Saturday, February 28, 2009

010309

'Saturn Twice!' (continues)

I went west from Pittsburgh through Ohio, now flatter, but colder (wind off the Great Lakes). But, on a bicycle you're never too cold, as you build up heat from the exertion. The trick is to balance your clothing with the temperature. Mountains offer the most challenge.

Going up your toes tend to get cold, as the blood is 'cut off' from the pressure you have to keep on the pedals. But, the worst is when gliding down from a mountain Pass. Having perspired going up, you have to be careful not to get cold, as your inner clothing wet. Also, the wind-chill factor. Going down on a bicycle from a mountain pass it's all hands gripping the brakes. Thus, if you don't have very good gloves, your hands, unable to move, get very cold. I remember several times being so happy to reach the bottom, stopping, and taking my hands off the brakes to rub together to get warm.

They've have tried to invent clothing that 'wicks' (the word they use) the moisture away from your skin. The high-tech stuff from 'Patagonia,' 'The North Face,' or 'Mountain Gear,' is very expensive, and I've never been able to afford. So, I wear layers, and am careful to constantly 'balance' the situation depending on the weather. If too warm, take off, or unzip. If too cold, put on, or zip up (or get out of the wind)!

With me, it's my feet, hands, and head, I have to careful about. Not my legs. I sometimes wear shorts even when cold in winter. This truly amazes Chinese people, as they have this thing about legs... Rarely ever will you see a Chinese man wearing shorts (only the young have taken to). So, when I walk or cycle in shorts in China, Chinese people stare at me (they just can't believe you might be different). The ones I know ask, pointing at my legs, 'Aren't you cold?' I've developed a response to this by saying (pointing to their uncovered heads), 'Aren't you cold?' Chinese men, in particular, hardly wear caps or hats in rain or cold (winter). But, their legs... Always covered!

I made my way to Akron, as a place I'd been many times for ABC Sports (mainly for golf, at the Firestone C.C.).

I'll never forget the first time I went there as a new P.A. ('production assistant). This was my introduction of ABC Sports, my first event. One of my tasks, in New York, was to get Chris Schenkel (one of the announcers) an airline ticket. But, for some reason everything was booked. I tried and tried. I finally got him a seat in 'coach' (second class). When I informed him of such, I'll never forget the tirade! If he had to ride 'in the back of the plane,' he wouldn't go! I was shocked. That's how spoiled we were back then. We flew 'First Class,' and there better be a 'limo' (long and black) to drive us wherever, or we wouldn't go!

When I arrived in Akron (having flown 'coach'), I was laden with the usual things we alway had to bring, as this was one of the P.A.'s job. I was also very excited. The first thing I did, after checking into the hotel, was to go out to Firestone C.C. Maybe this was a Wednesday (golf tournaments cover four days of competiton, beginning on Thursday). I deposited whatever in the 'Graphics Trailer.' I expected to find some of my colleagues working away, but it was empty. I went into the 'Control Room' ('A Unit' we called it.), but didn't find anyone I knew. I walked to the clubhouse, but again no ABC people. Back where the 'trucks' (mobile units) were parked, I asked one of the NABET workers. He said knowingly, 'Check the bar at the hotel.' I wondered to myself, in the bar, at 2P.M., in the afternoon?

Back in the hotel, sure enough there was a group sitting at the bar. One was a P.A. named Joe Aceti. I started telling him all about what I'd done, what what should I be doing? He smiled and said, 'Sit down, kid, and have a drink!' Chuck isn't here yet, relax!' So, I did just that, and it wasn't long before we were 'having a good time!' This was my introduction to ABC Sports, 1966!

Joe was also helpful after we returned to N.Y.C. One day I was filling out my expense report. You got expense money (cash) in advance before departing, but upon return you had to account for such. So there I was filling out my first expense report, when I noticed Joe examining it over my shoulder. 'You're going to ruin it for all of us!' He lamented. 'Come into my office, kid!' So, within a few minutes the total on my expense account had gone from (actually what I spent), $103.56 to $297.50. I ended up making money on the deal! I also learned the word 'gratuities,' which is a fancy one for a 'tip.' Seems we always gave people 'gratuities' for things they didn't do.

While we were in Akron, the P.R. department at Firestone Tires (company) treated the ABC crew like royalty. Just about anything we might want, they supplied, solving all of our problems in the process. I don't think this was ever duplicated by any other company or event (in all the next seven years with ABC). They would even take us out at night for dinner and entertainment.

I don't know why I remember this one night, but Jim McKay (McManus, real name) of 'Wide World of Sports,' fame got up on stage and sang a song. I was duly impressed. I didn't know that before he joined ABC Jim was with CBS, and had an entertainment program called, 'The Real McKay!' His son Sean, who now runs CBS Sports, would know. As an aside, I remember Sean when he was just a little boy. Margaret, Jim's wife, would bring him along on some sporting events. One in particular I remember, 'The World Figure Skating Championships,' in Vienna, Austria (Peggy Fleming won the 'Women's Singles' event.). I also remember the Sacre Tort (Vienna's famous pastry)! I also remember McKay's parsimonious nature, a joke between Roone and Chuck Howard (my immediate boss). Jim would never pay for anything!

Anyway, Akron, way back when (circa. 1960s)... I got to know it well, as we were there every year for the golf tournament.

One year it was my turn to hold the annual 'Wrecking Crew' party (four original members rotated hosting once a year). The rules were, you had to attend no matter where on earth you were. If you didn't show up, you had to 'cough up' ($100U.S.) as a penalty. I chose Akron that year, as I was producing the golf tournament.

I rented the only limozine (now I can't even spell the word) in Akron, a hearst (not Patty) from a local funeral home. I had rented the penthouse suite in the Akron Towers Motor Inn (I think the name?). I reserved Red's Bar, a place we revered, for the party. I had the other members picked up from the airport in our 'limo' (I can spell that).

The party started with 'horses duvores,' we jokingly malaprop-ed back then, this in my suite (some 12 floors up). I had a bar and bartender. We were getting drunk before dinner. We had dinner at Reds, and then stayed for the entertainment. This was a live band for dancing. In those days when I got drunk, which was often, I would throw money at anything that moved. I think the waiters got rich that night. If they brought me a drink (I think it was screwdrivers that night) they would get $10U.S. cash. Needless to say, I was never with an empty glass.

Back in my suite at the hotel the party continued, now with many women groupies. But, this was a 'slow fade to black,' for me as now very drunk. I do remember, the 'piece de resistance' of the night, however. This when Geoff Mason, opened my window, and began throwing all the furniture out and down into the pool (directly below). It was lucky the TV was bolted to the wall. And I thank God, even to this day, that no one had decided to take a midnight swim (they would have been killed). We thought it all very funny at the time, the room becoming emptier and emptier (of anything Geoff could get his hands on). I remember at one point looking out the window and down at the pool (12 floors below), now full of things, some floating, some on the bottom.

People disappeared... I went to bed (alone), probably around 0200. The next thing I remember was some man shaking me violently (to wake me up). I came out of a fog as this man was obviously angry for some reason I didn't yet understand! In fact, he was seething! He yelled at me! 'What have you done?' (pointing and gesturing toward the living room and the window (still open), 'What have you done?' He literally pulled me out of bed and into the living room, now bereft of furniture. Then to the window, gesturing down. I and tried to act surprised. I feigned little knowledge of such shenanigans. But, when he said he was calling the police, I tried to calm him down. I immediately called John Martin (an associate), known for his suave and persuasive manner. I told John, the man now having departed, to take $100U.S., bride the man (turned out he was the general manager of the hotel). We wouldn't survive the bad publicity, as when the police get involved it always ends up in the media.

It worked. I gave another $100U.S. to John, and promoted him! From now on he was 'Sargeant of Arms' for the 'Wrecking Crew.' We ended up paying for all the furniture (other damage). Of course, this was the deal John had made. I think it came to something like $1,000U.S., a lot of money back in the 1960s! But, at least I didn't go to jail!

Such was the nature of the 'Wrecking Crew' infamous for our partying! If you know the history of the Rock Group, 'Led Zeppelin,' we were worse! Me, Don Ohlmeryer, Geoff Mason, and John Martin, the founding members. Jack Fitzgerald was our first invitee (member), Mac Hemion and others followed. Where are they all now...?

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Yesterday I received an email message from Sonam, a Tibetan man, which simply read, 'I love you!'

Asian males have no qualms saying this to other males! In the West we don't say this, except to a very few, and then with some fear that we'll be mistaken as 'gay.' Silly business.

I remember being in Xinjiang A.R. (China), a couple of years ago... I had cycled down to South Mountain (resort area) with my friend Li Jian. We stayed in a Kazak yurt for a couple of days. While I was there, I met a Kazak man who didn't know me. And the only three English words he knew were, 'I love you!' I was so startled hearing such, I repeated the same in response!

But, isn't it time we start telling each other, 'I love you!' Even if the same sex?

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Friday, February 27, 2009

270208

'Saturn Twice' (continues)

The Biddle Boys story became my 'Just A Little Flower' screenplay. 'Just a little flower' was the first line of a poem Ed Biddle, the younger charming one (Mel Gibson ultimately played), wrote poetry to Katherine Soffel (the warden's wife, ultimately played by Diane Keaton):

'Just a little flower,
From across the way,
Came to cheer a prisoner,
In his cell one day!'

That was the beginning of the end of Katherine's marriage to a man consumed by his job. She was smitten immediately, and took to visiting the jail often and death row everyday to 'counsel' Ed, who was to hang for murder. Jack, his brother, was in the next cell. Ironically, she could also see them from her sewing room window, in the residence across an open courtyard. The milieu lent ambiance to a romance no one suspected, least of all the Warden. I suppose it was a typically unhappy marriage, Katherine consumed with raising four children. But, when she discovered Ed, 'from across the way,' her life brightened. She fell in love for the first time!

Ultimately, as the story goes, she smuggled weapons and saws (iron bars back then) into them, but had no plans to join them on their escape to Canada (from where they were originally). But, a twist of fate took the boys through the residence, and persuaded her to join them. It was ill-fated, as the telegraph had just come into wide use (circa 1902), and pictures of them were all over the country before they could get very far. But, they didn't try, really, to conceal their identity, making it even easier to track them down. Ultimately they crossed paths in the snow (it was January) and the Biddle boys shot to pieces! Had there been no telegraph at the time, I doubt they would have been caught.

