My life has been a merry-go-round. There have
been plenty of ups and downs. I've changed horses
a lot. But, I'm enjoying the ride, still trying
to catch that brass ring that defines me as a
person - and as a writer.
Let me begin in college, at the end days of one
of the many schools I attended. In 1967, I was
a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy.
I had dreams of becoming a "jet pilot,"
an adolescent fantasy perhaps, but nonetheless
moving toward fruition. I could arch back my shoulders,
suck it in, and spit shine with the best of them
- but still I was not very "military."
It was the height of the Vietnam War. Like many
young people at the time, I became disenchanted
with that war; decidedly not a good mind set for
someone setting out on a military career. So,
I resigned from the USAFA and went off to Penn
State where I quickly got my bachelor's degree.
Shortly after graduation, I decided on another
career. I would become a filmmaker. I left my
childhood home in Philadelphia, and after a brief
tear-gassing experience at the 1968 Democratic
National Convention in Chicago, I arrived in California
where I eventually received my master's degree
in film from Stanford. There, I made several documentary
shorts. One was called Some of My
Best Friends are Bottomless Dancers. That
sexy title and a few film festival prizes led
to my being accepted as a writing-directing fellow
at the new American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
My opportunity to become a "professional,"
read paid, writer came after I spent a summer
traveling with east coast carnivals, researching
another documentary on "carnie folk"
- which never got made. But during that summer,
I came to know nearly every "freak"
in the United States - the two-headed man, the
fat lady, the pin cushion man, midgets and giants.
As a result, when a friend was hired by Roger
Corman to write the remake of a movie called Freaks,
I was hired as the casting director. That picture
was never made either but after showing the Corman
brothers some of my writing, I was given the opportunity
to write the remake of John Huston's Asphalt Jungle
and turn it into a "black" film. That
was the era of black exploitation films like Shaft
and Cleopatra Jones. And that's how, in 1972,
I became the white "black exploitation"
writer-director of the MGM film Cool
Breeze. That picture wasn't a blockbuster
nor critically acclaimed, but it was a respectable
first effort, and made a profit. I thought I was
on my way in Hollywood and during the making of
that first film, I met my wife, Margaret. Even
though I'm no longer the "famous" Hollywood
writer-director she thought she was marrying,
she's stuck with me ever since. My next venture
was a film called This is a
Hijack which I ignobly claim as being one
of the "top ten" worst pictures in the
history of cinema. As the cliché goes, I couldn't
get arrested after that as a Hollywood director
- or as a writer. After mulling over my options
in the film business, I made another drastic career
change. I became a doctor.
In 1980, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma
Medical School and after a brief residency at
Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, I began
working as an emergency physician. I am still,
to this very day, an "ER doc." But I
have continued to write - several prime time television
dramas like Trapper John,
M.D. and Hotel, some magazine short stories,
several unproduced screenplays, and almost ten
years of columns for the Ventura County California
STAR newspapers (Biography
Stories, and Medical
I'm working on a new career now as a novelist.
My first Book, FORTY-EIGHT X: The Lemuria Project was published
Press in December 2009. My second novel, SEEKING SINAI, is now available on Amazon.com and other online book sites.