The LAW and The SPIRIT
by a southern lawyer who became a mystic
by a southern lawyer who became a mystic
This little free book, the second in a trilogy (see links at very end), summarizes my agony and ecstasy progression from human law into spiritual law, and then flashes back to my sometimes amusing and not so amusing legal training at the University of Alabama School of Law, and related events.
Star Date: September 11, 2019
Yesterday was the anniversary of my infant son’s sudden death in September 1967, just before I entered my last semester at the University of Alabama School of Law, in Tuscaloosa. In August 1988, I returned to my son's unmarked grave for the first time, and fell to my knees and burst into heaving sobs for a good while. I came back a few days later, and it happened again. I kept coming back until it quit happening. I had a marker put on his grave, on which was engraved: “He opened our hearts and set us on our journey.” I dedicated my first law& spirit book, THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD: A New Approach to Legal Problems, “To my son, who died for me.”
During the night of September 9, 2001, a familiar voice asked me in my sleep, “Will you make a prayer for a Divine Intervention for all of humanity?” I woke up and made the prayer. On September 11, 2001, my concern was America would retaliate with a war overseas, which would be a really bad idea. It didn’t occur to me that America would start two wars, which were a really bad idea.
During the night of September 9, 2002, the same voice asked me in my sleep to make the same prayer, but that time I made the prayer in my sleep, and I added to it, “And let it begin in me!” That was THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD approach.
What follows suggests what might happen to someone who steps onto the spiritual path, as yet having no clue what might lie in store. I can imagine many church people I have known, I was raised Southern Baptist, then Episcopalian, might view some of what follows as heresy, or madness. Likewise, most people I have known.
The High Legal Road
What follows mostly germinated in my professional psychic friend Gloria Reiser’s and my dreams.
Yesterday evening, Gloria reported a dream of the night before, in which she and I were baking bread together. My mysterious friend Young Prophet also was dreaming about me writing a book. Over a year ago, two other friends said they had dreamed I would write a new book. Yesterday afternoon, I started writing this whatever it is.
In the fall of 1987, driving on US 285 from Boulder, Colorado to the Arkansas River Valley in the shadow of towering Mts Princeton, Harvard and Yale below Buena Vista, Colorado, I was seized with an emotional vision that I would write a book about practicing law in a new way. I was uplifted and excited. I hoped, finally, perhaps, I would do something that caused me to feel okay about myself.
I was in my 45th year. All my adult life I had been subsidized by inheritances. I had never made it in the world of business, law, writing, investing. I came from a rich, prominent, southern, white, Southern Baptist family, and had practiced law in Birmingham, Alabama from 1973 to 1985.
After writing three “Ralph Nader-ish” books during the early 1990s, about the residential real estate industry and the legal profession, I quit practicing law, because it was not working for me. In early 1986, I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, hoping to reboot my life by attending massage school and becoming immersed in alternative healing and the New Age.
By early 1987, I realized that did not reboot me. I felt I had failed in every way a man could fail. Living off inheritances, in poor physical health, headed toward my second divorce, I prayed one morning, “Dear God, I do not wish to die like this, failed. Please help me.” I paused, added, “I offer my life to human service.” I teared up. Felt something move in me. Went about my day.
About 10 days later, I woke up in the wee hours and saw two what I took to be angels hovering above me in the dark. No wings, White with tint of blue. Etheric form. I heard, as if spoken into my mind, not into my ears, “This will push you to your limits, but you asked for it and we are going to give I to you.” I recalled the forlorn prayer I had made. There was a white flash and my body was jolted by something electrical. That rapidly happened two more times. The beings faded away.
I realized my new girlfriend was awake. This was her bedroom in her home, in Los Alamos, maybe 50 miles across the high desert from Santa Fe. She was an environmental biologist. The mission of the lab where she worked was to use vegetation to try to soak up and neutralize the awful toxins the other labs there were putting into the ground and the water table. She was far more tuned into the threat human beings posed to the planet, than I was.
I asked her if she was awake?
“Yes,” she said. “What’s going on?”
“Did you see or hear anything?” I asked.
“Your body jumping,” she said.
“Did you see or hear the angels?”, I asked.
She was a closet mystic. “No,” she said,
I told her what had happened, which was my first direct conscious experience with the supernatural.
She laughed, said, “Let’s go back to sleep, you strange man.”
This and that “coincidence” happened, and I moved to Boulder, Colorado later that year, to take a several-months training in Hakomi body psychotherapy. Our instructors told us Hakomi is an ancient Hopi word no longer in use, meaning, “How do I stand in relation to all these many realms?” The training was about bringing what is stored hidden inside of us into our conscious awareness. The process of doing that was seriously emotional, sometimes violently emotional. We learned by our instructors doing Hakomi on us, and by doing it on each other and on practice clients from the general public.
After the first break in the very intense and very interesting training, I drove down to Santa Fe, to see old friends there, and my closet mystic environmental scientist girlfriend. As I entered the Arkansas River valley on US 285, I had the vision of writing the book about practicing law in a new way.
I hoped the book would make me rich and famous, and prove my manhood. Not a good start, but I didn’t know that yet.
I let some friends know about the vision, including my New York City book agent, who seemed excited about the new book. I wrote a draft and shared a it with two New Age friends, a man and woman. They said it was a good start and to throw it away and start over. I kept plugging away. Garbage and more garbage. I became discouraged.
Then, I took a trip with my new Boulder girlfriend to Zurich, Switzerland. She was a student of Dora Kalff, who had pioneered what she called “Sandplay Therapy.” A former student of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, Dora told her students, I was present as a visitor, that her good friend the Dalai Lama had called Sandplay, “applied Buddhism”. Dora said she wished she had named it, “A Way of Life.” She said from time to time, that for any real change to happen on this world, the women would have to go first.
That was a very interesting trip for me. Some strange things happened. Perhaps to herald what lay ahead for me.
I had moved back to Birmingham before that trip, and was wondering if my Boulder girlfriend and I would stay together? I returned to Birmingham from Zurich.