Of course, from a writer's standpoint it was all too obvious to have Ed and Katherine consummate (I love this word, because the first definition is 'to perfect!') their relationship. So, I had them in the throes of sexual intercourse, while one posse passed beneath the Inn where they were upstairs. I don't suppose in reality they did much more than kiss (only bars separating them on death row). The chase after them was, in reality, amazing, as they just took off in a horse-drawn sleigh, not exactly sure where they were going. Their errors, however, lead to their demise!

In the end, Katherine was not killed (as the Biddle boys), but disgraced and jailed. She was never allowed to see her children afterwards, and I think died of depression. She'd given up a comfortable life for the momentary embrace of a younger man. But, Ed... He was incredibly charming, and I'm sure he fulfilled her fantasies of romantic love (she'd not had with the Warden). If only someone would have interviewed her after her trial, we would have some idea as to how she felt.

'Mrs. Soffel,' turned out so poorly it lasted only two weeks in theaters. I had been 'fucked out' of the project when Scherick 'discovered' Nyswanner, a writer from Pittsburgh, who'd come across the story after me. But, I wouldn't have wanted my name associated with this mess, and was relieved upon seeing it in a theater in Los Angeles (December, 1984). This will sound like 'sour grapes,' but trust me, the movie, directed by an Australian woman, was 20% of what it could be. I still want to produce another version from my own screenplay.

I did collect what's called E & O insurance money, this is a deal made by my attorney. It wasn't much, but did cover expenses maybe, of all I'd spent in pursuing the development of the story, and writing the screenplay. I remember, we drove down to L.A., my wife at the time (Gail), to collect.

At the time we were living in Berkeley, California. I'd met a young man on street there, David J. Carter, who was to help me understand screenplay writing more than any other. He'd studied 'narratology' at the University of Montana, with R.W. Funk (a noted biblical scholar). He had a family friend in Ventura, California. So, when we would drive down to L.A. for various reasons, we stay at Joan's in Ventura (only an hour's drive from 'Hollywood').

How should I describe Joan, a middle-aged woman, unmarried at the time? A thoughtful, giving woman, who would never let you pay for anything! Additionally, her house, the energy, so restful, I always looked forward to being there. She would cook for us, wait on us, it was sometimes 'dreamy' being there. There wasn't anything special about the house in a middle-class neighborhood, it was inside that you felt cared for, even loved! I don't think I ever thanked her enough for all the times we spent there. I got to know Ventura, used to hike up into the hills. I recommended to Joan she open a 'health spa,' as that's what the place felt like. When you departed you felt refreshed and renewed!

David introduced me to Dr. Funk, who'd just launched an organization called 'The Jesus Forum' (now The Westar Institute). I attended the first, gathering, in Berkeley (circa. 1985), where biblical scholars discussed what Jesus had actually said, and what they suspected had been written later. It was fascinating listening to them. David and I wrote a article for 'Polebridge Press,' their publishing arm, entitled, 'The Reagan Paradigm' (this how Reagan's actions, as president, mirrored the heroes he'd played in movies).

David and I collaborated on Jack's screenplay, 'A Winner Never Quits!' This won 'Best Screenplay,' at the Houston International Film Festival (1989). I thought this time, for sure, we'd get a sale! But, again the vestiges of 'Saturn' prevented it.

Clint Black and Lisa Hartman got involved, and ended up producing a 'made for TV' movie entitled, 'Cadillac Jack.' I've never even watched it, as c'mon... Clint Black singing Jack Favor, God forbid! Jack, not understanding the business, was always concerned who might play him (wanted someone tall). John Wayne or Clint Eastwood would have been perfect, but Clint Black playing Jack Favor, no way! I'm sure, for a little man, it made him feel 'tall in the saddle.' But, what a jerk off deal! I still want to produce 'A Winner Never Quits' with an actor as Jack, not a C/W singer. Clint's too old now, and I don't know who else. 'The Duke,' however, was Jack, and Jack, 'The Duke!' The last of an American breed!

Jack, by the way, had turned down a chance to work in 'Hollywood.' This was early on, when maybe he was 30-years old (1940s)-- Jane, his daughter, would know. But, wife Ponder nixed it, as she didn't want that kind of life (they had Tommy by then, a son). And maybe it was a good decision. 'Hollywood' has a way of fucking up your life, if not your marriage.

David and I collaborated on another movie screenplay. But, I have to remember the title...?

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260209

'Saturn Twice!' (continued)

We ended up returning to Angola, for a couple of weeks, some pick up 'shots' were needed and maybe I wanted to see Jack. I took a film editor friend, named Jim Landis, who wanted to learn how to 'shoot' film.

Jack was in and out of various courts on his Writ of Habeas Corpus, and I always tried to support him by attending these legal preceedings. Jack's murder case took me a long time to figure out, how (and why) corrupt Bossier Parish officials had framed Jack. In fact, Jack had witnesses to place him in another State when the murders occurred, but he was railroaded into prison for crimes he hadn't committed. His lawyer, whose name I'm trying to remember, helped me understand how this could happen. I think Jack's attorney's first name James. James Something was a strange guy as all criminal trial lawyers seem to be. F. Lee Bailey comes to mind, Gary , from Wyoming another. They defend for fame and fortune, not to see justice done. Of course, they give lip service to the latter.

But, the South, the deep South, festered, at least when I was there, with a decay, not only in the swamps,' but in the culture. I was never comfortable anyplace in the Old South (in the U.S.). 'Easy Rider,' which became a cult movie, was evidence enough of the bigotry and violence that haunts the K.K.K. mentality (the kind the guards had at Angola).

When I returned to New York City, I was flushed with confidence. Not only did we manage 'shooting' film, we managed to come up with something of value!

The first thing that happened was a producer from Pittsburgh (via our Pittsburgh friends) offered me $60,000U.S. for the uncut film (would be $600,000 now in 2009). One of the worse decisions of my life was to turn this offer down. But, my thinking back then was, if someone is making this kind of offer for the film uncut, when finished, it will be worth 2 or 3 times as much. Plus, I didn't want to give up 'creative control.'

So, I went about trying to find funds for completion. Jack's lawyer wouldn't budge on more, even though his $10K had got him fifty-percent ownership. So we edited a sample, and with a marketing package of went around, 'hat in hand,' After the crew, there wasn't much equity left to trade. So, funding completion became problematical. To this day I regret not having taken the money and 'run,' with the $60,000U.S. But, my life was to take a different turn, in fact, many turns and twists!

I stored the original (negative) in a warehouse out in Long Island City, across the street from my old Army base, the 'U.S. Army Pictorial Center,' the Adolph-Zuker Paramont Studios of cinema history. I used to walk the 'Main Stage,' when 'Officer of the Day,' and revel in the fact I was walking in the steps of, The Marx Brothers, and Rudolph Valentino! Now the facility is called the Kauffman-Astoria studios, and humming with activity, I think...? I haven't been there in a while?

Other projects came along, as I continued trying to complete 'Warden Jack.'

One, I had discovered 'The Biddle Boys' story in Pittsburgh, and I thought would make a great movie. But, again, I was a neophyte in the movie business and didn't know exactly what to do with it. I wasn't a screenplay writer (yet). One on the Angola crew offered to write a synopsis, I think Jack Wolfe. I've always revered Jack Wolfe for introducing me to Taoism ('Tao Te Qing' - Lao Zi). He would read a chapter to us before we would eat at his house. On the other hand, Jack was not writer, but what did I know (at the time).

There was a woman at NBC I'd met who'd taken an interest in me, Eleanor, I think her name. She was in entertainment development. I gave 'The Biddle Boys' synopsis to her. She knew Tony Bill (had just co--produced 'The Sting,' and was 'hot'). After 'reading it,' she said she would introduce me to Tony Bill. So, I flew to L.A. on 'Cloud Nine!'

Eleanor had Tony's private number! I called him after arriving, and he said to drop the synopsis off at MGM in Culver City, where he had an office at the time. This I did, but not before wandering around and onto some 'live' sets (always wanting to learn about the movie business).

I think my friend Leroy Heckler was working on 'King Kong,' with Jessica Lange (her first movie role). Sure enough there, on a back lot, was the jungle wall that separated the world of Kong, from 'the world.' Quite possibly a lovely metaphor.

To watch a movie being 'shot' is one of the most boring things in the world. Except for me back then, my fascination with motion pictures going back to 1946 in Tucson, Arizona, watching John Ford/Wayne movies. I also remember something about being on the set of 'Broken Arrow,' with Gary Cooper (circa. late 1940s). Later, I had a big crush on Jean Simmons. At the time she was married to Stewart Granger and they had a ranch south of Tucson. One time I saw her in the old Tucson airport, but didn't have the courage to ask for her autograph.

In L.A., I saw my sister, Sally, waiting impatiently to hear from Tony. He never called. I tried to contact him, but never was successful. I called Eleanor, but she too became unavailable! It wasn't until years later that I realized the faux paus! The synopsis, was horribly written, and should never have gone to Tony in the first place. I found out later that Eleanor hadn't even read it! I returned to New York City, crestfallen. But, I didn't give up ('A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins!' my adopted motto from Jack G.).

I started studying how to write a screenplay. I also was interested in studying acting, in order to direct actors.

I had met a woman who was a member of the Actor's Studio. She, Alba Oms, (along with a male partner) had started an organization called, 'Cellblock Theater.' Their goal was to teach acting to inmates in jails and prisons in the New York City area. I became involved. It was a beneficial experience, first of all being exposed to these people on a creative level, and secondly seeing Alba in action, directing. I'll never forget a production of '12 Angry Men,' in a prison in New Jersey. This was one of their favorite texts, of course, and they did well with it (as could relate). There was also another group in a jail in Manhattan who had written a musical. It involved the audience. It was astonishingly creative and insightful, the music enchanting. I always wanted to take it 'Off Broadway.' There was much untapped talent behind bars in the N.Y.C. I discovered. So, I started producing a cable program entitled, 'The Other Side!' which took me into most of the jails and prisons in the Tri-State Area (New York, Conneticutt, and New Jersey).

