NOVEMBER BELONGS TO P.F. SLOAN.

https://youtu.be/PuzfF4D55qI

P. F. SLOAN

(SEPTEMBER 18, 1945 – NOVEMBER 15, 2015)

A REMEMBERANCE

By Steve Fjeldsted, Director Of Library, Arts & Culture, City Of South Pasadena

November 16, 2015 was probably my saddest day at the South Pasadena Library.  Sorrow enveloped me when I opened an email from S.E. Feinberg, the playwright and script doctor, informing me that the great singer-songwriter and record maker P.F. Sloan had died the night before. The tragic death of P.F. Sloan occurred a mere eight days after he was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the time of his very untimely passing, Sloan was in the midst of a remarkable comeback and returning to the spotlight after an absence for more than 30 years from the music industry. P.F.’s disappearance from the public eye and ears in 1968 was shrouded in mystery. It was especially surprising because of only a few short years before, he was one of the most prominent figures on the American rock music scene. In 1970 singer-songwriter Jim Webb, the GRAMMY-winning composer of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” Wichita Lineman,” and “MacArthur Park” wrote and recorded a song called “P.F. Sloan” that lamented Sloan’s vanishing completely.

On September 18, 1945 Philip Gary Schlein was born in New York City. In the 1950s he and his family moved to Los Angeles and changed their last name to Sloan when his pharmacist father experienced anti-Semitism when trying to purchase pharmaceuticals for his drug store. Phil’s sister had called him Flip and his nickname later became P.F., shorthand for ”Philip Flip.”  At age 12, P.F.’s father bought him a guitar, and it led to a chance music lesson with none other than Elvis Presley that same year at Wallach’s Music City in Hollywood. By age 14, Phil Sloan signed with Aladdin Records and when he was 15 his song Kick That Little Foot, Sally Ann was recorded by Harry Belafonte. By his mid-teens P.F. was writing polished songs and he was teamed up with Steve Barri, an older music industry professional who would remain his co-writer for more than a decade, often in name only. With Barri he attempted to score a hit single under such names as “Philip and Stephan,” “The Rally Packs,” and “The Lifeguards” before finally breaking through.

In the 1960s P.F. Sloan wrote a flood of topnotch songs, including such hits as You Baby and Let Me Be by the Turtles, Take Me For What I’m Worth by The Searchers, A Must to Avoid, by Herman’s Hermits, Another Day, Another Heartache by the Fifth Dimension, and Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers. On that track he played the unforgettable opening guitar riff. Sloan also played the iconic acoustic guitar refrain on California Dreamin’ by the Mamas & the Papas and ghosted the falsetto vocal for Jan and Dean’s Little Old Lady from Pasadena. P.F. Sloan was a highly accomplished musical jack- of- all trades whose name and distinctive stylistic stamp could be found on some of the most popular records of the day.

Some of Sloan’s other numerous music industry triumphs include bringing an unknown British group named The Beatles to the attention of tiny Vee Jay Records in Chicago, and producing “Paint It Black,” a landmark record by the Rolling Stones. P.F. Sloan is probably most well known for writing Eve of Destruction in 1965 for Barry McGuire. The groundbreaking song was extremely controversial at the time because it referenced the Vietnam War and civil rights and depicted a world of injustices and impending doom. Politicians decried the catchy song and some stations even banned it, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a Number 1 hit around the country. Eve of Destruction also is credited with lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 because of its searing line, “You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’” which led to the introduction of the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

P.F. Sloan also experienced extraordinary career and personal heartaches, like having a knife drawn on him by Papa John Phillips backstage at the Monterey Pop Festival and confrontations with record mogul Lou Adler. In June 2014 he returned from a tour of England where he was enthusiastically received by capacity audiences.

In 1966 P.F. Sloan also recorded the album Where Were You When I Needed You? by the Grass Roots, even though the group did not yet exist. When the title song became a hit, members for the group were recruited and the Grass Roots went on to record eight Top 40 hits including Midnight Confessions, and Let’s Live For Today which are still frequently played on oldies stations around the country. In their prime the Grass Roots appeared on more than 50 TV shows and sold more than 20 million records.