Shortly afterward, I was called by a woman in Maine, who said she had found my book, KILL ALL THE LAWYERS?: A Client’s Guide to Hiring, Firing, Using and Suing Lawyers, in her small town’s library. I was the only lawyer who could help her, she said.
I asked her how in the world she had gotten my telephone number and found me in Birmingham? She said she had called the Alabama Bar Association. I said, okay, but I don’t practice law anymore. She said, Oh, me, she didn’t know what she would do! She had been thinking of going to a spiritual adviser about her legal trouble. I said I sometimes give people spiritual advice, did she want to try that with her legal trouble? Yes, she said. So, I asked her to tell me about her case.
It was a mess, involving an ex- or soon to be ex-husband. As if a light switch was thrown, I started asking her questions about what this and that aspect of the case reminded her of elsewhere in her life, then and in the past? As if she was seized by something, she named this or that person and/or drama. We together realized that her legal woe was a metaphor for her major relationships, which needed her attention. She was freaked out. I was elated. Finally, this surely was the vision coming into play. The new way of practicing law.
After that, I moved back to Boulder where people started showing up with legal issues. Some of them were willing to look at it as the woman from Maine had done. Others were not open to that approach. It was as if I was meeting two different species of human beings.
I wrote a fresh draft of the book and sent it to my New York book agent. She paid a book editor to read the book and give feedback. The feedback was crushing. My presentation style and tone sucked. I should start over. Or give it up.
I hired a Boulder friend to edit the next draft. He tore it up for the same reasons, and because my writing style sucked generally. I was crushed.
Something rallied me. I wrote another draft. New material came to me during daily walks, and in dreams. My local editor friend said it was hot! He liked it! He edited that draft, and then said he was worn-out editing.
I sent that draft to my New York book agent. She said she liked it.
I sent a copy to a Birmingham publicist, who had represented my earlier three books and had gotten me on national television, including TODAY with Jane Pauley. I was interviewed maybe 300 times on radio and TV and by newspaper journalists. The reality of her representation was that very few books stocked by bookstores, and the sales of the three books were poor. Cart before the horse. Maybe it would have gone differently if I had not gone testosterone for publicity, to try to get the publishers excited about the books, which were getting great reviews and media attention.
The Birmingham publicist liked the draft of the new book, compared it to ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE. She urged me to hire a New York PR firm to work with me, get me ready for national TV interviews. I felt she had missed the point. I invited her to get out of her Mercedes and join me in my Chevorlet. I heard nothing further from her. She was deeply involved in the Gurdjieff spiritual movement. I had learned of it from her in Birmingham. It didn’t take. I moved to Santa Fe. Then, to Boulder.
I decided to self-publish the new book. I found a firm in Birmingham, which helped authors do that. Their CEO and a book editor helped me get the text more readable and less volatile, and ready for a publishing company in Birmingham to print and bind. It was summer, 1990.
My ego had been turned every-which-a-way-but-loose. I had spent nearly two years being stood in front of a mirror, looking at me. Some of that was shared in the new book. Much of it was not.
After the book was published in September 1990, I was contacted by a New Age publicist, whom I paid to get me on radio talk shows and find New Age publications that would review:
The publicist introduced me to Gloria Reiser, a professional psychic, who published a monthly newsletter called Intuitive Explorations. Gloria introduced THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD to her readers. I contributed articles to her newsletters. Some of her readers seemed to take a shine to me, others seemed to think I was nuts, or worse.
The publicist did a good job, the media interviews were lively, but there was no sales force, and the company I had found in Birmingham to fill orders called or mailed in, did not get many orders.
Perhaps 300 copies of the 5,000-print run were sold. In the end, I gave away a lot of copies, the principal recipient was the Prison Library Project in Clermont, California, which Ram Das had started with help from Bo Lozoff, who told me he really did not like the book. Bo had written several books about his and his wife’s experiences going into prisons and counseling inmates.
The Episcopalian chaplain of the state prison in Buena Vista, Colorado somehow got a copy of The High Legal Road, read it and contacted me. He said he was coming to Boulder on personal business and he wanted to meet me. We met for lunch. He said I should read THE MAGUS OF STROVOLOS, about a Cypress mystic. He thought I was headed in that direction.
He later shared his copy of THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD with the Episcopalian chaplain at the old maximum-security prison in Cañon City, Colorado, who invited me to do a weekend workshop in the prison chapel.
The first morning, there were about twenty inmates. Most of them looked like they worked out a lot. I was rail-thin back then. Most of them could easily break me in half. By the end of the Saturday morning session, they had pushed their chairs back as far from me as they could get. About half of them returned for the afternoon session.
There were three inmates at the Sunday morning session. One of them did not show up for the afternoon session. Another inmate made it three again. Afterward, he told me he was so disturbed by what he’d seen and heard the day before, that he needed to be by himself. He asked if we could correspond? I said, Yes.
It would turn out that he was the only of all the inmates I would meet, mostly as pen pals, who was innocent.
He told me that he was into trying to stop drug trafficking. He went out with a woman, who snitched for a state anti-drug trafficking agency. She slipped something into his drink, and he passed out. She sliced him up with a knife and claimed he had tried to rape her. He had no recollection, so he could not, in good faith, mount a defense. Against his public defender’s advice, he took a plea to aggravated sexual assault.
I came into a brief correspondence with the famous Wyoming trial lawyer Gerry Spence. I invited him to look at my prison pen pal’s case. Spence declined.
Some years later, my friend’s mother died, and he was not allowed to go to her funeral. He was really upset. I reminded him that he had told me that she had molested him in his youth, and that had really messed him up. He got mad at me.
At that time, I was in conversation with his public defender, who said it was the only case he had handled, which still bothered him. He was interested in trying to reopen the case. I told my friend that. He resisted. I told him that made no sense if he was innocent. He got madder at me.
That’s when it dawned on me why he had not fought his conviction. As he had been overpowered by his mother, he was overpowered by the female snitch. I told him that, hoping he would then contact his public defender. He got madder at me.
My friend served 26 years. After getting out, he started trying to help inmates get new trials, whom he believed were framed or did not have competent legal counsel. He’s still doing that.