I've since become an 'expert' in penology: Incarceration, isn't designed to rehabilitate, only to make money from punishment. But, it brutalizes everyone involved!

Alba got me into the Actor Studios, a special course on directing. We'd sit and watch unknowns go through a scene or problem, then Lee Strasberg, Arthur Penn, Shelly Winters, Ellen Burstyn, and Elia Kazan (depending on who was in attendance) would make comments and suggestions. I was spellbound being in these people's presence. I'll always remember the thing Strasberg emphasized most (and wanted to know from the actor): the route from actor to role. Then he would open the discussion to us in the audience. I never spoke. This was a new world for me, even the vocabulary I was unfamiliar with. Things like, 'back story,' 'sense and affective memory,' 'the magic if?' 'given circumstances,' 'subtext,' 'craft,' 'theme.' I'd hardly heard these words before. Later I went on to Strasberg's 'Institutes' in both N.Y.C., and L.A., and took some basic acting courses. But, I never thought of myself as an actor. So many years later I became an acting teacher.

Back then, pre Syd Field, there wasn't a definitive book on writing screenplays, but I read everything I could find that I thought would help me. There were two that were useful. One was, 'The Art of Dramatic Writing, by Lajos Egri. I attended writing workshops. And one day, I began the process, I started researching 'The Biddle Boys' story (this meant traveling to Pittsburgh).

The best way to learn, in my opinion, is by doing. If you just 'do,' you fail your way to success! Like writing the synopsis to 'Warden Jack,' one hundred times or more, until I got to where it was 'perfect' (I was satisfied.). Even to this day (almost forty years later), I wouldn't change one word of it. It may be the best thing I've ever written: one page in length.

Returning to Pittsburgh in 1974, I took a girlfriend along, Sharon, I remember as... I spend hours in the Carnegie Library, sifting through numerous articles that had been written about the Biddle boys. These were on microfilm, of course, and I almost ruined my eyes trying to read the small print on a screen (for hours at a time). I photocopied many of them. This was way before Ron Nyswanner (the credited writer), ever discovered the story.

At the same time I discovered Mark Harris ('Bang the Drum Slowly') was living in Pittsburgh. I went to see him. I told him the story. He was interested, but said I had to talk to his agent in New York City.

When I returned to New York City, I went to see Ad Schulberg, (Bud's mother). She was Mark Harris' agent. I'll never forget the meeting in her apartment. She said Mark wanted to write the book or screenplay, but that they would need $100,000U.S. I gulped! I think I was collecting unemployment benefits and eating on food stamps at the time. I told her, that I'd try to raise it! I was lying of course, as their attitude enflamed me! I said to myself, 'Fuck it! I'll write the damn thing myself, and I did. It took four years of hard work to finally be satisfied with the screenplay to show people in the industry (having learned the Tony Bill lesson). But, I'm still proud of it.

In the meantime, I'd made the mistake of taking the story to was a producer named Edgar J. Scherick. I had known of him as I'd worked at ABC Sports, which he'd helped create (had sold 'Sports Programs' to ABC). He had started producing movies, his first success, 'Seuth' in 1972. His company, Palomar Pictures was on Park Avenue, not too far from where I lived. Edgar loved the story! Said we'd do it! But, I remember him saying 'shooting' in snow was expensive, and maybe we should change that. He had ideas about changing the story, one was that the audience would never 'buy' a mother abandoning her children. I went away feeling like I'd made a mistake telling him about it, as making those changes would destroy the integrity of the story.

In the interim, I'd met a man who'd worked with Scherick on 'Seuth.' He described Scherick was a 'meddler,' the kind of producer that was always interfering with the director's vision, etc. I made a mental note of this.

One day when talking with Scherick the subject came up, of the roles we would play on the project. We would produce the movie together, but he would let me alone. I said, and I remember to this day my exact words, 'But, that's not your reputation!' Nothing like confronting an ego maniac with the truth. He paused, but I think I witnessed steam coming out of his ears. He tried to gather his composure, but it was difficult for him. He rose to stand, and then turned from me. I was startled, and didn't know what to say. When he turned back to me his demeanor had changed completely. Incensed, he said something like, 'Fuck my reputation! Now, get out of here!' After that, everything changed. Certainly, he was no longer interested in having me involved with the project. I knew I'd fucked up, but that was me back then. I was born December 11th (same day as Frank Sinatra), and am Saggitarius (in western astrology). We know how to 'shoot that arrow,' many times wounding people (to our own demise). I wouldn't had much a career in the 'Foreign Service' as a diplomat. Saggitarians are always too direct in conversations. Even to this day, as Howard Cosell used to say, 'I shoot it straight!'

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To the clouds!

Spend time
Looking at clouds,
Thinking of nothing;
Something.
It will go away,
The day!

Be in the moment
That's all you have,
Be glad
You're not mad
Others rushing about,
So fast on the streets,
So slow to live!

If you wonder why
They're poor,
They forgot to open the door,
Living in a tiny box,
Holes in their sox!

Stop, now
And listen
To the clouds!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

23a0209

'No' Life At All!'

"An ice-cream castle
In the air,"
Apophis,
ETA, 2029!
Return engagement, 2036!
Yellow Star, Kachina,
The end of us,
Turned into dust?

And when 'it' wipes
Us off,
Will we have been
'Hear' at all?
"We really don't
'No' Life at all!"

You know you're getting older when:

A good bowel movement makes you happier than an orgasm
(Certainly in my case!).
You loose your balance more often.
You don't care so much. Life's tribulations, trivia.
You begin to understand.
You don't need to watch TV.
You have more aches and pains.
You don't sleep as well.
Young people seem stupid to you, at least unconscious.
The moment more important than the future.
(Add your own...?)

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Monday, February 23, 2009

230209

'Saturn Twice' (continued)

While 'shooting' 'Warden Jack' we lived in the prison's 'guest house' on 'B-line.' I never knew why it was called 'B-line,' but it was the area of the prison, near the main gate, where the 'free people' lived. I think there was a food market, a community center, and a basketball court. We were seven guys, 'freer-than-most free people,' living in a three-bedroom house with only one bath. I think Shelly slept on the couch in the living room. We had two 'house boys,' one to clean the other to cook. One room was for the film equipment and where we screened what we shot. We had a little viewer you cranked the film through.

Michael and Shelly took to taking junkets back into Baton Rouge, some sixty miles to the south. It's the home of L.S.U., known for some of the prettiest coeds in the U.S. So, it wasn't long before he and Shelly had made friends and were spending Mondays in Baton Rouge. I, along with Lee Heckler, were too busy trying to make a film. The boys had other things on their minds.

Angola, the tiny community the prison is named for, was a nether world back in 1973. Once you passed the modern steel structure, the main gate, you 'got into a time machine,' descending, maybe one-hundred years (think of the movie 'Cool Hand Luke'). In 1973, there were still whipping posts outside of every camp. There was the infamous 'Red Hat' building, both solitary confinement and where the electric chair or 'ole sparky' as Jack called it had ended many lives. There was a sugar mill, where they processed sugar cane from many cultivated acres. The guards, recruited locally, spoke in a patois, so ignorant, most of the inmates eclipsed them in terms of education. And yet as the unwashed usually are, the guards were very cunning (actually controlled the prison). I think of Bobby Oliveaux, son of the Chief of Security, who was in charge of the kennel. They had blood hounds, of course, to catch escapees. But, they never returned alive as were shot dead once 'treed.' Bobby Oliveaux had a nasty reputation, as not someone to mess with. He and the others all carried .30-.30 rifles, as well as, pistols.

The prison, a vast farm, lie flat in a bend of the Mississippi River, on three sides was the wide Mississippi. The east, or fourth side, ascended up into the Tunica Hills, full of wild animals, and foliage so dense as to act as a barrier. Escapees, and there are few successful at Angola, had two choices: to swim, or to breech somehow, the Tunica Hills. Most never made it very far.

'Jack' was a 'trustee,' which meant he was allowed outside for 'conjugal visits' with wife Ponder. Jack had been useful to the Department of Corrections as a public speaker. He was regularly allowed outside on speaking trips, which raised money for many projects in the prison. I'll never forget the orientation he would give to new inmates '...there were no screens on the windows, no beds on the floors! You slept where you could! Keep to your own self, and watch for tricks to 'catch you out.' If a man loans you a cigarette, he wants that same cigarette back! Not a new one but that same cigarette back. And if you don't have it, you're in trouble. And I've seen it myself, big men like me, they lay you on your stomach, two men to each arm and leg, and you're put in the poultry business, you're give a goose to start out with!' Jack had a way with words! 'A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins!' 'A Winner Never Quits' became the title of the screenplay his Bossier Parish murders.

There were what they called 'hogs,' inmate 'leaders' in the prison. These men so powerful they kept groups of men as 'galboys' they called them, 'punks,' who'd been turned into 'women' for the 'hogs' pleasure. I discovered, at Angola, a brutal world I had little knowledge of before, except for my short time with Bobby Lee Hunter in South Carolina and my own experience in the House of Detention in Manhattan. But, Jack made sure we knew 'the ropes,' as he feared for our lives.

Jack lived in a dormitory, a part of the 'main prison.' My 'team,' with the Eclair and Nagra, would hang around Jack and film whatever he caused to happen. Sometimes we'd get locked into his dormitory during 'count.' To pass the time I took to playing chess with Jack's bunk mate. I fashioned myself as a pretty good chess player. But, this man, who shall go unnamed, beat me consistently. He could play contract bridge. I became intrigued with him. But, that's another 'chapter,' to be told later.

Every Sunday we filmed the rodeos. There were billed as 'The Wildest Show in the South!' Inmates, many who had never seen a horse or cow, would compete for prize money. To win cash from $10 to 100U.S. was worth whatever pain they endured, and many ended up in the hospital. They had an event at the end of each rodeo where they tied a $100U.S. dollar bill between the horns of a brama bull. It was called, 'Guts and Glory.' Whomever grabbed it, got to keep the $100U.S. There were also the standard rodeo events like bulldogging, but the competitors didn't dive off a horse to wrestle the steer to the ground. They had to grab it coming out of a gate. There was the 'Wild Horse Race,' where inmate competitors tried to 'ride' a wild horse, the first one to cross the finish line the winner. The action was crazy, and the footage we managed was extraordinary (for neophytes)! I knew after screening some of it we had an award-winning film. I would to be rich and famous, or so I thought at the time.