Two of the recruits for the original Grass Roots were Warren Entner and Creed Bratton and they teamed up with P.F. Sloan for his 2014 concert at the South Pasadena Library. Iit was the first time they’d performed together in 45 years!   Their musical simpatico was immediately evident, not only because of their former association but also because they’d been recently rehearsing vigorously. Warren Entner was the unannounced surprise guest for the concert along with Creed Bratton, a fellow original member of The Grass Roots. Bratton is now also known for his stellar work in the long-running hit ABC TV series, “The Office.”

More than 200 enthusiastic audience members attended the Library’s P.F. Sloan concert and it was there I met John York, formerly of The Byrds, who was later one of the headliners for the Library’s May 3, 2015 Eclectic Music Festival concert. P.F., Warren, and Creed were in fine form that night and received several standing ovations, including one for Eve of Destruction. My friend Carol Schofield, owner of Ms. Music Productions, deserves much of the credit for initially obtaining P.F. for his appearance here. Her company had just released “My Beethoven,” P.F. Sloan’s first new album in ages and his wonderful autobiography, “What’s Exactly The Matter With Me?: Memoirs Of A Life In Music,” co-written with Feinberg, had just been published. The riveting book revealed a wealth of highly personal, fascinating background details about the major inspirations, successes, and frustrations of one of the most prolific and influential musical geniuses to emerge in the 60s.The book also explained the shocking reasons for Sloan’s 30 year retreat from the music industry after he had already rapidly scaled its heights while still in his early 20s.

I’d been staying in touch with P.F. since his magnificent performance at the Library in October 2014. In an email to me around that time, P.F. revealed that the Library’s “Carnegie Stage” was among his favorite venues. He was already practicing for a return engagement to the South Pasadena Library in the spring of 2016 and for the first time before a live audience he would be playing the wonderful songs from his brilliant 2014 album, the classical “popera” “My Beethoven,” on which he combined his sterling vocals and piano playing with a string section to provide an intimate portrayal of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of his heroes. During a radio interview with me and standup comic and writer Carl Kozlowski ‘s “Kozversations” podcast show that can still be heard here, P.F. revealed that he didn’t like to go a single day without listening to Beethoven. I’d told him on the show that I thought his autobiography made Bob Dylan’s “Chronicles Volume 1” seem like a rough draft by comparison.

P.F. Sloan was clearly in fine spirits the last year and working hard to try to make up for some of the time he’d lost. Despite his decades-long absence from the music industry, during which he’d been spent time selling insurance and making a spiritual pilgrimage to India, his singing voice had astonishingly remained strong and clear.

During my 9+ years as the Director of the South Pasadena Public Library I’ve coordinated more than 250+ events consisting of Author Nights, concerts, film screenings, plays, and living history performances. The P.F. Sloan concert was easily one of my favorites, not only because of his prodigious talents, but especially because he was so friendly, personable and approachable. These qualities are not always seen in persons blessed with such great talents.

In March my wife Peggy and I had attended a terrific concert in the Masonic Hall of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where P.F. had opened for Rumer, the female British singing sensation. After parking next to Mel Blanc’s gravestone with its famous “That’s All, Folks” epitaph, we entered the beautiful hall and witnessed an intimate, unforgettable concert. P.F. Sloan played a brief opening set, accompanying himself on guitar. His set may have been short but it was unforgettable and for the first time I really heard the Elvis influence. Afterwards he signed my poster confirming again that he would be making an encore performance at the South Pasadena Library in 2016. Sadly,, that now won’t be happening, but I’m extremely grateful that the Library was able to present him when we did. P.F. Sloan will be missed for a long time by many, although at least the world will still have lots of great music that he left behind.

