If you live long enough, you’ll eventually find your music included on a vinyl rarities compilation album from Portugal. That’s my takeaway this week. Here’s the whole package below with album cover, vinyl and insert.

Keeping on Top: US Power Pop Classics 1979-1983 is the title of the album. The cover art is perhaps a bit misleading as it does not include any tracks from The Ramones, The Runaways or Siouxsie and the Banshees. Bands and songs are listed on the back cover below. Number 4 on the A side is my band, The P-15s, performing our original number You’re Not That Girl.

Here’s a the original cover from the 45 single we produced in 1980.

John, Corey, Bruce, Gordon

The back cover and credits are below. Someone cleverer than me came up with the idea to label the “A” and “B” sides as Arrival and Departure.

Bruce does the heavy lifting on this one with singing, drumming and songwriting credit. I’m still rather fond of my sprightly (cheesy?) organ solo in the middle. You can listen for yourself below.

The late 1970s and early 1980s were an exciting time to be playing original music in Los Angeles. Dozens of clubs featuring original bands sprung up overnight. The Go Gos, The Knack, The Blasters, Oingo Boingo, The Motels, The Plimsouls and X were just some of the bands playing around town at the time. None of them had record deals yet.

We never had a career like the bands listed above, but it’s been interesting to find out how much of an afterlife this single has had. There were a lot of bands putting out self-produced singles at the time and with the rise of vinyl collectors the record itself has become something of a collectible. About ten years ago I got an email from a rarities collector who wanted to buy any copies I might still have. I happily sold him ten copies for $10 each, which was a pretty good return on my investment. The original list price was only $1.

I also got an email from a young woman in Japan who said this was her favorite song and wanted to buy a copy. I have no idea where she heard it originally, but I sent her one for the same price (although the shipping was significantly higher). Ah the wonders of the Internet!

When Dark Pigeons Rule

Originally published in the DASH Literary Journal

A new short story. Futuristic/Fantasy/Sci-Fi that was inspired by a scientific article I’d read about pigeons. This one was fun to write for all the language and words I needed to invent. You can download it as Kindle, EPUB or PDF format.

The Firing Range

As I started working on a new historical novel set in 1956 in La Jolla, CA, it brought up memories of hearing rifle volleys in the distance when I was a kid. The crackling volleys were a regular feature of life in La Jolla before and after WWII, and well up into the 1950s. I knew there had been some sort of military target range nearby. A bit of research revealed that it was Camp Calvin B. Matthews, which was first established in 1917. In 1964 the land was transferred to the Regents of the University of California to establish the campus of UCSD, which welcomed its first undergraduate class that year. You can still find a bit of the camp’s history preserved at the university. A marker was dedicated during the official transfer ceremony on October 6, 1964

Over a million recruits were trained at Camp Matthews over the years. During WWII, as many as 9,000 troops went through training every three weeks.

public domain NPS

You can find the marker and the small park that surrounds it by entering the UCSD campus on Gilman Drive and then going north on Myers Drive for two blocks (map).

The Matthews Quad nearby is also named in tribute to the original camp and two structures from the original buildings still stand on the UCSD campus. One is the Che Cafe, the student-run vegan food service and alternative performance space.

The other is a small guardhouse that served as the northern entrance to the facility, which now sits at the corner of a parking lot just east of the intersection of Campus Point Drive and Voigt Drive off Genessee.

Camp Matthews Sentry Box, photo by John Stanton

Maybe It’s Too Late

I’m drifting higher and higher above the clouds
I may never come down
Maybe it’s too late
Maybe it’s too late
Maybe it’s too late to save myself

The P-15s. John-lead guitar, Corey-lead vocals and guitar, Bruce-drums and vocals, Gordon-bass and background vocals

Here’s a bit of my musical history for you. Maybe It’s Too Late, circa 1980, from my power-pop band The P-15s. When I’m writing a new Rolly Waters mystery, I’ll sometimes mine my musical past and have Rollly write or sing songs which are, of course, my own compositions. I pull from my back catalog for something that fits Rolly’s situation. Such is the case with the above tune when I quoted lyrics from it in The Library chapter of my first book, Black’s Beach Shuffle.