One Sunday I risked the Arri S, by having it attached to the brama bull during 'Guts and Glory.' A one-hundred foot roll of 16MM film lasts three minutes at 24-frames per second, and the event itself might last much longer. The inmate-rodeo crew had made a special mount out of steel which they had bolted to a harness that went around the girth of the bull. The shot, using a 'fish-eye' lens had the bull's head and horns in the foreground, and the inmates trying to grab it. We got very lucky! Not only did A.L. Clemons, a black inmate, grab the $100-dollar bill during the shot, but one competitor was brutally gored against a fence (right on film). This shot alone was worth an award! When we got it back from Atlanta, I started seeing dollar signs!

A.L. Clemons, the black inmate, that had grabbed the $100-dollar bill, was quite an athlete. I'm sure under different upbringing he might have been a wide receiver for the Houston Oilers or the Dallas Cowboys. He was the 'star' of 'Guts and Glory' that year, managing to grab the $100-dollar bill every Sunday.

The weeks went on, and living together in the guest house became problematical. I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into. Michael, God rest his soul, took to smuggling drugs into the prison for our house boys. When I found out I went ballistic! I threatened to send him home, as he had jeopardized our very existence. He took to spending more and more time in Baton Rouge now having a relationship with one girl. In a way I was glad. Leroy, our professional gafer, became restless, as not used to this 'unprofessional' kind of schedule. So I learned that being a 'director' is more than making a film.

Shelly was an entirely different 'case.' Our 'boy genius,' could hardly handle the job as sound recordist. Every morning when we got into the station wagon we'd rented, I would ask him, 'Shelly, did you bring microphones?' 'Yes,' half asleep. 'Did you bring tape stock?' There would be a pause, then an explosion as he ran back into the house to retrieve what he'd forgotten. He always made us late. He was the most disorganized person I'd ever known. Lovable, on one hand, maddening on the other. One day on 'the walk,' he discovered he hadn't attached one end the tape to the take-up reel (in the Nagra). It had simply spilled, when he was rolling, like spaghetti under the cover and packed into a brown mass. So, we had to lay out hundreds of feet of it on 'the walk,' and hand roll it back to recover. He could sing, play the flute, was a talented artist, but anything that required left-brained decisions was a challenge to him. I've learned recently that he went on to become a successful filmmaker in New York City. Put 'Gabriel Berde' in a search engine and see what comes up.

One day Michael informed me that they had lost the viewfinder to the Arri 'S.' This was unfortunate news, as the rodeo was coming in a few days. We needed two cameras to cover the rodeos. I pondered what to do. We could have another one shipped down from New York City. We all went out into the field where, supposedly, it was lost. We put out the word to the inmates, offering a reward (cartons of cigarettes). A day went by, two, and nothing. Now it was too late to get another one down from New York City. Then an amazing thing happened, an inmate found it. More amazing, he wouldn't accept the reward. Seems he had gone out into that field and walked it over and over, covering every foot of ground. Then he'd sat down to rest. Out of the corner of his eye a flash of light, as the sun had caught something, a reflection. It turned out to be the viewfinder.

We had a good relationship with the inmates. I think it was because we related to them, more than the guards. We dressed like the inmates in t-shirts and jeans. Many times we had to call the Warden, as we would be mistaken for inmates and locked in with them. And, of course, we had Jack in our corner too. Thus, our relationship with the guards was tenuous. One time, some guards were caught trying to plant drugs in the 'Guest House.' But our house boys, were too quick and removed them. When police arrived to 'find them,' they found nothing. The inmates were on our side, and we on there's.

One Sunday arriving at the rodeo grounds an inmate came up to me and said Bobby Oliveaux was 'squatting' on one of our camera towers (scaffolding we had made for a camera position). He had told the inmate he wasn't leaving! I pondered what to do as if I let this pass, and didn't confront Oliveaux my cache with the inmates would be lost. I also knew I could get hurt in a scuffle, maybe even shot. The inmate had warned me that Oliveaux kept an extra pistol in his boot. It was if in a western movie, a showdown, as word quickly went around the grounds about the situation. When the Associate Warden arrived, I went to him and explained the situation. I said, 'Oliveaux is camped out on our camera tower and we can't set up. I'm going there to throw him off. In the process I'll probably get killed. And I don't think the prison wants that.' He quickly had Oliveaux removed, and without too much of a fuss. But, I heard later Oliveaux was 'gunning' for me, and to be careful.

What did I do? Best to take the 'bull by the horns,' as the expression goes. 'No guts no glory.' I sent word to Oliveaux we wanted to interview him on film. This would give him a chance to do whatever he was going to do. I wanted to 'shoot' it up at the 'dog pen' (kennel), him seated, a .30-.30 rifle across his knees I wanted the hounds howling in the background. But, he had other ideas. He picked the place. When he arrived he had his wife and young daughter with him. During the interview he held his young daughter on his knees. Very clever these thug types; maybe uneducated, but they've learned how to survive. We shook hands afterwards, and we had no more trouble from him. You learn in life, best to confront trouble head on! My 'Pappy Jack' taught me this. In fact, I learned much from him--he became my surrogate father.

The inmates kept garbage dogs as pets at the prison (this wasn't an ordinary prison situation). After a meal the inmates would throw out what left over food and all the dogs would fight for it. One of our inmate friends named Frank had a large German-Shepard dog. He came to me one day at the rodeo grounds and asked us to smuggle the dog out, as the guards were going to kill it. Seems every year after the rodeo Oliveaux and the boys went around and shot every dog on sight. Of course, I agreed to. So one Sunday, when I knew Jack and Ponder were meeting at a motel in Baton Rouge we planned to take the dog with us. We had the station wagon at the rodeo grounds and he slipped the dog through the gate. We took the dog back to the guest house as weren't going to Baton Rouge until the next day. I remember the next morning, before departing, the house boys fed him some milk.

We weren't out the main gate a hundred yards, before the dog threw up all over us! They say, 'No good deed ever goes unpunished!' We stopped, let the dog out, and tried to clean up the mess. Later at a service station on the highway going to Baton Rouge we stopped for gas. We had the dog on a chain, and lucky for us, because we hadn't realized... The dog liked people, but tried to kill any other dog he saw. While filling the tank he spied another dog, and leaped after it, jerking me along with him. I could barely control the dog, but whomever I was with came running to assist, and we pulled the dog back into the car. After one night with the dog in our motel room, we handed him over to Jack. Jack knew someone with a farm, and that's where the dog went. I remember thinking, I hope there are no other dogs on this farm.

We ended up 'shooting' something like 30,000ft. of 16MM film at Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary) in the six weeks we were there. The Warden had allowed us free access to any place we wanted to 'shoot' as he wanted to get the message out (I figured out later.). The contrasts at Angola were astounding. One day we were in 'Redhat,' the notorious 'hole.' The next day out in a cane field near the Mississippi River, where there was a ferry for the guards to cross (most lived on the west side). Here I 'shot' the sun as it rose over the cane field. As the sun came up thousands of birds (I wish I knew what kind) departed making such a racket I'll never forget. Thousands of them took flight, such fluttering of wings and cackling lasting for something like thirty minutes. The lust green sugar cane stalks, the red of the rising sun, the birds chatting up a storm. It still lingers in my memory as one of the best moments at Angola.

Before I left Angola Jack's bunk mate came to me and asked me to sign his parole papers. I asked Jack what to do, and he said, 'Give the boy a chance!' So, me, never afraid to take a risk said I would. I didn't know what I was getting into!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

210209

'Saturn Twice!' (continued)

From Punx.-town, groundhogs, and Hutchison ancestors I continued west, slightly south, to Pittsburgh, I made it in one day, as less than 100 miles. I had been there many times before so, Pittsburgh wasn't an unknown. In fact, I liked Pittsburgh as having had both good and not-so-good experiences there. I forget where I stayed, but on the edge of the metro area, as the closer to get to the 'Golden Triangle,' (the confluence of the Allegheny, Mongahella, and Ohio Rivers) the more expensive it gets. It's an 'old' American city, which has had an urban renewal.

I had first discovered Pittsburgh via ABC Sports, and the Open Golf competition at Oakmont C.C., but what year and who won? I think in the late Sixties, and God knows who won, but I can do some quick research via Google and...

Ah, the mind and it's tricks... It wasn't until 1973, and Johnny Miller won that year. I'd probably been there earlier on a survey, but who cares, as golf boring to me! And that year I wasn't working for ABC Sports, but the local CBS affiliate, KDKA/2. I was 'shooting' news film and Lee Arthur (first woman sportscaster) and I went out there to interview Arnold Palmer.

After I got fired at ABC Sports, I'd worked at NBC Sports for a time, I think one NFL and one NHL Season. But, at the time they were so controlled by the News Department, that Chet Simmons and 'Scotty' Conal couldn't do much. Jim Feeney and I tried to bring them 'up to speed,' but they were too entrenched in the past. It wasn't until much later with Don Ohlmeyer and Dick Ebersol that they came out of the dark ages. When we worked there it was a 'joke' really... But, I remember their 4th Floor offices (at 30 Rock.) faced east, and at Christmas time you looked right out the window at the Christmas tree and the skating rink. I used to love New York City at Christmas time.

Anyway, Pittsburgh... Known for oil, coal, and steel in its past. Now, the Pittsburgh 'Steelers.' America all about sports as unevolved!

After NBC, I was living in a penthouse apartment on east 52nd Street, not doing much of anything, trying to get into the movie business (Sports and Corpos. a 'wrong turn' in my life). I'd met a woman named Lee Arthur, actually I'd known her before at ABC Sports. She was Chet Forte's 'significant other' and she always seemed to be around him. Seems like they had one of those tumultuous relationships, as much talked about, but I didn't really know her at the time.

One evening Jack Fitzgerald (an ABC colleague) and I had tickets to a hockey game at Madison Square Garden. When we got to our seats, guess who was occupying them, but Lee Arthur and her girlfriend. We made them move, which they did, but just behind us. This was circa. 1972-3, and Lee had been cast adrift no longer involved with Chet. Chet had a famous relationship with his mother, and mother came first! We got to talking... We went out for drinks afterwards... We started dating... The next thing I know I'm living with Lee Arthur at 320 E. 52nd St., in her penthouse apartment no less.