 

Drug Dealer’s Big Score: A World Famous Film Festival

His senior year in high school, Leonard Buschel decided to sell drugs and shared this idea with his mother. We doubt it went anything like this:

“I’ve decided upon my career path: I like smoking pot and I’m real good at math. Oh? Don’t you think I should? Yes,the risks are high, but so am I, and beside the hours are good.

“If you must sell drugs, be a dealer to be trusted, and watch your back — you don’t want to get busted!”

“Busted? Oh no, that wouldn’t be fun, chased by the cops, and a life on the run, and what about fatherhood if I have a son… or two?”

What would Moses do?

Moses was chased, not chaste, and neither was Buschel…he and his pals raised all kinds of hell.  Then, one day, not wanting to be arrested, Leonard ran off to where his urine was tested — Betty Ford was the name of a President’s wife, and she was so drugged up it caused national strife. (Her hubby, too, was a recalcitrant drinker but she took the heat so he wouldn’t look like a stinker)

Three days and one step later, Leonard had an epiphany for the better. “I don’t need all this drug-addled strife, in fact, I think I can really enjoy life. I will follow my passion — cinema is in fashion – so I say, no more puffing and gulping my way to a stupor! I’ll have a film festival, won’t that be super?”
Super indeed and like Topsey it grew — larger and larger, so what could he do, but take it worldwide where it became a hit too!


Now filmmakers line up by the door eager to be part of Leonard’s Big Score — Recovery in all of its forms, from halfway houses to Ivy League dorms.  Festival #9 was a thrill for the audience and the projectionist, proving Leonard Buschel a recovery exhibitionist.

This year’s festival was as good as ever, and #10 next year will be even better.

Women Do NOT Have Friends for Life; Men Have Guys they Know.

We profess love for our friends, but often what we think is “love” is not love, nor even true friendship

“…the love which sometimes exists between friends is not (true) love because it is subject to transmutation; this is merely fascination. This kind of love is originated by the accidental conditions of life. This is not love, it is merely acquaintanceship; it is subject to change. Today you will see two souls apparently in close friendship; tomorrow all this may be changed. This is not love; it is the yielding of the hearts to the accidents of life. When that which has caused this ‘love’ to exist passes, the love passes also; this is not real love.”  – Abdu’l-Baha

What we call love and unity are simply acquaintanceship and situational familiarity.

There is great wisdom in the advice, “Beware of those who would be your friends too soon.”

Oh how often indeed have I invested relationships with a depth that exists only in my own longing.

Children create imaginary friends. Adults create imaginary friendships.   Both reveal the tenacity of our human desire to connect and stay connected, even with those with whom the connections were, in the final analysis, ephemeral and fleeting.

What is the basis of lasting friendships?

Being worthy of the trust of others is the basis for all lasting friendships

 

 

INSIDE THE RUSSIAN MAFIA

In my many years as a true crime writer and investigative journalist, I know that the best cops can think like criminals, and sometimes they are the same people. The recent book Betrayal in Blue exposes the blatant criminality of Michael Dowd and Ken Eurell when they were in the NYPD. Those guys could think like criminals because they were criminals.

I’ve also learned that most law enforcement officers and agents are fundamentally incapable of thinking as if they were major mobsters or small time crooks. That’s good news for them and their families. It is the very lack of criminal mindset that hinders investigations and often has well meaning and dedicated detectives spinning in circles. [here comes a mixed metaphor/simile mash-up for which you must brace yourself like Jerry’s Kids on Labor Day Weekend]..and chasing red herring down a dead end street into a box canyon constructed of false assumptions and erroneous preconceptions.

When it comes to any organized or disorganized crime investigation, you are blessed if you can get someone on the inside to teach you what’s real and what’s media hype, criminal exaggeration or the cops having it all wrong to begin with.

Example:

More than thirty people were charged by federal authorities in a massive illegal gambling, money laundering, and extortion scheme tied to Russian organized crime, according to an indictment in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York.

