I always have been interested in “the mind.” I grew up in La Jolla, California, a few blocks away from the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. While in high school, I developed a precocious friendship with Carl Rogers, its Director. I collaborated with Jean Mandler, a psychologist at UCSD, on various human behavior issues. An EEG study I devised with Dr. Laverne Johnson at the San Diego Naval Hospital won first-place in the San Diego Science Fair and the California State Science Fair. We investigated the presence of alpha waves at the occipital and parietal nerves while participants in the experiment listened to music versus static. At the time this was one of the few EEGs in Southern California, and its tube amplifiers filled an entire room.
Upon graduating as a class valedictorian from Point Loma High School, I went to U.C. Berkeley, from which I graduated with Great Distinction in Philosophy and Mathematics. One of my areas of interest was philosophy of mind, by which I mean primarily the frontier between “mind” and the brain – the relationship between lower-level sensory systems and higher-order constructs, such as “mental images,” mental events, the nature of consciousness, being-in-the-world, and what is involved in phenomena such as emotions, creativity, and intentionality. In addition to the then-standard curriculum of British analytical philosophers - most notably, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein - I studied theorists such as Charles Sherrington and Warren McCullough. My advisor was John Searle, who profoundly influenced my intellectual style. [Since Searle had studied with people who were students of both Russell and Wittgenstein, I figure I'm "third generation" in that lineage.] I worked for two years with Walter J. Freeman (now deceased), conducting experiments on the relationship between rabbit noses and rabbit brains. I also worked with Anthony P. Morse, and was a co-author on his book with Hewitt Kenyon, Web Derivatives (Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society, #132, 1973). “Consciousness” was out-of-fashion at the time but, in retrospect, I was present for the nascent beginnings of cognitive science as an academic discipline.
I was offered the opportunity to continue studying philosophy at Oxford University. However, at that point I had become concerned about its “disconnectedness” from actual human experience. I was (and remain) genuinely interested in people, and the things that people were interested in. With a view to implementing this objective, I went to law school at USC, where I received a J.D. degree. Even so, while in law school, I conducted a seminar in the Department of Philosophy on issues in Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Mind. This still is a controversial decision for me. After all,
law school is no place for sensitive people! Even so, I dutifully applied myself, and was good at what I did. I started with the Los Angeles law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. In addition to California, I became a member of the New York and Tennessee bars, and started doing work in those jurisdictions. I taught corporate law at Southwestern Law School, I frequently was appellate counsel, resulting in many unpublished and several published opinions: Estate of Denman, 94 Cal.App.3d 289,156 Cal.Rptr. 341 (1979); Tedesco v. Crocker Nat’l Bank, 148 Cal.App.3d 1211, 196 Cal.Rptr. 534 (1983); and later, when things got boring, Oliver v. County of Los Angeles, 66 Cal.App.4th 1397, 78 Cal.Rptr.2d 641 (1998), which rewrote California law pertaining to games of chance; and Kronemyer v. IMDB, 150 Cal.App.4th 941, 59 Cal.Rptr.3d 48 (2007), which held that internet data bases are exempt from the Lanham Act, a Federal statute prohibiting false advertising. Together with several honorable (and a few not-so-honorable!) mentions in other published opinions. I was Of Counsel to David W. Golde MD in a precedent-setting case involving disposal of diseased human organs that subsequently are commercialized, Moore v. Regents, 51 Cal.3d, 271 Cal. Rptr. 146, 793 P.2d 479 (1990). I became an expert in mental health law, and defended over 50 involuntary commitment cases. I also volunteered at what then remained of California's state mental hospitals. I was a Presidential Elector for the independent candidate John Anderson in the 1980 presidential race.
At the same time this was happening, I'd always been interested in music, having played guitar since I was eight years old. And once you're captured by music, it won't let you go. I produced concerts, for example, a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” featuring Galena and Valery Panov, formerly of the Kirov ballet; and, a performance of “Giselle” by Alicia Alonso, formerly of the American Ballet Theater and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. I wasn’t just involved with “high” culture; for example, I also produced a show by the late jazz musician Sun Ra and his Astral Infinity Arkestra, as well as a number of rock concerts.
