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Friday, February 15, 2013


Goldie On Rowan & Martin
Rowan: Do you worry about the high cost of rents, Goldie?
Goldie: No. I live in a downstairs apartment.

In other words, while the outside world struggled with wars, assassinations, protests and riots, life in Pepperland chugged on like a series of pop outs on the Rowan & Martin joke wall.

The good news: the absence of the Blue Meanie meant that Mr. Cohen could proceed with his plans to improve the property. Roger and I were kept busy fixing up the apartments as, one by one, the old tenants moved on to make room for a new, better-paying breed of clientele.

Most of the new tenants were college students, or kids starting out in the arts, or single mothers with newly draft-exempt boyfriends. A few waiters and waitresses from the restaurants opening in the new Marina across the street also made the place home.

The not so pleasant news: the upstairs and downstairs junkies remained longer than I thought would be possible, but they managed to hang on even though I got Mr. Cohen to jump the rent in an attempt to drive them out. Roger said the upstairs junkie was dealing weed to the other tenants and the more upscale we became, the easier it’d be for him to afford the rent. The downstairs junkie, a red freak, was a trust-fund baby and could stay as long as the bank kept sending me checks. So there was no immediate relief there.

Out of principal, Mr. Cohen left the Social Security widows’ rent alone, but one of the old dears left anyway. The loud music and boisterous young people frightened her. Mrs. Williams, on the other hand, took great delight in the new, improved Pepperland. The kids all adopted her and treated her like the Queen Mother, doing little errands for her, and giving her gifts of food and items bought at the thrift shops everybody frequented in those days.

Even the Right Wing Bikers who lived in the two-story garage/shack next door seemed to calm down for a time. They still got stoned every night, of course. And they still raised the flag every morning while playing taps on their stereo at full blast, ending with a shotgun salute.

However, they suddenly appeared to gain a sense of great purpose. They bathed, trimmed their beards, cleaned their boots and donned new thrift store jeans. And that was just the girls. No, seriously, the bikers seemed to have turned over a new oil pan and a period of immense activity ensued.

The activity centered on Alabama Governor George Wallace and his breakaway American Independence Party (AIP). Spurned by the Democrats, the racist governor formed a radical right wing third party to run against Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon for the presidency. Unfortunately, there were plenty of fellow racists in America in 1968 and his candidacy was so strong that for a time Wallace was a real threat to both major parties. Fierce proponents of the Vietnam War, which in June had become the longest war in U.S. history, also pumped up Wallace’s cause.

Well, the Right Wing Bikers were ecstatic over this. First, they spread out across Venice, cajoling and sometimes downright threatening people to sign petitions aimed at putting Wallace and the AIP party on the California ballot. Then, when that momentous feat had been achieved, they became a veritable army of propagandists, thundering up and down the streets on their big choppers, dispensing pamphlets praising their Southern hero and his running mate, Gen. Curtis LeMay of WWII fame and late ‘60’s shame.

Finally, on the fateful day, the bikers redoubled their energies to get out the vote. Checking the lists at the polls to see which AIP registrants had failed to vote, then roaring off to their homes to roust them out. Those voters without wheels were strong-armed into climbing on the backs of the Harleys and heading off to cast their ballots. For 24 hours it was a common sight to see blue-haired little old ladies in proverbial tennis shoes perched behind hairy bikers, their skinny backs propped against the sissy bars, rumbling down the streets of Venice.

As it happened, when the vote was tallied, the highest vote (per capita) cast for Wallace in the state of California was in Venice. Due, no doubt, to the efforts of the Right Wing Bikers who nursed their disappointment over their candidate’s loss to Richard Nixon by throwing a drunken wake that lasted for more than a month.

In case you might get the wrong idea about Venice, I should jump in here to point out that the community also had the highest per capita vote in the state for the anti-war Peace And Freedom Party, whose candidate was the convicted felon and Black Panther co-founder Eldridge Cleaver, whose book, “Soul On Ice,” was all the rage.

