Currently a college writing consultant, I’ve also been a journalist, teacher and public information officer in small, medium and big cities. 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.
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.
In my 40s I moved to Los Angeles, where I worked at the American Film Institute and began writing columns 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 Los Angeles Southwest College in what was then called South-Central L.A., which became the subject of my second book, Blackspanic College.
Then I became an editor at City News Service in Los Angeles, where I worked for 15 years. My latest e-book, Misadventures in Journalism, is a gonzo anthology of stories I’ve covered over the past 40 years.
In 2011, I moved to South Florida and became a writing consultant at Florida Atlantic University. I continue to be a news junkie, with a special interest in race relations, conflict zones, and pop culture.