1971 Diane Webber Flashback

Here is another view back through the mists of time…

This video is the product of clips from several different super-8 movies my father and I shot back in May of 1971. This is the second 1971 performance I’ve cut together from old home movies and published on-line. The other one was shot at the main stage of the Renaissance Faire during the same month, back in ’71 (see below).

Here’s a short piece I wrote about being on stage with Diane and Perfumes of Araby in the following year, 1972. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I’ll get back into the archives and see how much footage there is from 1972. It is quite possible there will be stuff in there that is at least as good as the material from ’71.

Here’s the first clip of Diane from the Faire, on the main stage, in May of 1971:

1971 seems like a long time ago…except when it feels like yesterday.

Integrity and Compromise

Scott in 1976

Outside the LA Board of Education in 1976, after speaking against undercover cops in class.

1976 Flashback:

“You’re talented, Scott. Why do you have to get up there and lecture your elders about what’s wrong with America? They don’t want to hear it. Why don’t you give them what they want? They will love you if you do, and they’ll shower you with praise. Don’t you want that?”

So spoke my debate coach at Hollywood High, Kay Ross. My debate partner and most of my friends agreed with her. “What’s wrong with winning?”

OK, I thought to myself, early in the spring of 1976. I’ll do it. I’ll pick one big contest and do just what everybody has been telling me to do. I’ll pander to the Authority Figures and see what happens.

The Los Angeles World Affairs Council hosted a speaking contest about World Trade. I decided this would be an ideal opportunity to show my coach and classmates that I could be as good as anybody at “bringing home the brass.” Ideas be damned – it’s all about winning!

Let’s journey back in time and read what I had to say to my beloved Adult Authority Figures on April 27, 1976:

World Trade Means More Jobs

World trade has been responsible for many major accomplishments throughout the history of our civilization. The new world was discovered because merchants wished to find easier trade routes to the East. Major European nations established colonies in America in order to be the best at harvesting the tremendous resources available to those eager merchants who wished to refine and transport them. The United States was established largely because of disputes over the regulation of trade, and countless wars have been fought throughout history over trade rights.

Trade is considered so important because there are tremendous economic advantages at stake – advantages best gained by open and free trade. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “the craft of the merchant is to bring a thing from where it abounds to where it is costly.” A company which transports products to places where they are needed usually turns a healthy profit as well as providing a needed service or commodity.

Another value of trade is as follows: World trade means more jobs. According to the U.S. Labor Department, 70,000 American jobs are created for every billion dollars spent on foreign trade. Our domestic unemployment statistics are certainly affected by our success in world trade.

American wages are the highest in the world. At the same time, the labor costs per unit are lower here than they are in most countries: even lower than in nations which pay only ten or eleven cents an hour to those who ship or produce merchandise.

One reason for this is that American workers are among the most productive workers in the world. For example, an American worker produces almost twice as much merchandise per man hour as a British worker does. Another example is that an American coal miner gets paid eight times as much as a Japanese worker – he also digs coal fourteen times as fast. One result of this is that America sells millions of dollars’ worth of coal to Japan every year.

Trade statistics show the value of good labor – we export more merchandise outside our borders than any other country in history. We sell 59% more to Western Europe than we buy in return; 73% more to Japan than we buy.

Many people in America have grave doubts about the value of foreign trade. They suggest that America should not take the risks required to develop a broad program of international trade. They complain that imports hurt American business and take away American jobs. While it is true that such trade does eliminate some jobs and make some American businesses less viable, at the same time it creates many more jobs – and it makes many businesses more profitable.

It is very easy for an average citizen to be misled about the relative merits of international trade, because foreign imports are very visible, while exports are only a statistic in the financial section of the newspaper.

The record shows that America imports roughly 15 billion dollars’ worth of goods a year, and exports about 20 billion dollars’ worth. If we closed our borders, we would lose 5 billion a year.

The Department of Labor also says that four million jobs depend on trade, while no more than 400,000 jobs have been lost or cut back because of imported goods. The record also shows that there are ten jobs related to our exports for every one job whose loss might be ascribed to imports.

It should be known how important international trade is to other countries as well as to our own. Japan could never have had a chance to ever achieve any real post-war success if she had not been a competitive and aggressive member of the international trade community. The ability to export specific goods to the American market is vital to the success of many of the world’s smaller nations.

Americans should realize that America needs the majority of goods that she imports. We may not need Datsun cars or Panasonic radios, but we do need raw materials like tin and magnesium, and we enjoy coffee and bananas.

60% of the goods imported by the United States are products that are not produced in any great amount in this country. In order for us to get the merchandise that we do need and enjoy, we must also accept some that we could do without.

Many of the imported products that do compete directly with American-made goods have value. One of the reasons, if not the reason for the new variety in American cars is the competitive impact of those small foreign cars.

World trade does not affect the average citizen only through big business. Small businesses are also greatly influenced by international trade. World trade gives the small businessman a greater variety of merchandise to sell at a more varied price range. The increased competition created by a large trade industry on both the local and international levels is healthy. It gives the consumer more goods to choose from.

On the local level, a small businessman who reaps the benefits of foreign trade is able to hire clerks and other assistants as his business grows. On a larger level, when an industry becomes successful as a result of its dealings with other countries, literally hundreds of jobs may be created.

The more people that work, the more prosperous the entire business community becomes. A working man is able to purchase more goods, making it possible for other companies to become successful and hire more workers also.

In addition to spending more money on material things, a working worker does not receive unemployment insurance, or any form of relief from the federal government. This leaves the government free to spend more money on other important things.