The operation allegedly involved two criminal organizations, which catered to millionaires, billionaires, and poker pros.

That sounds interesting – how about this?

Miami becomes ‘Little Moscow’: FBI says Russian mob eclipses Italian Mafia in South Florida

Who is going to know more about the Russian Mob than someone who was raised on Russian, and born into the world of international crime? Stanley Nechayev meets that criteria, he even lives in South Florida, and has enough symbolic body art to validate his career.

Stan won’t talk to just anybody. I’m not just anybody. I’m the legendary Burl Barer, and he talks to me.

He would also talk to Howard Lapides because Howard survived 89 days with Paula Abdul, and that earns the respect of anyone who has lived life on the edge,

Listen this Saturday 2pm Pacific Time / 5pn Eastern Time when a retired Russian mobster who is a loyal listener of our show, joins us on True Crime Uncensored.

INSIDE THE RUSSIAN MAFIA

In my many years as a true crime writer and investigative journalist, I know that the best cops can think like criminals, and sometimes they are the same people.  The recent book Betrayal in Blue exposes the blatant criminality of Michael Dowd and Ken Eurell when they were in the NYPD. Those guys could think like criminals because they were criminals.

I’ve also learned that most law enforcement officers and agents are fundamentally incapable of thinking as if they were major mobsters or small time crooks.  That’s good news for them and their families. It is the very lack of criminal mindset that hinders investigations and often has well meaning and dedicated detectives spinning in circles.  [here comes a mixed metaphor/simile mash-up for which you must brace yourself like Jerry’s Kids on Labor Day Weekend]..and chasing red herring down a dead end street into a box canyon constructed of false assumptions and erroneous preconceptions.

When it comes to any organized or disorganized crime investigation, you are blessed if you can get someone on the inside to teach you what’s real and what’s media hype, criminal exaggeration or the cops having it all wrong to begin with.

Example:

More than thirty people were charged by federal authorities in a massive illegal gambling, money laundering, and extortion scheme tied to Russian organized crime, according to an indictment in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York.

The operation allegedly involved two criminal organizations, which catered to millionaires, billionaires, and poker pros.

That sounds interesting – how about this?

Miami becomes ‘Little Moscow’: FBI says Russian mob eclipses Italian Mafia in South Florida   Stan2

Who is going to know more about the Russian Mob than someone who was raised on Russian, and born into the world of international crime? Stanley Nechayev meets that criteria, he even lives in South Florida, and has enough symbolic body art to validate his career.Stan tats

Stan won’t  talk to just anybody.  I’m not just anybody. I’m the legendary Burl Barer, and he talks to me.

He would also talk to Howard Lapides because Howard survived 89 days with Paula Abdul, and that earns the respect of anyone who has lived life on the edge,

Listen this Saturday 2pm Pacific Time / 5pn Eastern Time when a retired Russian mobster who is a loyal listener of our show, joins us on True Crime Uncensored.  

How I was restored from insanity to eccentricity

Due to a combination of ADD and what my neurologist termed a “massive traumatic brain injury in infancy,” in order to function “normally,” I require stimulants. lots of them.  I take enough stimulants by prescription to launch a space station — the older I get, the more I need  My doctor wanted to move me from my current stimulant to Methamphetamine (yes, it is a real legal medication)

I knew for years that stimulants focused me, slowed me down and increased my attention.  If I didn’t have them, I was scattered, erratic, and so depressed that, as one specialist told me, “a good mood to you would be suicidal depression to anyone else.”

I took stimulants from the street and they worked. When my family found out, they insisted that I stop.  I stopped and then I was told that they could tell I was on drugs because I was spacey, erratic, couldn’t focus etc.  So, I went back on them and was praised for doing so well.  It was crazy.

Two weeks before I entered Beit Teshuva, November 2004, I was living just off Crack Alley between Sherwood street and the Commercial Center, home of the Las Vegas Lounge, aka the transgendered center of Sin City.

