Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Summer of Love

In January of 1967, a "Be-In" took place in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. A counterculture of long-haired rebellious youth, called hippies, was emerging in the Haight-Ashbury district and the news media loved it.

During spring break, college students began pouring into the San Francisco Bay Area. Soon, an estimated 100,000 young people from around the world had flocked to the scene to frolic in a spontaneous free-for-all.

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair."
"If you're going to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there."
Song lyrics by The Mamas and The Papas in May of 1967.

On June 1, 1967, four lads from Liverpool, England, who called themselves The Beatles, released their latest album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." It became a certified Gold album on the first day of its release.

It was also the unofficial start of what was about to become the Summer of Love.

On June 16, a three-day International Pop Music Festival opened in Monterey, south of San Francisco. It was the world's first major rock festival. Over 200,000 people attended the event.

Some of the 32 performers groups included Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Mamas and the Papas, Canned Heat, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Simon and Garfunkel, Johnny Rivers, Buffalo Springfield, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Moby Grape, Booker T and the MGs, The Byrds, The Who, The Association, Eric Burton and the Animals, etc.

And if you don't know who most of those folks are, I pity you. There's some great music in this crowd.

Elsewhere in the world, it was anything but a summer of love 40 years ago.

During the summer of 1967, the Vietnam Conflict was going strong. I was in a U.S. Army uniform in Atlanta at the time, doing my best to maintain my sanity as a draftee until I could become a civilian once again.

On June 5, The Six-Day War erupted. Israel, fearing an imminent attack, struck Egyptian military targets. Jordan, Syria and Iraq entered the conflict. Israel annexed Arab East Jerusalem, captured the Golan Heights (from Syria), the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (from Jordan) and the Sinai (from Egypt). It ended in six days.

In the middle of the Six Day War, Israel attacked the USS Liberty, a U.S. Navy ship stationed in the Mediterranean Sea, killing 34 and wounding 171 crewmen. Apparently, Israel mistook it for an Egyptian vessel. Commander William L. McGonagle was awarded the Medal of Honor for remaining on the bridge and keeping the ship afloat for 17 hours despite multiple wounds. Israel apologized and paid $12 million in compensation.

On July 6, the Biafran War erupted in eastern Nigeria in Africa. It stemmed from rebellion against ethnic cleansing by government forces and would last more than two years, claiming some 600,000 lives.

Race riots were a popular sport that summer. They occurred on June 2 in Boston, Mass., June 11 in Tampa, Fla., June 27 in Buffalo, NY (14 shot, 200 arrested), July 12 in Newark, NJ (27 killed, 1,500 injured, over 1,000 arrested), July 17 in Cairo, Ill., July 19 in Durham, NC, July 20 in Memphis, Tenn., July 23-30 in Detroit, Mich (40 dead, 2,000 injured, 5,000 homeless), July 24 in Cambridge, Md., and July 30 in Milwaukee, Wis. (4 killed).

On July 29, 134 servicemen were killed on the USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam.

On July 30, Gen. William Westmoreland declared we were winning in Vietnam but needed more troops.

On August 3, President Lyndon Johnson authorized 45,000 more troops to be sent to Vietnam.

The hippies in San Francisco weren't too concerned with problems elsewhere. It was their summer of love.

But the fun soon ended. Overcrowding, crime, homelessness and drug problems overwhelmed the quickly deteriorating Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Most of the students returned home to resume college studies.

On October 7, those remaining held a mock "Death to the Hippie" funeral. The Summer of Love was over.

For me, the Summer of Love was in 1968. I became a civilian again and kissed the ground when I got home.

Several years later, I spent 3 weeks roaming around San Francisco. I even caught Janis Joblin playing a gig in a church basement during some sort of fund raising event. She sent enough electricity through the place to light the Fisherman's Warf and the Golden Gate Bridge. Fabulous city. But my inclination for a reclusive lifestyle sent me back on the road.

Love is the only sane answer to human existence -- it's not so much gazing into each other's eyes, but looking together in the same direction. It's the art of persistence and endless forgiveness. To find someone who will love you for no reason is the ultimate bliss. It's when the happiness of another becomes essential to your own happiness.

I have plenty of love these days -- I have a dog.