On a more personal level, people are generally happier when they are working. As a nation, our level of contentment can be measured alongside the unemployment figures.

One statement that is often made is true: the world is getting smaller every day. We have made great technological advances which reduce the time required to send ideas or goods from one point to another greatly. Today, more than ever, we are our brother’s keeper. The fact that many other countries depend on the markets open to them by world trade for their very livelihood makes our continued dedication to foreign trade almost essential to world prosperity and peace. The fact that such trade is very profitable for American businessmen and workers makes our continued participation in foreign trade satisfying.

The buying and selling of merchandise has been spoken of by many people in many different situations. John Roche once said, “The flow of goods and capital is the livelihood of our world community.” That statement is very true today. I think that a nation’s economic situation is easily determined by its success in foreign trade.

I would like to end this talk with a concise and rousing tribute to the institution of foreign trade, but rather than stumble through all of that, I’ll close by saying:

“The ship of state sails best with the trade winds.”

The last line in this speech was not original. I stole it from a 1940s-era radio sitcom, Fibber McGee and Molly. From start to finish, I wrote the text of this speech as a parody of “the party line” on international trade. I tried to “give them what they want” in such a way that my friends – but not my intended audience – could see my true feelings.

The well-dressed businesspeople loved my speech, gave me first prize, and made wistful observations about how well the world would be served by young leaders such as myself.

“Wonderful, Scott,” exclaimed Mrs. Ross. “I knew you could do it if you put your mind to excellence instead of making everybody sit through another angry outburst!”

I’ve been thinking about this old world trade speech as I ponder the future in light of the British vote to Leave the European Union.

I am a British citizen and I spent a summer studying international law and human rights at Oxford University. All of my upbringing and education – and the ritual pats on the head I got back in the spring of 1976 – push me to be in the Remain camp…and yet I found myself unable to do it.

I’m viscerally thrilled that Leave prevailed – not because it will be good for Britain in the short to mid-term, but because I think it’ll be good for Democracy, both in the UK and in Europe. I see the various “free trade” agreements as anti-democratic and too thoroughly linked to US militarism. President Obama’s rhetoric in favor of these agreements isn’t any more substantial than my teenage ramblings back in ’76.

Maybe with the UK out of the European Union, Germany and France will find it easier to develop a foreign policy independent of the US. Maybe NATO can be disbanded and the Russian olive branches of peace can be accepted. Maybe US military bases in Europe can be closed, quietly, and our troops return home.

Sure, these dreams may seem far-fetched…but five years ago only a handful of right-wingers were arguing for the UK to leave the European Union, and yesterday a decisive majority of my fellow Brits voted to Leave.

Still at it, 40 years later!

Still at it, 40 years later!

Secret Police in Schools

Secret police don’t have a good reputation in America. The Nazis, Soviets and East Germans gave them a bad name. Since America is The Only Exceptional Nation, we don’t have secret police. We have “undercover officers.” Our secret police pretend to be students, entrap classmates and help create a climate of suspicion and fear on campus. Why? For a look at what’s going on right now, try these interesting and troubling pieces at teenvogue.com, vice.com, and rollingstone.com.

Today I want to share some documents out of my high school files. They shed a little light on how our government bureaucracies find eager recruits and how they seek to coopt and flatter their critics. This is a curious little slice of history.

1975_1008_Scott_Pearce_DA_ID_aWhen I was a teenage high school student in the mid-1970s, I thought it outrageous that my city would put a higher priority on secret police than it did on textbooks. I figured that teenagers ought to work through the system to be heard. Surely there would be some grownups who would be able to appreciate the corrosive, anti-intellectual consequences of putting “undercover” cops in classrooms. Smart people would be able to stop this expensive, completely unproductive practice.

At the start of the 1975-1976 school year, the LA County District Attorney announced the1975_1008_Scott_Pearce_DA_ID_b formation of The District Attorney’s Youth Council. Here’s the press release from September 18, 1975. “Everyone knows that the juvenile crime problem has multiplied in recent years. Perhaps by explaining some of the functions of the criminal justice system to these student delegates, and having them go back to address social science and government classes, we can further some understanding of the law.”

January 1, 1976

January 1, 1976

Here’s the DA’s October 8, 1975 letter appointing me to the DA’s Youth Council. Here are DA letters about meetings from October 27, 1975, January 9, 1976, February 19, 1976 and May 7, 1976. It’s worth mentioning that California’s marijuana laws changed dramatically on January 1, 1976, when possession of an ounce or less was decriminalized.

The meeting referred to in the January 9, 1976 letter featured a discussion about “The Presence of Open and Undercover Police in Schools.” Representatives from the DA’s management team and the LAPD were on hand. I think I got to address the group for about 45 seconds – and, speaking as a student-athlete and not as a representative of the counterculture, I told them that secret police were a much bigger problem at Hollywood High than drug use among students. I said it reflects poorly on Los Angeles that it can afford to put “undercover” police in classrooms that don’t have enough books. As I spoke, I noticed some of the parents and teachers in the room appreciated my comments – and absolutely none of the prosecutors or cops were favorably impressed.

The DA’s office sent me a nice letter on May 17, 1976, which is reproduced below. The LA County District Attorney wrote, “Your deliberations have been particularly valuable to me in evaluating the policies and attitudes of this office in regard to juvenile justice and undercover narcotics operations on high school campuses.” That’s nice – I guess my ideas helped the DA conclude that the secret police operations should be expanded on high school campuses!