I had been without my mental health medication since losing my insurance Oct 30th 2003, I was being evicted from my apartment for playing loud Mariachi music at 6 am every morning. (a false accusation, I assure you), my former roommate had stolen my identity and looted my bank accounts of every cent and committed bank fraud in my name. I was broke, mentally unstable, and had just walked downstairs to find my dog, Isis, performing oral sex on a girl named “Froggy” while a 19-year-old prostitute from Texas was shooting Heroin.

I didn’t invite any of these people over, and I had no idea they were in my home until I went downstairs

Not wanting to appear inhospitable, I nonetheless objected to this get-together. My appeals fell on heavily medicated ears.Due

“Don’t get uptight,” croaked Froggy, “We’ll hit the house. She pointed to her purse on the couch arm. “There’s a quarter ounce there. Take it. It’s yours.”

I took it, turned, and went back upstairs to hide under the covers

Within the next few days, my Mariachi motivated eviction on the horizon, I moved my remaining valuables into the closet of someone else’s apartment down the street, and then stood in front of Sunrise Hospital and prayed with total sincerity.

“God, unless you have a better idea by 7 pm tonight, I’m going to do whatever it takes to be admitted to the psych ward.”  I was serious. I had tried everything to get the medications required to keep me somewhat sane and neither suicidal nor dangerous to others.  Nevada mental health refused me because “If you don’t take them, you can sell them.”

“I don’t want to sell them, I want to take them. I need them.”

“Sorry, we are forbidden to give anyone those precise medications.”

Well, It was approaching 7 pm, and I was ready to start smashing windows and babbling like a crazy person. Hell, the cops won’t shoot me, I’m not Black.  At 6:45 pm my brother, Stan, called my cell phone. He’d been talking to my friend John Hill whose daughter recovered from her drug related problems at Beit T’shuva, a rather wacky odd-ball rehab run by a former felon turned Rabbi, his wife, and a crew of real life certified professionally trained counselors.  Would I go? Sure, but I have to talk to them first because there are two things I need assurances of, or I’m opting for the psych ward.

  • Don’t try to break my denial of my alcoholism, because I don’t drink, can’t stand the smell of alcohol, and I have a fear or drunks. from having been sexually abused by a guy with booze on his breath when I was 15. I went to a rehab in the 80’s where I was forced to lie and say I was an alcoholic. It was a dreadful experience, and I wouldn’t want to relive it.
  • Help me get my mental health medications from a real psychiatrist

Okay, I’m ready to go to L.A when my transgendered pal, Adele, asks if she can walk my dog. Sure. She walked the dog and came back without her.  Apparently, she left the dog as collateral for some meth she wanted on credit. She wouldn’t give me a straight answer on ISIS’s whereabouts, and I had to leave Las Vegas without her.

My first day at Beit T’shuvah could have been a disaster. I desperately wanted to do everything right, pay attention, and be the exemplary “student” or whatever I was supposed to be.  I’m sitting in some group and someone is talking and I’m trying to pay attention when I get the first warning signs of a seizure – not a grand mal, but the little ones that don’t last long, but knock me out cold.  They are going to think I’m nodding off from drugs, or that I’m not paying attention. I left the group and went up to my bunk and lied on my bed. When a counselor, Adam Mindel, came up to ask me why I left the group, I told him tearfully that I didn’t want to be humiliated by having s seizure.  I was braced for insults and berating…but he said, “Oh, Okay. I understand. You just rest till you feel better.”

Wow.  That was cool.  Then they assigned me, my own professional counselor.  This was an answered prayer. I feared some bombastic judgmental ex-drunk drill Sargent out to bust my denial and all that crap. Nope. I got Leonard Lee Buschel. Thank you, God!

Leonard was exactly what I needed. Someone who listened, rather than waiting for the opening to inject aphorisms and rehearsed catechisms from the Oxford Group via Bill W.  We had a conversation, like two guys with similar interests and backgrounds will do when they meet.