So there came a time when I took a big detour. I stopped being a lawyer and became an entertainment industry executive – arguably, an appropriate transition from working on behalf of the mentally ill. In the early 1980s I became a Vice President of Capitol Records, the U.S. unit of EMI Records (then one of the world's largest record companies), based in Hollywood, California. I had an office underneath the Hollywood sign, in that funny round building that always topples over in movies about earthquakes. While at Capitol I devised and implemented the company’s distribution program for non-proprietary labels it represented, such as Solar, Enigma, Rhino and Curb. This not only successfully amortized the high fixed costs of operating Capitol’s distribution company, but also resulted in tens of millions of dollars of purely incremental revenue. Curb Records, for example, commenced operations with less than $3 million/year turnover, and grew to $50 million/year. I was on the team that defended Capitol in the industry-wide payola/independent promotion investigations of the mid-1980s. I designed an innovative “pull-up” mechanism that resulted in Capitol’s accession of popular acts such as “Poison,” and was responsible for business affairs issues at Picture Music International, a producer of music videos. After a decade at Capitol, I then became a Senior Vice President of Atlantic Records, a unit of the Warner Music Group, formerly part of Time Warner. There, I was responsible for west coast business affairs issues, including the company’s joint venture with Warner Books; motion picture soundtracks; and A*Vision, a producer and distributor of specialty video and low-budget features. In the late-1990s I segued into producing and financing independent films. Building on the video and film expertise I had acquired at Atlantic (and to some extent, at Capitol), I began working with Curb Entertainment, producer of “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” an early indi-film success. With Curb, I was involved in the production, financing and distribution of over 60 films (see film section); I also was involved in negotiations with many of their (frequently contentious) artists, including Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, The Judds, Hank Williams, Jr., Lyle Lovett, Merle Haggard, Delbert McClinton, and the Bellamy Brothers.
With a colleague, I co-founded a company called Soundbreak, which was one of the early Internet radio stations. We sold it at the height of the (first) Internet boom to a venture capital firm, then known as Acacia Research. With music producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Kiss, Alice Cooper, many other platinum bands) and colleagues Bill Hein and Wesley Hein, I then co-founded and was Senior Vice President of another collection of Internet radio stations, called Enigma Digital. After a while, we sold this to the large multi-media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. My work at Enigma was profiled in an article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal ("Mixing In," March 20, 2000). I represented several independent labels (JVC, Back 9, Breakaway, Sindrome), distributors (Navarre, Focus) and artists. I testified as an expert witness in over a dozen cases. Another venture was Gold Circle Entertainment, where I produced and financed its initial slate of 10 movies (see film section). After leaving Gold Circle, I formed my own company, Cerberus Films, where I devised an innovative methodology for financing independent movies by securitizing economic risk. That company’s most successful accomplishment was a private placement of $250 million in asset-backed securities in collaboration with J.P. Morgan-Chase and Goldman Sachs on behalf of Franchise Pictures (then, producer of “3000 Miles to Graceland” starring Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and Christian Slater; and “The Whole Nine Yards” starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet. Through an affiliate, Cerberus also had a development deal with DreamWorks Television, a division of Dream Works SKG, the entertainment company formed by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, then producers of “Shrek” and “Shark Tale” (among many other successful films). My work at Cerberus was profiled in an article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal (“Without a Script,” July 12, 2004). I was on the team that developed the technology for a program to broadcast live concerts and sporting events to mobile telephones, forming a joint venture between Verizon Wireless and LiveNation, the country’s largest concert promoter. I consulted for Universal Studios; Beacon Entertainment (owned by Anschuss Entertainment Group; then best known as producer of “Ray” starring Jamie Foxx, who won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor; and producer of “Chronicles of Narnia;” and Pixar Entertainment (then best known as producer of “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles”). During this period, I also was associated with RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, where I concentrated on pop culture theory, such as, does violence in media contribute to adolescent delinquency, and the implications of false-self identities on social-networking sites. I had a top-secret security clearance. And I very much enjoyed exploring the basement corridors of its old, iconic building in Santa Monica - what with that and the Capitol Records tower, I felt like this was Southern California at its phenomenological best. While at RAND, though, it gradually dawned on me that the key issue I should concentrate on was cultural applications of behavioral economics and psychological theory, a topic that still interests me. When one reaches a junction like this - a "point of seeing" - reality, and all of its affordances, suddenly become more accessible. So around 2006 I left RAND, again to pursue an ever-more-refined version of what my soul told me I should be doing.