From time to time I received letters from prison inmates, who had read THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD and wanted to correspond with me. Some of them were interesting. Deep. Some of them were still going about it the old way. Fighting their convictions. Pursuing their appeals. Those who did not admit they were guilty made no progress, it seemed to me.
From time to time, I wondered if I might write a later version of THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD. I figured it would be very different from the original, which was anguished and written as my angel-directed daily spiritual training was just beginning. When I learned that being stood in front of a mirror is crucial to spiritual development. When I learned the New Age publicist did not care for the mirror.
After she did such a good job, I thanked her and said it was time to stop paying her a monthly fee. She said she could get me more interviews and reviews. I said I thought it was time to stop. She insisted. I agreed to pay her another month’s fee and sent her a check. She didn’t make any effort that month. I told her she owed me a refund. She said she didn’t. I said she did, but I wasn’t going to press it. That would not be the high legal road approach.
Later, I learned that Gloria Reiser didn’t care much for the mirror. Nor did the New Age. Nor the Old Age.
I got involved for a while with the Christian Legal Society, headquartered in Billings, Montana. Their members in Birmingham were cordial but were not able to translate turning the other cheek into not suing people.
Today, I tell people who talk about killing the lawyers, if they really want to do it, then stop using lawyers.
Early this year, 2019, Gloria Reiser told me that the New Age publicist came to her in a dream and said we (Gloria and I) had not yet realized, or achieved, what all she had brought us together to do.
Not long ago, Gloria reported the publicist popping in during a dream, just to say, “Hi!”. That was when Gloria and I both were having dreams, which caused me to start writing whatever this is.
My dream maker started editing this whatever it is, right after it started coming out of me. Much the same happened during the writing of THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD.
Just last night, July 22, 2019, my dream maker pointed out that there were two times since THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD was published, when I did not turn the other cheek and grueling litigation ensured. Perhaps the Jury in God’s Court is still out on those two cases.
Meanwhile, THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD sometimes is available at used online bookstores, such as Abe Books, and I have seen it at Amazon.
As for a review, how about what my editor at the Prentice-Hall division of Simon & Shuster told me, after he read the manuscript.
He said the manuscript had really moved him. He agreed with some parts, wanted to argue with other parts. The problem was, the book was too spiritual to be a legal book, and too legal to be a spiritual book. His company did not know how to market it and had to decline.
I thought that was exactly what the book was supposed to be, and why didn’t he and his company see that?
Prisons & Freedom
I introduced Bo Lozoff briefly in the first chapter.
I learned of Bo in1991, via his book, WE’RE ALL DOING TIME, which I found in the Boulder Bookstore on Pearl Street Mall. Mostly, the book recounted Bo and his wife Sita’s experiences inside of prisons with inmates and correspondence with inmates. I was impressed and read a few more of his books.
In part, Bo’s books inspired me to write about the workshop the Episcopal chaplain asked me to do in the prison in Cañon City, Colorado. I then added personal stories about my and other peoples’ own personal courses in mirrors, and how we fared (writhed) dealing with our reflections. Then, I added a third part of the book, which was a bit more “woo woo” – metaphysical.
I gave the new manuscript to a Boulder desktop publisher, whom I had met through a mutual acquaintance. The publisher called her company Apple Pie Communications. She downloaded the manuscript from a floppy disk into her computer, and read it and made some editorial suggestions, and argued with some of it, and liked some of it. We became friends. She liked it that I paid her on time, she was living month to month. She found someone to proof-read the manuscript, and then she laid it out and sent it to a printer, who ran off 1,000 copies of PRISONS & FREEDOM, the first book I would not copyright.
Gloria Reiser and I introduced PRISONS & FREEDOM to readers of her monthly newsletter, Intuitive Explorations. She agreed to take payments and fill orders. I shipped most of the copies to her, along with a lot more copies of THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD.
I sent a copy of PRISONS & FREEDOM to Bo Lozoff, because I had mentioned his and Sita’s work in the Preface. I gave them credit for their work with inmates and for inspiring me, and I reported that, in something they had published, they had abandoned their long policy of not asking prison inmates for donations. I got a letter back from Bo, tearing up PRISONS & FREEDOM and the HIGH LEGAL ROAD. Pop psychology. Psychobabble. I had cut him and Sita to the quick.
That led to further correspondence, which did not get happier. Finally, I ripped up a letter from Bo, unopened, and told him that in a letter and did not hear back. Yet, I kept receiving his and Sita’s newsletter from time to time. I kept up with them in that way.
After it became clear that I’d had printed way too many copies of THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD and PRISONS & FREEDOM, I sent some of them to a local bookstore in Birmingham, to be given away to the store’s customers. I knew the owner. We had a good relationship. The rest of the books were sent to the Prison Library Project in Clermont, California, which had been started by Ram Das with Bo Lozoff’s help.
Some time passed. I called the Prison Library Project about something, perhaps to get a receipt for the books, so I could take a tax deduction. The fellow I spoke with thanked me for all the books, said they were going out to inmates. He paused, said, there was something he felt he needed to tell me. At Bo Lozoff’s insistence, they were removing the Preface from PRISONS & FREEDOM, before sending it to inmates. Really? Yes, really, the man said, and he didn’t feel right about it. I thanked him for telling me. He said they would stop doing it, if I wished. I said I wanted to think about it. He said, Ok. I called him back the next day, I think, and said to just keep doing it, if they wished. That was Bo’s karma.
I wrote to Bo and told him all of that. I did not hear back.
I kept getting Bo and Sita’s newsletter.
In a newsletter, Bo announced he was going into a period of public silence. A spiritual retreat, of sorts. Next thing I recall was a newsletter after Bo came out of several, or more, months of public silence. He reported someone had given his foundation a large track of land and he needed money to develop it as a place for prisoners to live after they were released. Bo said this was “money yoga”.
Back some years, Bo had hung out in an ashram in India, studying under a yogi. He was one of many people with whom I’d had dealings in Santa Fe, and later in Boulder, who had hung out in ashrams in India. They seemed to me to have gotten twisted up inside. And, it seemed, possessed by the yogi.