Here’s an interesting LA Times article from 2006, explaining how the City Youth Council is a nice training ground for future politicians and lawyers. It features some nice students who are looking to polish their skills and their resumes.

Too much wealth and power rest in too few hands. How come the American People don’t rise up and do something about their own oppression? Maybe one reason is that the last couple of generations have been warehoused in schools that frighten them into submissive obedience.


Creativity and Science

Ambitious minds have to struggle for room in a world full of conformists. This is something I have experienced over and over again in life.

Scott Pearce & Sophia KimLately I have been thinking about the past a little bit more than usual. Reading Amy Kaufman Burk’s fine book about Hollywood High got me meditating about my own experiences. No doubt I was involved in a lot of stuff that other people would find to be of interest, right? I’ve got a lot of photos and letters and journals from back then myself. Probably I could write a book or two about my teenage years that could be turned into an excellent mini-series. Yes, and a little sincere effort would produce some pretty good literature, too. It’s important to give back something to the community, I’m sure you agree. Plus, it would be cool to make a few million bucks off of my personal experiences without having to do a lot of work.

My academic advisers at Hollywood High told me I should take a lot of math and science classes. They said studying that stuff would discipline my mind. The problem was that the school didn’t offer the science classes I really cared about! That, and the higher math classes conflicted with printmaking and the other fine arts classes that mattered to me.

You might be as shocked today as I was back then to discover that Hollywood High didn’t have a single class about numerology or astrology. You’d think a public high school in the entertainment capital of the world would actually teach their students about the key decision-making tools in The Industry, but no. Like I said, the big world out there tries to crush independent thinking at every turn, but some of us are strong enough to resist.

Unwilling to run with the herd, my thirst for knowledge wasn’t thwarted by people who only think inside the box. The school wouldn’t even give me independent study credit, but I persisted. After months of patient, hard work, you know, the kind that many great scientific breakthroughs are built on, I came up with a theory and an experiment to test the theory.

CB radio was a big cultural phenomenon back in April 1975. It seemed pretty sensible to me that extra-terrestrial life forms had to be monitoring CB radio transmissions. Plus, my careful study of ancient writings carved into the concrete in front of the Egyptian Theater revealed that they had the same numerological structure as the Hollywood High School Fight Song.

In the photograph, you can see I have a microphone. It is hooked up to the school’s PA system and to a CB radio. I’m tapping out a Morse code on the microphone to reach out to the aliens, and periodically I’m using a cassette tape machine to play the three notes of the NBC Chime, which insiders know is a universal greeting used by passing ships in space. My calculations strongly suggested that this formula would result in a flying saucer actually landing on the athletic field. (Steven Spielberg based the key scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind on this, but do you think he paid a penny for the idea? NO.)

As it turned out, my meticulous formulas weren’t correct. That’s OK. Everybody knows that science is advanced by errors as much as by breakthroughs. Probably you know all about the Michelson-Morley experiment, which sought to prove that light moves through an ether, producing waves that are strikingly similar to water currents. It failed, sure, but it made way for Einstein’s theory of relativity. You may also know that the guy who discovered penicillin, Alexander Fleming, had bacteria growing all over his lab, and when he started leaving fungus around too it turned out some of the bacteria wouldn’t grow near the fungus.

You might wonder who the other people in the photograph are. The young woman sitting next to me is Sophia, and the other students all were working for her. They were “serious” students, earning college credit from UCLA doing some independent study in psychology. Among other things, they included me in their final report. That’s fine; I’m glad to be helpful. I still remember the last words Sophia and her colleagues wrote about me: “…his unique view of reality doesn’t pose a risk to himself or to others.” Maybe not, but what about the up-side?

Track Meet

Achieve the Honorable

Amy's Book CoverAchieve the Honorable is the title of Amy Kaufman Burk’s novel. It’s also the motto of Hollywood High School. Amy’s book is a sharply-told story about a diverse group of kids during the 1973-1974 school year, which was Amy’s (and my) first year at Hollywood High. Although the characters are fictionalized, the story very much rings true to me. I knew all of these people well, from the hyper-rational Caroline Black to Drake, the silver-lame-suit-wearing pimp of child prostitutes, and the remarkably devoted and empathic school counselor. I also knew the undercover narcotics officer posing as a student and getting emotionally involved with one of his underage classmates. After some drug busts at Hollywood High I joined something called The District Attorney’s Student Task Force and got to meet the LA County DA. I looked him in the eye and asked him why it was that Los Angeles could afford to send a secret police team into our school to entrap students but it couldn’t find the money to make sure all the real students had textbooks. He didn’t give me a satisfactory answer.

Amy’s book has been #1 Top Rated for Gay and Lesbian Literary Fiction in Amazon’s Kindle Store. This is a splendid achievement. Achieve the Honorable is a novel where a group of teens deal with their emotional, physical and sexual development in a highly stimulating – and dangerous – environment. It has a sense of social class and a strong anti-bullying message, too. Still, although these are themes that stand out, to me the story is deeper and even more engaging than the categories we naturally fit it into. Achieve the Honorable is a coming of age story with complicated young characters who end up living up to the spirit of the school’s motto despite, or maybe in part because of the undercurrent of violence and strife around campus.

Aside from being in school together, Amy and I have a couple of other things in common. Both of us lived in the rich and comfortable Hollywood Hills. Both of us had fathers who were professional writers in Hollywood. Both of us were raised in homes with untold thousands of books. Neither of us managed to read every book we had access to. I suppose one key difference is that, while Amy was horrified by the violence and chaos that were all over Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, I found the whole environment substantially safer and more nurturing than my home life, most of the time. The pimps, hookers and drug dealers looked out for me more than once when I was a kid out on the streets by myself. The only person who ever pointed a gun at me during those years was an officer of the LAPD.