We also were among the few adult males in the building who didn’t utilize “Fucking” as the English language’s universal modifier. In fact, while working in the kitchen I replied to a question from a “senior resident“ in a most polite and courteous manner. “Don’t fucking talk to me like that,” objected the equivalent of an upper classman, “I’m not some fucking intellectual like fucking Leonard Buschel.”

“I fucking concur with your fucking self-appraisal,” said I, mustering all my fucking sincerity.

I got my psychiatric meds, a custom crafted program of exactly what I needed emotionally, and best of all I got Leonard Buschel as my counselor.  I never felt like he was trying to “fix me” or “change me” from whom I was prior to showing up there.

In the years prior to my Las Vegas meltdown, precipitated by a surprize divorce from my wife of 29 years, I established a firm and unassailable reputation for integrity as one of America’s premier investigative journalists. I entered the rarified ranks of such luminaries as Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane, Quentin Tarantino and Jack Olsen when I won the prestigious Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and was nominated twice for the Anthony Award at the World Mystery Convention. In both my private and personal life, I am, in the words of Secret Service Special Agent Lyle Workman, “A man worthy of trust.”

Of the many joys of having Leonard as my counselor, the most encouraging one was that he trusted me. This is very significant because many people, even counselors, can fall victim to assuming that everyone in a rehab is a liar and a thief.

One night, after Leonard’s shift, and before my bed time, we were going to go down the street to the Jazz Bakery.  At the last minute, Leonard had to cancel and said that I had permission to go without him. “If anyone questions you, have them call me for confirmation.”

Sure enough, I was stopped at the door leading out to Venice Blvd.by the new female counselor who asked me “where do you think you are going at this hour?”

“Jazz Bakery,” I said.   “Leonard has given me permission.”

The female counselor shrugged her shoulders with familiar minimum wage incredulity before calling Leonard for confirmation, and then saying, “Well Leonard has a reputation for doing strange things, and I guess he’s done it again. Ok. Go. Have fun.”  The jazz band, by the way, was most enjoyable. Honestly.

After I was at Beit T’shuvah for maybe two weeks,  Leonard gave me a pass to go back to Las Vegas to look for my dog.  The rest of Beit Teshuvah’s counseling staff was drop jawed by this most peculiar deviation from established norms – I was too new to return to Sin City because the Temptations would lead me to a ball of confusion, and I would never return, no never return, and my fate would be unlearned.

Before I left, Leonard gave me his personal Sobriety Pin and asked me to bring it back to him and not lose it.  I promised him I would and as I was getting my meds, it was easy to promise to stay off street drugs, too.

Leonard demonstrated the value of trust and reinforced integrity. I promised to return on the following Monday and test clean when I did. People were stunned that I kept my word — I am a man of my word, dammit.

Leonard’s best advice to me at Beit T’shuvah came at about three months into my four months stay:  “Burl, you thrive around creative productive people, using or not. Illness is more contagious than health. I think this place has too much toxicity for you. I suggest we get you the hell of out here,”

I went from that conversation with Leonard to a meeting with SONY, and came back with a contract for a “tie in novel” to an upcoming motion picture.  Yes, I delivered the novel on time and it did very well.  Leonard and I remain friends, and I’m honored to work with him on the advisory board of Writers in Treatment, producers of the Reel Recovery Film Festivals, and publishers of the highly successful Addiction/Recovery E-Bulletin on which I serve as a truth seeking investigating journalist and occasional contributing editor.

I was blessed, honestly, to have Leonard as my counselor at Beit Teshuva. He rightly perceived that I was neither afflicted with alcoholism or the disease of addiction, and my drug problem was primarily a lack of the appropriate ones rather than overuse of inappropriate ones. – and instead of lecturing me on what to do or not do in my life, he, as a loyal friend encouraged me to successfully make decisions in my own best interest, and in the best interests of those whom I love.  Nobody is perfect.  Perfectionists seldom accomplish anything because nothing is perfect.  Striving for excellence is successful because excellence Is attainable. If excellence were Leonard Buschel’s goal, he certainly attained it.

