As a longtime screenwriter, graduate of the UCLA Film School, and Writers Guild of America member since the late 1970s, Jerry Drucker is part of the crew that came over from Margie Murray’s Valley Dems United newsletter — including such regulars as Brad Parker, Wendy Block, Robert Illes, and Wayne Williams — which gave our LA Progressive such an early shot in the arm.
The satirical twist Jerry puts on his articles does not entirely cloak his deeper concerns.
“I was a child of the Great Depression. It never occurred to me our strong and vital nation could fall and fail as it has today,” he says. “I was brought up to have a sense of justice and truth as a basis of our country’s governance. That belief has been shattered, particularly in the past decade.”
You can see that mix of stunned amazement leavened with a comic’s timing in articles such as these:
- Our Nation Has Been Manchurian Candidaterized
- Social Insecurity
- The GOP’s Free Speech Is Now Free Lies
Jerry comes by his gallows humor naturally.
“During World War II, my father was appointed by Governor Earl Warren to be the first chairman of the just-formed Adult Authority Parole Board. The Board’s principal office was in San Quentin Penitentiary,” he says.
Since housing was tight in Marin County, Jerry’s family lived next to the warden’s house just outside the prison walls, but inside the high security fence. Warden Duffy told them their trustee cook was in prison for poisoning someone — and the barber slit someone’s throat!
“One evening, against father’s instructions, my sister and I took a walk around the prison grounds,” he says. Passing a garden shed, he and his sister were startled by a loud siren and hightailed it home. “There had been a prison break and later we learned the prisoner, hiding in the shed, was waiting for us to pass before his next move,” he says. “After getting out of San Quentin, I read escape books.”
Of course, reading and research are essential to a screenwriter but they can also lead to surprising discoveries as Jerry explains how his research for a screenplay yielded information, early on, that fueled his suspicions that we were being led into the war with Iraq on false pretenses. Says Jerry, “While researching a screenplay regarding oil-eating bacteria, I read GERMS, co-authored by the now infamous New York Times writer, Judith Miller, in which a fiction book, “The Cobra Event” by Richard Preston, was referred to concerning mobile germ warfare-producing labs, that could be whisked away in a minute, to avoid inspection,” he says. “Mind you, Preston’s work was fiction, but the author was so knowledgeable about germ warfare that even President Clinton called on him regarding that little-known scary science.”
“When Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared at the United Nations to sell the Iraq war, he used cartoon drawings of the fictitious mobile labs as were used in Preston’s novel, as proof the labs existed,” Jerry says. “The labs were fiction, just like all the other falsehoods in selling the Iraq war.”
Ever the political activist and concerned citizen, Jerry has used his pen to effectively give voice to the concerns of the day. Frequently using humor or satire, he’s also adept at writing op-ed pieces that stir emotion, once receiving a death threat for an LA Times letter he wrote to the editor on Reagan’s failing memory.
In 2008, the LA County Democratic Party made him the 41st Assembly District’s man of the year — Jerry still makes it down to Van Nuys for the monthly Valley Dems United meeting from his new home in Camarillo.
In the 1980s, Jerry was appointed to a Board of Client Rights Advocacy at Camarillo State Hospital and subsequently was appointed by then Gov. Jerry Brown to be on the Governor’s Advisory Board for the Mentally Disordered at the State Hospital in Camarillo. “I served on the board with seven Republican ladies, until Gov. Deukmejian came into office,” Jerry says. “At that time, California was still attempting to recover from the dismantling of our mental health services by Gov. Ronald Reagan.”
Surrounded by his immediate friends and family and what he sees as a badly weakened progressive movement, Jerry holds to his hopes.
“Although I feel betrayed by the new greedy ruling class, that cares nothing for our nation,” he says. “I still have a glimmer of hope that our president will regain some of his campaign fight and will not go down in history as the Great Failed Compromiser.”
Some hope — I didn’t say he was Holly Golightly.
Editor, LA Progressive
Photo credits: Wayne Williams 2008