As I savored Achieve the Honorable, it was impossible not to think about what a nice movie it could be!

Here’s my idea for a sequel. Let’s say Caroline Black graduates from Hollywood High school in the Bicentennial Class of 1976 with high honors. There she is, sitting in the front row on-stage at the Hollywood Bowl in her red graduation gown and with her gold tassel. Well done, Caroline! She goes on to get a Ruling Class Education despite leaving a posh private school for girls to attend Hollywood High. Caroline marries her college sweetheart and goes on to have a good life on the East Coast, never losing her commitment to look out for the underdog and her special ability to see the potential in people others have written off. Finally, Caroline has time to write a novel about her first year at Hollywood High. The book is self-published in the new world of Internet distribution and is a nice success.

Then Hollywood comes calling. Caroline is brought back to her two-month magical time as a Possible Child Actress, to the years of being told, by Anorexic Household Names, “You’re so pretty. Why not lose weight?” She also recalls her father’s success in the industry and the writers who worked on movies he photographed. Hollywood offers a fortune for the movie rights, but won’t let her retain any control. Should she take the money?

Let’s say Caroline decides to sell the story and give every penny to Good Causes. Then we can spend some chapters in Hollywood, checking out the story conferences:

Producer: We’re going to have to make a few changes if we want to make any money.

Hack Writer: What do you have in mind?

Producer: Let’s start with this Caroline character. She’s too smart. She plays on the girls’ basketball team.

Hack Writer: Yeah.

Producer: Let’s make her a cheerleader instead.

Hack Writer: OK.

Producer: Look, I don’t really have time for this. Let me give you some ideas and you can get busy.

Hack Writer: Great.

Producer: Try to stay in the spirit of the book. Just don’t write any scenes where two named female characters talk about anything except boys.

Hack Writer: No problem.

Producer: We lucked out on music, too – for dirt cheap we got the rights to some Ohio Players tracks. So put in some stuff about a school dance. Maybe you can work in a theme about Caroline bringing that girl from her old private school to the dance, and that night she can smoke dope, have sex with one of the gang boys and decide she’s straight after all.

Hack Writer: Yeah, that’ll sell. A lot of boys will go to this picture…

OK, so maybe my view of the movie business is still a little rosy and unreasonably sunny, but you get the idea. I mentioned that my dad was a writer – for TV. My mom worked in background and continuity research for movies and TV, and I did some work in the field too. In that spirit, I offer my single criticism of Achieve the Honorable. In one scene, the song Another One Bites The Dust is playing in the background. That Queen song was released in 1980. For late 1973 to early 1974, the proper choice would be Keep Yourself Alive. An alternate choice would be Gary Glitter’s single, Rock and Roll.

Thank you for reading this blog post. If you’ve got this much time on your hands, you ought to be reading Amy’s book. Please go buy it right now, from Amazon or B & N.


Sympathy for Tricky Dicky

The anniversary of Richard Nixon’s downfall gives us a chance to look back on our troubled history. Mr. Nixon was a racist and a crook. At the same time, compared to today’s leaders, Tricky Dick looks like a courageous, visionary genius. This should be food for thought for everybody, regardless of where we might place ourselves on today’s political spectrum.

We have had many corrupt Presidential elections. John Kennedy may have defeated Richard Nixon in 1960 because a lot of cemeteries in Illinois and Texas voted for the Democrats, though there is some debate. Mr. Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 because of treasonous negotiations with our battlefield enemies in Vietnam. Ronald Reagan’s campaign copied that strategy in 1980, undermining President Carter by dealing with his foreign adversaries. The 2000 election may have been the most cynical in our history.

Back in ’74, we got a President who wasn’t elected at all: Gerald Ford, who took office 40 years ago when Richard Nixon resigned. Mr. Ford had been appointed Vice President once Spiro T. Agnew resigned for not reporting cash bribes as income on his tax returns.

August 9, 1974 was the last day of summer school at Hollywood High. 40 years ago today, I brought a Sony AM-FM radio to school to follow events. At the time I considered Nixon’s departure to be a great victory for progress, proof that “the system works,” and cause for celebration. Ample evidence of the criminality of Richard Nixon and his co-conspirators can be found in audio recordings made in the White House. Many Californians detested Richard Nixon, rightly I think, for his campaigns for Congress in 1946 and for the Senate in 1948.

I worked as a teenage volunteer for the local Hollywood office of the George McGovern campaign in 1972, even though I wasn’t yet old enough to drive, much less vote. Watergate was a tiny issue, with one flyer reading “Bug Nixon Before Nixon Bugs You.” I still remember how distraught I was on election night in ’72, watching McGovern concede a landslide defeat before a sympathetic local audience. Seeing Mr. Nixon’s two rather somber victory speeches, one from the Oval Office and one from his campaign headquarters, made me queasy to think about the future. Watergate became a gigantic issue shortly after Nixon’s second inaugural. After leaving office a year and a half into his second term, he made quite a few TV appearances in an effort to rehabilitate his image, and he wrote a number of turgid books. President Bill Clinton gave a sentimental, ludicrous eulogy at Richard Nixon’s funeral.

What possible sympathy could we have for Richard Nixon, the lying, Red-baiting, carpet-bombing, conspiring, foul-mouthed racist?

