Class of 1965
My life has been eventful. Eventful can reap its own rewards, but it can often inspire remarkable epiphanies as well as terrifying recognitions. Such is life, and life, in my view, should be lived so that one’s accounting should be based on “perceptions of mystery” that accompany the “practical applications of achievement and failure.”
My life has been “eventful.” Eventful can reap its own rewards, but it can often inspire remarkable epiphanies as well as terrifying recognitions. Such is life, and life, in my view, should be lived so that one’s accounting should be based on perceptions of mystery that accompany the practical applications of achievement and failure.
Perception, as such, is to recognize the often strong but intangible currents of fate and circumstance that appear before us, much like the choices in the Tao—as you travel the river, one is confronted with choices and challenges.
How one deals with the results in one’s destiny. In short, there are no accidents, but opportunities that are either seized or ignored. When I was 27 years old, G.P. Putnam’s published my novel, The Constant Travellers, and this was part of its theme. In all, I have published five books.
Did Germantown High School prepare me for the world to come? Good question. It inspired me less through formal education and more through social interaction. As Germantown was an integrated high school, I understood the practical application of a world of various ethnicities and creeds, which would serve me well in my career, as today I conduct business with people of every variety in every part of the globe.
Otherwise, Germantown High was more of an endurance trial, where I liked many of my fellow students and a few of my teachers. I often found the education system itself dull and wanting. Others may not have felt that way. I get it. But I did.
School I saw as drudgery, a mediocre education system compounded by its repletion. Maybe, possibly, all schools are like that. I can’t say. As I was an advanced reader, school was relatively easy for me. But as a reader and an avid moviegoer, I read and watched the world out there that was far beyond the horizons of Mt. Airy and Germantown. It was a world of romance, adventure, and promise, as opposed to the inhibited provincialism I experienced in my neighborhood. The type of provincialism where if you dared dream big, there was always someone battling their own esteem issues to ask–“what is it with you and your big ideas?”
Although, in one homage to my education, years after I graduated, I returned to Germantown to thank Mrs. Haber, the typing teacher, for teaching this valuable skill set, which helps me immensely to this very day.
I was a truant in high school, which I suppose is a statement all to itself. School by junior year was little more than a conduit to get from Point A to Point B (college) and then move on from there. With that in mind, despite my frequent absences, I graduated in the top fourth or fifth of the class of 1,200. I was easily accepted to college (Point B).
Call me short-sighted, but it seemed that time was best spent at the Jersey Shore, or in the downtown movie theaters that showed three films for a big $.50, or with whatever romantic interest was willing to cut class and go off somewhere, rather than dissect a frog. It was the lure of the world or promise versus the constraints of life as I was told it should be.
I suppose I could couple this with the irresistible lure of California. I had a fetish. It loomed before me on television and other media in full technicolor with a culture that appeared more the celebration of life than ritualistic social constraint. I longed for the culture of surfing and custom cars, and the music that described the unique elements of California culture. From 10th grade on, I told friends I was moving to California, and the usual Philadelphia attitudinal response was, “yeah, sure.”
I went to Temple University for college and worked for the last two to three years as a very junior reporter at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. I was one of the only recruits who wasn’t from the Ivy League. The Bulletin was good to me. The entertainment editor took a liking to me, and he made sure I had complimentary tickets to theater engagements, the ballet, jazz festivals, rock concerts, classical symphony concerts, and anything else the more sophisticated side of Philadelphia had to offer. That was, for me, a well-rounded cultural education on a grand scale. The Bulletin was nurturing.
In return, I was their long-haired commando, willing to go at the assignments others were reluctant to do. I visited the homes of survivors of the Vietnam War; that is, the parents and wives, and interviewed them about their dead son. At one point, the casualty list was coming in at four to five a night, typically in the poorer parts of the city, either the white or black working-class neighborhoods.
Then there were the times where I had to venture out into the Jersey Pines, a broad geography of marsh and swamp that could have been the setting for Deliverance in the greater Northeast. I also covered crime scenes and fires and had more than a whiff of the machinations of local and state politics from a first-hand position.
I worked at the Bulletin for nearly three years. By the time my stay ended, let us say my perceptions of the world were a bit different than the hippie or collective political culture embraced by most of my friends. I saw them as projectors of wishful ideals and naïve speculation. I had my first real glimpse of a very different reality. That conflict in perception then and even now can cause debate, even among my closer friends. Because as time wore on, I became further steeped in intrigue, espionage, and a variety of sphincter puckering activities that can cause one to reassess their sense of mortality. It can be a strange way to make a living.
Upon graduating from Temple, I left Philadelphia. I had been offered a more senior position at the Bulletin, but as addressed at the beginning, this was one of those moments in the Tao River of Life where you make your choices. Sit in Philly and be the big fish, or head west and go for the dream. It was far from a straight line.
First, I went to California and hung out in San Francisco during that wild and psychedelic time. Inhibitions were not what was considered the order of the day, and I lived my life accordingly—a fun time. Fill in the blanks.
But then jobs were hard to come by, and soon I went to New York and lived the BoHo life, working for, among others, Avant Garde Magazine. For a pittance. Such were the times in the art world.
I then went to Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I wrote for a newspaper and met my wife.
Finally, it was back to California. In any case, I loved and still love the West and the Southwest, from the geography and topography to the culture the land itself has to offer. Unlike the East, it is a world dappled in color in lieu of glorious landscapes of black and white.