I wrote to Bo, said he had gone into public silence to help his internal feminine develop. As a reward, when he came out of the silence, he was given the land. Then, instead of waiting on God to take it to the next level, his testosterone invented money yoga and laid that trip on his readers. I heard nothing back.
Bo and Sita’s newsletter kept coming. The newsletters contained a photo of them.
One evening in Boulder, my wife read a newsletter that had just arrived. She told me to cover the right side of Sita’s face with a piece of paper. I did that. The left side of Sita’s face looked tortured. The female side. The right side looked very nice. I reported that to Bo in a letter. The next newsletter did not have a photo of Sita. Nor did any subsequent newsletters.
My wife sometimes told people, who asked her what I did (for a living), “Sloan’s the mail man.” If they didn’t get it, she said, “He delivers the messages.” If they still didn’t get it, she said, “He can see around corners and through buildings.” She sometimes was the mail woman.
In one of his books, Bo had written to an inmate, who was struggling with sexual urges, that he hoped the inmate would practice celibacy. Bo said he and Sita struggled with their own sexual urges. I felt sorry for Sita. My wife felt sorry for Sita. Maybe I reminded Bo of that in the letter about the left side of Sita’s face.
I wondered if Bo shared any of my letters with Sita?
Flash forward to 2001, when I was at Gloria Riser’s home. She had been contacted by a prison inmate who was soon to be released. He was thinking about going to Bo Lozoff’s place. I told the inmate of some of my experiences with Bo, and suggested he give it more thought. I think I recall he decided to do something else. Maybe I wrote to Bo about that. Not sure.
Flash forward to 2012, when I learned online of Bo Lozoff’s death. I read articles reporting Bo had been called out by a number of his followers for being brutal and dictatorial with released inmates at his place. And, he was having sex with women there. I read of Bo not denying any of it, and of saying he was a horrible choice for God to use in that way.
I wondered about Bo’s time in the ashram in India. When I lived on Boulder, I met a people who had been involved with yogis in India, who had sex with their female followers.
I was reminded of that just yesterday, when I received from a friend an old article about Bo, to that same effect, except the article was more balanced, provided kudos for Bo from people who had known him, as well as whines.
The article also reported some of the sex allegations, including Bo saying he healed a woman by putting his finger in her vagina. Afterward, she would be doing something and have a spontaneous organism.
Perhaps what prompted my friend to send me the Bo Lozoff article was my having sent him a draft copy of the first chapter to whatever this is. Perhaps just another worthless spiritual book, to borrow from Bo Lozoff’s JUST ANOTHER SPIRITUAL BOOK, which I read after reading WE’RE ALL DOING TIME, which we all are. Bo sure got that right.
After PRISONS & FREEDOM was published in 1991, my wife and I met a lovely woman from Ireland, who came to Boulder occasionally because of a man she had met there. She stayed in our home, however.
At her request, I mailed copies of THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD and PRISONS & FREEDOM and some of my later writings to her home in Dublin. She shared those writings with some of her friends, who were starving for something different, based on what she reported back to me.
She told me they wanted to know what I thought of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY. I replied that the author was from my hometown, Birmingham, Alabama. There are twelve insights in the book. After you achieve the twelfth, you become invisible to anyone around you, who has not reached the twelfth. The author got on the front of Time Magazine, as the “Celestine Prophet”. He did not become invisible.
In 1995, I met a woman in Birmingham, who said she and the author of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY had been friends. They attended the Unity Church in Birmingham, on Highland Avenue. They used to sit around at the church, sharing ideas. A lot of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY was her ideas, for which the author took full credit. She felt he owed her half the million$$$ he was making off the book. Alabama had a 5 percent income tax. He moved to Florida, where there is no state income tax.
A later novel by the Celestine Prophet was about a man wandering around lost in space and time in the Appalachian Mountains. I thought perhaps the Celestine Prophet wrote about himself.
As time passed, more inmates wrote to me about PRISONS & FREEDOM, than about THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD. I thought PRISONS & FREEDOM the better book. However, my inmate friend, who did twenty-six years, said he liked THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD best.
Shortly after THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD was published, I received in the mail from my father’s attorney a check for $26,000 and some change. What I had spent on the book. My father had done something in a trust without consulting his lawyer, to get money for himself. It was illegal under the Internal Revenue Code. To cure it, the money was sent to his children.
26 is the sacred number for God.
Early in writing THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD, I had approached my father about being my business partner in the book. He asked if I was sure? I said I would think more on it. I dreamed that night of strangling an ugly, overweight woman, who turned into an enraged, terrifying, huge viper, who said, “You did it to me before, are you going to do it to me again?!” I woke up, terrified.
It didn’t take long to connect the dream with my going to work for my father’s company, instead of into the practice of law, was the worst decision of my life. The dream woman and snake were what going to work for my father had done to my inner feminine, and to my still ailing G.I. tract. I called my father and told him, thanks, but I would not need his financial assistance with the new book.
PRISONS & FREEDOM was published over the strong advice of a Birmingham fundamental Christian lawyer friend, who was an alcoholic. I mailed a copy to my father, with a note that sometimes I write about personal stuff in my books, because it makes the writing more alive.
A few days later, my father called, said he wanted to talk with me about something. I asked if he’d gotten my note and the book? No. He said he wanted to buy my mother’s home, which he had given her years before. She had left it in her last will and testament to her children, but he had the right to live in it. I said it was just a lawyer’s trick to save taxes, I was happy to give him my interest in her home. He said, No, he wanted to push some money to his children. He would get the home evaluated by two appraisers, average the appraisals, and send me a check for my portion. I said, Okay.
The check was for around $356,000. I had been worrying about my diminishing capital, on which I was living and supporting my Boulder wife and her son, because my writing was not producing revenue. 3 is the number for The Holy Spirit, 5 is the number for the feminine, 6 is the number for Melchizedek.
After reading PRISONS & FREEDOM, the Director of the New Age massage school I attended in Santa Fe, New Mexico, wrote to me that the book was way too rough on people, but in my defense, I was as rough on myself as I was on everyone else in the book.