Anyway, the bikers’ patriotic activities and subsequent dope and booze binge kept them out of Pepperland until well into 1969.

Then in June of that year, Carol and I were blessed with the birth of our first child, whom we named Jason, not Timothy. We’d lost two babies before – both born prematurely – and Jason was our golden child.

We put his crib in Charlie’s room and Tasha, who acted almost more excited than we were, took up her doggy post at that door, guarding Jason from any and all possible intruders.

So for us, life was going well, thank you. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was bringing in enough from the job and the apartments to finally afford a few little luxuries.

Things were also going fairly well in Pepperland, except for the Marines’ old apartment. A stream of tenants moved in and out, most of them causing more than a little trouble. It was if the apartment had been permanently cursed by the Blue Meanie.

Then matters appeared to take a turn for the better when a couple of Japanese American students moved in. They were the perfect tenants. Their parents came and inspected the unit first – Roger did a magnificent job of fixing up the place, including refinishing the hard wood floors until they gleamed. The boys were high school honor students and freshmen at UCLA. Both were science and math majors, very serious, studying all the time.

They’d been best friends their whole lives and went in together to buy a new car – it was Honda’s first attempt at the American market, I believe. The car was advertised with billboards showing the Honda with the numbers 15-15-15 beneath it. Meaning, it cost $1,500 to buy, you only needed $150 down, and it got 150 miles to the gallon. The car was basically one of their motorcycle engines with a two-seater chassis popped over it.

The guys moved their stuff in and proceeded to study their butts off. All they ever did was study and go to school. They never had a party, never had girls over, never played music. I mean, those kids were determined to succeed.

Now, do you remember that American flag the two Marines had hung in the kitchen window as a curtain? Sure you do. Here’s what happened:

About ten o’clock one night Tasha came clacking down the stairs, ears up, eyes worried and a growl rumbling in her throat. She sniffed at the door. Checked out the front window, then rushed into the kitchen to inspect the door and windows there. She whined, then bolted upstairs, to make sure little Jason was safe. Then down she came again to repeat the whole routine.

It took us a minute to realize something was up. Carol was on the phone with someone and my brother, Charlie, was wrapping up his homework in the kitchen. I was listening to a new record by Tom Rush, a musician I’d recently met at the old Troubadour club, and I planned to dor a review for my newspaper's entertainment section.

Tasha rushed the front door, but before she could roar out a warning, I heard Roger speaking very softly, but plainly - “It’s me, Tasha. Don’t bark. It’s me.”

Tasha didn’t bark, but she did charge over to let me know it was friend not foe, beseeching entrance. I went to the door, got a grip Tasha’s collar in case somebody else was out there with Roger, and cracked it open.

Roger slithered through the narrow gap, then quickly shut the door behind him. He absently scratched Tasha’s ears to thank her for being a good girl.

“It’s the fuckin’ pigs,” Roger explained. “They’re all over the place.”

“What the hell?” was my reaction. Then, hopefully, “They’re hitting the junkies, right?”

“Didn’t hit anybody yet,” Rog said. “But, fuck me, they’ve got squad cars all up and down the alley and all along the street. Gotta be fifteen, twenty cars. Looks like a piggy parking lot out there. But there’s no headlights. They’re just sitting in their cars eating doughnuts and shit. Couple of pig sergeants walking around gruntin’ at each other. Looks like they’re getting’ ready for something big.”

“Damn,” I said, my stomach knotting up. “They’re going to raid all of us.”

By all of us, I was mainly concerned about yours truly, a normally semi law-abiding citizen, who had good reason to be paranoid. For at that precise moment in time I happened to be holding three felony kilos (a little less than seven pounds) of Korean marijuana in the hall closet.

When I’d scored the stuff I’d thought I was being exceedingly clever. I mean marijuana laws were so ridiculous they ought to be flouted, right? The laws, after all, were the work of elderly, bourgeois white men who were killing all my friends in the jungles of Vietnam. Surely you see the logic for buying all that dope as a heart-felt protest against those dastardly war mongers. Don’t you?