Poor Lee as always so desperate to prove herself in 'show biz!' She was originally from Indiana, but had come to 'The Apple' to seek fame and fortune. I think she'd done some gigs, maybe modeling, as I can't remember. But, she was ambitious! She wanted to have an 'on-camera' job, was always 'out there,' meeting and greeting people (Ted Ashley, the CEO of Warner Bros. was one of her pals.). But, nothing had come about of any significance. I told her to look outside of N.Y.C., that that was the way to 'break in.' She had no resume really, and to get a job in 'The Apple,' you have to have clout in some form. She had none really.

Then one day she told me about an offer to be a sportscaster at a CBS affliliate in Pittsburgh. She was torn between the opportunity and having to move out of N.Y.C. I advised her to take it.

It wasn't so many months later that I got a call from her, now living and working in Pittsburgh. Seemed IBEW, the local cameraman's union, had gone on strike and they needed scabs to 'shoot' news. Now, I had never done that before, 'shot' film under pressure (news deadlines). But, I was doing nothing at the time, needed money (of course), and that challenge intrigued me. Lee kept pressing me, as wanting me around. I finally discussed it with a colleague named, Michael McCallum. They needed more than one cameraman, so I offered him a job. We decided to go as a 'team.' Fear loves company!

Young people often ask me how to acquire confidence. I explain to them to take risks. Here was an example. Both, Michael McCallum and I had never done anything like this before. We'd always been the producer hiring such 'technicians.' So, this was both a 'step down,' and a 'step up!' I'd always wanted to be a DP ('Director of Photography') in 'Hollywood' and here was an opportunity, but the circumstances didn't allow much trial and error.... On the other hand, I'd grown up with still cameras, as my father was into taking pictures. But, 'shooting' 16MM film, with cameras we'd never touched, even seen before, this was a 'stretch.'

We developed a plan. Michael was to learn about how to operate the camera and a light meter. I was to learn how to load a magazine. Additionally, we had the 'gift of bullshit,' and knew what to say. I remember our first meeting with Bill Aber, the News Director. We were the 'hotshot' guys from New York City come to save them. They couldn't have been more impressed with us. We told them, 'IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE USING CP-16S (the type of single-system camera they were using), AS NOW IN NEW YORK, ALL VIDEO. (Note, this was in the analogue days, 'digital' still in the future). We had implied shooting film was a thing of the past! He said no problem, and brought forth the cameras. Acting like we'd used them many times in the past, BUT LONG AGO, we wanted an orientation. We split up. Michael went with someone off to learn how to operate the camera, Bill accompanied me to a dark room, but first showed me how to load a roll of 400 ft. into a magazine (in a black bag). As you know with film (and hardly anyone except 'Hollywood' DPs use it anymore) if exposed to light, it's ruined. So, you either go into a dark room, or use a 'black bag' (light proof). But, this requires 'feel,' and experience. He showed me. I practiced. In fact, I practiced for hours, before meeting up with Michael again. Thumbs up, we went off in our company cars loaded with equipment, including lights. I forget the ASA of this film, but it was low (maybe 25) and you needed lights. This was even before #7242, a 16MM negative film with a ASA/ISO of 100.

They had set us up in a motel. We ate meals at KDKA/2. It was a sweet deal! But, that night, the first one in town, we did nothing but practice, or at least I did. I wanted to make sure there was nothing I hadn't thought about. I don't like to be embarrassed. I don't like to fail.

The next morning we got our first assignments (usually two per day). Mine was to go with a black reporter and interview someone in a hotel room. I kinda remember it, having to 'hump' much gear up flights of stairs (the job turned out to be very physical). The interview, everything, seemed to go O.K. She split, I packed, and then headed to the lab. Exposed film has to be processed. This was reversal film so no print (quicker). Reversal film comes out with a positive image. Now, no seasoned/experienced photographer ever hangs around and waits for the film (even though only a couple hours). But, I did that day, telling the lab workers I was new, and wanting to get a tour of their facilities. They obliged. I'll never forget waiting, my anxiety... If the film I'd just shot wasn't in focus, or underexposed, or anything wrong with it, we'd have a problem explaining (being the 'hotshots' from N.Y.C.).

This laboratory had the 'big processor.' You threaded the exposed film in one end, an hour later, having travelled so many feet, through many chemicals, etc. it came out at the other end; into a 'hot box,' where heated air dried it before being rolled onto spools. I stood waiting at this plexiglass drier. They must have thought I was crazy, as I was probably the only photographer in history who had stood there and waited for his film to appear out of the processor. But, I was too anxious. I'll never forget when the first film emerged from a slot and then threaded on many spindles, top and bottom, the heated air drying it. There I was going up and down, bending at the knees, my eyes trying to glimpse, trying to determine actually, if there was, in fact, an image, and secondly if it would past muster. How overcome with relief I became when I realized I had managed to pull it off! I'm sure they thought, for sure, I was crazy, I was so happy repeatedly thanking them for such a 'good job!' Michael managed to accomplish the same results.

We went on to become the 'heroes' at the 'station' (they were called in those days). The job lasted months, and became a source of pleasure, as 'shooting' film became second nature. Half the battle in any job is having confidence. Once we had that we started getting creative (even arrogant), something they'd never seen before (with the Union guys). We started shooting news film like it was a 'Hollywood' movie.

Speaking of IBEW, and unions in general, I'm not proud of the fact I'd crossed picket lines and helped 'the enemy.' I remember men on the picket line were always sitting at the entrance of the underground parking lot, and glared at us when we drove in and out. Of course, we were too chicken to make eye contact. Thus, so many years later I apologize for my behavior, something I'd never do now, not for money or love! But, when you're young you can always rationalize your decisions; your behavior. It was good for us at the time, and I'm not sure how our involvement affected the negotiations, or how it affected the Union cameraman's future. I can only hope it didn't hurt! I'm basically pro union!

While we were in Pittsburgh we met some people. I forget exactly how, but probably via Micheal. We started hanging out with them. Susan Nadler was one, Jack Wolfe, her boyfriend at the time, was another. There were a couple others. That was one of the good things, developing life-long friends. And, of course, another chapter.

The other happened to me on a KDKA/2 assignment. One day I was to spend the entire day inside the Allegheny Country Jail, as it was a holiday (maybe July 4th), and the inmates would be competing in all different kinds of sports. The reporter did a stand-up, then departed. I had lunch in the commissary with all the guards, etc. Now, the Allegheny Country Jail, located right in the heart of Pittsburgh, is a National Landmark. It's an incredibly interesting old building, and I'd taken note. While having lunch I turned to one of the guards and asked, 'I'll bet some interesting things have happened in this building?' Without thinking too much, he responded, 'Yes, there are many stories. One in particular comes to mind, back around the turn of the century (1900). Seems the warden's wife, living here, developed a relationship with a younger convicted killer. She helped him escape.' He tried to remember the names, but couldn't. But, that's all I had to begin with, what later became my screenplay, 'Just A Little Flower,' and later stolen from me by Edgar J. Scherick, 'Mrs. Soffel' (Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson). But, I'm getting way ahead of myself!

I'm an 'experience junkie!' I'll do anything to have a new experience, good or bad! This makes a writer!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

180209

I am not F.A. Hutchison
Nor, am I 'Fred,'
Nor 'Frederick'
Nor, 'Alexander,'
Nor, 'Mr. Hutchison,'
Nor, 'Hutch'
Nor, 'Haqi,'
Nor 'Nima,'
Nor any of the rest!
What 'I am' is potential!
What 'I am' is consciousness!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

170209

'Saturn Twice!' (continuing)

I got into shoplifting, stealing food for a time. This in Portland, Oregon, years ago. You can get to the point where you'll steal to eat. I did!

I got caught only once, and now the incident funny in retrospect. They, a clerk and a customer, felt embarrassed having caught me (this having chased me down the street - I didn't run.) I had taken only 1/4 of a pound of butter. When they saw this, they recoiled from all the fuss, and let me go, but in their frustration yelled at me not to return. I almost got caught another time, but was too clever for them.

I'd been taking vitamins and health food products (without paying of course). I started noticing people watching me, or very curious about my every more (when in this particular store). I figured out these were plain-clothes 'cops,' hired to catch shoplifters. I think I'd read about such. Anyway, there weren't well trained as way too obvious.

One day I purposely took a $100-dollar bill with me (I don't know how I had this). I purposely acted suspicious, but put everything I chose into my shopping cart. I had noticed one of the 'cops' watching me, and very closely. When I was finished I faked heading for the door, rather than the check-out line. The woman was right there blocking my way, ready to make an 'arrest.' I quickly veered into the check out line. When my turn came I whipped out my $100-dollar bill for everyone to notice. I wish you could have seen the expression on this woman's face. One of those moments you cherish for a life time (I still remember!). On the way out, displaying my receipt, I winked at her!

But, I never returned to this store. Best, to quit while you're ahead.

In fact, I don't think I ever took anything ever again without paying.

My first five months living in Portland, Oregon, were very challenging. And it wasn't that I hadn't tried to get a job. Sometimes to are caught in circumstances and you have to survive anyway you can! Sometimes you do the wrong thing and are punished for it. But, being hungry will drive you to do what's necessary to eat, regardless of the consequences.

There's an old expression, from the days of the 'robber barons' (middle of the 19th century). 'Steal a loaf of bread, and you'll go to jail. Steal a railroad, and be made a senator!' Or, something like that. Dick would know?

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16a0209

'Saturn Twice (continued)

Bonnie St. Lauren

Speaking of Miami, Florida... I've never been a big fan of, but some interesting things have happened to me there in Florida, besides getting spit in the face by a woman.

I was in Miami with a colleague. We were there for a meeting or a 'survey' (what we called it). I was 26-years old at the time, young and naive, like the protagonist in 'O Lucky Man,' a movie you've never seen. 'Smile when you're making it, laugh when you're taking it, even though you're faking it, nobodies gonna know!' I wish I'd known that when I was 26-years younger than most. I was young and dumb, and about so much.