Today, I saw a few copies of PRISONS & FREEDOM online at Abe Books and Amazon.
Back to the Beginning
Okay, I agree. That was a torrid first two chapters, which just plopped, when they were ready, onto my laptop monitor screen. There was plenty of preliminary plodding in my dreams and the dreams of my professional psychic friend, Gloria Reiser, my mysterious friend, Young Prophet, and my homeless girlfriend. Alas, the Muse has her own timetable and ways. She’s the boss. Right?
I dreamed last night of making love to my second wife, who was with me during most of the time I practiced law in Birmingham, Alabama, and who, I suppose, was the muse for my first three books: HOME BUYERS: Lambs to the Slaughter?, SELLING YOUR HOME $WEET HOME, and KILL ALL THE LAWYERS? – A Client’s Guide to Hiring, Firing, Using and Suing Lawyers, which were my farewell to the traditional practice of law.
Those three books were objective proof that I was not a member in good standing of THE STATUS QUO. Those books lay the foundation of a full-bore “career” in rocking lots of boats, which did not particularly seem to like being rocked. My second wife was my champion during that time. She had my back. I was less noble.
In my defense, I was in constant pain from the bowel disorder. I lost two heart-breaking plaintiff lawsuits, into which I had put my entire soul and being, which in a different dimension would have been decided hands down in my clients’ favor.
My law practice did not blossom into a money maker. My relations with my law partners slowly deteriorated. We finally parted ways. I tried practicing law alone. That went nowhere. I closed my law office and took a fiction writer’s course in an adult education class. I wrote a few short stories. The teacher really liked one of them.
I went to a health clinic in Switzerland. Came back about the same.
We traveled some.
Then, I felt like writing a book about buying homes. I had closed a lot of residential real estate transactions. I had seen things. I knew that terrain. I dedicated HOME BUYERS: Lambs to the Slaughter to my fiction writing teacher. Cosmic poetry, the book was accused of being fiction by the residential real estate industry. It was not fiction. SELLING YOUR HOME $WEET HOME, also not fiction, got about the same reception.
Both books got me on national TV and scads of radio talk shows around America. I talked with a whole lot of call-in listeners on the air. They seemed glad I was around, the talk show hosts seemed glad to have me on their shows. Realtors who called in did not seem glad. However, a few Realtors elsewhere in America welcomed me with open arms, for supporting their efforts to have real estate agents represent either the seller or the buyer, but not both.
I heard some Birmingham lawyers really did not like KILL ALL THE LAWYERS?, but it got a nice review from a local trial judge, and a rave review in the Birmingham News. And, it got me on national TV and scads of radio talk shows around America. About the same talk show host and audience reception as the two real estate books.
I was somewhat famous in the residential real estate and legal circles in America. Briefly. But the book publishers did not have books in the stores. There was no internet or Amazon kindle. It was not easy for me to admit I had spent a lot of money promoting those books, getting that publicity, before the publishers were ready for the publicity to happen.
Well, I was kinda desperate to have success. Too desperate.
The desperation was rooted in my own personal defeats, as I perceived them back then, and in my having failed to measure up to the enviable business and financial success of my father and his father. My shame was deep and I suppose some of it still is with me today, despite all the changes I went through, which left me on this world, but not really of it.
That raises another thought in my head. My infant son died suddenly, it was ruled “crib death”, today known as sudden infant death syndrome, just before my last semester at the University of Alabama School of Law, in Tuscaloosa. A small prestigious Birmingham corporate and trial law firm already had offered me a job. I was so upended that I did not follow through.
By then, married men and students were being drafted to fight in Vietnam. A lottery was being used. I had lost my father deferment. I drove to the Draft Board in Birmingham and applied for a student deferment, which would allow me to complete my last semester, and then I would be inducted. I hoped I would be used as a military lawyer, instead of being sent to Vietnam. Yet, I thought maybe I should join the Marine Corps, and go to Vietnam. I already was mostly dead inside.
My wife got pregnant. I drove back to the Draft Board, hoping to undo what I had recently done there.
The same older lady clerk waited on me. I told her my story. She said she was really sorry, but the student deferment was irrevocable. She pulled my file out of a green filing cabinet, to show me what I had signed. She looked in the file, said there had been some mistake. What mistake?, I asked. You signed the wrong form, she said, you will have to fill out the correct form. No thanks, I said. I will keep my father deferment. I knew God had made that miracle.
Many years later, I would meet a woman whose husband was that Draft Board lady’s son. He had become a very good trial lawyer in Birmingham. I had gotten to know him somewhat when I practiced law. I tried one case against him and won, because the facts and sentiments were on my client’s side.
Well, his wife told me decades later, that she had heard a lot of Draft Board stories like mine. Apparently, his mother had seen to it that a number of young Birmingham men did not get sent to Vietnam.
Freed from that terror, I was persuaded by a good law school buddy, who had graduated the year before me, and by his lawyer father and his law partner, country lawyers in south Alabama, that I should be a country lawyer myself. I would like it a lot more than being a city lawyer. And, it would be a lot easier to dove, quail and duck hunt in the country. And, to fish. And, it was a lot closer to the Gulf Coast, where I liked to fish.
They sent me to see a very respected defense trial lawyer in the south Alabama town where my father and his father were born. My father and this trial lawyer had played together when they were young, before my father’s father moved his family to Birmingham. This trial lawyer had had a son die.
I was not bright enough then to suspect my law school buddy and his father and his father’s law partner had greased the way.
The trial lawyer in my father’s home town welcomed me with open arms. Said he was referring a lot of business to other lawyers in town. Would refer that business to me. Had an extra office I could use. His legal secretary only worked about half-time, she would do my legal secretary work.
He took me to the drugstore on the town square and introduced me to a couple of local lawyers having coffee there. They welcomed me with opened arms. I drove back to my friend’s town and told what had happened. Dang, I was gonna be a country lawyer!
I made on being a country lawyer my essay in a legal ethics course in law school. A college fraternity brother wrote to me, praising my decision and courage.
