I’ve been a freelancer, reporter, editor, teacher and public information officer in small, medium and big cities, including Los Angeles, where I edited for the legendary City News Service, a regional wire service. I’ve also authored three books and ghostwrote a fourth for an Illinois governor who did not go to prison.
I was born and raised in the small southern Illinois college town of Carbondale. After graduating from high school in 1969, I briefly attended UCLA before dropping out to protest the war in Vietnam, which in my case meant hitchhiking cross-country and smoking pot. Eventually I limped home and my parents agreed to pay for my education at Southern Illinois University.
It was during the heady post-Watergate days of 1975, and as a 25-year-old college student, I had a promising start in journalism, founding a campus magazine, nonSequitur, and becoming student editor of the Daily Egyptian campus newspaper. I was even selected outstanding grad by the school’s journalism fraternity, to which I did not belong.
My first job out of college was with the Illinois Times, an alternative weekly in Springfield, the state capital. Then I got hired by my hometown daily newspaper, the Southern Illinoisan, first as a feature writer and later as a county beat reporter.
While working at the SI and living in Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome home, I wrote and self-published “Carbondale After Dark,” an illustrated anthology of history, essays and short stories about my hometown in the 1960s and ’70s.
I became the southern Illinois special correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and used my Kaypro computer to create a community gadfly newsletter called the Carbondale Spectator, a monthly four-pager in which I took potshots at local shakers and movers.
Next, I went to grad school at Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois Springfield), where I was accepted into its Public Affairs Reporting program and interned as a statehouse reporter for the Springfield State Journal-Register.
After graduation, I became a public information officer for the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, which funded community services for the disabled. I also began teaching English composition at a community college, and in 1990, I was asked to ghostwrite “Illinois State of the State,” a coffee-table book summarizing then-Gov. James R. Thompson’s 14-year administration, which he presented to the General Assembly in lieu of his final State of the State speech.
After taking a vacation to California in 1995 that included sneaking into the O.J. Simpson trial, in my 40s I moved to Los Angeles, the city of second chances. A distant relation got me a temporary job at the American Film Institute, and I began writing a column about the Internet and pop culture for a weekly called Entertainment Today.
Next, I got a job teaching journalism and faculty advising the student newspaper at a college in South-Central Los Angeles, which became the subject of my second book, “Blackspanic College.” And I became a copy editor at City News Service, where I worked for 15 years.
I left City News in 2011 and moved to South Florida, where I live a quiet life of leisure and frugality, writing e-books and freelancing. My latest e-book, “Misadventures in Journalism,” is a gonzo anthology of stories I’ve covered over the past 40 years, from the 1976 GOP Convention to the O.J. Simpson trial of the century to Paris Hilton in the hoosegow.
I continue to be a news junkie, with a special interest in race relations, conflict zones, especially the Middle East, and pop culture.