My family goes back to the Spanish settlers of the 18th Century. In high school I told a foreigner I identified first and foremost with being a Californian. Being an American was secondary. I loved both, but my romance with California became like the ache that comes from your girl sleeping around. California’s heading off to the honkytonks one more time is why I lit out.
A friend just returned from a curling contest in Creston, British Columbia, and informed me that I live only two hours from the Canadian border. News to me. Ditto for curling contestants being allowed to drink during play, which makes the game pretty much like bowling. That’s the kind of small stuff I don’t care about because my knowledge goes to The Deep Things.
Yesterday Congress passed a health care reform bill that none of its members read. It doesn’t apply to legislators and their families. It required bribing representatives who seemed to waver by exempting constituents and special interests. It is not funded, but it does pass on a trillion-plus debt load to the various states when the country is the midst of recession. It will not affect how insurance companies do business, but it might force increase political campaign contributions to congressional advocates of change we can believe in.
Carl Djerassi fled with his mother from Nazi persecution in Austria and flourished in the United States as a chemist and a writer, an entrepreneur and a teacher. In early 1950s he was one of three scientists whose work on synthetic progestagen laid the foundation for the first oral contraceptive pill, which the Federal Drug Administration approved for use in in 1960. Forty-nine years later (2009), the 85-year-old professor emeritus from Stanford University wrote of his achievement for the Austrian newspaper, Der Standard.
When jeffandrus.com debuted on the world wide web in 2000, the first piece I posted was a short story written fourteen years earlier, Return of the Hun. I palmed it off on poliitcalmavens in May of 2007. The story is about a drunk out-of-work screenwriter who is a post-modern resurrection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Pat Hobby character, another drunk, out-of-work screenwriter but in a classier time. A number of people have questioned my sleazy homage to Fitzgerald, wanting to know about the writer behind the character, as well they should. There are actually two writers—The Real Me and Toxic Jeff. We’re a team. And one of us would like to clear up some misconceptions.
In 1999 Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell attacked the Vatican’s role in World War II, especially the inaction of Pope Pius XII. Within eighteen months of the hardcover publication of Hitler’s Pope Papal Sin by Garry Wills, Under His VeryWindowsby Susan Zuccotti and Constantine’s Sword by James Caroll entered the fray to discredit Pius XII.
Poor George Bush. Betrayal doesn’t count unless it comes from someone you believe is your friend.No doubt, the President is isolated, as is claimed in the tell-all of his former Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Not many since Lincoln have chosen rivals as advisers.
For three decades Bob Christiansen and Rick Rosenberg produced award-winning television. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, Red Earth White Earth and Gore Vidal’s Lincoln tip an iceberg of prestigious credits.
I didn’t recognize the sender’s name, didn’t see mine in the Send To list, and had no idea who the email’s other recipients were, so presumed my copy was like crossed wires. You know, when you pick up the phone and before you can dial, you hear two strangers plotting a murder, but you can’t get either one to, “Hang up! I’m trying to order pizza!” The subject line, “Help!” stoked my curiosity to read more, and usually I’m a sucker for a woman, which was what writer was if the sign off, “Wish I had stayed with acting, xoxo, Jasmine,” meant anything.
Sure, as a pro I was curious about how Tawny Golightly might act in one of my screenplays, but when she actually agreed to co-star in Return Of The Hun, I fantasized like your average Joe with three bucks left over from the unemployment check and no bar nearby, just the Quick Sale bin at the local video store and Ms. Golightly saying, “Hiya, Sailor,” from the best looking box cover.
Robert Ito is a Canadian-born former ballet dancer who became an actor in the 1960s. Not just any old actor but the first to play a ninja on American television. In a 1973 Kung Fu episode called “The Assassin,” Ito’s character is a crippled blacksmith who doubles as a Japanese master in the art of suddenly becoming very limber, dressing in black, throwing shurikins around in a menacing manner, disappearing in a puff of smoke and leaving David Carradine to take the blame.
In 1997 the organizers of a conference called Selling To Hollywood invited me to be on that year’s writing panel, The Road To Success. To pick up the honorarium, it was expected that I actually appear at hotel in the Valley where conferees from all over the country had paid for a weekend of hearing from A List producers, directors, agents, lawyers and the likes of me. The occasion called for clean underwear.
In the early seventies there was a large, growing charismatic ministry in Orange County headquartered near Knott’s Berry Farm. A friend of mine worked for the ministry in public relations, and a friend of his, a secretary, came to him fearfully one day to relate a telephone conversation she accidentally picked up on her extension. It was between the head pastor and a man on the East Coast. They were talking about the ministry and how it might better launder money for the Mafia.