I’ve spent the last 40 years as an editor/writer in one form or another, first as assistant editor at the Penn Gazette, the University of Pennsylvania alumni mag, where we received the Sibley award as the best alum mag in the country two years out of three.
Next I want to the Welcomat, an alternative weekly in Philadelphia, later called the Philadelphia Weekly, now simply PW, thus going linguisticly from bad to terse. At the Welco I ran the arts section for about 11 years, then served as editor in chief for a year.
Next, I freelanced, mostly around Philadelphia, and started Sam Johnson’s Electronic Revenge, one of the first little magazines on the Web (1995), grinding out html by hand, enjoying it quite a lot and losing a fair dollop of money.
After that, back to the alternative weekly scene (what the hell does that really mean, eh?) as managing editor of The Forum, published and edited by Dan Rottenberg, under whom I’d served at the Welco.
Soon hooked up with SAP software, editing their North American customer magazine until it was discontinued (partly on my advice–neat looking but fairly worthless), then doing PR dogsbody editing for them. Later still, cleaned up Brit translations of German software articles.
Before, beyond and in-between, I’ve written fiction. I somewhat finished novels in 1980 and again around 1997 and didn’t finish a few others in between. Gifts of a Dead Man was a newer one, and the first (so far, only) one published. At the Welco and the Forum, I snuck 60 or so short stories into my weekly column, without labeling them as such, which thoroughly confused our readers (heh heh). (You can read one or more of them, depending on my mood, by going to the stories tab here or above.
The novel from 1980, No Bike, I found, still wrapped in cellophane, in a pile of old paper in my workshop and was going to use it to start the winter woodstove. Then I read it and thought, to my amazement, “Damn, this is good.” So I’m working to put out for sale and for reading online. Scares me.
Ditto for the far more ambitous Evolution Unfolding in a Small Town in Western Pennsylvania (“How’s that for a title, Ma?”). This is probably unlike anything you’ve read or would be likely to read, so I doubt I’ll even bother sending it out, just aim online. It’s long, has no chapters, and details life in a no-way typical American town while also tying in to human evolution. It features a scientist, pigmies, trolls, Native Americans, cultists, Chinese-Americans, Poles, anthropologists, a mad CIA operative, militant Amish, a retired mafia don, anti-nuke protestors, ghosts, black revolutionaries, the U.S. Army, an artist who paints only bridges, anthropomorphic possums and raccoons – and the Missing Link.
More recent efforts include my attempt at a police-procedural screenplay, another at an historical novel based on a 1900 murder in Philadelphia and currently, the tale of a brilliant (math genius) young woman possessed of possibly destructive abilities. The most important and rewarding: collaboration on a screenplay, based loosely on a fairy tale, with my daughter Caitlin. Cait’s taught me not only that collaboration is possible, but can be hugely rewarding.
Locally, in the hemlocky woods of upper Pennsylvania, I’ve written (or co-written) about a dozen plays for the Sullivan County Council on the Arts. Eight have been a cycle based on local history for the Arts Council’s Roving Historical Theater, though we tucked in a commedia dell’arte and, in the last two years, some modern vaudeville nonsense.
And not a damn bit of this has ever made me enough money to live on.