I was born in the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio, while my father was going to school at Ohio University in Athens. My deformative years unfolded first on the shores of Lake Michigan where my family tree was rooted, then in the fork between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in St. Louis. One of my first memories is of getting an airplane ride in a Piper Cub from one of my father’s co-workers at North American Aviation. Another is going to the sprint car races at Sun Prairie with my dad’s family. My grandfather had raised him and his brothers racing their own cars at dirt tracks and state fairs across the Midwest.
Mine was a childhood blissfully misspent riding my bike without a helmet, playing sandlot baseball without an umpire (and keeping score), playing “Army” or Cowboys & Indians on the battlefields of our idyllic subdivision and exploring the uncharted woods, ravines and creeks at the very edge of the urban sprawl of civilization completely unsupervised. As a teen, I was literally surrounded by great music with the British Invasion to the east, the San Francisco Psychedelia to the west, Chicago Blues to the North and Delta Blues to the South. I played guitar in bands that worked high school gymnasium dances as well as local bars (I “fictionalized” my age).
Being “just too darn loud” for the music conservatory at Baldwin-Wallace College, I transferred to Ohio Wesleyan University and majored in Philosophy & English. While I had some modest creative writing success in academia, mostly with verse, which I thought would help my lyric writing abilities, my focus was still music and I worked in three bands — at the same time: Lucky Pierre, a rock band; Blue Suite, a folk group; Four on the Floor, a bluegrass band. After graduation, Lucky Pierre stayed together and we played Central Ohio frat parties and the roadhouses up and down Route 42. I then moved north to join a band mate from high school in a schizophrenic group that went by the names Foots when plugged in, playing the bars in the Cleveland Flats, and Free Money when playing unplugged in coffee houses.
My day job indentured me to “Ma” Bell and I moonlighted part time in a local recording studio, mainly tracking and editing commercials, voice overs and narration, but occasionally getting to engineer music sessions. Free time was spent getting a Private Pilot’s license on the sod runway at Cleveland Hopkins Airport (KCLE). After a couple of years, I engineered an escape and moved to Colorado where I toiled as not even a cog — more like a smear of grease — in the Military-Industrial Complex peddling electromechanical widgets. I did the family thing and had two kids. I got my Commercial Pilot’s License, an Instrument Rating and a Certified Flight Instructor Certificate at Arapaho County Airport (KAPA). Since my job involved a lot of travel, I ended up piloting myself to different places all over the country, literally from Van Nuys Airport (KVNY) to the Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL) in nearly every different model of single engine flying crate from a Cessna Skyhawk to a Mooney 231.
I took a transfer back to Ohio and packed amongst my belongings were three-and-a-half novels fermenting in manuscript form. Eventually, I ended up following in the great capitalist tradition of being downsized, right-sized, capsized out of my last known regular job, so I stopped killing time in airline concourses and started hanging out on the flight line as a free lance flight instructor and rediscovered passions that, like Rip Van Winkle, had been slumbering for years after drinking the moonshine of the “American Dream.” I hooked up with an Ohio Wesleyan band mate and we formed the Acme Blues Rockets, which was once voted one of the top five blues bands in Northeast Ohio. To date, I’ve played over 750 gigs with a music group I started called Project Mojo and recorded a CD, Operation Thunderclap.
And now, the e-Book publishing model is enabling my story telling disorder. I aim to pay forward at least some small portion of the fun I’ve had and the discoveries I’ve made from reading great books, holding fast to the notion that while victors may get to write history, novelists get to write/right reality.
I reside on America’s North Coast (see below) with the lovely and gracious Lola, but I live in Mudcat Falls. When I’m not working, scribbling or pushing air in some gin joint, you’ll find me playing hooky turning gasoline into noise with an airplane a thousand feet AGL — give or take.
So it goes…
A 60 Second Biography
Where I Live
A Year in the Life of a Lake is a time lapse video of Lake Erie during 2011, compiled from over 25,000 photos taken during the year. From season-to-season, month-to-month, even day-to-day, the face of America’s “North Coast” changes, sometimes so much so that it seems to be a totally different lake in a different place. So, every morning at 8:30 am during 2011, the lovely and gracious Lora headed out to the exact same spot on a bluff in Sheffield Lake, just west of Cleveland, Ohio, to “capture the moment.”