Quote for the Day -- "All you need is love." John Lennon (killed by assassin)

Quote for the Day -- "A coward is incapable of exhibiting love -- it is the prerogative of the brave." Mohandas Gandhi (killed by assassin)

Quote for the Day -- "Things do not happen -- things are made to happen." John F. Kennedy (killed by assassin)

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where things do not happen. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Cloward-Pivan Strategy

Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven are professors of sociology at Columbia University. Together, they published a plan in 1966 known as the Cloward-Pivan Strategy calling for the destruction of capitalism in America by collapsing the economy, creating social chaos and nationalizing many private institutions.

According to many sources, including Wayne Allyn Root, a classmate of Barack Obama at Columbia University in 1983, President Obama is using the Cloward-Pivan strategy to destroy capitalism and replace it with authoritarian socialism, whereby a majority of citizens would need government on order to survive, thereby ensuring their continued vote for bigger government.

Various actions would take place to accomplish this goal.

1) Universal health care -- This will add trillions of dollars to the national debt, helping to collapse the economy. It will add 15,000 to 20,000 new IRS employees, adding to government employee unions. It will lead to unionizing millions of health care workers. It will add 30 million people to a "free" health care system, thereby adding 30 million people to the roles of those supporting big government. All intended to create bigger government with more people depending on government.

2) Cap and Trade -- This has nothing to do with global warming, if it even exists. It is a scheme for the redistribution of income, gives government more sources of revenue and more control over the economy.

3) Stimulus and bailouts -- Follow the money. Money went to AIG to bail out Goldman Sachs which contributed $1 million to the Obama campaign. Money went to GM and Chrysler to ensure employees continue to pay union dues, thereby ensuring political support. Money went to teachers, a whopping $125 billion, once again protecting unions. Government grows bigger, the national debt becomes unsustainable and the socialists remain in power by securing more support.

4) Taxes -- Raising the tax burden on high income earners, small business and job creators, thereby slowing the economy through less job creation and adding to the national debt. Another ploy to redistribute the income -- punish success, reward complacency.

5) Legalize illegal immigrants -- Another source of political support. 12 million potential new citizens, adding a few trillion dollars to the social welfare burden. Another scheme to bankrupt America and increase the size of government.

6) Crisis management -- Create crisis after crisis and distraction after distraction. Overwhelm the senses. Create an atmosphere whereby people will demand solutions by those who caused the problems in the first place.

It is all unfolding before our eyes. A growing privileged class of public employees who work for and support big government, which is dedicated to destroying free enterprise. Socialist/Marxist rulers overwhelming the system in order to take over and be in control forever.

This form of socialist collectivism, which has failed miserably elsewhere, places the underachiever above the achiever, discourages innovation, curtails incentive to succeed, stagnates the economy and oppresses anyone who objects. Government becomes a suffocating organism that continues to expand, requiring obedience, bleeding the life out of its subjects, destroying individual freedom, spreading despair and enslaving the masses.

Driving the nation into financial ruin in order to increase the size and scope of the central government, thereby securing a stranglehold on power by forcing more and more people to be dependent on a monolithic central bureaucracy, is an insidious nightmare perpetrated by Chicago-style politicians who adhere to the principal of rewarding supporters and punishing opponents. Instead of bringing the country together, they are tearing it apart.

In this great land, we are entitled to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

We do not work for the government, it works for us.

The history of the world is one long battle for freedom -- a battle that continues to this day.

Quote for the Day -- "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Rahm Emanuel (White House Chief of Staff to President Obama)

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is another word for nothing else to lose. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Writing Screenplays

The itch to write is an overwhelming desire to take an ego trip into a thick fog.

As we blunder through life we tend to pick up a bit of knowledge here and there that helps us grow along the way. About 30 years ago I got the itch to write. I was living in the Hollywood Hills at the time, overlooking Universal Studios, and figured I could crank out a couple of screenplays, hit it big and live happily ever after.

Besides, I'm too lazy to work, too honest to steal and too opinionated to keep quiet. Writing seemed like a good way to glide through life with the greatest of ease.

I attended Sherwood Oaks Experimental College, an outfit that specialized in the motion picture business, and took every screenwriting seminar and workshop they offered for a couple of years. The instructors were all top professionals who felt obligated to give something back to the industry that had been so good to them.