When I told my father what I had decided, he asked, Why would I want to do that?! I said, It’s a lock and key offer. The country club there already offered me a membership. My pregnant wife and I already got approved for an apartment in a new apartment building under construction. I can fish and hunt a lot, which I love. I would be happy. That’s no reason, my father said.
A Rubicon moment, I put it off.
My father’s father said I had really disappointed him. He was so counting on me causing his family to be closer than it had been.
A Rubicon moment. I put it off.
My father’s grandmother died. My wife and I drove from Tuscaloosa to the funeral in my Bashinsky family’s south Alabama home town.
Leaving our car, I saw the trial lawyer, my future law partner, standing alone in the cemetery. We walked to him and greeted him. I saw my father and his father over the way. I walked with my future law partner to say, Hello. I introduced my future law partner. He stuck out his hand. They turned their back on him. My future law partner gave me a look.
A Rubicon moment. I put if off.
My wife and I drove back to Tuscaloosa. I was in shambles.
My father called to say the senior partner of his and his father’s law firm was from a small town and he wanted to talk with me about being a country lawyer. I drove to Birmingham to see him. He said let’s go to the law library, where the other members of the firm are waiting. I knew some of them. My father and his father had paid them a whole lot of money in legal fees.
The senior partner asked me what I knew about being living in a small town? I said, Not much. The senior partner, a devout Christian and Bible scholar, said, Well, it’s like this. All you have to do is drive out to the golf course on Saturday night to see who is fucking whose wife. He looked me dead in the eye. The other lawyers burst out laughing. I did not think it was funny, because I was having such thoughts.
Much later, I would write more about that senior partner in A FEW REMARKABLE PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN, as part of my recovery from a latter-day Rubicon meltdown having nothing to do with Alabama. Self-published, several reprints, perhaps 2,000 copies given away.
Back to the fall of 1967 in Tuscaloosa.
A law professor approached me before class and said word was a federal judge in Birmingham has lost his law clerk, who resigned to practice law with his father. Perhaps I should check that out? I wrote to the judge, reported what I had been told by a law professor. The judge wrote back, inviting me to come see him.
A law professor approached me before class and said word was a federal judge in Birmingham has lost his law clerk, who resigned to practice law with his father. Perhaps I should check that out? I wrote to the judge, reported what I had been told by a law professor. The judge wrote back, inviting me to come see him.
I drove to Birmingham and met the judge in his chambers. Mostly, we talked about hunting and fishing. He said I had the job if I wanted it. I said I wanted it. Whew! The Rubicon was dodged.
Not hardly. My wife was really upset that I abandoned being a country lawyer. I drove back to south Alabama to tell my country lawyer friends. I drove over to my family’s home town to tell my future law partner. He said he was not surprised after what had happened at the cemetery, but clerking for a federal judge was a golden opportunity for any law graduate. I should not feel bad.
The Rubicon did not die. It was chewing me up, actually.
I went to work for the federal judge. A giant among men, whose story I would tell in A FEW REMARKABLE ALABAMA PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN.
It went well with the federal judge for about a year. I was still undecided about being a country lawyer, or even being a lawyer. I woke up one morning, constipated. The beginning of the bowel disorder. My internist doctor was not able to fix it. Laxatives did not fix it. I was fucking terrified, because I knew it was from not of this world.
I lost my confidence. I interviewed with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which offered me an attorney job. I waffled.
I talked with Birmingham law firms. Got a job offer. I waffled.
Finally, I told my father I wanted to work for his company. Really?, he asked. Yes, I said.
My judge tried to talk me out of it. Said I could clerk another term for him. I said I had to move on.
Bataan Death march, it kinda became.
Worst decision of my life. Worst decision for my father, too.
Four years later, nearly dead, marriage in shambles, I told my father I had to move on.
Out of nowhere, I learned of a small, not prestigious law firm, looking for a new law associate. I interviewed them. They offered me a job. I accepted.
I told my father. He said that’s the law firm in which one of the partners’ father is that guy at the University of Alabama School of Medicine with the weird ideas. I said, Yes, so weird that the medical school and the surrounding University of Alabama in Birmingham grew so big that it’s your company’s biggest customer in Birmingham.
By then, my wife and I had two daughters. The older, whose birth had saved me from Vietnam, got run over on her bicycle by a Volkswagen driven by a nearly 90-year-old woman, who was not at fault. That did me in.
My senior law partner filed a lawsuit, which settled cheaply later on. A really bad idea, that lawsuit.
I figured I was the cause of what happened to my daughter. I was spending my spare time in the YMCA playing 4-wall handball. My daughter had told neighbor friends that her daddy’s name was, “Handball”.
I flagged down a passing car, which took us to the hospital where my daughter and her younger sister were born.
The hospital where I once ended up after contracting dysentery running a country route for my father’s company the summer of 1964. The regular salesman was on vacation that week. My father was out of town on business. He called me in my hospital room and said, That’s a really interesting way to get out of work. I was fighting for my life. My mother was really upset.
There is no cure for stupidity.
When THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD was ready to go to press in 1990, I added the dedication: “To my son, who died for me.” I meant it. For his death had so unhinged me, that I never again was able to fit myself into THE STATUS QUO. Oh, I certainly tried. But that Rubicon had been crossed and all that remained was for me to figure that out and accept it. That would take a while.
Now let me say my father had many good qualities. His company employees loved him and kept voting against labor unions trying to get into the company. His business customers really liked him. He gave away a lot of money to good causes. A boys and girls ranch still operates today, because of his generosity.
But it was not meant to be for me to work for his company, and he seemed to be proud of me as a practicing attorney. He seemed concerned for me over my health issues. He told me that people had told him that my books were causing trouble. I asked him how he responded to that? He said he told them that it looked to him that I had told the truth.
We fell out many years later, after my alternative reality Boulder life melted down and I returned to Birmingham in shambles. He said I should get a job digging ditches. I said I was not physically able to do that, but I had applied for a job with the Birmingham Parks Service. That seemed to jolt him. He said I should get an entry level position in a Birmingham law firm and start all over. I said my heart would not be in it.