As I look back on that phase of my career, I genuinely was interested in the music business, which now no longer exists the way it once was. It was with some trepidation that I started transitioning from music over to films. The music of the late 1960s-early 1970s was bold and adventuresome. In contrast, the films of that period (before the “new wave” of directors came along later in the 1970s) were mediocre, even when by the same director. Compare, for example, Francis Ford Coppolla’s “Apocalypse Now” with his earlier “Finian’s Rainbow.” In retrospect, I was not genuinely interested in the independent film business, except to the extent it provided a window into pop culture – a vital contributor to psychological theory, broadly understood. I came to realize that, after accumulating this peculiar amalgam of diverse and (occasionally) disconcerting experiences, it was time for me to exit the entertainment industry. As with the demise of the music business, there no longer is an independent film business the way I knew it – changes in the economic relationships of studios to producers, exhibitors, broadcasters and distributors have substantially changed it. In a way, I was like a steel mill worker in a town where there were no more steel mills. I also had become increasingly disgusted by some of my fellow inhabitants; and became generally concerned that I was accruing a deficit in my humanity. I resolved that, for the third half of my career, I would pursue my original interest, which is psychology and philosophy of mind, and their implications for social, cultural and even theological issues. I fairly can characterize myself on an expert in what I would call phenomenological psychology, that is, the implications and applications of theories originally developed by Marin Heidegger, Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss (I am a reasonably fluent reader of German).
The theoretical always must be balanced with the practical, and vice versa. Towards that end I became a clinical psychologist, Cal. PSY29946. For more information about my practice, please visit www.advancedcbtsolutions.com. A compelling argument can be made that considerable varied life experience is necessary before one has any idea about what one is talking about, particularly in this field. I came to specialize in anxiety and mood disorders. I'm on the clinical faculty at UCLA, where I supervise med school residents. I conduct all of the intake interviews for UCLA's intensive outpatient program (IOP) for persons with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I also have an appointment there as a research scientist. Initially our lab worked on applications of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for bipolar depression and OCD. Lately we've segued over to a cool new technology called low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation (LIFUP). Much of this research is being funded by Tiny Blue Dot Foundation, directed by Alexander Bystritsky, MD PhD. Other key members of the group are Martin Monti PhD; Mark Cohen PhD; Giulio Tononi MD PhD, who devised an approach to consciousness called integrated information theory (IIT); and Christof Koch PhD, Chief Scientist and President of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and a noted authority on these matters. For me, this is wonderful, because (among other reasons) it feels as though I've made full circle back to where I originally started, way back in high school. I prefer to think of these segues as eclectic. Like the Grateful Dead sang, "what a long, strange trip it's been;" or, in the words of another famous rock band, “Hope you enjoy our new direction.” With Paul Ricœur, I don't believe there's any such thing as progress towards an objective; this is just a story we tell ourselves. And this principle is just as true for individuals as it is for social/cultural theories (Marxism, Freudianism, and other "hermeneutics of suspicion"). It’s more like a random walk through the wilderness.
I have been married for some time to Judy Gasson, who is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus on the faculty of the School of Medicine at UCLA. She formerly was Director of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA and President of its Foundation - in her final year as Director, it was ranked the #5 cancer center in the country. I am proud of her and to a large extent validate myself through her accomplishments. We have two children: Andrew, who is an information technology specialist at Stanford University Medical Center; and Lauren, who is an internationally-recognized conceptual artist, based in Australia. I still play guitar, produce records, and consult with up-and-coming bands. I've developed several sub-specialties involving analog synthesis, such as interfacing modular analog synthesizers with analog computers (appropriately, both remnant technologies left over from the 1960s), and synchronizing up to eight tape machines at a time with analog synthesizers and a string quartet.