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Warrior Final Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like to be famous? In what way?

I was Almost Famous once (Here I am in big blue sunglasses like

KATE HUDSON. NOT THE SAME AT ALL.)

I was almost famous when I was the Executive Producer of the Don Imus program

on MSNBC. Everyone at MSNBC hated me from the moment I walked in because they

all hated Imus—even though he was higher rated than any other show. All the other

producers thought they were born to uphold the Great Tradition of News and

completely ignored the fact that generally, more people got their news from a talker

like Imus than from the stiff anchors on morning news. It was long ago, but the

result was that I was left completely alone to fool around with three hours of live TV

every weekday morning.

One of the things I realized was that I needed to steal audience from the people who

otherwise would listen to the show on the radio. The easiest way to do that was to

1) make sure “MSNBC” was mentioned all the time by Imus and his staff and , 2)

provoke as many incidents as possible that the audience wanted to see.

THE SHOW WAS DONE WITH SIX REMOTE CONTROLLED CAMERAS IN IMUS’ STUDIO-30 MILES AWAY IN

QUEENS-AND SO I PUT ONE IN MY CONTROL ROOM IN SECAUCUS. (REMIND ME TO TELL YOU HOW

MUCH I HATE NEW JERSEY IN GENERAL AND SECAUCUS IN PARTICULAR SOMEDAY.) THE

MANAGEMENT QUITE SENSIBLY WERE SO FRIGHTENED OF WHAT I MIGHT SAY THAT THEY TOLD THE

ENGINEERS TO NEVER GIVE ME A MICROPHONE—THAT DIDN’T LAST.

I MADE IT A POINT TO ALWAYS WEAR A SUIT AND SUSPENDERS INTO WORK AND MADE SURE TO LOOK

AS STUFFY AND DISAPPROVING AS POSSIBLE. AS A RESULT, IMUS BEGAN TO TALK ABOUT ME AS “THAT

FAT BASTARD IN NEW JERSEY” AND COMPLAIN THAT I WAS EDITING OUT ALL THE FUNNY PARTS OF

THE SHOW. I WOULD STAND UP AND WAVE MY HANDS AND SHOUT (SILENTLY) AND PLAY THE ROLE OF

A STUFFED SHIRT. THREE TIMES, IMUS HAD THE CAMERAS IN QUEENS COVERED OR DISCONNECTED

(ONCE BECAUSE WE CAUGHT HIM IN THE ACT OF EATING FRIED CHICKEN AGAINST THE STRICT

ORDERS OF HIS WIFE.)

NATURALLY, MY RATINGS WOULD INSTANTLY RISE WHENEVER SOMETHING LIKE THAT WOULD

HAPPEN SO I KEPT COMING UP WITH NEW THINGS—VIDEOS OF HIS BUDDIES, CLIPS OF GREAT

MOMENTS, GUESTS REPORTERS IN THE STUDIO, CONTESTS FOR FANS TO VISIT THE CONTROL ROOM,

ETC.

IT ALL WORKED QUITE WELL.

THEN END RESULT WAS THAT PEOPLE WOULD (VERY OCCASIONALLY) RECOGNIZE ME IN A

RESTAURANT OR ON THE STREET AND VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE WOULD BE NICE TO ME IN AN

ATTEMPT EITHER TO GET IMUS TO MENTION THEM OR GET HIM TO STOP MENTIONING THEM. I GOT

TO GO TO ALL THE BIG NBC PARTIES, RUB SHOULDERS WITH EXECUTIVES AND VICE-PRESIDENTS, AND

GENERALLY HAVE A PRETTY GOOD TIME. IT WASN’T REALLY ALL THAT MUCH AND, WHEN I LEFT

AFTER THREE YEARS, I WAS FORGOTTEN INSTANTLY, BUT IT WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED. IT WAS LIKE

BEING A OFFICEWORKER AND THEN GETTING A JOB AS A MOTORCYCLE COURIER—IT WAS NICE TO BE

COOL AND NOTICED AND ENVIED.

SIGH.

IT DOESN’T LAST LONG.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what

would it be?

