Updated: May 6
The most frequently asked question of me and the one that I ask most frequently of my readers is: "What is your most favorite part of the story?" The answer from me is always the same, but answers from others vary depending on one's perspective.
For me, in retrospect of the entire story; unquestionably my favorite part is what I call 'The Moment" as described on page 238 of 90° to Zamboanga.
For the past two months, I had fantasized about sailing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge at dawn, smoking a giant joint, while listening to the Rolling Stones turned up to maximum volume.
Now, on a crisp, clear late winter morning as the sun rose over the Berkeley Hills, a red eyed, Dexedrine wired Joe popped in the tape of Mick Jagger’s 1969 Performance album and cued up the song entitled Memo to Turner.
‘... Come now, gentlemen, I know there’s some mistake How forgetful I’m become, now you fixed your business straight... ’
Two hundred and fifty eight feet above the heeling picturesque white yawl, the morning traffic was getting started. It seemed to be an endless procession of head- lights and tail lights carrying commuters across the bridge from Marin County into San Francisco. If everything went as planned, many of those commuters on their way to work, right above our heads at this very minute, would be enjoying the fruits of our labor in the very near future.
‘... Come now, gentlemen, your love is all I crave. You’ll still be in the circus when I’m laughing in my grave...’
Puffing on a joint of our precious cargo, wearing my personal talisman, the lucky blue shirt, underneath a turtleneck sweater and my float coat, I felt full,
as complete with myself as I had ever been.
In future years I frequently reflected on this particular moment and relished it.
‘... The baby is dead, my lady said, “You gentlemen, why you all work for me.”
However, my favorite response to that same question is from the DEA agent who chased and finally busted me, Jim Conklin.
As I was nearing completion of the story, I felt that the story needed another perspective other than mine. So, after 30 years I decided to contact the DEA agent who was responsible for binging down my operation, Jim Conklin. To say that Jim was surprised to hear from me after all those years is an understatement. I shared the story with him and, to my amazement, Jim was very supportive of the project. I arranged an interview with him and subsequently conducted it over an eight hour period. I told him that I knew most of the legal aspects of my case but was more interested in his personal story and that I wanted to develop his story as a parallel story to mine then tell the readers how our paths crossed.
So, after 30 years I decided to contact the DEA agent who was responsible for binging down my operation, Jim Conklin.
Jim was very candid about his story and described it to me in great detail which I transcribed and reported it in the story. He loved it! However when I asked him of his favorite part; this was the response from his perspective which can be found on page 31 (certainly different from mine... but in reality... "what could I have expected?")...
I had always felt like a square peg being forced into a round hole by my overbearing father. He was a self-made man who’d earned his chops by hard work and dedication and rose to the top in his field of business. He was
eventually appointed by a governor and two U.S. presidents to serve on their advisory counsels. Since I was the first born and only son of Jewish parents it was indeed a hard, if not impossible, act to follow.
Sarcastic remarks from my father were nothing new to me. I grew up listening to them and was almost constantly the target of such comments. I called it ‘sarcasm with a bite.’
One such comment has forever stuck in my mind.
One day when I was still in high school, I rather optimistically suggested to my father the possibility of following in his footsteps by applying to Stanford University, which he had graduated from in 1937. It was a long shot at best considering my less than stellar academic grades. His response was typical of what I’d grown up with and had to endure on a regular basis.
“Son, the only way you’ll get into Stanford is in their museum with your head in a pickle jar labeled: ‘The Man With No Brain.’”
So much for my self esteem.
So, if you have a favorite part please let me know and I will do a follow-up and include your thoughts...