Let’s look at the situation Mr. Nixon inherited when he took office in 1969. Hundreds of thousands of US troops were thousands of miles away from home, fighting an increasingly unpopular war that Nixon had supported from the start. The previous President, Lyndon Johnson, had taken office as a result of President Kennedy’s assassination, and it’s quite clear that Richard Nixon didn’t buy the Official Story any more seriously than I do. Not only that, but the tapes show that Nixon considered the JFK assassination relevant to the politics of his day. What might that imply? Wouldn’t it mean that Nixon took office knowing that Presidential authority had been violently overthrown by what President Eisenhower characterized as “the military-industrial complex?”

When Eisenhower became President in 1953, he made quick work of ending the Korean War. Nixon, on the other hand, ended up taking a deal at the end of 1972 that he could have had in 1969. Why? How come he didn’t do what Ike did less than 20 years earlier? Maybe it was because the office of the Presidency itself had been hugely weakened. Even so, a look at the record of the Nixon Administration and its colleagues in the mostly Democratic-controlled Congress shows many impressive – and progressive – achievements. Not only did the first term of the Nixon Presidency see passage of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, it also saw the President’s diplomatic openings to the Soviet Union and to the People’s Republic of China. Although it’s fair to judge Nixon’s hysterical anti-communism as helping create and maintain poor relations with these countries in the 40s and 50s, by the early 1970s the opposite was true.

So, exactly how is it that Richard Nixon went from a gigantic landslide in November 1972 to leaving office in disgrace less than two years later? Is it because of a domestic political spying scandal, which the President illegally covered up? That’s what history tells us, but is it really true? At the time of Nixon’s resignation, many commentators and participants said that the story was much deeper, more complicated and far more serious than the one we all followed during those final months of that Administration.

I’d suggest that a more plausible reason for Nixon’s downfall was his failure to keep the loyalty of the US military and intelligence communities. He didn’t end the Vietnam War quickly, but even as he dropped more bombs he withdrew ground forces, and finally he cut a deal. It’s also evident that the Nixon-Kissinger negotiations with the Soviets and Chinese were done largely in secret – from much of the rest of the US government. I suggest that means Richard Nixon was more serious – and more courageous – than most of his adversaries have been able to recognize.

Have a look at RN’s second inaugural address. Really listen to what he is saying. Nixon ended the ground war in Vietnam and revolutionized relations with the two biggest real adversaries our country faced at the time. This is a peace speech, backed up by real diplomacy including nuclear arms reduction talks. This address should be seen as a sequel to President Kennedy’s American University speech. I’d suggest that both speeches – and the policies they represented – crossed a few bright lines that our real masters simply will not permit.

For a moment let’s reconsider the Nixon Administration’s domestic goals. The President speaks about decentralizing government authority. Did he want to end welfare? No, that wouldn’t happen until “liberal” Democrat Bill Clinton, more than 20 years later. Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual income for each family unit, to fight poverty and to get rid of the expensive and humiliating welfare bureaucracy. So, our grotesquely racist President actually advocated policies that were far more liberal and kind than all of his successors! It’s too bad he was such a coarse, unappealing, petty man.

Watergate is a wildly complicated topic. One of the more troubling books to look at is Silent Coup, which goes into a lot of detail about the President’s real enemies, as opposed to the political adversaries who made it onto Nixon’s enemies list. For example, it calls out Bob Woodward as a career asset of US Naval Intelligence. The authors present compelling evidence that suggests the Watergate scandal was orchestrated by deep and powerful political and economic groups who were far to the right of the President. While you’re at it, read JFK and the Unspeakable, which is the best single book about Mr. Kennedy’s assassination.

40 years ago, I celebrated Nixon’s humiliation as much as anybody. Today I observe that Richard M. Nixon might have been the last President of the First American Republic.

OK, that’s enough thinking for now. Remember, friends – You Can’t Drink All Day Unless You Start in the Morning!

Yosemite Field Trip ’73

Forty years is quite a long time…at least I used to think so.

Joseph LeConte was an early conservationist and a professor at UC Berkeley in the 1800’s. My friends and I went to a junior high school in Hollywood that carries his name. A group of us was given a chance to take a week-long field trip to Yosemite Valley. The school bought a super-8 movie camera and let me use it for the week. I shot five or six rolls of film during the trip, which I edited at home. The camera was able to shoot in slow motion, fade in and out and do cross-fades internally.

Although I spent most of my time shooting film, I make a couple of cameo appearances in this movie. Some of us decided to go swimming in a very cold, wide stream. I’m the one who does a flip into the water. Some kids don’t have a lot of sense.

It was great fun making this movie and showing it to various groups of students and parents. Back in the early 70’s it was quite uncommon for teenagers to make movies. These days we’re all accustomed to shooting HD movies with sound with our phones. Today’s kids are growing up with a vast personal archive of their personal experiences and moments. Older folks are not used to seeing moving pictures of themselves as kids.

So friends, here is your chance to take a trip back in time to May, 1973. Our group even pays a visit to Yosemite Valley’s monument to Joseph LeConte, the Sierra Club’s LeConte Memorial Lodge, the first permanent visitor center in Yosemite Valley. Maybe you’ll see yourself or perhaps look in on one of your parents when they were 14.

Worth Waiting For

The first big pile of old reels from the Pearce Family Archive has resulted in a bit more than five hours of video, including a fair amount of stuff from the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in 1971 and 1972. Here is the first item from that archive.

This movie was shot by my dad Gerry on Super-8 movie film back in May, 1971. Diane Webber is shown here on the main stage, late in the afternoon. This is the only movie film I’ve recovered so far from the big stage in ’71, but it represents only a fraction of the good footage of Diane. I’ve got fairly elaborate coverage of her performing on the small stage in 1971, some of it shot from two different angles at the same time.