Wow, this is easy. I wouldn’t have been raised by a secret alcoholic and an enabler

who couldn’t have made my childhood more miserable if they’d tried. Someone just

asked me the other day if I ever had a dream of a family and children and all. I said,

“No. My only dream was to go to college and then never stay at my parents’ home

again.”

I have to say, they made that pretty easy by cutting me off from all money when I

was 19.

It did give me something to talk about with psychiatrists for years and years but in

the wisdom of Old Age, I have to say that it’s all far more likely that my depression

and anxiety is due to the genetic soup that my depressed and anxious parents

handed down to me rather than the horrible childhood that was the result of

alcohol.

At the time, alcohol was one of the few drugs that would have any affect on

depression. Unfortunately, it had some severe side effects—like having your

children hate you. The new drugs are far more effective with less side effects. I

recommend them whole-heartedly.

(remember, “being depressed” is when you get an “F” on your paper or your book

doesn’t sell and you, quite reasonably feel bad for a while. “Depression” is when you

wake up feeling like you’ve just murdered your best friend EVERY DAMN DAY and

there’s just no reason for it. Very different thing.)

Is there something that you’ve been dreaming of doing for a long time?

Racing cars.

When I was young and crazy (and had more spending money) I took a racing course

from the Skip Barber School. For three days, I spun out, smoked tires, and slowly

learned how to get faster and faster. One of the teachers pulled me aside and told me

that I had some real talent.

Sadly, getting married and having children tends to get in the way of things like that.

I worked at the race track for a few more years—I used to watch Paul Newman race

a Datsun 240x, he was so great!—but I kept doing silly things like buying houses or

paying school tuitions. Now, I’m not at all sure that I still have the reflexes or that

my heart won’t simply explode on a sharp turn.

I would, however, recommend it to anyone anywhere. Racing distills your entire

world down to inches and miles per hour and brings you a crystal clarity you just

can’t get anywhere else. Plus it’s more fun than….well, more fun than anything.

What projects are you working on now?

Right now, I’m editing the memories of the best cameraman to work for ABC News

during the Vietnam War—Tony Hirashiki. I only got to work with him once-in Beirut

where he kept waving me to get in the camera as I ran around a sniper-filled area of

the city. https://youtu.be/2SA-pFf72nY — but everyone would talk about him as this

master of his craft. Now, I’m learning exactly how good he was.

Imagine quitting your job at 28 and flying to a war zone where you might get a freelance

position and then proving your ability to not only keep filming while bullets are going

around you and explosions are showering you with dirt, but make the shots beautiful and

dramatic and show the bravery and humanity of the soldiers you were with?

Now imagine doing it for the next 40 years with good humor, good grace, and

unbelievable skills.

Well, that’s Yasutsune “Tony” Hirashiki. He’s already a brilliant writer who was a star

in Japan when the books were released there (Newsweek called him the 15th Most Liked

Japanese in the World) and all I’m doing is smoothing out his dictionary-translated

Jinglish into the words it deserves. With any luck, I’ll get the Proposal and the book done

in the next couple of months and see if a publisher will pick it up.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

Once I get Tony done, my plan is to write “Taxi Dancer,” which is a private eye novel

set in 1930’s Manila. It comes out of the research I did for “Rescue in the

Philippines” (www.rescueinthephilippines.com) a documentary about how 1300

Jews were saved by being given visas to the Islands back before the Holocaust. As it

turned out, there was a private eye involved named Angel Zervoulakos and I got to

meet his daughter and granddaughter (wonderful people) and they gave me

permission to use him as a base for my character (Angel Pearl)

Before I had to turn into a publisher on January 1st, I’d gotten the first few chapters

written and blocked out the rest of the book. It involves the American troops that

were stationed in Siberia in 1918, the 3 Billion dollars worth of gold that was

captured from the Bolsheviks, the Czechoslovakian Legion that controlled the Trans-

siberian railroad, the battles between communist subversives in the Philippines and,

well, I’ll find out when I get it written.

After that, I’ll start on the third Freelancer novel, “Gambler,” which has Rick Putnam

in New York in 1974 when it was a crime-ridden, dirty, and far more interesting city

and probably has to do with the CIA moving their heroin business back from

Southeast Asia after the war was over.

Stay Tuned

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