After the meeting my colleague took me for dinner (I thought) to a place on the 79th Street Causeway called 'Radio Joe's!' We were treated like royalty, and suddenly surrounded by beautiful young women (who descended on our table). There were other men there that seemed to know my colleague, so I thought the women were friends of theirs. But, I delighted in the attention. They seemed to be as interested in me as 'their boyfriends.' The drinks flowed, and I think even food, but it was the conversation that got interesting. Mine in particular.

I fell madly in lust with one of the women. She was an exquisite creature. I remember her hands, her nails, not painted ruby red, but in a sophisticated nuance. She emulated class and education. We started talking. All the usual stuff from me at least, about name, history, occupation (she lied), etc. Her name was 'Bonnie St. Lauren.' It finally got to the point, where I told her I wanted to see her again, a date. She was kind to me in the beginning realizing I didn't know.

It was until one of the 'boyfriends,' interrupting us, I thought I heard what sounded like a negotiation! 'How much, for how long?' etc. I thought I was hearing things. She got angry with him, dismissing him as I'd never heard before (something like, 'You can't afford me!'), and returning to me. No doubt she felt some pity, and wanting to educate me.

'I get paid for having sex with men,' she said, straightening me out quickly. 'Oh,' I said trying to act like I knew anyway. 'How much?' I wanted to know, quickly doing an inventory of how much I could afford. 'It depends' she said. 'It depends on what and how long.' 'Thirty minutes, and straight sex, $100U.S.,' she quickly as if talking from a menu. All night, and multiply times, $1000U.S. This was around 1969, forty years ago as I write this, and you can imagine, this would be 20X now. I thought to myself, wow! 'For you,' she said, less, as I like you! Suddenly, I felt like there was hope. But, then she went on to educate me. 'But, it's strictly business with me!'

I went on to learn about the world of 'high-class call girls' they were called. She had a Masters Degree in English, and a daughter. She said, 'How else can I make $100,000U.S. cash (tax free), and work a few hours per night? She was going to school studying for a Ph.D., and supporting a child. I couldn't argue with her. Turns out she was servicing the Nixon Administration when they came south (I forget the Island where they hung out?). Boy, did I get an education. Not, only 'tax free,' but she had the right connections in case of trouble.

The next morning I got an additional 'degree' in life! My colleague, called and said to join him for breakfast. I walked over to his bungalow and there was a sumptuous feast. We were sitting, eating and talking business when who should appear from his bedroom but 'my' Bonnie! I was crestfallen, but tried not to show it. It was, in fact, strictly business with her!

I'll never forget her, this 'Bonnie St. Lauren.' I wonder what her real name was, or where/how she is now, forty years later?

I had a similar experience with a prostitute in Paris, France. Seems I was naive beyond hope... But, I can't remember if this was before or after Bonnie. I shall have to ask Joe (what year this was?).

Stay tuned...

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

160209

'Saturn Twice' (continued)

And there was the time, working for ABC Sports, someone spit in my face...

It was the Christmas Holiday (perfect time to happen, right?). I had no plans for Christmas, so the producer of a college football game, played on Christmas day in Miami, invited me down to work the sidelines. Most people don't know but sporting events are controlled by TV (money). There's a person on the sidelines signaling to the Referee when a commercial is needed. Anyway, it's an easy job, and although I didn't get paid, I got an all-expenses trip to sunny Miami Beach during Christmas. With nothing better to do, I took a girlfriend along or found one there (can't remember).

I can't remember the name of the hotel either, but we always stayed in the best!

Christmas Eve we were in the bar, of course. I wish I could name names, but they wouldn't like it. So, I'll use pronouns or 'nonouns.' It was a lively gathering as always, ABC people and others (we had 'groupies' in those days). A Christmas tree and music set the scene -- we were all getting drunk (as usual). Two members of 'The Wrecking Crew' were there, me and a close friend whose girlfriend was never far away from him. I was having a conversation with someone else. I needed an answer from my unnamed friend (officially involved with the event), so I moved a few bar stools over to him, and probably interrupted his conversation with his girlfriend (can't remember the exact details). But, it didn't last long, as I got a relatively quick answer to what I was seeking. I returned to my original conversation, not thinking I have made a huge faux pax!

But, here came the surprise of surprises (of a lifetime)! Suddenly, I noticed his girlfriend standing next to me, her face not far from mind. And before I knew it she spit right in my face! I didn't know how to react, as I wasn't sure of her motivation! What had I done wrong, I'm not sure to this day? But, my friend witnessed this, and all hell broke loose! He jumped on her, slapped her, and basically dragged her upstairs (via and elevator) her screaming, and everyone shocked with the entire episode. Suddenly the bar was very quiet. Nobody knew how to react. So, we just ignored it as nothing much had happened. I think the bartender refilled our drinks for no charge. But, somehow, the mood had changed from happy to not-so happy. I mean this was Christmas Eve!

The next morning we all convened at the swimming pool, couples together, including my friend and his now bruised (beaten up) girlfriend. Nobody said anything, but the usual superficialities. It was if the episode had not happened.

Years later, to show you how things change, after she (the girlfriend) broke up with my friend, we became friends. I guess I sought some kind of answer to what she had done way back when. I don't think I ever got a definitive answer, except that she was drunk and angry at him. They had a tumultuous relationship, each not getting from the other what they wanted.

And I know about tumultuous relationships, as I had one of my own that lasted for way too long...

(Stay tuned...)

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Friday, February 13, 2009

140209

Wholeness, Union!

'Skipping over the damaged area,'
Running from my future,
Past.
Only the present matters,
Making up for what has been,
Might be,
Is now!

Before this day is over,
I've been everywhere before!

Wholeness, Union!

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130209 (Friday the 13th, always a lucky day for me!)

THE PERFECT SOUP!

Sixty-nine,
The balanced dime,
It took a long time!
Nirvana now,
Not a 'rock group,'
The perfect soup!

Sixty-nine
With kwai,
Cast the 'die,'
In Li Jiang ('Beautiful River')!

The sun shining,
The women smiling,
The men laughing,
Haqi cycling,
No longer the dupe!
The perfect soup!

BECOME 'WON!'

A glass of wine,
Remembrance of things past,
Infamous hast,
Long ago!
Oh, the pain, the pleasure,
What a treasure!

I have lived!
I have loved!
I have hated,
Been grated
Into parmesan cheese!

Who moved it?
I did!
I went and did it,
Became myself!

You can 'two!'
Become 'won!'

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

120209

'Saturn Twice' (continued)

"'Death' makes 'life' possible!"
I would also say 'night' makes 'day' possible!
(I put quotation marks around Deepak Chopra's words ('death' and 'life') as a way of saying that we have many little 'deaths,' that make many little 'lifes' possible during our own.

There was the time I hijacked a commercial airliner (747) over the Atlantic Ocean, on a flight from London to New York City. Or, more accurately I should say I really hijacked myself! Life, you never know when it's going to jump up and smack you awake!

One moment I was drinking Dom Perignon in First Class, smitten with the lovely flight attendant that was serving it to me, the next 'moment' a male black face close to mine, explaining how to survive in a cage full of black men!

I'd gone 'wacko' at 35K feet after mixing amphetamines with alcohol, a near disaster, but ultimately with useful results. I don't remember all of what I did, however. I know I knocked on the cockpit door, something that in this day and age would get you executed. But, it wasn't the flight crew that wanted me arrested it was the passengers who I'd upset with my bizarre behavior!

I spend three days and nights in a haze, not sure what had happened, except I'd lost my freedom! Now a monkey in a zoo, my friends came to visit me, my girlfriend rallying one in particular whose girlfriend had connections.

They got a judge off the golf course on Memorial Day (holiday weekend) to arraign me. I remember the Warden was present. Afterwards, when I was 'checking out,' he said, 'I wanted to see who you were! In the history of this correctional facility (Federal House of Detention, Manhattan), no one has ever gotten out during a holiday!' The movie I've always wanted to make, it took me years to figure out I was living!

I got off by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and paying a heavy fine. Later, one of the flight attendant's sued me in civil court, saying I had bitten her on the arm! I couldn't face the truth as I'd become dysfunctional in a job that was killing me. I'd created a 'monster' I had hoped that would destroy me, at least the part of me I hated! I'd tried to 'sell out!' I'd tried to be what they wanted, but I could never stop being myself! It's my greatest talent, if I have any!

I was fired from my job after being tortured a few more months. I knew what was coming, in some ways having orchestrated (unconsciously) the entire episode. I wallowed in the wrenching pain (of rejection), it crystalline in its purity! I was being born, this time both the mother and child - a reunion!

It was the beginning of the 'real me,' however. I had suppressed 'me' for so long I was going insane! I had been trying to act a role that I thought was required to 'succeed.' It took Saturn's help to create me anew! Of course, I didn't understand any of this at the time. It took many years to realize what had happenend, that you can't get to 'heaven,' without going through 'hell' first! I thought I would die from the humiliation, the pain. I didn't know this is the 'price' you have to pay for your own soul!

The next ten years of my life was the 'labor' of this 'birth,' now so strongly alive I can write about it, at the same time admitting my worst/best hour!

No worst, no best!
No rest, no fire,
That desire
Burning me up,
Consumed by flames
I flew even higher
Until now
Not knowing
Which is which
But, not really caring!

I always wanted to be a movie director. Little did I know I've been the best director, for my actor self that could be!

First, we are unconscious, not knowing that we don't know. Most of us stay that way, never risking the opportunity to dive down to the depths of despair. Well, who would choose that kind of pain? No one in their 'right' mind. I was fortunate to be in the 'wrong mind at the right time!' It has lead me to where I am today, an old man whose life of internal conflict, lead to redemption. My (and yours too) greatest 'enemy' is me, myself, and I!

One must grow to understand, or what else is life? Indulging the ego? You must get to the point of understanding, understanding we are but human and flawed. But, no flaws, no perfection!

Life is the 'furnace' in which we are annealed! Some made into the finest 'sword,' cutting both ways: One, our material existence, the dull side. The spiritual world, the 'cutting' side!

I've always drawn the outline of a Christmas tree to illustrate, symbolically, the goal of life: God consciousness! In the beginning, when young, the pendulum swings violently wide, but as we get older and wiser it swings less and less until at the top it ceases to 'swing' at all, becoming 'won' and jutting into the sky! It is a tradition in the Christian religion to adorn the tree with a star, this at the very top!