The real treasure trove of Perfumes of Araby material is from 1972. I expect to be able to piece together a surprisingly complete show from the spring of 1972. I think you’ll agree that the images from this 1971 Super-8 movie are surprisingly good. Those who knew my dad will appreciate that I ended up publishing this movie on Christmas Day – no doubt it would help him get into the true holiday spirit!

And so I wish everybody all the best tidings of the season. Happy Christmas.

Now then, can we please have some different music? Yes, belly dancing music would be just fine, thanks.

1976 Hollywood High Flashback

Here is a picture of the Hollywood High School Still Photography Club. This shot was taken on February 20, 1976.

Hollywood High Photography Club 1976

Here I am, front and center, the consequence of a discrete transaction with the photographer. Although I can identify most of the other people in this picture,  I’ll leave it to everybody to tag themselves if they care to. Isn’t it strange to see an old picture of yourself come from out of nowhere after 37 years? Surprise!

These days I know at least a couple of us have maintained a close relationship with still images over the decades. I wonder if any of the other people in this picture have photographed as many reptiles as I have …

The Apes Took Over

Scott and Eileen guarding Paula

It is about time America confronted its own sordid history. The textbooks we use in schools today leave out most of the really interesting and important stuff. I guess our masters don’t think we’re capable of handling the truth, or maybe they figure it is easier for them to manage a confused and ignorant herd.

For example, the era popular culture thinks of as “the 60s” actually dates from late 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated, through August of 1974, when President Nixon resigned. Establishment history explains that a lone nut named Oswald murdered the President in Dallas. It goes on to explain that Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace as a result of the Watergate scandal.

Counterculture history tells us that Kennedy was murdered by the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about, and it acknowledges that there was a lot more to Watergate than is evident at the surface. You know, Malcolm X explained that the U.S. media had a habit of getting the American People to debate among themselves about which of two big lies actually is true. The man had a very important point, but even Malcolm failed to grasp the gravity of the situation our society found itself in 50 years ago.

The grim truth is that world society has been subverted from within by a massive Ape conspiracy! Where do they come from? That’s a good question, but educated opinion suggests they come from the future, from a time when apes have mastered humanity and seized time-travel technology for their own sinister purposes. Apparently the Apes began intervening in human events shortly after the end of the First World War. Benito Mussolini was one of the first major world leaders to fall under their control. The Apes supported both sides during the Second World War, knowing that they would have an easier time taking over if humanity stayed busy wiping itself out for a few years.

After World War Two, the Apes were responsible for the Cold War as they further consolidated their conrol over Earth. Americans were shocked by President Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex, but even Ike was afraid to level with the American People and tell them the honest truth about the nature of the threat faced by our society.

Today there is a lot of talk about zombies in our popular culture. Once again we are collectively afraid to face the truth: zombies are not un-dead, they are humans who have suffered grave and ultimately fatal genetic damage as a result of Ape intervention. It’s just part of the same old “divide and conquer” strategy that has served them so well for decades.

Many people have suspected these truths for years, but things are getting so bad these days that maybe our society is ready to wake up and confront reality. I’ve hinted about it before. For example, several years ago I reported about the zombie uprising in Hollywood back in 1972. Today I am going to explain more of this important hidden history.

It’s true that I, along with a number of other athletic young adolescents, were sent to fight the zombies that were feasting on the small brains found in the Hollywood Hills. What I didn’t explain was that the zombies were sent to attack Hollywood in the fall of 1972 because a key Ape political figure had been taken hostage just a couple of months earlier. That’s what the picture that goes along with this story is all about.

I led a secret team that included Eileen Becker, also pictured. We captured this Ape, named Paula Crist, at the 1972 World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim, California. This picture shows us taking the Ape into custody.

Obviously the Apes did not take this development lying down. They figured that a small group of kids and dissident adults from Hollywood should not be allowed to interfere with their larger plans for our society. What they did not know at the time was that elements high in the Nixon administration were adamantly opposed to the continuing Ape influence, despite the massive covert support given to the Nixon campaign by the Ape underground.

Paula was released from the cave she was held captive in the day President Nixon was re-elected, as a sign of good faith. Nixon intended to finish President Kennedy’s efforts to secure peace and disarmament during his second term, but the Apes had other plans. Since Nixon had served them so well, they disgraced him rather than ordering him assassinated.

A lot of things make more sense now, don’t they? You wonder why America has abandoned any trace of egalitarian values, why she seems to be embracing fascism more every day?

Blame it on the chimps!


Sucking in the Seventies

Rolling Stones Ticket July 24, 1978

July 24, 1978 was a hot day in Anaheim, California. I was there with 50 or 60 thousand friends to see The Rolling Stones, with Peter Tosh opening the show. A few months shy of my 20th birthday, I was one of the younger audience members.

The scene was as decadent as any I had ever seen at a rock and roll show. There was no assigned seating. Stretched out on the field somewhere under the blazing sun, I saw somebody in an old Stones t-shirt nearby take out a mirror and a razor blade. He chopped a piece of cocaine into the finest possible dust. I was impressed with the dope fiend’s dexterity. Next, he carefully moved the drugs off of the mirror and into a little bottle. Working with the precision of a lab scientist, he added water to the bottle and shook it.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next. Our innovative drug user then put a dropper into the bottle and squeezed the rubber end. He raised the dropper out of the bottle, leaned his head back, and put several drops of the cocaine solution into his eyes!