Anyway, I came by the dope as a music lover. A Navy buddy who was stationed off Korea offered to get me some really trick Japanese speakers from the PX. These were theater quality speakers, encased in waist-high polished mahogany boxes. They were mine for $75 bucks each - $150  in all - which was ten dollars less than what I made each week. When I said yes, my friend pointed out that it was routine for sailors and GIs in that arena to pack the speaker boxes with dope.

At the time Korean grass went for ten dollars a kilo. At home it was ten dollars a lid, meaning an ounce. Do the math: nearly seven pounds of dope – say a hundred ounces. That’s a thousand dollars worth of grass for thirty dollars. Never mind that thirty dollars was a lot of money then. It was whole lot less than a thousand. And here’s the thing: since the shipment would go through the military postal system, which didn’t concern itself with security in those days, it was a safe buy. I couldn’t get busted. Guaran-damn-teed. It was a commodity coup of the first order and a much better smoke than pork bellies.

Long story short: I borrowed a hundred and eighty dollars from the newspaper credit union to buy the speakers and the grass. I had no intention of selling the dope, but had visions of grand generosity to my friends for many months to come as we all listened to cool music through my incredible speakers, while we smoked said dope. Cool music – in the form of vinyl albums - being free, courtesy of the reviews I wrote for the paper in my spare time. Man, talk about the rewards of Rock ‘N Roll.

Well, the speakers were as advertised, creating smooth rich sounds that rivaled the best speakers in the best theaters in Westwood Village. But soon as all that dope arrived I became paranoid to the nth degree. I mean, seven pounds of marijuana is an awful lot for a civilian. And the rich smell filled the apartment the moment I broke it free from its ironed-shut triple-layered plastic bags.

And so on what soon became known to us as “The Night Of The Pigs,” as I stood there with Roger, I could smell that rich odor of marijuana wafting from deep within the hall closet where I had it stashed. Meanwhile, my friend and fellow paranoid was announcing that the entire Metro Squad of LAPD was practically outside my door.

Yeah, it had to be for whom the bells toll time, and in my fevered brain those damned bells were most certainly tolling for me.

Carol turned white. Charlie raced upstairs to hide under his bed. He disapproved of our marijuana shenanigans from the full height of his newly discovered fourteen-year-old morality. Tasha whined, knowing something was up.

I said, “Let’s not panic. Let’s think this through.”

Roger nodded. “Sure,” he said. “But if they bust in during the next couple of minutes I’m just here to complain about a leaky faucet, okay?”

I did not snort derision at his cowardice. For with seven pounds of dope there was no way anyone could plead that it was merely for “personal use.” Hell, guys got ten years in jail in those days for possession of a few ounces. In Texas, I could be sentenced to life in prison. Of course, the first thing that jumped to mind was that the Funk brothers, my super conservative bosses at the newspaper, would fire my young ass. But my second thought was that it wouldn’t matter because I’d be going away for so long that the best job I could hope for would be in the prison library.

The thing is, the dope wasn’t that good. I mean, what do you expect for ten dollars a kilo? To get high, you needed to take up pipe smoking - fat bowled corncobs, stuffed to the brim. The Korean dope was also good for tea making. I’d take a good handful and dump it into a pot of boiling water. Let it really, really boil. Then pour out a couple of cups. You had to be patient, the stone was slow, but it was mellow and lasted for a very long time. It was also good for cooking, but more on that later when we get to the chapter about our Venice Thanksgiving, on the third Thursday in November of 1969.

Never mind Thanksgiving –  hang on to me and Roger and Carol freaking out because the whole block was surrounded by cops and I was in possession of nearly seven pounds of marijuana. And as God is my witness, I never intended to sell the shit.

A light bulb went on. I said, “Marita.” She was the very respectable-looking middle-aged neighbor lady next door.