Copyright 2017 Burl Barer. All rights reserved.

 

Letters such as this make it all worthwhile. A TASTE FOR MURDER

When  Frank Girardot and I wrote “A Taste for Murder,” we knew we were taking several risks. We agreed to write it in a conversational style as we believed doing so would engage the reader more easily.

We also agreed to end the book with our personal commentary based on significant research and our own experiences investigating similar true crime cases where incest and other forms of inappropriate or unlawful sexual conduct played a key role.  We knew this last part was exceptionally risky as truth does not always fit comfortably with people’s preconceptions and we wanted neither to upset nor offend but to enlighten.

Today, Frank and I received the following letter from Carolyne Williams via our publisher, Wild Blue press. 

This book brought the effects of sexual abuse into a scope beyond my previous knowledge. I already knew there were pain and shame connected to the abuse, but not because the victim “enjoyed” anything. That they also experience shame for that is not something I knew about and it breaks my heart. It is truly a “soul murdering” crime.

The Author’s Comments should be a “must read” for everyone. You went beyond “telling the story”. Hopefully, many people have been helped, are being helped, or will be helped because this book was written.

I will highly recommend the book. It shows the remarkable damage done to the personality of the victim.

WOW.  A letter such as this makes all the hard work worthwhile. Thank you,  Carolyne Williams, for taking the time to read, appreciate and share with us,

On behalf of Frank, and everyone at Wild Blue Press who helped put the book together, I express gratitude from the bottom of my heart

Frank Girardot and Burl Barer

The First Panther — Pavle “Punch” Stanimirovic

I am on my way to Florida where gem heist mastermind, Pavle “Punch” Stanimirovic is about to open the vault and reveal a treasure trove of true crime, true romance, and the true history of home-grown American crime that gave birth to, among others, the notorious Pink Panthers.

“I made a big mistake,” confesses Punch, “when I taught others how to do what I did so well.  It turns out that some of them don’t have the ethical altruism of benevolent outlawry, or what one could call the ‘Simon Templar ethos’. These thieves know all the moves, but they don’t hear the music.  If their driving force is selfishness and greed, they are fruitless trees fit for the fire.”

“In 1994 the Panthers went into the Carlton Hotel in Cannes,” explains  Punch. “Three masked men took $60 million in diamonds and precious gems. When they came into the hotel, they scared the hell out of everyone by shooting up the place with high-powered fully automatic weapons…or so it seemed.  After the heist was over, police noted that there was not one bullet hole to be found. It was. all a show. The number one rule upon which I always insisted was, no one gets hurt.”

“I pulled my heists brandishing a .357 Magnum. It looked scary enough to get everyone to follow instructions, but no one was ever in danger of being shot because the gun had no bullets – only blanks.  It’s showbiz. It’s a performance. It is a well-produced melodrama, and the actors rehearse every aspect of it for three solid weeks before going in front of a live surprised audience.”

“Some of the actors only do one show, get their share of the loot, and invest that money in a legitimate enterprise such as real estate. Take a look at the New York skyline.  I can look up at those Manhattan skyscrapers and recall the heist that got the real estate company off the ground. We built the New York skyline by stealing Manhattan.”

Stealing Manhattan? Hmmm. Not a bad title for the book.  I fly out of LAX Monday night on the red-eye, and back Friday night in time to do my show, TRUE CRIME UNCENSORED, on Saturday 2pm pt on outlawradiolive.com.  You can call Pavle “Paul”  He used the alias Paul Montana when he married swimsuit model Ashley Richardson, and when he ran those hot night spots in Miami.   This should be a fun trip!

SIR ROGER MOORE — A SAINT FOREVER

Roger Moore, one of my all time favorites, has passed, He and I have been linked together, of course, ever since my books, THE SAINT: A COMPLETE HISTORY…and MAVERICK.  A wonderful and gracious man.