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The Journalist's Talejoe2k.jpg (4219 bytes)

DISCLAIMER: (with apologies to Mark Twain) Newspaper editors, whose highly developed empathy and exquisitely sensitive natures render them especially vulnerable to emotional appeals, are hereby forewarned this is a self-serving tale lacking credibility. Editors without patience for irrelevant nonsense may go directly to credits.

     I started my career in professional journalism in January 1987, in my mid-50s. To this day I'm uncertain what moral defect has brought me to this low circumstance at a time of life when others my age are taking afternoon naps and chug-a-lugging Ensure by the six-pack.

     Until the late 1980s I led an ordinary, stable, exemplary existence, having already spent the first fifteen years of my adult working life as a sales and marketing executive for various large and medium corporations, and later, for a similar period of time, as owner of a series of small, interesting, almost successful businesses, mostly in the Chicago area.

     At that time, I went to a Caribbean island resort for a scheduled two-week vacation. Once there, I was seduced by palm trees, balmy breezes, and cheap but superb rum.

     I loitered for months, during which time, eschewing employment as a male escort to widowed tourists (largely for lack of demand for my services) I accepted the only job I could find there which required neither verifiable credentials nor real effort, joining the editorial staff of the twin newspapers, Puerto Plata News and Santo Domingo News, the Dominican Republic's largest English-language publications.

     Being one of the few native English-speakers in the area willing to work for $100 a week greatly reduced competition for the position.

     Still, time in Paradise passes as tediously as plot turns in Henry James' novels. Civilization beckoned. And my visitor's visa expired.

     The plane returning me for the purpose of resuming a normal life landed during a late-spring Chicago blizzard that was dumping the usual 24 inches of snow. The taxi-ramp beyond the hoar-frosted doors was a furiously writhing blur of sleet.

     So, I did the only sensible thing, retrieved my bag from the carousel, went upstairs to the check-in counter and got on the next flight back to Santo Domingo.

     Finally, after three more years of languid, feet-up mornings on my trellis-shaded patio, writing a weekly column and assorted freelance articles on a lap-top and periodically crying out for the housekeeper to cease scrubbing the floors or folding my brightly bleached underwear and bring me another freshly squeezed mango juice "Ħahora mismo!", I realized I had developed the same urgent obsession as everyone else in that island, to go to New York.

     On arrival in Manhattan in mid-1990 I jumped aboard a foundering vessel in the shape of Listin USA, a Spanish-language weekly where my singular, blue-eyed-gringo presence on the staff served to satisfy the occasional EEOC minority-hiring quota inspection.

     During that time I was both a member of the newspaper's middle management and the paper's sole native-born English-speaking feature writer whom the Editor-In-Chief could send out to cover mainstream politicians thirsty for ink and Hispanic votes. In this role I admit "responsibility", in the same perverted sense that word is used by international terrorists, for the paper's endorsement of Bill Clinton based on my face-to-face interview.

     Two years later, when the paper's investors ran out of money, patience and the fool-hardy courage upon which that misbegotten venture had been founded, I became a partner in a multi-lingual custom publishing company serving The New York Times, CMP Publishing, The Times-Mirror Company, International Planned Parenthood and others.

     Over the next two years, that enterprise managed to run up an amazing pile of unpaid bills, considering how few fungible assets it had to start. That folly and 1993 ended almost simultaneously.

     At that point, having continuously supplemented my income since 1987 with a steady output of freelance articles in newspapers and national magazines, I made the only career move available to a superannuated failure by becoming a full-time freelance writer. (Well, at least I didn't style myself an Editorial Consultant like every other out-on-the-street journalist during the recession.)

My freelance articles have been published in:

  • The Wall Street Journal, (bylined on editorial page)
  • New York Times, (experimental Spanish edition)
  • Chicago Tribune, (travel)
  • New York Newsday, (city life)
  • Jersey Journal, (various)
  • Newark Star Ledger, (travel)
  • Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine, (various destinations)
  • HandHeld Computer Magazine, (Palm programs)
  • Business News New Jersey, (corporate news)
  • Aviation International News, (general aviation news)
  • The Cobb Group (Ziff-Davis' computer newsletter subsidiary),
  • Porthole Magazine, (cruise travel)
  • The Journal of Commerce, (business profiles)
  • Cigar Aficionado Magazine, (various)
  • Listin USA, and others. (many various in Spanish)

Want to see samples? Visit my Clip File.

     I was a Contributing Editor of Honeymoon Magazine from its Premiere Issue in early 1995 until 1998. During that time I introduced a column titled, with obvious purpose, "Romancing The Net" which eventually evolved into the nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column known as Travel the Net. To my knowledge, it was the very first syndicated newspaper column about the Internet.

     Travel The Net was launched in June, 1997 with weekly self-syndication in dozens of newspapers across the United States and continued successfully until other opportunities deserved more attention in Y2K. 

     Along the way, I photographed and wrote The American Airlines Destination Guide to the Dominican Republic, and have served a long list of corporate clients, including The Presentations Group at J.P. Morgan and Co., as well as the Fortune 500 clients of an Internet web site developer with copy for their web sites and internal operations.

     I am the sole owner of BuildingHosting.Com the oldest continuously operating web site development and hosting company in Hudson County, NJ, founded January 4th, 1994.  As of 2009, that business now has clients in every continent, even India. In recent years, I have developed the habit of spending roughly six to eight weeks per year visiting them across America, various Caribbean islands, Europe, Australia, India and Malaysia.

    You can read about my 2006 journey at SprangleBlog.

    BTW - three of those clients are based in India, confirming my long-held opinion that out-sourcing runs in both directions.

     I've done occasional investigative reporting and production assistance, on-and-off camera, for CBS-TV's "Hard Copy" and Fox-TV's "A Current Affair." I've also done investigative reporting for the USA-based tabloids, The Globe, The Star and for the England-based London Star.

     Until 2002 I had been, for about 5 years, a frequent contributor to Aviation International News, the leading publication in the field of General Aviation.

     In 2003 I became an Adjunct Professor in the Continuing Education Department of Hudson County Community College, the largest county community college in New Jersey. I taught a variety of applications for the Windows operating system, including all the apps in the MS Office XP Suite, plus FileMaker Pro, Macromedia DreamWeaver, PhotoShop and Adobe Acrobat (with an emphasis on its Forms capabilities.) In addition, I frequently taught courses in

  • Avoiding and/or Surviving Identity Theft
  • Building an eBay Business
  • Avoiding and Removing Spyware
  • Detecting and Removing Computer Viruses

    Clients for those classes were usually corporate and governmental agencies supported by federal grant programs to broaden and upgrade employee skills. The college faculty and staff were regular attendees in my classes. Occasionally, I presented a Technical Writing course to incoming field staff of engineering firms constructing the Hudson Bergen Light Rail System.

    That life-long ambition to teach, was destroyed in 2005 by bean-counting fools at that institution who got it into their heads that I must begin filing a W-2 in clear violation of federal tax law that I am an Independent Contractor paid on a 1009 and filing my own taxes quarterly and paying my own expenses, my own Social Security and so forth. Their absurdity was exposed when I responded that I would do so if I was put on the faculty as a genuine W-2 employee with the generous benefits and privileges of those positions. They never did understand that I was teaching for the thrill of it but made twice as much money from my own business as from their fees.

    As of 2007, I live in Jersey City, NJ, virtually the only unattached male in a 59-unit apartment building filled mostly with unattached females of a certain age. I have no other hobbies.

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