I always maintained my sense of humor throughout the tumultuous emotional years of my lawsuit. Most major players were aware of this because, at one time or another, they were recipients of comedic and/or satirical written communication from me reflecting my amusement about some aspect of the matter going on at the time involving them. The attendant letter (which I titled for purposes of this post, Letter to Larry Drivon and Dick Bridgman) is one example. 1
In jest, I wrote the attached letter to Larry Drivon and Richard Bridgman after the November 9, 1985 meeting that I had with them to discuss the possibility of Mr. Bridgman taking on my case due to Larry’s pending withdrawal as my trial counsel. (Richard Bridgman is/was a San Francisco-based attorney) I have to admit that the letter is somewhat embarrassing. But it is what it is (just as it was at the time that I wrote it). And I’m posting it just the same.2
If one is familiar with certain details of my jocular letter to Larry Drivon dated October 29, 1985 (to be found on the Timeline at the referenced date), one can glean from the present attached communication/account that Mr. Bridgman was familiar with said comedic letter to Larry during the subject November 9, 1985 meeting, although I had not sent Bridgman a copy. This is one of the reasons that I felt comfortable enough to address him within the hereto-attached follow-up letter to that meeting and address the letter itself to him along with Drivon. Brother Larry had to have familiarized Brother Dick with who his potential client was (with a wink and a nod) and showed him the letter as well.3 Not that they tried to hide it.–They did not. In a veiled and humorous manner, they let it be known during our meeting. It was part of a good-natured sportsmen-like tit for tat/banter between the three of us. And I enjoyed it.4
The trick for them that I had up my sleeve at the time, I dreamt up before I left Modesto, to be sprung on the two barristers during our meeting at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Actually, literally-speaking, it wasn’t a trick up my sleeve. Rather, it was a purposeful purposely visible trick sticking up and out of my shirt pocket. It was very prominent and colorful against my black shirt. I had purchased some lottery tickets (the lottery being relatively new to California at the time) and placed them in my shirt pocket so they’d be glaringly conspicuous during the meeting. I knew what kind of get-together we’d be having (especially after previously sending Larry the above-referenced 10/29/85 letter). In fun, I wanted to beat them to the punch, one-up them if I could. And I think I accomplished my goal because I was an inexperienced novice competing with the wits and wisdom of two veteran legal slicksters. (I think Larry even blew some cigar smoke my way when I wasn’t looking) The trade-off ended up a wash. However, all things considered, I believe that I won by a nose. I kept even with an experienced tag team, if only by the lottery tickets continuously staring them in the face every time they looked my way as they said and did whatever it was that they said and did. Kind of takes the edge off of whatever they said and did. (The meeting took place in Larry’s hotel room, by the way) Of course, there’s no proving victory or defeat one way or the other. Neither men mentioned the tickets during our meeting. However, Bridgman did say, “I like to gamble,” while discussing a topic that I can’t recall. But I’m sure that it was because of the lottery tickets protruding out of my pocket. The way he referenced gambling in what he was saying didn’t seem to fit and flow right. It was forced. And thereby, therefore, he “bit.”Anyway, being that attorneys must be detail-oriented with spoken words and those in legal documents and law books, they must also have a proclivity for and pay attention to detail in a client’s behavior (be it crazy or not).-I’m sure that the lottery tickets were duly noted by the two Brothers. And a silent touché is what I took from it.
The long and short of the matter is, when I got home from San Francisco, I scratched off the covering of the 12-digit secret code that they were printing on lottery tickets in those days. This number is something that usually remained covered and was only looked at by lottery officials if the ticket-holder won the jackpot. It is a verification code authenticating a winning ticket. Those numbers can’t be tampered with, nor can any part of the rest of the ticket, be it altering something under a covering or on the surface (most particularly the winning numbers). Revealing the verification code to oneself (or anyone else, for that matter) prior to (or even after) winning, did not nullify or discredit the validity of the ticket. Tampering with the ticket would only pose a problem if there were hanky-panky or irregularities with said numerical code or the surface of the rest of the lottery ticket were it a winning one.