Immediately, I raced to the closet, grabbed the black trashbag full of dope and ran to the door. I cracked it a bit, looked this way and that, saw nothing, and slipped out. I rapped on Marita’s door. Immediately she opened it.

She said, “Allan, did you know there’s cops all over the place?”

I said, “Yeah. And I was hoping you could help me out.”

She looked at the trashbag, eyes widening as she recognized it for what it was. I’d been very generous with Marita who sometimes needed to come down from her beer and bennies highs with a nice soothing cup of Allan’s Korean grass tea.

Marita stuck out a hand. “Give it here,” she said. “They wouldn’t dare mess with an old hide like me.”

I handed her my stash and she quickly shut the door so no one would see the transaction. Did I tell you that Marita was a Valley Girl? Okay, she was going on sixty, and was perfectly proper. But in her day a Valley Girl wasn’t somebody who said, “for sure, for sure,” Or… “like he said, and I went…” She was old-school Valley Girl. When San Fernando Valley was ruled by the ho-daddy’s and their mommas. Guys driving muscle cars with glove-box record players. Cars that proclaimed that they were “My baby’s passion.” The ho-daddy gangs were all white, chop shop mean, with hair greased back like the Fonz on “Happy Days.” These gangs were many times the size of our modern villains – it was Baby Boom time, you know. So there were zillions of them. Every guy was packing, and every gal had a straight razor in her purse, or her hair, and every car on the street had engines so blown out they could run a jet into the ground.

So, although Marita talked sweet, she knew what was what. She also had money, thanks to her estranged machine-shop-owning husband whom she had wrapped around her little finger. No, no, never fear. Marita was not a woman that cops would be eager to confront.

Okay, so, now that the dope was out of there, I could think more clearly. The first thing that came to mind was - why the hell would the pigs be after me? Few people knew I had all that dope and the ones that did weren’t the sort to talk. I mean, was I, or was I not the manager of this whole block of apartments? Obviously, it was my duty to find out what in blazes the cops were after. Maybe, stave them off with my press passes if I could.

Press credentials were impressive in those days, before the cops and the “media” really started hating each other. Nobody called it the media back then, except Marshall McLuhan and his “the media is the message.” It was a word guys only used at journalism parties when they got really ripped and had lost track of what the fuck they were talking about.

My LAPD press pass was laminated and imposing as hell - looking a lot like a cop’s personal ID - but not so impressive as my LA County Sheriff’s credentials, which consisted of a by-god sheriff’s badge, except if you looked close it said “Press” instead of “Deputy Sheriff.” I also had California Highway Patrol credentials, which rivaled the LAPD in attention getting. Meaning, I could cash a personal check anywhere in California because when the clerks and their managers saw the cop emblem they assumed I was a policeman and figured I had to be good for the money - otherwise my cop bosses would come down hard on my lily white. So it was that in the days of my journalistic poverty I was able to float checks from here to there and back again and merchants were hesitant to call me on it – which allowed me more time than usual to get the necessary money into the banking system, which operated sans computers in those days.

Was I unethically using my journalistic position to my advantage? You bet. Was I ashamed of myself? Hell no. I had a chronically ill wife, an infant son and a teenage brother in high school that I was responsible for. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle: when my intentions to investigate the mysterious cop doings became clear, Carol declared a migraine and rushed upstairs to take a couple of (legally prescribed) codeine tablets and check out of life.

Roger said, “I’ll find you later,” and slipped out the door.

Into the night I went, loins girded, press passes at the ready. And a fabulous night it was. I don’t remember the time of year, but it was a balmy California eve and I could hear the waves breaking against the shore less than a quarter of a mile away. The breeze was blowing off the sea, and the stars stood out bright and clear. I breathed deeply and the air was full of salt and spume and the taste of beckoning horizons. Down Ocean Avenue, which intersected with the Venice canals, I could hear ducks quacking contentedly at the forage center set up by the Duckman of Venice – an elderly musician recently retired after long service with the Lawrence Welk band.

