Highlights of a Lowlife

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The Autobiography of Milan Melvin

Edited by Peter Laufer

Milan Melvin was one of the most fascinating figures out of the sixties. In fact, a case could be made that he helped to shape the time of our lives. Peter Laufer is one of the sharpest journalists out of the sixties. In one of his last major decisions, Milan asked Peter to help him tell his story. Together they do, and it is one for the ages. Light up, buckle up and enjoy the flight. — Ben Fong-Torres

In a world of posers, Milan was the rare real thing. An adventurer and a strong friend. My friend. — David Crosby

When Milan Melvin rose point astride his iron palomino Harley, our caravan slept easy in the sixties, knowing he had one eye on the bad guys and heaven in his holster. — Wavy Gravy

Lean, lanky, self-contained, charming, and a natural gentleman – one of a dying breed even then. — Joan Baez

Milan Melvin was a driven, elusive, creative, lovable adventurer who colored the lives of all around him. His many-faceted career started with a stint as an undercover operative for the FBI at UC Berkeley – until he started falsifying reports.

He went on to trade Native American jewelry, import marijuana, hang with Hell’s Angels, co-found alternative radio – notably the legendary KSAN San Francisco – work on films, produce music, befriend Janis Joplin, and marry Mimi Farina, the sister of Joan Baez, who wrote her very first song about him.

Leaving America for 10 years, he lived with Tibetan Khampa guerrillas, funded a daycare center for Tibetan refugee children in Nepal, smuggled gems out of India, Burma and China, and manufactured jewelry in Thailand, before settling in Bali.

On his return, Milan worked with film director Carl Gottlieb on Caveman, appeared on Saturday Night Live, produced TV shows and managed the acting career of former Oakland Raider John “Tooz” Matuszak. Returning to charitable work, he and his wife Georgeanne raised and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical and material aid to anti-government organizations during El Salvador’s civil war.

In his last decade, Milan lived with his wife in seclusion in Wolf Creek, Oregon, before moving to Mexico for his final adventures.

Peter Laufer

An independent journalist, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker, Peter Laufer is currently the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

He took his first radio job while in high school at the all-talk radio station KNEW in Oakland. From there he moved to KSFO San Francisco as a news writer and in 1970 joined KSAN, the infamous Jive 95, co-founded by the subject of this book.

As news reporter, talk show host, bureau chief and news director, Laufer has since worked for radio stations and media networks throughout the US and Europe.

After studying at UC Berkeley, he earned his Master’s in Communications from the American University in Washington DC and his PhD in Cultural Studies from Leeds Metropolitan University in England, followed by post-graduate studies in Germany, France and Spain.

A frequent speaker and guest lecturer on media subjects around the world, Peter Laufer has written, co-authored or edited over 20 books.

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