His countenance turned mean. He said he could not believe a fifty-three-year-old man had never gotten over the death of his son. Something came over me. I said he would never criticize me again. We would see each other in the afterlife, where it would be better between us. I looked him in the eye, shook his hand, and left. He started coming to me in my dreams, and was the father that any son would want. He still sometimes comes to me in dreams, to help me.
Likewise, the federal judge started coming to me in dreams after I returned to Birmingham from Boulder. He never told me to go back into the practice of law. Perhaps because I had never left it, but was doing it in a different way.
I can imagine today that maybe the federal judge somehow had something to do with my finding that small across-the-tracks law firm in Birmingham, and later my writing those three boat-rocking legal consumer books, and my later writing THE HIGH LEGAL ROAD and PRISONS & FREEDOM, and my later writing four novels about lawyers, although the first was about a young man who, despite tremendous pressure from his deceased multi-dimensional Pleiadean father, declined to be a lawyer.
I know for a fact that the federal judge predicted in late 2000 that I would get into politics in the Florida Keys. When I was on a Greyhound bus, passing through Tallahassee, the Florida state capitol, en route to Key West, the judge came to me in a dream and said he was thinking about getting into politics. I said I didn’t think that was a good idea, but knowing him, I figured he was going to do it. Back when he was a federal judge, behind the scenes, he ran the Democratic Party in Alabama.
It was during my political endeavors in Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys, that I came to view my efforts to help Mother Nature and little and poor people there, as trials in God’s court, where I not only put on God’s case, but, like everyone else in the Courtroom, was on trial myself.
I feel I have left out something important.
When I lived in Boulder, sometimes I came to Alabama. During one trip, I felt moved to visit my Bashinsky family’s home town. I went to the cemetery and found the family plot. On the grave monument of my father’s grandfather was engraved, “God’s noblest creation is an honest man.” His widow had that done. I also wrote about my Polish Jew great grandfather in A FEW REMARKABLE PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN.
The Law Is a Jealous Mistress
A few nights ago, I was told in a dream. “Life began on Hackberry Lane.” The University of Alabama School of Law was on Hackberry Lane in Tuscaloosa, when I attended that law school.
I well recall my first day in class. The professor told us to look to our left, then to our right. Two of us would not be around by graduation time. That would prove out. My recollection is that professor was Clinton McGee.
Professor McGee taught criminal law. It was said, after graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law, Professor McGee had entered the U.S. Military and was sent overseas to defend accused Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. It was said he was getting them off, so he was made a prosecutor, and the ones he prosecuted did not get off. Professor McGhee didn’t deal out a lot of As and Bs either. He gave me a C. I deserved it.
Some years later, a law student name Roy Moore got nicknamed “Fruit Cake” by Professor McGee. Many years later, Moore got elected to the Alabama Supreme Court and then got removed because he put the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building and would not take them down. Moore got elected again to the Supreme Court and got removed again because of his religious fervor.
We had a law professor affectionately called “Hatchet Harry Cohen”, because he gave lots of low grades on final exams. He taught a real property course, based on a textbook he had written. I was assigned to a different section under a different law professor. I thought I was not learning anything, so I sat in on Professor Cohen’s classes in the other section. I memorized his textbook and made an A on the final exam. I had Professor Cohen for negligence torts the next semester. I fed back on the final exam, what he had said in class. I made an A. Professor Cohen often talked in class of the difference between being a “legal monk” (law professor), and being a real lawyer.
We had a law professor affectionately called “Black Jack Payne”, because he was a legal scholar and wore a green visor when he researched ancient legal history in the law library, and he dealt out final exam scores of 21 to graduating seniors. He taught negligence torts, and arcane real estate law, and I was darn glad I didn’t get assigned to his negligence torts section, but was assigned to Professor Cohen’s section. (Many years later, my oldest daughter married Professor Cohen’s son. I told my son-in-law a few law school stories about his father.)
We had a law professor named “Bad Sam Beatty,” who had a PhD in law, and would drill into us that the Law is a Jealous Mistress. The first day of class, Doctor Beatty looked down at his roll sheet and said, “Bashinnnsky! I like that name, Bashinnnsky. Is Mr. Bashinsky here today?” I stood up, as required when a law professor called on us.
Doctor Beatty said, “Mr. Bashinsky, what’s the first thing you do when a client comes into your office?” There was nothing about that in the reading assignment for the first class. I said, “I suppose you ask him why he came to see you.” Doctor Beatty said, “Sit down, Mr. Bashinsky, you will never make it as a lawyer?”
Doctor Beatty asked if anyone knew what is the first thing you do when a client comes into your office? A fellow somewhat older than the rest of us, Billy Church, who had been a Baptist preacher, raised his hand and rubbed his first two fingers against his thumb. “Correct, Mr. Church”, Doctor Beatty said. “You get paid.”
Up the road in Birmingham, was Samford University, a private Baptist school, to which my Baptist Grandfather Bashinsky had given a great deal of money. Attached to Samford was Cumberland School of Law. The tuition there was much higher than at my law school. Most of the students there graduated. 50-percent of them flunked the state bar exam. 95-percent of my graduating class passed it. Before the bar exam, I spent several months studying my law school class notes. I think that’s why I passed.
But I skipped over a few other interesting things about Doctor Beatty.
It was said that when he was a new lawyer, Sam Beatty had represented a black man accused of a crime against a white person. Beatty was convinced his client was framed. The white jury decided otherwise. The white Alabama appellate courts agreed with the white jury. Beatty told the appellate justices that he would never practice law before them again. He quit. He got his advanced law degrees and became a law professor.
Doctor Beatty had a good friend named Ryan deGraffenried, who was a rising political star in Alabama, a good and decent man, who could have changed the course of history in Alabama, if he had been elected governor. If, the small airplane in which he was traveling had not crashed and killed him. Doctor Beatty told us a little about his departed friend, what a great loss for the State of Alabama! Doctor Beatty said he was too upset to continue. Class dismissed.