Cautious as I was, I didn’t spot the Black Maria hovering at the alley’s edge until it was almost too late. The lights were off, but the low rumble of the engine and static from the radio gave them away. I saw the two cops waiting inside a split second before they saw me and I wheeled around and set off in the opposite direction, stretching out my arms and running in place, as if I were engaged in a little late-night exercise.

I stopped running in place and jogged to Washington, hooked a right and continued down the street, passing the buildings that I managed. Only a few lights were on – either people were hitting the sack early or the word was out about the raid. But who were the pigs going to raid, and why? When I reached the corner – and the big lot where the right wing bikers squatted – I was brought up short by Roger, who slipped out of the dark and pulled me behind some shrubs.

“Shit, Allan,” he whispered, “you almost walked right into them.”

I peered out and saw how right he was. The side street was full of cop cars, as was the alley. I could see uniformed figures, some carrying shotguns, strolling around in that slow, distinctive cop shuffle.

“They after the bikers?” I asked, figuring that was the most logical target.

“Fuck no,” Roger said. “It’s the Nip kids they want.”

At first I didn’t get what he was talking about. Then it dawned on me. He meant the Japanese American kids who lived in the Marines old apartment.

I was astounded. “What the hell for?” I said, a little too loudly for Roger’s comfort.

He shushed me, then said, “Beats the shit out of me, Al. But I overheard them talking about some slant-eyed gook bastards and they’re the only guys of that persuasion around here.”

“They’re just babies,” I protested. “They never do anything.”

I took another look at all the squad cars, pulling back when a few more showed up, lights off, so as not to be noticed.

Roger giggled, but it was a nervous giggle, a giggle of awe. “Got enough pigs to raid Little Tokyo, for fuck’s sake,” he said.

My Irish temper finally got the better of me. Or, perhaps it was a reaction to having the bejesus scared out of me because of a guilty conscience. For whatever reason, I suddenly straightened up and shook off Roger’s warning hiss.

“This is bullshit,” I said. And I marched resolutely toward the phalanx of cop cars. Wisely, Roger did not follow.

I went for a group of four cars that were pulled in close together, with eight or ten cops standing about, smoking cigarettes and talking quietly.

Heads shot up as I approached.

“Where’s your sergeant?” I demanded, keeping my voice level, but firm. A trick I’d learned from an old newsman who’d advised, “You can’t help looking young, but for fuck sake, Cole, don’t squeak when you address authority.”

At same time I carefully showed my LAPD press pass to the bevy of flashlights that pounced on me. I didn’t need an old mentor to know that when confronting the LAPD, herky jerky motions will likely result in the worst sort of lead poisoning.

Somebody said, “Who the fuck are you?” Which is not how a member of law enforcement ought to address a representative of the fourth estate.

I made sure to underscore this point. “I’m Allan Cole from the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, officer,” I said, raising my credentials higher. “And I’d like to know what’s going on here so I can call my city editor back to fill her in.”

You’ll notice my teeny lie - the business about calling the city editor back. Okay, so I hadn’t called her in the first place. I’m speaking of Donna Walburn, the first woman city editor of that century-old daily. However, soon as I raised my credentials and announced myself, I was all-but-obligated to tell Donna about it. Maybe not this very minute – she was probably happily ensconced doing whatever city editors do at night, like pulling the wings off cub reporters, or getting drunk, or maybe both. The thing is, having used my credentials at a police war zone this size, at some point I had to inform my boss that I’d done so. She’d tell the intrepid cop shop reporter who would no doubt check it out to see if there was something worth informing our worthy subscribers about.

My announcement was greeted with a dead silence. Flashlight beams fell off me and started examining the ground for interesting bits of alley trash. Before I could say another word my presence was forgotten as big spotlights blasted down the alley. This was followed by indiscriminate shouting and blaring radio speakers and all the cops piled out of their cars and raced for the Japanese kids’ apartment.