And so I'm near 'the top,' having learned the great lesson of 'balance,' of being in the middle. The Buddhists, and I'm not a Buddhist but a Taoist, call this the 'Middle Path or Way!' Still swinging, back and forth, experiencing both extremes, 'not knowing sometimes, which is which, but now not really caring!' I wrote the lines of that poem years ago.

One moment you are looking into the charming eyes of desire, the next into the eyes of the Devil! The Buddhists also say, this 'life' is the 'dream' we need to awaken from. Certainly, one day, a long time ago, I got jarred out of my 'sleep!' Now awakened I know that I don't know! Only that I've attained a state of grace! Sogyal Rinpoche says in his book ("The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying") that 'The purpose of life is to achieve union with your fundamental enlightened nature; to realize and embody your true being!' This I have accomplished, and you can too!

It all begins with 'Saturn,' that is, if you're fortunate! And this episode in my life, the 'first time!'

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

090209

'Saturn Twice!'

'Doctor loses license in live birth abortion case!' A recent headline in the news.

Abortion, what do you know about it?

No doubt you're either for or against, without much experience with...

I went through an abortion once. This was way back in the days when they were illegal (pre 1970).

I got a call from my girlfriend. She said, 'I have to talk to you!' We met one afternoon at the Ice Rink in Central Park (Manhattan). She said, 'I'm pregnant!' I don't know how I felt, but I know I was stunned. I asked how she knew it was mine? She said, her only other lover (my boss) used a condom, and I did not. So, I took the responsibility of doing whatever, but I wasn't sure (not to this day). We talked about options. We weren't in any position to have a child, we both agreed. The only option, an abortion!

I talked to friends. They got me to a doctor, who got me to a doctor, who got me to a doctor, I don't know how many referrals... Eventually, I talked to a nurse (of the doctor) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We lived in New York City. The nurse gave me instructions what to do: Fly to Pittsburgh on a Saturday (she gave us options), stay in a hotel across the street from the doctor's office. Come to the office at 1000 on Sunday morning. Most importantly, have $300 cash. Cash! That was 1969. I'd just acquired an Emmy as one of the producers of ABC's 'Wide World of Sports!' So, money wasn't a problem. But... I wonder what that amount ($300U.S.) is worth today in 2009, forty years later? Probably something like $3,000U.S., or more... It was a lot of money back then, trust me.

We were the only ones in the waiting room on Sunday morning. We waited, nervous. She tried to act brave. I tried to convey confidence that everything would be O.K. Suddenly the door opened and an arm jutted into the room. It indicated for her to come through. It stopped me, but the hand gestured for the money. I put the $300U.S. into the hand, and it quickly closed the door. I returned to my seat!

It wasn't long before I heard her screaming. I rushed to the door but it was locked. The screaming didn't last long and suddenly the door opened again, and she appeared, looking like you might expect. Like maybe she'd just been hit by a car. I almost carried her back to our hotel room across the street. She fell on the bed crying. I tried to comfort her, but nothing worked. She was a mess, and I wasn't prepared to deal with it.

Later she told me that he strapped her to a table, and without anesthetic... He didn't give her anything because he couldn't have her lying around recovering (no nurse was there). Patients have to get up and walk immediately! We didn't know. We were young and dumb.

Abortions should be legal, safe, and performed by caring people. I guess you can describe me as 'Pro Choice!'

I'm not sure we if ever talked about it later, my girlfriend and me. We probably did. She went on to recover, but no telling what lasting 'scars' remain in her psyche. In fact, I'd love to bring up the subject, but maybe too much water has gone under the bridge. Sometimes, it's better to leave well enough alone!

_____, where are you now?

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Friday, February 06, 2009

050209

'Saturn Twice!' (continuing)

I was born in the Maternity Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, December 11th, 1940, at 1821 hours, on a Wednesday (a child of woe). After two girls, I'm sure my father was happy to see a penis between those little legs. My sisters were not, as suddenly they were no longer the focus of my parent's attention.

Much later, at the age of 59 (1999), I cycled through St. Louis, on a trip from New York City to Cripple Creek, Colorado, where my father had been born in 1902. I was retracing my Hutchison ancestors migration from their beginning in America, a small community in Pennsylvania, Martin's Creek.

From Martin's Creek, they moved west to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, then Decatur, Illinois (actually Mt. Zion), then Jerseyville, Illinois (picture of me in front of the library at www.cyclingpeace.org), then Springfield, Missouri. From there my grandfather, Camden Robert took his family west to Colorado to 'strike it rich' in the gold fields. But, it all began for the Hutchisons in Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania (via New Amsterdam).

So on my birthday, December 11th, 1999 I loaded up my bicycle and headed west. I had been told by my genealogy sisters, Martin's Creek was just across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. My great, great, great, great great, great grandfather, James Hutchison, settled in this area circa 1700. Thus, I headed for Easton, Pennsylvania, across the New Jersey State line. This from N.Y.C. (actually Englewood Cliffs, N.J.). I didn't get all the way to Easton, in one day (something like 100 miles) as it was getting dark. I stayed in a motel on the New Jersey side, and cycled into Easton the next morning.

I ended up staying in a homeless shelter in Easton. I'd checked out motels, but the lowest in price $60 U.S. per night, and I had to save what little money I had. The Shelter cost $2U.S. per night and a group from a local church came with a wonderful dinner every night (this right before Christmas). But, the people in the shelter were suspicious about me, a man riding a very expensive bicycle, who spent time in the library (free Internet). What was I doing staying in a homeless shelter?

I had a plan that involved giving slide shows (pictures of my trip to Tibet) in nursing homes as I cycled across the country. I had hoped that for this effort they'd let me sleep one night in an unoccupied room. But, I'd forgotten about all the rules and regulations (for the sake of insurance) that exist in such facilities. Thus, although I got to see the sorry state of nursing homes in the U.S., I was never allowed to stay overnight! I remember hearing people screaming, seeing people strapped down in beds, uncared for... It left a lasting impression on me...

The day after arriving in Easton I started my search for Martin's Creek and the Hutchison farmhouse. I cycled north on an old curvy two-lane highway which paralleled the Delaware River. I first found the cemetery in Martin's Creek, where James and Agnes Hutchison were suppose to be buried. I remember the two women in the office were suspicious of me as they called one of my sisters to verify that fact I was, in fact, F.A. Hutchison. They didn't know where the Hutchison graves were located, however, but allowed me to search. I wandered around for a long time but with no success! I sat down to rest having given up. Lo and behold, there they were right in front of me, James and Agnes! Most people don't believe in the metaphysical, but I do!

The women did know, as my sisters had been there, where the old Hutchison farmhouse was located. They gave me directions, as again it turned out to be somewhat complicated. I remember it was up a hill (all cyclists remember the contour of the terrain they go through). After inquiring a couple of times, I finally found it. A small 'dollhouse' like cottage on someone else's property. It had only one room with a loft. James and Agnes supposedly had many children. One wonders what living in this one-room cottage was like (in the 18th Century)? But, the fact it was intact, after all these years amazed me. They certainly don't build them that way anymore (to last)!

I had a conversation with the man who owned the property, this in his very large house 'next door.' I can't remember for sure, but I think he was in the construction business. I cycled back to Easton feeling good about the day. It was a good beginning to a trip that involved tracing the descendants of James and Agnes all the way to Cripple Creek, and on a bicycle in winter no less. What was I thinking?

The next Hutchison location, the next generation had moved west to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The town has been put on the map since by an event called 'Groundhog Day!' Every February 2nd a groundhog named 'Phil' (of course) is taken out of his 'cage,' and he discerns whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter (if he sees his shadow there's more winter, if not, an early spring). Whomever thought of this event was very clever, as it makes the International news every year. Without 'Phil,' Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, would be just another unknown midwestern town. I think the Indian name means 'sand flies,' the 'town of sand flies!' Just think if it would have been 'Sand Fly Day!'

So, I cycled, over the Adirondack 'Mountains, which cut through Pennsylvania, to Punxsutawney. These 'mountains' don't look like much compared to the Rockies (when you first see them in western Kansas), but trust me, they're challenging enough. And cold, I remember how cold it was. What was I doing cycling across northern America in December? This took several days, as a couple hundred miles distance west of Easton.

Punxsutawney, turns out, is a small town about one hundred miles northeast of Pittsburgh. As I remember I stayed in a motel as reasonably priced (something like $30U.S. per night). The town depressed me, however, as one of those non-descript communities that the world has passed by (except on Groundhog Day when the world visits). It has that old, rundown, industrial feel (which I've always disliked). Maybe it was the time of year (I was the only one in the motel); coupled with winter light, a real bummer... But, I had a mission in the 'town of sand flies,' and that was to find the next Hutchison family's history. For starters I got to 'pet Phil,' and hear all about Groundhog Day from the Mayor (chief 'handler' of Phil) -- he worn thick leather gloves while holding Phil. Note, anyone who arrives on a bicycle, in winter, gets preferential treatment in P-town! I think the local paper interviewed me... 'What was I doing in Punx.?' 'Isn't it too cold to be traveling on a bicycle?'

Next, I went to the local HIstorical Society (as directed), and they turned out to be very obliging and helpful. We first went through their files/records, trying to locate some evidence of a Hutchison in the area. I can't remember if we did or not, but one of the women there had an idea, something she'd heard about, a Hutchison estate! She wanted to take me there. I wanted to cycle there, but she said too far, plus she wanted to go with me. So, we took her automobile and headed northeast of town. It was quite a distance actually, maybe twenty miles before we turned off on a dirt road, suddenly in the forest. We ended up traipsing through the woods, she describing to me that this was probably 'the estate' where the Hutchison clan had been located. I should have taken more pictures, but I don't think I had a camera (little money at the time). But, I do remember the feeling of walking the same ground as my ancestors, a good feeling, a 'connecting' to my past!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

050209a

Living Virtual lives! (dedicated to all Chinese people)

Little screens,
Little minds
Mesmerized
Are they,
Caught, trapped and wrapped!

Hearing it ring
Salivating like
Pavlov's dogs
Barking a virtual life,
Following the fife!
Not knowing
They do 'knot no,'
Or where to go
To awaken
From this 'nightmare!'

Little minds,
Little lives
To control it strives!
To sell, it lies!

