The accompanying photographs are the result of my always-moving eye to document the beauty and complexity of life.
My life partner, Sumire, often teases me that I write too much about the dark side of my life. Even my biography on this website is chock full of negativity. She tells me, “You have a long list of accomplishments. You should write more about them.” Yeah, but what fun is that? No one cares about the happy stuff. In today’s world, it’s all about drama.
But maybe, she has a point. I recently had to submit a resume (I didn’t have a bio handy) for an article that someone was writing about me being an older college student. It was the first time in a long time that I had read it, and I was taken aback by all the career work I’ve done in my life. Good work that impacted me and, hopefully, people I’ve worked alongside. I’ve traveled this country from New York to Washington, D.C., Hartford, Connecticut, Los Angeles, California, and international cities like London, Tokyo, and Cannes, France, fulfilling my work-life dreams. So why not take a moment to be proud of all I’ve done?
For example, during my twenty-plus years at the Los Angeles-based cable network E! Entertainment, I managed, in partnership with others, the growth of E!’s Red Carpet Shows into a major brand and a pop culture icon. Those years at E! were some of the most exciting times in my life. I led a large team of producers, writers, and technical professionals to produce live Big Event television covering the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, Grammys, and Primetime Emmys, as well as movie premieres and the ultimate icon, Fashion Police. I was on the ground floor helping build the network’s live red carpet coverage from a one-camera, one-host, two-hour program into multiple cameras, multiple hosts, and ten-hour live shows. I was an Executive Producer on Fashion Police with the late Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa Rivers. In addition, I worked on international specials, including coverage of the Cannes Film Festival in France.
During my early days at E!, I supervised a team of segment producers creating short and long-form television series and specials on various entertainment subjects, including Daytime Emmys, Grammys, Country Music Awards, and Academy Awards.
Near the end of my tenure at E!, I created my own production company, Really Big Boom Productions, with E! Networks as the first client, providing Executive Producer services on the highly rated red carpet shows. Locally, we also created the Color Me Long Beach Cultural Festival.
My work life in media (radio and television) extends back to the east coast from 1972-1978, when I was a television news reporter at WFSB-TV Eyewitness News, Hartford, Connecticut, a radio and television news reporter trainee at WTOP-AM-TV, Washington, D.C., and on-air host and radio producer at WHUR-FM (Howard University’s 50-thousand watt commercial radio station) also in D.C.
Filling in some gaps in my work timeline during the late seventies and early eighties, I was a Public Information Specialist in the Office of Mayor Marion Barry (another story) in Washington, D.C. I followed that up as the Executive Director for the D.C. Cable Television Design Commission, responsible for bringing Cable Television to Washington, D.C.
In recent years, I was the Publisher and Executive Editor of Palacio Magazine, a digital multimedia platform featuring stories about Latinos and other people of color. As if I wasn’t busy enough, I was the Community Engagement Coordinator for VoiceWaves, a journalism and multimedia training program in Long Beach for youth 16-24 years old to produce media content to foster a healthier community. Between gigs, I was a Small Business Advisor at El Camino College Small Business Development Center in Hawthorne, advising emerging and established small businesses regarding website content and multimedia strategies.
When I stop and consider that I’ve been working since I was fifteen years old (selling magazine subscriptions, dry cleaners, motorcycle messenger, bartender, airport shuttle driver, Wall Street clerk) and that I am now seventy-four (and still kicking it), there is much to be proud of, including my time on the board of Directors for Leadership Long Beach and the Arts Council for Long Beach. My life partner and I co-founded the arts advocacy group, The Creativity Network, where we helped rewrite the city’s Cultural Master Plan with the Arts Council. The list of good work includes all the volunteer work on the east coast, for example publishing a book of poems by Connecticut-based Puerto Rican poets called Revista and being a part of the first incarnation of the National Latino Media Coalition (Thankfully, it went on to survive in more capable hands. Oops, there’s that negativity again) in Washington, D.C.
Trust me, the list of good work is even longer: doing community work in 1968 in the South Bronx with one of my first mentors, Evelina Antonetty, at United Bronx Parents during the New York Teacher’s strike (hey, got me arrested and I wear it like a badge of honor), guerrilla community television in Washington, D.C. in the days when people didn’t know anything about portable video, the late great National Puerto Rican advocacy organization La Causa Comun, the Booker T. Washington Foundation with a man who taught me so much, the late Charles Tate.
I’m writing about this not to inflate my ego but to recognize that despite all the misadventures in my life, I’ve done more good than bad. Life is full of ups and downs, but we can survive the heartaches if we just put our heads down and move forward with good people around us.
As I prepare to head into the last year of my eight-year college journey to a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach, I take pride that at my age, I’m still kicking and wanting more from an already full life of good work. I will be seventy-five years old when I graduate, and I intend to go for a post-graduate degree because I haven’t been able to come up with a good reason why not. I plan to keep pushing because it’s who I am. As I often say, “Eat Life like you’re starving. You may feel full at the end of the day, but damn, it tasted good.”