More than a little intimidated, I followed. It was a bizarre scene. All the formerly dark cop cars now had their red bubble gum machine lights whirling and several more squad cars came shooting out of the night, sirens blaring, lights revolving, doors coming open and uniformed men bursting out with drawn guns.

Minutes later, several enormous cops led the two kids out in handcuffs. Both were in shorts, tee shirts and bare feet. They were scared to death, shaking as if it were dead of winter instead of a balmy night. Through the kitchen window I could see half-a-dozen officers searching their small apartment, dumping shit out of cupboards onto the floor, ripping the stuffing out of their couch and two single beds.

It was just dawning on me that something was strange about the kitchen window when a gray-haired cop, wearing captain’s bars emerged, holding an American flag up high. The police photographer snapped pictures of it, the motor drive flashes blinding everyone.

I don’t know what surprised me more. The flag, or the fact that Captain Emory, new commander of the Venice Division, had personally headed up this raid.

It took me a minute to regain my nerve. My mother had always told me that if you were afraid of something, confront it head on. So, after taking a deep breath, I pushed through the crowd, hoping like hell that my dearly departed mother’s advice would be on target.

One of the kids saw me and started crying. “Mr. Cole, Mr. Cole,” he sobbed, “thank God you’re here.”

Every head turned toward me, including Captain Emory’s. Before he could get a word out, I said, “Pardon, Captain Emory. Remember me? I’m Allan Cole, from the Evening Outlook?”

Although my presence surprised the shit out of him, he covered with a forced smile. I’d done a piece on him for the paper when he’d taken command which had found favor with his bosses. I’d written it so that if you were a Nazi, you’d admire the hell out of him, but if you were a liberal pinko freak like me and my friends in Venice, you would run like hell upon his approach.

“Good to see you on the job, Allan,” he said. “I know my boys will always get a fair shake with you. However, we’re in the middle of urgent police business and I have to ask you to call our public relations office in the morning for the full story.”

I shook my head. “I don’t want to be pushy, Captain, but I’ve already spoken to my editor about this. If I don’t call her back right away with some information about this display of police resources…” I waved my hand at all the cars and cops… “she’ll want a helluva lot more for tomorrow’s paper than a word from the PR office. ”

As he considered this, I went on, asking, “Why are you arresting these young men?

Emory, a bigot and an asshole of the first order, wasn’t totally stupid and acted quickly to cut off any criticism of his invasion of Normandy tactics.

He drew himself up to his full, considerable height and displayed the flag. His eyes were fiery, nostrils flaring as he declared, “We’re arresting them for defacing the American flag.”

The surrounding cops made noises of approval, while the two kids quailed, practically peeing their pants.

I kept my expression blank and looked closely at the flag. “How was it defaced?” I asked. “I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

This made Emory mad. He held the flag up, motioning to one of his men to shine a flashlight on it. “See those holes?” he said.

I peered, seeing nothing. Impatient, the captain growled at the flashlight man to move closer. Finally, I spotted two tiny holes in the top corners of the flag.

“But those are just from tacks,” I said, “to hang the flag in the window.”

“Bullshit, that’s defacement,” Emory said. “And desecration of the flag, as well. Disrespecting the holy symbol of our nation by using it as a curtain.”

One of the cops standing watch over the kids, smacked the older of the two across the shin with his club. The kid cried out, “Jesus, that hurt.”

“Fucking Nips,” the cop said. “First Pearl Harbor, now this.”

“I happen to know that they’re both native-born Americans, Captain Emory,” I said. “From West Covina, for crying out loud. How American can you get? And the flag… it had nothing to do with them. It was put up by a couple of Marines who lived in this apartment for six months. They were just back from Vietnam. That’s hardly disrespectful.”

But nobody was paying attention. Not Captain Emory. Not the rest of the cops. As if on a signal everyone headed for the cars – four burly officers frog marching the kids to a plain-clothes car. They shoved them in, with some bouncing of heads against the roof, then the car squealed away. A second later, all the other cop cars followed in somber procession.