“F***ing hell,” I thought to myself, “That’s pretty hard core for three in the afternoon, isn’t it? Maybe this guy thinks he’s being moderate because he’s not using a needle. Wow, I suppose the optic nerve is a pretty direct route to the brain…”

After the audience had a couple of hours to get good and loaded, Peter Tosh took the stage. I still remember being surprised and delighted with how musical and tight the performance was. Mick Jagger joined them on stage to perform “Walk and Don’t Look Back,” which went over well. The opening act wrapped up and the audience was happily anticipating the Stones.

Hours later, the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band took the stage. They played with obvious indifference. Watching each casual, sloppy attempt at playing a song made the audience increasingly angry. This band sucks! They charged us all this money ($12.50) to show up higher than we are and not even bother to pretend to have fun with us? No way!

Angry fans with good arms started throwing shoes at the Rolling Stones! The band had to start moving around a little just to get out of the way of the flying objects headed their way, but it did not improve their poor musicianship. Finally, Mr. Jagger had enough. The band stopped playing and he stood at the front of the stage. “C***suckers! If you’re going to throw shoes I want all of them!”

In reply, for several minutes the air was thick with shoes flying toward the stage. The band took cover. Everybody within 20 feet of the stage rushed for cover too. After a suitable delay, some people with big brooms came out and swept thousands of shoes off of the stage. The Stones returned to play a few more songs and call it a night. Everybody left happy, though many were barefoot.

July 24, 2013, was a warm, sunny day in Anaheim. I returned to the same stadium 35 years later to the day, to watch the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim win an exciting afternoon game against the Minnesota Twins. The audience and the venue both were a lot tidier and better groomed than back in 1978.

Angels Stadium

1976 KPUR Flashback

I admit I am tempted to write something fanciful and perhaps even less than truthful today. It may be April Fool’s Day, but I see no reason to compromise my high standards of journalistic integrity just for a few quick, cheap laughs.

Instead, return with me now to October of 1976. Here I am in Forest Grove, Oregon, the garden spot of the Pacific Northwest. I spent most of my time in the fall of ’76 talking into microphones or pointing them at other people who had something to say.

Here’s a recording from that glorious month. In it, your resourceful teenage reporter, thirsty for the truth, looks for a few honest words from the student body of Pacific University about a topic of great interest: the food service!

I’m sure you’ll be surprised to discover that the college kids of the Jerry Ford era were entirely satisfied with how kindly they were being taken care of.


Swats from Coach Hills

Robert Hills, one of my only coaches who was not a swimming or diving man, died recently. He’s the guy on the far right of the photo, which is from the 1972-1973 yearbook. (The others are coaches Bratschie, Lamb and Flynn.) I wish his family the courage and strength required to do without him. Coach Hills touched many lives during his years at Joseph LeConte Junior High School, including mine, as this story explains:

Hot beads of sticky sweat were trickling down my forehead and dripping off my eyelashes. I stood silently, listening for the naked teenage boys who were hunting me in the boys’ locker room at LeConte Junior High School. The aerosol can of Right Guard was in my left hand. My bare back was against the cold lockers. I was determined to make it to the shower without being ambushed. The deodorant was my only weapon – and the only weapon of my pursuers.

I became aware of somebody just around the corner, beyond the edge of the bank of lockers I was cornered behind. Rather than submit I decided to go on the offensive, to lash out against those who might try to humiliate me. What other option is there for a naked 13 year-old boy?

I jumped out from my hiding place and fired the deodorant at the kid who was about to do the same, scoring a direct hit in the belly! “That’s right,” I thought, “Nobody is going to bully me and get away with it without a fight!”

Coach Robert Hills was the head Boys PE teacher at LeConte Junior High. He was a crew-cut disciplinarian, and like most of the men of his age and experience in 1972, Coach Hills did not like scruffy-haired boys. I thought Mr. Hills was fair and honest, though, and eager to recognize a good effort or an improved performance from any of his students. I had concluded a long time ago that the safe thing to do was to obey him to the letter (except about getting a haircut) and otherwise stay out of his way.

I knew I had made a serious mistake when I observed that the target of my aerosol assault was fully dressed. Looking up, I became aware of just how dreadful a mistake it really was. I saw the angry eyes of Coach Hills looking down at me, shiny and black, like the openings of a double-barreled shotgun pointed at my face.

The coach’s reaction was instant and automatic. He grabbed my long hair with his right hand and used it as a leash with which to guide me to the coaches’ office. Coach Lamb, the eldest coach on the staff, looked up and raised an eyebrow.

“That boy needs a shower and a haircut, Coach.”

“He needs some swats first. He just fired on me with deodorant. I’ve got enough troubles. I don’t need f***ing naked longhair punks jumping around shooting me with s*** they oughta be using on themselves.”

Coach Hills pulled a couple of possible weapons out of a drawer, selecting what looked like a ping pong paddle with a long handle and holes in the paddle. He looked at it and swished it through the air a couple of times, with a tiny smile on his face, then he looked me in the eye.

“Son, do you understand it’s wrong to spray your coach with deodorant?”

I looked back into his eyes. They didn’t look all black anymore.


“Yes, what?”

“Yes, I understand…”

I could tell that I was getting in more trouble but I wasn’t sure why. Coach Hills repeated his question, with a little more anger and contempt. Coach Lamb offered a quiet suggestion.

“Yes, sir…”

Sometimes I need a helpful stage manager to feed me my lines, especially when I’m naked and about to “get swats” from the coach I just doused with deodorant. Again I looked up into Coach Hills’ eyes.

