I got my nickname from that legendary Southern California poet, Phil Stephens.Â I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and I played pool, hence “Calgary Fats”.Â Â Phil and I both attended the University of California at Santa Barbara during the late 60s, UCSB’s silly season.Â I am told that it has since become a respectable school.Â It wasn’t then, which suited me just fine.
When I’mÂ at my day job, I am an organizer in the international department of a major American union.Â I run several projects in the Middle East which explains my presence in Iraq in 2004, and my love for Yemen which is where theÂ picture at the top of the page was taken.
I have just completed a novel, entitled Now Appearing in Baghdad.Â It is essentially a black comedy about an American software salesman who winds up in Baghdad a year after the US invasion.Â He figures he is the ultimate hip war profiteer, but pretty quickly heâ€™s in way over his head and consequently looses it.
I’m in the midst of a new novel, also set in the Middle East, Lebanon this time.Â Lebanon isÂ a natural choice, in a way, sinceÂ my novelistic mentors, if dead guys can be mentors are Graham Greene and Joesph Conrad. Â Â Neither of them wrote a story or novel based in Beirut, but many of their characters would sure feel at home there.