TV producer, Maurice Singer, taught a class at Sherwood Oaks about TV series writing and production. From him I learned about the business of writing and the art of selling your material.

Robert Mundy was the editor of a movie industry magazine and a film critic. He would screen movies and meticulously dissect every plot-point and nuance. From him I learned foreshadowing and plotting.

Sid Field was a screenwriter and an associate producer for Wolper Productions. He was also the author of SCREENPLAY -- THE ART OF SCREENWRITING, one of the definitive screenwriting books. He taught a seminar about the basic formula of writing. From him I learned how to structure a story.

Robert Getchell, author of many successful screenplays including ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, BOUND FOR GLORY, MOMMIE DEAREST, POINT OF NO RETURN, THE CLIENT and others, taught a screenwriting class where he emphasized characterization. From him I learned how to define characters and construct dialogue.

Screenwriting legend, Ernest Lehman, conducted a workshop that included the screening of some of his films and lots of commentary about the process involved. Some of his works included SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, HELLO DOLLY, WEST SIDE STORY, SBBRINA, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF and many, many more. He was a grand old man with a wealth of knowledge. From him I learned many subtle tricks of the trade.

After my experience at Sherwood Oaks, I hooked up with two professional screenwriters, Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson, who were attempting to put a production staff of screenwriters together. They took me under their respective wings and taught me a great deal about writing. We eventually became good friends.

Peter Bellwood had won an Emmy for co-writing a TV comedy special and has had several of his screenplays produced, including MOUNT ST. HELENS, STEEL, PHOBIA, HIGHLANDER, and HIGHLANDER II. The last time I spoke to him, he was on his way back to England to work on another movie project. From him I learned how to make a manuscript flow.

Larry Ferguson went on to become a highly successful screenwriter, creating such works as THE PRESIDIO, BEVERLY HILLS COP II, ALIEN III, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, MASTER AND COMMANDER, many more. He now lives in rural Oregon and still teaches screenwriting classes. From him I learned how to be spontaneously creative.

I’ve been truly blessed to have had such brilliant mentors. I learned something from each one of them, and am eternally grateful.

Over the next few years, I wrote three full-length screenplays -- NINE-BALL JOHNNY (episodic pool hall adventures), OVEREXPOSURE (suspense/thriller) and MINOR CHANGE (suspense/thriller). I signed with a literary agent (Writer's West Unlimited) in Beverly Hills whereupon OVEREXPOSURE seemed to draw some interest from a major studio and an independent film producer.

I eventually moved away from southern California to a more secluded lifestyle and switched to writing novels. My four novels were published in the 1990s -- THE DOGMAN OF TOPANGA (romantic suspense/thriller), A BAD RUN OF FATE (psychological thriller), GOOMBA IN MONTANA (suspense/thriller) and THE ELEVENTH SAGE (metaphysical mystery).

In 2001-2007, I wrote a weekly newspaper column. After butting heads with editors for seven years, I switched to the freedom of writing blogs and have written over 200 blogs since the summer of 2008.

Writing is a lot like golf – it looks easy but takes a ton of practice just to reach par. And so far, I've had plenty of practice. I didn’t exactly hit it big, but I did manage to live happily ever after.

If you have a fertile mind and an itch to write, your only two choices are to do it or to spend the rest of your life wondering when you're ever going to get around to doing it. Once you start writing, the desire to write grows as you go along and the only way to fail is to stop.

If you have any other type of itch, consult your physician.

Quote for the Day -- "Characters should never enter. They should storm in, they should skulk in, they should tremble in. These are the only chances you have to create visual pictures in people's brains." Larry Ferguson

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and has the itch to have no more itches. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fear and Loathing

Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1937, Hunter S.Thompson was one of the greatest writers to ever put meaningful words to paper. He was brutally honest, bitterly cynical and brilliantly accurate. He once described America as "a long plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side."