“Yes, sir, I understand it’s wrong to spray my coach with deodorant.”

The coach gently tapped the edge of the paddle on the counter, no doubt to get a better grip and to remind me of the swatting I had in store. He looked into my eyes and asked,

“Do you understand that it’s wrong to run around naked in the locker room, that it’s against the rules to run in there when you’re dressed?”

“Yes, sir, I understand.”

“Good. To make sure you remember, put your hands on the counter.”

I obeyed. The first swat came about three seconds later, preceded by a fairly loud swoosh sound. Two other swats followed, separated by about five seconds each. I was impressed by how loud they were. They hurt, too, a lot. A few seconds after the third swat, the coach said,

“OK, turn around.” I looked up into his eyes. “Take a shower. I’ll see you tomorrow – you guys are running a mile and we’re gonna time you.”

“Yes, sir.”

I walked back into the locker room in high spirits. Sure, I had an acutely sore and completely naked butt, yet I figured I was going to be received like a hero. After all, hadn’t I just taken three swats that easily could have gone to just about anybody? Didn’t I just spray deodorant on Coach Hills, a wildly brave and impressive act of resistance? I figured they’d probably treat me as if I’d just hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth. At least I’d be getting a wild round of applause.

Instead, it was quiet like a funeral home after closing hours. A few guys looked at me as I came in, but in silence. Everybody knew that when the coaches were dispensing swats it was a good idea to keep still, so as not to tempt fate. I was one of the last ones to the showers. I got washed off and dried in time for my next class, but I had to borrow some deodorant. I’d left mine in the coaches office and I didn’t think it was wise to go back.

Nobody – including me – felt that the punishment didn’t fit the crime. We might not all have thought it “wrong” to spray Coach Hills, but we unanimously agreed it was highly unwise and dangerous, definitely something an intelligent lad wouldn’t do. I didn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed of what I’d done – and because I figured they’d agree with me that I’d basically got what I had coming. The swats did no real damage, and the fact that the coaches judged that I “took my punishment like a man” seemed to raise my status in their esteem.

This incident happened in the spring of 1972, when I was in 8th grade. Here’s a picture from May ’72. You might think that a public junior high school in Hollywood, California in 1972 would be a bastion of hard-core leftist politics, or at least some real adolescent rebellion – and you’d be wrong.

At the start of every day of classes, first thing in the morning, the school PA system would play a bugle call! Everybody had to stand at attention, in silence, while the melody played. This was before the Pledge of Allegience. At the end of the school day, another bugle call played, and again everybody was supposed to stand at silent attentnion throughout the melody.

Why do you think we were subjected to this kind of treatment? These rituals probably did quite a bit to inhibit most kids from even thinking about joining me and some of my very young friends who opposed the war in Vietnam, both in school and in the streets. I can say for sure that being forced to behave like a military cadet helped teach me that most authority is arbitrary and stupid. In that case, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

A lot has changed since 1972. Coaches and other teachers aren’t supposed to hit students anymore. That’s fine. I don’t want the kids I’m helping raise to be beaten by their teachers. I have never struck any of them myself (although I did bite one of them once, and trust me, she had it coming). And yet, sometimes I think we’ve made a lot of things in life more complicated than they need to be. Back in the spring of ’72, I ambushed one of my coaches with a can of Right Guard. He gave me a spanking. The whole incident couldn’t have taken more than five minutes. What do you think might happen if the same chain of events unfolded today?

Diane Webber 1971


One of the most popular posts on these pages is a piece I wrote about being on-stage with Perfumes of Araby at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in 1972. That post has a nice photo of Diane that my dad took that year. Here is another photo I’ve found in the family archives. This is a picture of Diane I took at 1971 at the Faire in Agoura.

Every May I think back to the halcyon days of the Renaissance Faire, adrift on the mists of time. I expect to come up with super-8 movie film of one of Diane’s faire performances, captured on two cameras. I also expect to receive a unicorn for my next birthday.

Pocket Radios

Radios Then and NowThese radios are essentially the same – except the one on the left is 35 years old and the one on the right is newly bought today. I still remember the day in the spring of 1975 that I first got the radio on the left (Sony TFM-3750W). I was 16, and I had my dad’s highly fashionable and powerful vehicle. I drove myself and my new radio to West Hollywood Park and listened to part of a Dodgers game before going for a swim. Back in the mid-1970’s, I spent quite a bit of time riding RTD buses in Los Angeles; it was a great relief to be able to listen to the radio with a tiny earphone. Back in the day, this old radio was tuned to KHJ and KMET a lot of the time, and in the late 1970’s I used to listen to tape-delay broadcasts of my coverage of Pacific University football on KUIK in Hillsboro, Oregon. The new radio receives stations from the same bands, through a slightly smaller and less resonant speaker.  It receives more stations and is light and portable. This model (Sony ICF-S10) is quite similar to an even earlier model my folks had in the late 1960’s. I’ve always liked having a cheap little radio around…actually, I’ve always liked to have a dozen or more radios of various sizes and shapes and purposes.

Tomato Flower That’s more than en2010_0501_tiny_flower1ough consumerism for now. No doubt you are well-pleased to have spent precious moments of your life thinking about transistor radios over the decades. That’s not something everybody gets to do every day, is it?

Spring is bringing some lovely little flowers. So2010_0501_tiny_flower2me, like the nice tomato flowers to the far left, are going to end up on the dinner table. Others, such as the other tiny and treacherous  flowers you see, are destined to be ‘eliminated.’