parcel for a total outlay of $325.
When I picked upmy deed, the clerk said, “You’ll never find this.” But
with GPS you can find anything. Gun enthusiasts from
the Register began using the parcel for skeet and
plinking. Then we took up rocketry for awhile. Over
timeI found out people actually lived in this desolate
wilderness, and I pitched a book to a small publisher,
Loompanics, to be called, “Rancbo Costanada: The
Dirt-Cheap Desert Homestead.” They bit, I wrote.
Mike came out to shoot the portraits of the toothless
denizens. And here we are.
I hope that answers some of your questions.
Clearly, I’ve used my time wisely, if not profitably.
Some people I know have stuck to their last, but Thank
God they’ve lost everything in the stock market.
I’ve pretty much been in cash all along, when not
entirely outside the money economy. See you at the