Maybe I'll stick this on top, although it's not really a "publication" as yet. Last year I wrote and edited my first play, "In re Precious J.," a play about dependency court. [For those of you who have been fortunate never to have dealings with dependency court, that is where the State intervenes in the lives of families to take children away from their parents, usually because of physical abuse, sexual abuse, drugs, and so on.] I did all the dependency cases for more than two years in the court chambers where I used to work, so I became something of an expert on dependency law. I also found it to be perhaps the single unhappiest, most tragic area of the law, maybe even worse than criminal law. Because I had to grind through the records of dozens of different dependency cases, reading what the biological parents said about the situation, what the county social workers said about it, what the foster parents said, what the attorneys for each side said, etc., the idea for a play looking at the same emotionally charged dependency case from several different vantage points popped into my head. To this day, I've never seen the classic Kurosawa film "Rashomon," but people who've read the play tell me that it has a Rashomon approach, so I must see the film--but I certainly wasn't ripping it off, because I couldn't.
At any rate, rather than being one normal play, this is actually a suite of four interlocking one-act plays, each featuring one character offering his or her view of the situation. The play has yet to be produced, and perhaps it never will be. It might be somewhat difficult to produce (though not a lot of set or props required!), and it might be rather demanding upon the actors. However, being as objective as I can be, I'll say that there are some damn good monologues in here (which is not necessarily to say that each of the four lengthy monologues that form the four one-act plays are all entirely brilliant, but it is to say that most or all of them have some really strong moments, and various readers have agreed).
The characters include: a young Asian American woman attorney in her mid-to-late twenties; an elderly Anglo-American male judge; a young African American father in his twenties; and a Vietnam-veteran male Hispanic court bailiff and former prison guard.
[NOTE TO ASPIRING ACTORS: there might be some good material in here for your audition monologues. Having worked in the Biz some, I sometimes wrote my own audition monologues and found that casting directors were often delighted to hear something new that they'd never heard before, rather than just the same well-used monologues from Tennessee Williams, David Mamet, or whoever. Good to have some of the standard monologues in your arsenal, but good to have some other material, too. Anyway, the roles of the young woman attorney and the young father might be especially good for some of that.]
As I mentioned at the home page, I am an expert on environmental history and the history of air pollution. [Since there are only about six experts on the history of air pollution in the United States, I guess you could say I'm one of the top experts on the history of air pollution in the United States.] I spent several years as a history professor, teaching United States environmental history and general U.S. history at California State University Los Angeles and Rice University and researching various topics relating to environmental history. Here are samples of my writings.
The main item, my book--Don't Breathe the Air: Air Pollution and U.S. Environmental Politics, 1945-1970 (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2000)--may be found at Amazon.com and other online bookstores, as well as at research libraries around the world. [Yes--I'm proud to say that even the University of Botswana has a copy!] It addresses how the issue of air pollution went from being a relatively neglected local policy issue to a major national public concern and federal policy issue in the U.S. during the postwar decades, and how the federal government, which long sought to leave the problem in the hands of state and local governments, gradually got pulled into a larger and larger role as lower governments proved incapable of handling the problem on their own. Hal Rothman, longtime editor of Environmental History, the main academic journal regarding U.S. environmental history, considered my book to be among the best sources on postwar U.S. environmental history, as he told me before his tragic and untimely death from Lou Gehrig's disease a few years ago. I was especially honored by his verdict, since given his position, he had a greater overall familiarity with American environmental history scholarship than almost any other individual.
During the 1980s and '90s, the years of Reagan and the later Gingrich Republican Congress, American conservatives argued vociferously that the federal government was the problem, and all human problems could be better solved by lower levels of government (the "doctrine of subsidiarity," as William F. Buckley, Jr. called it). The same conservatives accused the federal government of aggressively grabbing policy issues from the states and localities that rightfully had jurisdiction over those issues. The history of air pollution control in the state of Florida through the 1950s and '60s, however, shows a lengthy record of state and local authorities stubbornly refusing to address a serious pollution problem in earnest, leading angry, frustrated citizens to seek help from the federal government, which ultimately culminated in federal authorities getting dragged into the issue and taking control of it against their will. This situation was typical of the history of postwar air pollution control in the nation overall.
By the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, along with the Reaganite conservative backlash, it came to be conventional wisdom that workers and labor unions inevitably must be at odds with environmentalists. However, labor unions and individual workers were strong and dependable friends of wildnerness preservation and pollution control throughout the 1950s and '60s. Later, the economic troubles of the 1970s--resurgent foreign competition, stagflation, the energy crisis--drove a wedge between the former friends and allies and erased the memory of their longstanding cooperation.