This particular tune was always a bit of an anomaly. Most of my songs at that time had a bright pop-rock feel, while this one invokes a decidedly minor-key moodiness. I’m pretty sure it uses more chords than any song I’ve written before or after. A nice guitar solo from John, which pulls it another direction. Let’s call it The Jam meets Dire Straits.

The other anomaly here is that I’m the lead singer which, depending on your point of view, is a rare treat or an unfortunate mistake. My voice has a certain Ringo-like nasality I’ve never particularly liked but it kind of works on this song. I’m open to either opinion.

Put on my coat as I left the house
It looked like it was going to rain
Found a nickel under my feet
Rolled it into the storm drain

I’m drifting higher and higher above the clouds
I may never come down
Maybe it’s too late
Maybe it’s too late
Maybe it’s too late to save myself

It’s alarming how long it takes to fill my coffee cup
It scares me when things always go my way
I find myself thinking about how fast I drink it up
And wonder how much longer I can stay

I walked and I walked until I couldn’t talk
Until I’d walked it all away
Sometimes I dream just a bit too much
I see colors in the gray.

I’m drifting higher and higher above the clouds
I may never come down
Maybe it’s too late
Maybe it’s too late
Maybe it’s too late to save myself

General Atomics Campus Aerial Photograph 1967

The Hidden Fortress

In an earlier post I talked about my time working at a company called and how it inspired the writing of my first Rolly Waters mystery, Black’s Beach Shuffle. One of the early chapters is titled The Hidden Fortress and describes Rolly’s first visit to the offices of a mysterious internet startup.

Just before they reached Torrey Pines Road, Fender took a right on Atomic Way (named in a time when another technology pushed at the edge of the world’s problems, scaring people to death). Rolly followed. They pulled up to a long metal gate.

I used to drive in here every morning. How could I not put this in a mystery novel?

Although I changed the name of the street, this was basically a description of the last leg of my morning commute when I first started working at In its earliest days the company rented office space at the General Atomics campus, one of the most architecturally distinctive and historically significant buildings in post-WWII San Diego. The building was completed in 1959 and, along with the arrival of the UCSD campus nearby, it signaled the beginning of San Diego’s future as a center of high-tech research and development.

General Atomics campus 1967. Source: City of San Diego Archives

The atomic age has now given way to the biotech era. Torrey Pines Mesa is choked with sleek and imposing buildings bearing the names Pfizer, Novartis, Oranogenesis, Agilent and others. The GA building with its distinctive nucleus-and-electrons themed design is barely visible, but it used to be a regular and remarkable sight when driving through the area. There was little else there and the building stood out as a propitious glimpse of our bright atomic future.

Construction pad for the GA campus, circa 1958, looking across Torrey Pines Mesa to the Pacific Ocean
Source: San Diego History Center

Designed by the architectural firm of Pereira & Luckman, the building reflects the remarkable confluence of architectural modernism and the burgeoning aerospace industry coming together in San Diego in the 1950s and 60s. As partners, Pereira & Luckman also designed the Convair Astronautics campus and General Dynamics headquarters in San Diego, as well as the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport. Separately they were responsible for such projects as the UCSD Central Library, Madison Square Garden and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Possible dedication ceremony? Circa 1960. The speaker is standing on roof of the “electron” ring structure facing back towards the “nucleus” building. Source: San Diego History Center

I never got to work in the “atomic” building as the offices were confined to a drab and crowded outer building added sometime later. But it was fun to see this landmark a little closer up when I arrived each day. And sad that it’s so hidden from sight today. If you’re in San Diego, you can catch a glimpse out the right side of your car by turning off Highway 5 onto Genesee West as you head up towards Torrey Pines Road.