I stared after them until they were gone. A moment later Roger slipped up beside me. “I guess you told them,” he said.

“Shit,” I said. “Shit.”

Cut to the damage: it cost the kid’s parents fifty thousand dollars to get them out of the jam – more than a quarter of a million dollars in today’s money. Although they were not guilty of anything but having eyes with epicanthic folds, the guys were forced to plead to slightly lesser, but still humiliating charges. The DA told their folks he’d talked to their draft board and the university and if they didn’t agree to the deal, in two shakes their sons would lose their college deferments and be shipped straight to jungles of Vietnam.

That was justice, Sixties style. I’m not saying it was any worse or better than today, it’s just that the racism was upfront, instead of hidden. Later, however, I’ll tell you how a little revenge was meted out for the (hopefully late) great Captain Emory, commander of the Venice Division station.

Meanwhile, to be cold about it, I was stuck with their apartment. Their folks had paid first and last plus a security deposit. They’d also signed a year’s lease. Technically, they were paid up on their rent and still in possession of the place. But what would happen when they defaulted? I doubted very much that Mr. Cohen would let them out of their lease and return the deposit. He was a nice enough guy, but he was dead serious about business being business.

I played for time, trying to figure out what to do. I felt partly at fault since I hadn’t thought of taking down the flag when we’d remodeled the apartment. On the other hand when the kids and their folks first saw the unit Rog was just finishing up the hardwood floors and the whole place glistened – the flag reflecting on the floor. It was so impressive that they asked if the flag could remain. These were patriotic people, for crying out loud. Ah, well. More guilt. None deserved, I suppose - but still…

Then one of the kid’s father’s called. He was an aerospace engineer at TRW, or Hughes… I forget which. He said a young engineer and his wife had agreed to take over the lease, if it was okay with me. I was so relieved that I didn’t inquire further.

And boy was that a mistake of the first order.


COMING MARCH 15-17: THE SECOND ANNUAL EMPIRE DAY Celebration! Fan Fiction Invited. Kilgour Jokes, New Recipes From The Emp, Commando Tips From Sten. Plus Prizes Galore! Click Here For Details

During the Vietnam war, GIs who managed to survive their tour of duty were flown home in chartered airliners, which they called “Freedom Birds.” This is the story of three young men – from  wildly different backgrounds – who meet on such a plane and make a pact to spend three days together in San Francisco. Their goal: to spend every cent of  their mustering out money in a party of  a lifetime. And they’ll get more than they bargained for: because when they land, it is July 1967 – in a time that would come to be known as “The Summer Of Love.” A place and time where each young man will have to confront the ghosts who followed them home from the jungles of Vietnam and contemplate a future none of them had imagined. 


The entire 8-novel landmark science fiction series is now being presented in three three giant omnibus editions from Orbit Books.  The First - BATTLECRY - features the first three books in the series: Sten #1; Sten #2 -The Wolf Worlds; and Sten #3, The Court Of A Thousand Suns. Next: JUGGERNAUT, which features Sten #4, Fleet Of The Damned; Sten #5, Revenge Of The Damned; and Sten #6, The Return Of The Emperor. Finally, there's DEATHMATCH, which contains Sten #6, Vortex; and Sten #7, End Of Empire. Click on the highlighted titles to buy the books. Plus, if you are a resident of The United Kingdom, you can download Kindle versions of the Omnibus editions. Which is one clot of a deal!
Here's the Kindle link for BATTLECRY
Here's the Kindle link for JUGGERNAUT
Here's the Kindle link for DEATHMATCH



Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.  



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself. Here's where to buy the book. 


Diaspar Magazine - the best SF magazine in South America - is publishing the first novel in the Sten series in four 
episodes. Part One and Part Two appeared in back-to-back issues. And now Part Three has hit the virtual book stands.  Stay tuned, for the grand conclusion. Meanwhile, here are the links to the first three parts. Remember, it's free!

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