I'm proud to say that I was the first historian to "rediscover" the longstanding friendly relationship between organized labor and environmentalism in the USA--and I would have been even earlier, but for the incompetence and unprofessionalism of a certain anonymous manuscript reviewer for Environmental History who sat on my article for more than a year before dashing off various comments that showed that he hadn't really read or understood the article and didn't know much about the general topic. That cost me a $1,000 prize at Rice University, too. Oh well--academia has entirely too many of that sort of people in it, and I suppose you have to get used to them. At any rate, I didn't have to entirely rediscover the relationship, because I could remember it--I can remember reading about labor unions cooperating with environmental organizations in the Environmental Action magazine when I was only eight or nine years old. So perhaps the more interesting question is why the relationship was ever so forcefully dis-remembered. But that's an easy one: because corporations and other money interests wanted it to be forgotten so that they could unfairly bash environmentalists as "elitist" and try to drive a stake into environmentalism's heart--so they spun the issue aggressively, using their various paid mouthpieces in academia and the conservative think tanks. But, notwithstanding all their underhanded efforts, the facts are still the facts, and the truth must out (eventually).
One other comment on this issue, since I still run into organized labor groups and members who swallow the corporations' spin and unfairly bash environmentalists as elitists and blame them for abandoning the labor movement in the 1970s and 1980s--it was the other way around, people. Labor ditched the environmentalists during the 1970s and cozied up to corporate management in hopes of hanging onto American jobs. The corporations' chief spokesman, President Reagan, then of course went out of his way to break the air traffic controllers' strike as a means of more broadly undercutting and gutting the strength of organized labor in America. And the corporations shipped as many jobs as possible to non-union states, to Mexican maquiladoras, or overseas. So, organized labor, and especially those union members who were "Reagan Democrats" in 1980, made some disastrously wrong decisions while facing the economic troubles and pressures of the 1970s. But they shouldn't blame environmentalists for that.
Discusses how Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn led Angelenos' fight to force the Big Three automakers of Detroit to clean up their vehicles' emissions duirng the 1950s and '60s, culminating in a major antitrust suit against the automakers for conspiracy to prevent or delay introduction of pollution control devices. The suit was later settled by a consent decree, and the court records remain sealed.
Discusses how airplanes and other aircraft became a crucial tool in investigating and comprehending local, regional, and nationwide air pollution problems from an early date, both by carrying scientific instrumentation aloft and by allowing human pilots and passengers to see the problem from a new vantage point. Pilots were among the first people to be aware of the extent of America's air pollution problems, and some, including Charles Lindbergh, became important environmental activists. Later, however, beginning with research into aircraft emissions conducted by Los Angeles County in the early 1960s, aircraft and airports came to be recognized as significant sources of environmental pollution in their own right, sources that needed to be cleaned up. Ultimately, despite the Nixon administration's desperate support of the project, the American supersonic transport program was canceled due to worries about environmental impacts. Today, aircraft, along with orbiting satellites offering an even higher vantage point from which to view environmental problems, continue to provide an indispensible tool for air pollution controllers and scientific researchers.
Because women were often especially active and important in early efforts to combat air pollution, I wound up exploring that angle a lot:
Now I am also a legal scholar and researcher. In addition to having researched and drafted well over a hundred opinions for the California Court of Appeal, I have published articles regarding judicial process. Here's one of them.
The dirty little secret in the legal profession is that you're largely measured by the law school you attend, so once you get accepted, you don't really have to prove yourself from that point onward. I was early accepted at pretty much all the most precious law schools--Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, Boalt Hall (Berkeley); I didn't apply to NYU, Columbia, Duke, Virginia, or Michigan, though the story would have been the same; I only got wait-listed at ultra-precious Yale--so that means that I'm as good as any of the people from any of these schools (except Yale), only I didn't pay the extra $130,000 to get a degree from one of them. [And I'd have been accepted at Yale, too, if I'd used the letter "b" or "d" rather than "c" on the unfinished questions at the end of the Analytical Reasoning section on the LSAT, but I never took an LSAT prep course, because I find the whole idea sort of preposterous and, frankly, somewhat dishonest.] And I have documentary evidence to prove it! Legal education, and the legal profession, is a caste system, and any caste system is a fraud. That's my little screed on the subject for today.
Recently I applied to and was accepted for the Oxford University BCL degree program--the most distinguished Master of Laws degree in the English-speaking/Common Law world. And I was sort of proud of that, because, as opposed to the various big-name American academic degree factories, I sincerely respect Oxford and have been impressed by most people I've met from there, who have seemed to be genuinely intelligent, well-educated people, not just aggressive self-promoters and name-droppers with a grotesquely exaggerated sense of entitlement.