Once in California, I started working in the entertainment business.
I wrote screenplays, worked public relations on a variety of music accounts, including the Beach Boys, Barry White, Smokey Robinson, the Righteous Brothers, and the list goes on. I was the publicist on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
But it was my association with a noted film producer where my life encountered the super-sized version of fate and circumstance when the producer introduced me to Vicki Morgan, the mistress to Alfred Bloomingdale, scion of the department store, and a member of Ronald Reagan’s Kitchen Cabinet. What started out as another, a project, became a life-changing event.
The long and short of it, the Alfred Bloomingdale-Vicki Morgan love affair created an international scandal, and I wrote the book on it. I wrote Beautiful Bad Girl; The Vicki Morgan Story, and this did not please influential members of the Reagan administration, as well as several very rich and powerful women who were, in turn, married to very rich and powerful men.
The short course was after Vicki Morgan was murdered, I was in some trouble, being the one with potentially compromising information. I had career issues. Friends who knew better warned that I better watch my back. These people played for keeps.
So, when people mention their political travails and tribulations, I tend to look askance. Obviously, people experience different levels of personal disruption. But in my experience, when you go up against the powers that be, you better be prepared with more than idealistic beliefs and a bottle of rhetoric.
So, there I was. Far, far from high school. Far from college. Stepping up into the big leagues and trying not to get my ass kicked in the process. And, then through the time-honored powers of fate and circumstance, I met a certain gentleman at a friend’s reception. He was extremely high up in government, among other things. He stepped in and helped me out. We arranged to trade information, and in the course of things, my troubles went away. Vanished. A vision of power in the influential centers that linger beneath the line of sight. I ended up working with this man for the next twelve years. Six of them were intense periods, and the rest were as needed.
I worked for him on a variety of projects, we shall say. Not the least of which was my working with a team uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States. It was crazy. It was sometimes violent. It made the news. It was illuminating as hell. As I had earlier, I learned the power of information. I wrote of that experience in The Guys Who Spied for China, which was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Fiction Awards.
My wife, whom I met in Santa Fe, New Mexico, also worked in entertainment and was the Senior Vice President in Charge of Development for Aaron Spelling. She worked on Dynasty and helped develop, among others, Beverly Hills 90210, And the Band Played On, the Emmy Award-Winning film on the AIDS epidemic. Together, we later ventured into developing early streaming sites in the nascent years of the Internet.
When that certain gentleman passed on, I was all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Entertainment prattle looked far less relevant, and my skill sets were such that this seemed to be what fate laid out for me. I co-founded Corra Group. We started conducting employment screening, but we have long expanded into due diligence and corporate investigation. What is that? Some may ask. When companies want to merge, partner, co-venture, or retain one another as vendors or material sources, they need to check out the other company. We conduct extensive investigations to see if the other company is for real, if they are solvent if their money is not from illegal operations. We look into potential money laundering, we gather business intelligence, and work in the dark web when called upon.
I must admit it does have a way of coloring one’s perspective. It is not an occupation for the faint-hearted. Going back to my early days at the Bulletin, I tend to see life from a different point of view. As friends say, most see the ocean waves, meaning the media feeds, the opinion pieces, where I see what is lurking beneath those waves. Well, at least I am paid for it. And as a company, we have a global presence. I get to stay in the trenches and, as a common routine, communicate with people of every variety on a global level. That is satisfying on several levels. One sees the world for what it is, which is a vast global marketplace with an assortment of common interests and objectives that, in general, demonstrate an odd mix of fierce competition and peer conviviality.
No retirement for me, not when my work allows the advantage of viewing the world and all of its more complex machinations.
I travel a fair amount and mix business and pleasure. At least I did until this COVID-19 Pandemic came along.
Keep doing what I am doing and look for new opportunities and areas of learning. My son was the music composer on Adventure Time, a long-running animated series on the Cartoon Network and is now working with Artificial Intelligence. So that is an area of relative pursuit and fascination for me.
Generally, I try to avoid the sentimental or the nostalgic. The idea is to keep moving forward and not look back under the illusion there were better times than the present. Take risks, have fun, and let the adrenalin pop right through your system. Life, with its omens and signs, offers its own guiding force. Without reading the tea leaves, I would have been elsewhere. To quote James Dean— “Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” Amen.
Gordon’s Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Gordon, you have lived an exciting life. May it Continue to provide surprises and satisfaction for many years to come. I have enjoyed our friendship and i’m proud to be a Germantown High School classmate and fellow truant.
Strangely, Gordon and Florence ate the only two people from Gtown I have met with in California based on our Facebook chatter. I really enjoyed reading Gordon’s books and this piece.
“A fellow truant.” Would like to hear more about that. Sounds like we need to get a submission from you.
Gordon, you have lived and are living a Fascinating life that sounds like it could be a t.v. documentary too. Thanks for sharing your journey.
Tricia. What’s your story?
I enjoyed getting to hear and see you and Jerome and his sister discuss Germantown High. As someone who had known both of you, it is interesting on seeing where life has led you. I stayed in Philadelphia until 1980. A college sweetheart came back into my life and sweep me off to Mansfield, PA. The biggest difference is that I was around Democrats and educated people to being in a rural area that are Republicans.
We’re looking forward to hearing your story. Please submit.
Great times Gordon and I had in Philly. ! Oh The stories we can tell !
Share some of those stories you can tell.