Others get rich,
While they get poorer,
Trapped in their
Little screens
Living virtual lives.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

040209

'Saturn Twice' (The title of my autobiography.)

I remember painting a white house. I was all of fifteen-years of age at the time, these odd jobs coming from my father. He'd gone into the real estate business, and it was a way to help him, and make some money. I wasn't too much into painting houses, but I had a good work ethic. 'Any job that is worth doing is worth doing right, the first time!' I got my first real job when I was seventeen, this at a local television station.

I'd developed a fascination for the moving image, particularly John Ford/Wayne westerns. I decided I wanted to be a 'DP,' or 'Director of Photography.' I went so far as ferreting out the names of some famous 'DPs' from an issue of 'American Society of Cinematographers' magazine. I wrote a letter to ten of them, asking advice on how to get into the movie business. One responded. But, he said to forget the movie business, that television was the future. So, I decided to more back to Tucson, Arizona, and get a job in television. I'd been living with my parents in Santa Barbara, California, but California didn't particularly appeal to me. I've never liked living near water.

I considered Tucson my hometown. We'd first moved there in 1945, when it was but a dusty little Mexican village of some 30,000 inhabitants. I loved the Catalina Mountains, the desert, the dry climate. I wanted to be a cowboy! I worked on a dude ranch. I remember our home at 2708 E. Mabel St. The street was still unpaved in 1945. My father was the manager of the El Rio C.C.. It's where I learned to play golf at an early age. I remember my first friend in all the world, a Mexican boy named Carmen. We ran the neighborhood together (when kids were still allowed to be free). Across the street at an angle is where Mr. and Mrs. Finch lived. They had fruit trees in the back, and one tall Eucalyptus tree. I'd go over there and listen to Mr. Finch as he would water his trees from a garden hose. Sometimes I would climb their tall Eucalyptus tree.

Back in Tucson I applied for a production job at KVOA/4, the local NBC affiliate. I told the production manager, Lowell Cable, I wanted to be a director. He handed me a broom and told me to, 'Direct this dirt out the door!' Thus, I began a fifty-year career in the entertainment business sweeping the floor for $1U.S. dollar per hour (although back then a dollar would buy something). I was so ambitious back then I would go into work on my days off and clean the studios. It paid off, however, as I became the youngest, at eighteen, director.

I directed 'live, live,' (in the days before videotape) a Mexican show entitled, 'Don Hacinto Orozco's Hour' (sic). This was three hours of craziness on Sunday mornings (I didn't understand Spanish!). Sometimes we had a full mariachi band in a studio barely large enough to accommodate Don himself (overweight would be kind). He used to sit on his microphone.

I also got to direct the daily News Hour. This was in the days when a director 'switched' (actually punched the buttons) himself. You did 'call the shots,' via a headset, but also hit the buttons yourself. You also, rolled in film commercials, were responsible for 35MM 'slide' commercials (with pre-recorded tape audio), and when we got the first Ampex 1000 (videotape machine), you had to edit, load, and otherwise marshall videotape elements. It was a demanding job. If you made a mistake you had to write up a 'Discrepancy Report,' that went to 'Doc Hamilton (he was a Ph.D. in psychology), the #2 guy at the station.

'Doc' would sit at home and watch everything (when he wasn't watching at work). If something happened he didn't like he would call the director on duty. Ever try to direct a live show trying to explain why something went wrong to someone on the telephone? I remember once I was three seconds late rolling the News Hour opening. He called. He explained to me that the news went on the air at 5:00:00! Not, 4:59:55, nor 5:00: 03, but 5:00:00! Did I understand? I said I did! I think over the five years I worked at KVOA/4 I got fired several times. But, I always managed to talk my way back into the job. Lowell Cable had a kind heart. Or, maybe I was good, good at selling myself... I can't remember.

At the same time I was a full-time student at the University of Arizona. I had decided the way to riches was to compliment my television production experience with a degree in business administration. How stupid kids can be! Working full-time, and taking what we called a 'full load,' left little time for sleep. Additionally, I'd been 'swept' into the local chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity. So, all of them suffered.

This wasn't something I'd even considered, the 'Greek' world of social clubs. I didn't know much about such, although my older sisters had been members of sororities. I just went along with our group from high school, a much sought-after bunch of athletes. It amazed me, as suddenly, I was in big demand. During 'rush' they treated us like we were 'royalty.' They picked up us and drove us to parties. They made sure we had dates. They took care of us in ways I never expected. Of course, all of this 'love' ended when we pledged. It all came to a dramatic halt the night of the welcoming dinner. 'Heaven,' became 'Hell Week' (initiation) in an explosion of food (thrown at us)!

We were made to live in the basement with a goat, a hemp rope around our torsos. We weren't allowed to sleep! This all designed to 'break us down' mentally, to build us back up as loyal 'frat boys!' The last evening we were given a map to some place in town where we were 'to discover something important!' It didn't work! They'd picked the wrong guys! We were all of a different set of mind! In fact, we went on to be the worst pledge class in the history of the fraternity. I personally set a record going 'inactive' within hours of being an 'active' (member). Being 'inactive,' at least for me, had many advantages. One was financial, as you paid less. The other was you weren't expected to participate in all the bullshit, like 'float decorating.' All I wanted to do was to hang around (occasionally), play bridge or volleyball after lunch, and chase girls at the parties.

Of course, my grades suffered for all of this. After five years of trying I was on the verge of graduating, but managed to flunk Statistics. It meant I'd have to repeat the course, delaying getting married, and entering the Army (was in R.O.T.C.). When shit hits the fan, the tough get inventive. I got inventive. I went to my professor and pleaded with him to change my grade, what it meant if he didn't. As fate would have it he was taken with my story and changed the 'F' to a 'D!' I graduated! The feeling...? Like getting out of jail!

The ceremony took place May 29th, 1963, in the football Stadium. In cap and gown,' I stood and flipped the tassel from one side of the 'mortarboard' to the other (can't remember from what to what side?). There were so many of us, we didn't get to file up on stage, receive our diploma and shake hands with the president. It was a matter of standing and flipping.

Within hours of 'flipping,' I was in my VW 'bug,' and on the way up to Bremerton, Washington, where my fiance lived with her parents (Jack and Dorothy). I had taken this trip several times before, some 1836 miles, via Reno, Nevada. I always had in mind to spend the night in Reno, basically half way. But, by the time I got to Reno, all wired on 'Nodox,' and coffee, 'hard' from the thought of her body, guess what? I kept going without stopping. Once, I almost killed myself, waking up just in time to swerve from an oncoming logging truck. This on the curvy two-lane highway coming down into Eugene (from Klamath Falls, Oregon). From Reno you went through Susanville, and then K-Falls (in the middle of the night for me).

Between your 3rd (Junior) and 4th (Senior) year all R.O.T.C. cadets had to attend 'Summer Camp' (military basic training). Where, was determined by the location of your school. All Arizona cadets (Sixth Army Area) ended up at Fort Lewis, Washington, in the shadow of Mt. Ranier.

There at Fort Lewis, I befriended a cadet named Dave Crossland who slept across from me in the platoon barracks (Where is Dave now?). His parents happened to own a summer cabin on Hood Canal with a view of the Olympic Mountains. Every Friday evening we would load up with cases of Olympia beer and head out for the cabin. There were always girls around Dave. One weekend I met Cathy Rogers, one in the bunch of Dave's girlfriend. We fell 'into a lovely lust!' (in those days intercourse was taboo until marriage). But, as I remember we did everything else!

Thereafter, I would drive up to Bremerton every chance I had (mostly summer vacations). One Christmas, however, she came down to Tucson to be with me during the holidays. I had planned to ask her to marry me! She said 'yes.' I'll never forget the feeling I had immediately after she said 'yes!' I should have felt wonderful, but this wasn't a movie. I suddenly felt 'trapped!' Unhappy! It wasn't until much later that I realized what I'd done! What I needed at the time were parents, not a wife! Both of mine had just died, my father from too much alcohol, and my mother from cancer. What I was looking for was a new family. I got that and a wife. But, the marriage didn't last!

'Stay tuned' for more exciting 'episodes' of 'Saturn Twice!'

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

030209


On Chinese women...

I position myself where I can see her bare legs. She crosses them - protecting that place! If Chinese women wear skirts, they usually wear stockings. These were 'rare' legs!

It's not that I'm horny, I'm too old! I just appreciate the young female body. If you're a hetero. male, it never stops, I don't think, this curiosity, It's something revealed, appreciated, maybe my idea of beauty (at least in human form). Even with me, someone who has taken vows of chastity.

It's in the 'not having,' that is so poignant! But, a fantasy of what? It isn't of sexual intercourse. It's just appreciation of an idea, maybe unconscious and inexplicable. Ultimately it's a part of 'Nature's Joke,' (on us). This starting what many times leads to the creation of another human being.

When she got up and moved around I saw she was wearing shorts (not a skirt), but that too unusual. Chinese women are exceptionally chaste compared to their western counterparts. The way they dress now all coming from the West via Eastern cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong).

Turned out she had a complexion problem. Women, all women no matter what culture they're from, know how to compensate.

Had I come to China twenty years ago, I probably would have married a Chinese woman. Why? Their faces. The face, the countenance, or mien. It intrigues me. It's the most prevalent thing. You marry a face, not legs, or breasts, or whatever. You are hypnotized (at least me) by a face. I've included a picture with this text, a face that I could stare at for...

There's something about their faces and their long black hair...

Chinese women... Far superior to Chinese men!

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020209

BOTH SIDES HAVING 'ONE!' (Dedicated to Joni Mitchell)

It's life's illusions
From both sides,
I recall,
Yin and Yang,
Not the gang!

'Going back and forth
Until we were lost
in each other,
Not knowing
Which was which,
But, not really caring!'

Both sides having 'one!'

BECAUSE OF OUR THIRST!

History is like a bread-crumb's trail,
To find your way back,
Only to discover they've been
Eaten by birds.

No future,
No past!
No present,
No past
Not last,
Until first,
Because of our thirst!

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

010209

Too?

What a bright and cheerful day (010209),
The wind cooling the sun!
Young Naxi girls run, laughing,
Chinese tourists take my picture,
So different am I.
Why?

The warmth slides through the blue,
Wouldn't you
Love your life
If you lived in
Li Jiang, China,
Too?

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