The current law school dean, also a law professor, resigned being dean, he just wanted to teach. Doctor Beatty wanted to be dean. He was not selected. A law professor from up north was brought in to be dean. He instituted mandatory class attendance, which was really dumb, I thought. Alabama did not want lawyers, who had to be made to attend class. It wanted lawyers who were dedicated to the law. I said as much during a feedback meeting the new dean held.
Doctor Beatty announced he had taken a job teaching at the Cincinnati School of Law. He his lass class would be Uniform Commercial Code that summer. He was teaching Judicial Remedies. About ancient legal remedies, still part of Alabama law. Instead of his usual mostly low grades, he gave out only As, Bs and Cs. I got a C, and was grateful.
Thinking Doctor Beatty was making a statement to the law school bosses, and he would do it again in his summer Uniform Commercial Code class, a lot of graduating seniors signed up for that class. I signed up for the class. I studied my ass off. The final grade sheet had 3 As, 5Bs, perhaps 10 Cs, and about as many Ds and Fs. I got one of the Bs. By then, Doctor Beatty had moved to Cincinnati.
We started hearing rumors of how it was going in Cincinnati. Doctor Beatty was making his students stand up when he called on them. They were not used to that. He was disturbing their comfort zones in other ways. He was teaching Uniform Commercial Code. We liked hearing that.
A letter came from Doctor Beatty’s students, asking for a copy of his final exam in Uniform Commercial Code. A genius among us, not I, sent them a copy of this UCC final exam grade sheet, on which was scrawled, “Suck wind, Yankee Bastards!” We heard Bad Sam really liked that letter.
Later, I heard Doctor Beatty left Cincinnati to teach at Mercer Law School in Macon Georgia. Then, I heard he was working in a Macon bank’s trust department. I worried he was in a soul crisis.
Then, I heard Doctor Beatty was back in Tuscaloosa, practicing law.
Then, he ran for the Alabama Supreme Court, and got elected. I went before him on an appeal from a case I had lost on the pleadings in the Birmingham courts. He and the other justices ruled against me.
I dedicated KILL ALL THE LAWYERS? : “To my Law Professor Sam Beatty, who taught me how to think.”
Many years later, as I was emerging from the black night, Doctor Beatty called me from Tuscaloosa, said he was coming to Birmingham to have lunch with a friend at The Club, he’d like for me to join them. I was, well, flabbergasted, but there was no way I would not be there.
It was a fairly low-key lunch and discussion, but some deep currents were touched. Three men, who had seen plenty, who recognized we were a bit different.
I told Doctor Beatty that I had long wondered something. He asked me what it was? “You sometimes gave me a really hard time in law school.” He smiled, said, “Because I really liked you, Sloan!”
I don’t know if Doctor Beatty read any of my books. I don’t know why he called invited me to join him and his friend that day. I had no further contact with him in this life. But then, maybe it was he who told me in my sleep recently, “Life began on Hackberry Lane”?
There was yet another The Club event when I was coming out of the black night. A law school reunion, during which I learned a classmate named Billy Scruggs had become the president of the Alabama Bar Association.
In law school, Billy had teamed up with Billy Church during the moot court competition, and they gave me and my moot court partners fits.
Billy was a great banjo picker. He worked at fishing and hunting shop in Tuscaloosa. He and Billy Church did pro bono apprentice legal work in the local courts, and gave local lawyers fits.
After law school, Billy Scruggs went back Fort Payne, his hometown in north Alabama, to be a country lawyer, fish and hunt, and keep playing his banjo. He jammed with a group of musicians he had grown up with. In time they became known as the band, Alabama. Billy became their lawyer. He helped them and himself make a whole lot of money, in Sweet Home Alabama, which was not one of their songs, but maybe it should have been.
About a year ago, I traveled through Fort Payne and stopped for lunch at a diner and struck up a conversation with a local at the counter bar. I asked him if he had known Billy Scruggs? Yes, he had known MR. SCRUGGS. Then came stories that left me thinking Billy was a giant among men in his hometown.
Billy Church practiced law in Birmingham, and eventually ended up in a small town east of Birmingham, where he was a country lawyer of some renown, and took up and played a lot of golf, I heard.
I never became a country lawyer, and I didn’t do all that great as a city lawyer, but I did write some interesting books based on my time as a city lawyer. And the four novels were a trip. Two were self-published: KUNDALINA, ALABAMA and HEAVY WAIT: A Strange Tale. Both can be found at online used bookstores.
From time to time, I’m asked if I still practice law? I say hardly a day goes by when I don’t give someone legal advice, but I never charge money, nor even think about charging.
I sometimes say some of the legal advice I give is about human law, and some is about God Law.
I often say I spend a lot of time trying cases in God’s Court, where everyone there is on trial, including me.
I don’t always give good legal advice. I learn of that when I am corrected, or rebuked, in a dream, or by an unpleasant physical sensation, usually behind my left eye and in my left temple.
Sometimes the unpleasant sensation starts there and runs down into my left arm and hand.
Sometimes it runs further down into my left testicle, and that’s really unpleasant.
The further down it runs, the more seriously off was my legal advice.
The same happens when I mess up in other ways.
The left side is the female side. She lets me know every time I trample her.
Recently, I went to a memorial service for a dear friend of my first wife, the mother of my children. It was a beautiful non-religious service. A great man, loved by many, had moved on.
My first wife asked me to go with her to a gathering at the widow’s home. I said I didn’t think so, I had come for the memorial service. The unpleasant sensation behind my left eye showed up. I said, OK, I changed my mind. The unpleasant sensation behind my left eye went away.
That led to conversation I needed to have with my first wife en route to the widow’s home. The conversation was a good thing for us both.
We reached the widow’s home. I hung out a little while, saw I had no reason to stay. I told my first wife I was leaving if she could get a ride home with someone at the gathering. She said she could. I told the widow I hoped she did not suffer too much loneliness, hugged her, and left. No unpleasant sensation behind my left eye. It was time for me to leave.
A FEW REMARKABLE ALABAMA PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN, by a southern lawyer who became a mystic
SPONTANEOUS RAMBLINGS ON SOUL ALCHEMY, by a southern lawyer who became a mystic