I never thought I was going to be a journalist, even when I started publishing an underground high-school newspaper in Los Angeles in 1966. It seemed a lot more fun to boss around writers, rather than be one. Of course, I was right.
At age 20 I went to Chile and wound up working as translator for President Salvador Allende. I narrowly survived the September 11, 1973 military coup and finally wrote a memoir of those times, Pinochet And Me
, only a few years ago.
The biggest prize I emerged from Chile with is my wife, Patricia Vargas. We just celebrated our 35th anniversary.
Shortly after our marriage, we drifted from Hollywood, to Argentina to Italy and I found I had no marketable skills other than reporting and writing.
I have spent much of these past 35 years as a reporter, writer and correspondent. My articles, essays, and interviews have appeared in scores of newspapers from the Washington Post and the London Times and in dozens of magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s, to Playboy and Rolling Stone. I’ve also produced and reported documentaries for CBS News, PBS Frontline and the TV service of the Christian Science Monitor. At age 22 I reported the 1973 Middle East War from Egypt and Lebanon for public radio.
My work has also taken me to South and Central America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, South Africa and into every corner of America. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a stack of journalism awards including prizes from the Sidney Hillman Foundation, the California Associated Press Television and Radio Association, Columbia’s Armstrong Memorial Foundation, The California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists. Much of my international and domestic reporting from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s conducted as a special correspondent for the Village Voice
is collected in my first book, Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of A Radical Reporter
I’m on the faculty
at the USC Annenberg School where as Senior Lecturer I teach reporting and writing in the graduate journalism program. I'm also the Director of Annenberg Digital News which publishes Neon Tommy
-- the online publication of the School of Journalism.
For the past fifteen years I have been a contributing editor to The Nation
magazine. My reporting
for The Nation has ranged from investigating river boat gambling, to exposing exploitation of immigrant labor in the meat-packing industry, to covering globalization and labor, as well as state, national and presidential politics and international relations.
I’ve also worked as Senior Editor and editorial director of the OffTheBus campaign reporting project at The Huffington Post during the 08 campaign.
The last decade I have spent a lot of time reporting in Las Vegas. This allowed me to sharpen my already awesome Blackjack skills (I prefer hand-pitched single deck). You can read all about it my most recent book, The Last Honest Place in America: Paradise and Perdition in the New Las Vegas.
I’ve recently sharpened my talents in no limit Texas Hold’em (I’m the guy wearing dark glasses at the table).
I have a life-long passion for surf-fishing
, and got my first ham radio license at age 13. My current call is W6IWW
and when the e-layer of the ionosphere is cooperative I can be found lurking on 50.125mhz
or pounding psk-31 on 14.170 mhz.
My first car, purchased in December 1967, was a new Pontiac GTO. I reluctantly surrendered it when gas prices hit 25 cents a gallon, but I never lost the yen for roaring V-8’s. Now that gas costs ten times as much, I’ve returned to my teenage roots and can be seen cruising the 101 in a 350 horsepower 2004 GTO or in my convertible 2005 z51 Corvette.