About Me

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Paso Robles, California, United States
Novelist, poet, songwriter, and journalist, I bring over four decades of experience to the written page. I just finished Mental Hygiene, a coming of age novel set in Fort Jackson, SC circa 1967-68.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011



"There must be some way out of here,
Said the joker to the thief..."

All Along the Watchtower
Bob Dylan 1968

Chapter One

The tailpipes of Michael Murphy’s ’65 red Mustang convertible played a backbeat to the rock and roll on the car radio as he waited at the main gate. It was a hot, sticky South Carolina March day, and he was stuck in yet another line. The long indoctrination in boot camp, and his ability to see the futility of pushing back, kept him from honking his horn.

He was owned, a draftee, an ill-trained Psychological Social Work Technician, undergraduate English major with just enough military training to be incompetent. As a Southern California upper middle class, handsome white boy with a particular gift of manipulating circumstances, Murphy held a clear idea of how lucky he was to be stationed in the land of magnolias and rednecks.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Into the New - Senior Gypsies

So we quit something.  Not sure what, because it's so large.  No house, no worldly goods, sans a 10X15 storage space, untethered from friends and family.  We gave up to our wanderlust.  Sold it all or gave it away or stored the rest.  (see song "LA Freeway" by Guy Clark).  We are not young and that suddenly makes no difference.  Because we could, we were off to live in the world.  If you stay in touch, you can go along.

In May we hit the road, going through Las Vegas (very surrealistic), Flagstaff (transient), Monument Valley (that's why the Native Americans hate us), Taos (oh, come on), and after stops to visit with friends, to Austin (doesn't deserve to be in Texas).  We lit out for the border, Loredo (my God!) and like a couple of fugitives, slipped across the Columbia Bridge like common wisdsom escaped from the principal's office.

Ten hours later we were singing along to ranchero music and entering the city limits of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, city of re-invented Americans, runaways, artists, writers, and the real or wanabe adrift.  Since arriving in July, I've witnessed the execution of a chicken, been matador to a very young bull (no horns), learned a lot about Sterling Dickinson (Google him, it's worth it), and reaffirmed the belief that the only person I could be doing this with is my wife Lynne (see www.homefreeadventures.blogspot.com).

Yesterday a friend asked us how we felt.  Both of us answered simultaneously, "Light."  That may make no sense to some of you..... but the ones that understand know just how happy we are.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mental Hygiene: Through the Looking Glass

When I began Mental Hygiene,  my recently completed novel about Vietnam era duty in a Mental Hygiene Clinic at Fort Jackson, SC, I had no idea the direct relevance it would have to the recent flood of articles about mental health in today's military.  

The latest piece, in New York Magazine, The Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Effexor, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, Elavil, Trazodone War, by Jennifer Senior, brought back all the feelings of guilt and shame from my real-life experience as an Army Psych Tech in 1967-68.  I have come to realize all too clearly that what I had created in Mental Hygiene, was a preamble to an indictment of mental health treatment in today's military culture.  I am convinced that voluntary cannon fodder is in many ways preferable, only because it does not dissent.

In Mental Hygiene the novel, darkly comedic scenes help to relieve the theme of mental health gone wrong.  It's every man for himself in a world where there are only two types of draftees; those who are waiting to go to Vietnam and those who are already there.  The stakes are high and the draft requirements low as the Nation gears up to half a million troops in an unpopular war.  No one escapes unscathed, even in the fictional Mental Hygiene.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Three Incidents, One State

Three things happened in Arizona in the past month to make me pause and reflect.  The first would have been hard to miss unless one were hidden away in a cave.  The other two lasted one news cycle.  They all had to do with killing people.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Deploying a Suicide

On November 15, 2010, Staff Sergeant David Senft died at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan.  The Army's official cause of death was "injuries sustained in a non-combat incident".  Despite the fact that the Army's Criminal Investigative Division has reported to Senft's father that his son was found in an SUV with a gun in his hand and a hole in his head, and a cell phone on the car seat with a text message saying, "I don't know what to say, I'm sorry", the Army has refused to call Senft's death a suicide.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meteorolgy and Metaphysics - a poem

meteorology and metaphysics

it was partly cloudy for the crucifixion;
some say it stormed later,
but who would do that to their kid
on a holiday/

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art of Never Leaving Well Enough Alone

OK, so the book is edited, queries out to agents, web site up, media kit finished, Facebook page filled up with new friends, and Scribd scribed.  Surely, that's enough already!  Nope, not for the terrier Timothy.

Being one who has an exceedingly rich inner life, there is always something unsaid or undone, with a multitude of twists and endings.  I always need a new toy,  something to add to the constant mix.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Memory Accompaniment

"How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?"

     Like a Rolling Stone
     Bob Dylan

I was on the beach in Santa Monica.  Bikini babes, sun, and surf, were my world.  And then I heard "Like a Rolling Stone" on somebody's transistor radio.  I changed, and the memory of that song embedded itself in my brain.  Every time I heard it repeated, I would always remember exactly where I was and how I felt at that moment.