In his book GENERATION OF SWINE, Thompson described heaven as "a place where the swine will be sorted out at the gate and sent off like rats, with huge welts and lumps and puncture wounds all over their bodies – down the long black chute where ugliness rolls over you every 10 or 16 minutes like waves of boiling asphalt and poison scum, followed by sergeants and lawyers and crooked cops waving rule books; and where nobody laughs and everybody lies and the days drag on like dead animals and the nights are full of whores and junkies clawing at your windows and tax men jamming writs under your door and the screams of the doomed coming up through the air shaft along with white cockroaches and red stringworms full of AIDS and bursts of foul gas with no sunrise and the morning streets full of preachers begging for money and fondling themselves with gangs of fat young boys trailing after them."

Thompson studied journalism at Columbia University and began his writing career in the military as editor of the Eglin Air Force Base newspaper. In 1959, he became a Caribbean correspondent for The New York Herald Tribune and later spent two years in South America as a correspondent for the National Review.

Years later, as he was writing a story about the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's magazine, he was up against a deadline that he couldn't meet so he jerked pages out of his notebook, numbered them and faxed them to the publisher, convinced it would be the last story he would ever write.

"Buy the ticket, take the ride."

Instead, gonzo journalism was born.

Gonzo journalism is a highly subjective and personal form of reporting, characterized by exaggeration and sarcasm. Fact disguised as fiction. The stories are basically true but driven home by outrageous observations.

Thompson was a literary giant in a world gone mad. The day after President Kennedy was assassinated he wrote, "The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency... I mean to come down from the hills and enter the fray." He went on to describe the "fear and loathing" that had engulfed him and vowed to henceforth vent his journalistic rage against the perpetual tide of injustice regardless of the consequences.

His contempt for politicians was legendary, characterizing them as "mainly dull people with corrupt instincts and criminal children." He called Richard Nixon "a swine of a man," Sen. Hubert Humphrey "a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack" and Sen. Ed Muskie "a vicious 200-pound water rat." He dubbed Bill Clinton "a white-trash hillbilly" and referred to boy George Bush as "a treacherous little freak."

From Thompson's perspective, reality was a daunting existence of inequity and horror. "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me," he once said in an interview.

He was the king of gonzo journalism. His beat was the death of the American dream and he was clearly in deep torment about the subject. For him, the American dream had faded so far beyond the horizon that drugs and alcohol could no longer blot it out, and there wasn't enough insanity left in him to overcome the anguish.

On February 20, 2005, Hunter S. Thompson put the barrel of a .45 handgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, then lingered at the gates of heaven, waiting to be sorted out from the swine.

But fear and loathing still permeate the long plastic hallway of America.

Thompson left no suicide note. His latest project was an expose on 9/11 (potentially the most important thing he would ever write, linking the government to the tragedy). He was on the phone with his wife, Anita, while his son was in another room at the time of his death. Later in interviews, Anita said she heard a muffled thud sound and was waiting for him to get back on the phone. His son said he believed a book had fallen when he heard the shot -- certainly not the sound of a .45 caliber handgun.

To add mystery to the mystery, Deputy Ron Ryan noted at the scene that the Smith & Wesson .45 found next to Thompson's body had 6 bullets left in the clip but there was no bullet in the firing chamber, as there should have been under normal circumstances. When one bullet is fired, the next bullet in the clip advances into the firing chamber. A spent shell casing was found nearby and a spent slug was found in the stove hood behind the body.

The conspiracy to silence Hunter S. Thompson also leads down the some very diabolical paths, which he may have also been investigating.

One path leads to Bohemian Grove, a satanic summer camp for rich, powerful global leaders located in a secluded area near Sacramento, California. Activities include mock human sacrifices made before a giant owl statue called Moloch, by neo-pagans in druid robes. This satanic ritual is called "The Cremation of Care." Moloch is a demon that requires human sacrifice, also referred to as the Prince of Hell.

Another path leads to a gay prostitute named Jeff Gannon (a.k.a. Johnny Gosch, a.k.a. James Dale Guckert) and a homo-pedophilia ring involved in high levels of the Bush administration. If you dig deep enough, you come across MK-Ultra, the Monarch Project, Lawrence King, boy prostitutes, snuff films, etc. Many spooks in high places want to keep a lid on such nefarious activity.

Fear and loathing abounds where good men die like dogs.

Quote for the Day -- "If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up." Hunter S. Thompson

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where fear is optional but loathing cannot be contained. His blogs appear on several websites, including