Whether in Baltimore or Southeast Asia — on drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico or at the ivory tower university — with machine operators or tenured professors — at the supposedly fabulous horizons of global business or working within the confines of the state penitentiary — Jerry has moved freely among those with the need, and the courage, to know. Jerry’s raison d’etre, then and now (as one nameless pontificator said),
[is] to tear off the fetid, rotting skin of half-truths and lies that serve to keep things exactly as they are.
Based in Singapore in the 1990s, as a lecturer at the National University of Singapore, Jerry created the course “The Movie Industry and the Media.” He also made dozens of trips throughout the region, especially in Indonesia and China with his late Singaporean wife microbiologist Grace Wong Kurtz, who spoke Bahasa Indonesia as well as many Chinese dialects. Combining this insider access with his truth-seeking outsider insight, he wrote the screenplay In the Southern Cross, a romantic thriller set in Asia.
Tutored by the shocks and hidden traps of working in cultures not one’s own, Jerry became the authority on “Working and Living in Southeast Asia,” published in Interlude; on “Global Independent Contracting,” in The Independent Perspective; and on “Basing Yourself Overseas,” his chapter in the e-book, Getting Started in Consulting and Independent Contracting.
To many, however, Jerry is best known for his 1983 ‘user’s guide’ Nuclear War Manual for Dogs, in which a straight-talking “streetwise canine” lets us in on certain “practical difficulties” of trying to survive after a nuclear explosion… and the consequent inadvisability of letting such explosions take place!
Jerry taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Goucher College in Baltimore. His courses included fiction writing, drama, Shakespeare, “Comparative Renaissances: Elizabethans vs. the Beatles” and “Writing Online Documentation.” He wrote user manuals for Texas Instruments’ process-control systems and Becton Dickinson’s microbiology and immunochemistry devices, as well as Hewlett-Packard manuals and online help, which were translated into 19 languages and “bought” by millions.
He has degrees from Harvard (A.B., Chemistry) and from UC Berkeley (Ph.D., Renaissance English), where he won the Shrout Short Story Prize, and the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Prize for fiction, and has worked with screenwriting gurus James Dalessandro, Lew Hunter and Syd Field.
Among his various current writing projects, Jerry delights in composing Tirades, his humorous and keenly observed personal ‘user guides’ to truth and the possibilities of freedom — and then forcing them down the world’s throat.
He lives in San Francisco.
- In Baltimore Jerry helped develop, co-ordinate and supervise daily educational services for struggling high school students and drop-outs; counseled at-risk families and youth; and organized central-city neighborhoods, both poor and working-class, black and white.
- At TI, he wrote his division’s largest proposal to date, a successful offer to ARAMCO for a $350 million oil production monitoring and control system in the Central Dispatch Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
- Jerry wrote the user’s guide for Roadnet Systems’ truck routing and scheduling system. UPS bought first the product and then the company — the backbone of their computerized deliveries.
- Jerry has trained operators and engineers from such industrial facilities as an electricity monitoring station in Shanxi, China; a gas pipeline in India; an airport security system in Saudi Arabia; a Bristol-Myers plant in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico; an acrylic acid plant in Houston; a chicken packaging plant in Tennessee; a U.S. Steel mill in Chicago; an Exxon refinery in Baton Rouge; and all of the 22 major FAA air traffic control centers.
- Jerry has published dozens of articles and reviews, and a few stories in obscure publications.
- He is also known for the course “How to Participate in Your Own Life.”
To learn more about Grace’s life, click to see Grace’s website. There you can also see photos documenting their travels to the exotic locales that inspired some of Jerry’s writing, particularly In the Southern Cross.