Growing up in Chicago, with a culture-freak mother, I was exposed to the Symphony, Opera, Classic Literature, Jazz Music, Broadway Shows, the Ballet, and the Chicago Art Institute. My early influences included Picasso, Nijinsky, and Mad Magazine.
After attending a K through 12 private school (where I had to wear a tie and jacket every day), I graduated, with the intention of never wearing a tie again, and attended college in Northern California, where my focus was Modern Dance and Film Studies. It became clear early on that I would not have a career as a dancer. Luckily, I could make films.
I spent my junior year in Japan. I lived with a wonderful Japanese family, made a documentary about an orphanage in Kyoto, and enjoyed an internship with the film director Masahiro Shinoda. I left school, a few units short of graduating, to attend the Art Center College of Design, where I became a movie-making machine, churning out short after short, culminating in my thesis film, Parting Shot (the longest student film ever), which garnered an extremely positive review in the Los Angeles Times.
My Hollywood career started with a bang: writing, producing, and directing TV commercials; writing screenplay adaptions of the novels Call it Sleep and Howling at the Moon; writing and directing multiple episodes of The New Leave it to Beaver show; making documentaries (among them Poker Town, about the world championships of poker); co-producing a comedy series for Fox TV, Metropolitan Hospital, and completing countless spec screenplays, which were a joy but never saw the light of day.
In mid-career, my momentum came to a screeching halt. I blamed Hollywood for my demise, but it was entirely on me. My father had been an alcoholic who died at the age of 43. His alcoholism had an enormous impact on me. As a little boy I vowed to never be like my dad, but by my early twenties I had become him. Having functioned fairly well for years, my drinking eventually rendered me unprofessional, self-destructive, and eventually, unemployable. I burned bridges and destroyed my once excellent reputation.
After finally getting sober, I had to work hard to get back on track. Slowly, I regained my footing. My alma mater, Art Center, hired me to teach screenwriting and film production. I co-created a web series about life in sobriety called Restless, Irritable and Discontented, worked regularly as a script doctor, rewriting troubled feature scripts, and collaborated with other writers on screenplays. My most recent script, The King and Me, is in development, with Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Aniston attached to star. By far my favorite collaborations were with my nephews on their bar mitzvah speeches.
Today, with 33 years of sobriety, I have moved from L.A. to a small town, Ojai, where life slowed down enough for me to write my pet project, my memoir, Blotto: Adventures in Alcoholism / Ruin to Recovery.
Blotto: Adventures in Alcoholism / Ruin to Recovery
I wrote my memoir, Blotto: Adventures in Alcoholism / Ruin to Recovery, because I had to. It was a compulsion. A need. After a 25-year career as a screenwriter, I became, for the last eight years, a corporate headhunter - a lucrative job, but one that demands very little creativity. For years, I have been yearning for a creative outlet, and now, having retired from headhunting, I am finally able to dedicate myself entirely, not only to a creative endeavor but to an extremely meaningful one. This book allows me to be of service to people in need of what I have to offer. To give back what I’ve been given. It provides me the opportunity to make a difference.
After a devastating early life of hard-drinking, I got sober 33 years ago. During those years, I attended thousands of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, where I have seen countless sufferers dramatically change their lives and return to the human race. I have witnessed too many miracles to count. AA offers a wide array of tools for recovery, but in my opinion, at the center of everything, is the act of storytelling. Stories are told by speakers, sponsors, and in personal sharing by everyone at meetings. The sense of identification, of not being the only one with the problem, and of the fact that there is a solution, has an extraordinarily healing effect on the storyteller and listener alike.
In AA there is no promotion, proselytizing, or recruitment involved. There is only attraction. And attraction is achieved primarily through the stories that alcoholics tell and hear. This book, Blotto, is simply that. A story. My story... of a life divided into two parts. The first part is the story of a guy who simply can’t stop drinking, who loses everything, and becomes utterly hopeless. The second part is about the same guy, who gets sober, rebuilds his life, becomes happy, comfortable and useful. The book is sometimes disturbing, sometimes funny, but always relentlessly honest. Blotto explores dysfunctional families, bipolar disorder, show business, relationships, recovery, divorce, death, foot fetish, culture, education, Jewishness, and God, all through the lens of alcoholism.
My sincere hope is that my book will provide comfort, hope, and direction to anyone (and their loved ones) dealing with alcoholism and addiction. Blotto is not an “inside baseball” book. Certainly, people dealing with alcoholism and addiction will relate, but I have endeavored to write in a manner that will have a universal appeal to anyone who enjoys a compelling read about personal redemption.