My next step (while snickering like Muttley or is it Dastardly Dog) was to attach one verification code-exposed ticket to each of my attendant letters addressed and sent to Drivon and Bridgman. I’m sure that they were wondering during our meeting and after receiving my letter(s), what the heck I was up to with the prank. Upon receipt of the lottery tickets, they knew that I had planned this thing all along after their having seen the tickets ostentatiously pooching out of my shirt pocket during our meeting. After the letter was received by Drivon, Larry’s secretary, Judi Miller, probed me for the method to this little bit of madness of mine. I simply said: “The ticket is still good if there’s no hanky-panky.” I believe that I said these exact words. I recall Judi understanding exactly what I meant after just those few words. Because she said, “ah,” or a similar I see verbal gesture. The symbolism/metaphor represented my attitude with regard to Berberian v. Berberian & Wells Fargo Bank: “Keep it clean, no hanky-panky, and you won’t have any trouble with me.” Well, as it turned out, the Brotherhood did not keep it clean. There was indeed hanky-panky. (Boy was there) They did indeed have trouble with me. And the rest, as they say, is history.5
1 The original letter is handwritten. However, the version attached, I typed up on my computer for the purpose of visual clarity and readability. Other than that, I didn’t change anything.
2 You’ll notice that I reference Larry Drivon’s complimenting my writing when we were at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel. There are two things about this. First, my most recent writings at the time were the two of a comedic nature. Those dated August 4, 1985 and October 29, 1985 (both to be found on the Timeline at their corresponding dates). Therefore, Larry must have been saying that my letters were indeed funny as intended. The other thing about his endorsing my writing (Larry’s secretary, Judi Miller, encouraging me to “keep the letters coming”), is what I believe to be an erroneous assumption on Drivon’s part and probably that of most other players who were recipients of my tongue-in-cheek as well as serious letters. Larry thought my ego was seriously involved and motivating my letter-writing extravaganza. Wrongo! (5% tops. No dick- measuring on my part) The writing was a catharsis, helping me with my frustration about being kept in the dark. All one has to do is review the record (for the most part, Berberian Mystery Theatre) to see that this is and was true. For me to be content, all I needed were these words: We’re taking care of this matter. Sit Tight. Or words to that effect. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” would have been fine with me. But I didn’t get it. And it wasn’t fine with me that I got exactly that from my psychiatrist at the time, because I did not literally consider him “God.” How would he know specific answers to specific questions unless he told me. And he didn’t tell me. When I asked about it, he’d dance a little side-step. (see Timeline at 07/06/96, “The Hypocratic Doctor,” for details) (Sidebar: This is some crazy shit, folks. But it’s all true. And it’s a story like no other. So all of you investigative journalists, book and screen-writers out there, this is your Star Wars. And time’s a-wastin’) Additionally, there was a hidden agenda going on, both within my lawsuit and with something legally-oriented and legally-related to me and mine that my father had put in place in some parallel legal world. And it was affecting my litigation.-Negatively. No question about it. And it wasn’t just a legal wedgie that was lodged by this related matter into Berberian v. Berberian & Wells Fargo Bank. My lawsuit took it up the old dirt road, the Hershey Highway. Add to this the fact that I was going to a psychiatrist who was instilling into my noggin much of what I thought and endorsing most of what I believed and you get not just the garden-variety neurotic that I was prior to the lawsuit years, but a confused loon with two scoops crazy. No question about that either. That’s why the letters. And they began early because the secret agenda began early, within the first few months. That hidden agenda began when my father wanted me gone from our family’s legal matter and he watched his people kick me out, using his foot. Nuts? A tad bit too much metaphor? I don’t have time to explain here and now. If interested in learning and understanding the works, again, see Berberian Mystery Theatre as a whole in all its glory. Then you’ll see just how schizo I am and was (or maybe just the opposite.-I can’t tell).
3 The legal profession is a brotherhood. This is why you’ll find me addressing attorneys as “brothers” from time-to-time throughout Berberian Mystery Theatre.
4 I want to mention the fact that I can’t generally pick up on such veiled references when I’m actually face-to-face with people. At the time, I usually take what they say at face value and without hidden meaning. I give people the benefit of whatever skepticism that I have, despite my doubting-Thomas nature. It isn’t until I leave someone’s presence and I’m in my car or at home reflecting on the encounter and interchange that the analysis happens and the underlying meaning of things comes to mind, assuming that any are to be found (real or unreal). This was true at the time of my meeting with the two counselors, Brothers Drivon and Bridgman, even though I anticipated some slick talking and prepared for it with my own retaliatory mischief before our meeting.
5 It goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway: Berberian Mystery Theatre is/was wholly inspired by the egregious behavior of The Brotherhood (and a few other integral players, most notably Arnold Aaron Sheuerman, Jr., M.D. of Stockton, California).