THE BLOG
09/29/2010 03:33 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Why Am I Here?

This is my introductory post. I thought I should tell you a little something about who I am beyond the bio, and hopefully that will make you want to become a regular reader of mine here at HP. So here goes.
I'm a kid from Whitestone, Queens, New York. I grew up there at a time when two families on our block still had three acres each, and when Dupey's Field was still half-swamp and lots of adventure. Which means I'm not a kid anymore because that was a long time ago.
I moved to Manhattan at 19, went to Hunter College--never did graduate though I spent several years there--and while there worked art galleries, drove a taxi, built loft beds and painted apartments. I wound up cooking, had a knack for it and was running decent joints in NYC by the time I was 25: Arthur's Court, Bayard's, Wilson's.
During those years I also loved hitchhiking and put just over 50,000 miles all across the US. What a way to see this country!
I also wrote. Diligently. And sold fiction stories and poetry to small magazines and had five plays produced off-off B'way. All of which stopped when I took my first trip to Peru, kept a journal, came home and sold several non-fiction pieces about the trip. Walking Magazine bought one about hiking the Inca Trail; High Times bought another about drinking ayahuasca, the sacred medicine of the Amazon, and made it a cover story. I decided journalism paid a lot better than writing plays or short stories, and worked at it furiously. By the late 1980s I was able to quit kitchens and earn a living as a writer, both freelance and as an editor for HT. My first big assignment there was to help revive the medical marijuana movement. That was followed by being asked to help invent the hemp movement. Then I sunk my teeth into the War on Drugs with years of work on property forfeiture, mandatory minimum sentencing, bad busts and how that war affected the Third World.
While doing that I managed to take a couple of months off annually, which I spent in the Amazon. I've never gotten tired of that jungle, her rivers, her people, her cultures. I married a woman from Iquitos in 1994, adopted her two young sons and in 1997 we had daughter.
In 1998 we moved from New York to Iquitos, Peru, where I opened The Cold Beer Blues Bar, just so I'd have a place where I could get a cold beer and listen to blues music.
We returned to New York in 2001, and then family issues caused us to move to Texas a year later. Which is where I am now. The boys are grown, my daughter is 13 going on 30, and my ex lives up the road. I recently published my first book, Ayahuasca in My Blood--25 Years of Medicine Dreaming.
So what will I be writing about here in the future? The Amazon, ayahuasca, shamanism, my wonderful, crazy, broken family, the War on Drugs, cooking, hopping an occasional freight, some politics and a dollop or two of...well, I guess we'll just see it when it gets here.