"Fame is like a river, That beareth up things light and swollen, And drowns things weighty and solid." — Francis Bacon
Bill Ritter is a well-paid TV anchorman in Los Angeles. Larry Remer is a political consultant whose corporate clients include Southern California Edison. But Peter Bohmer is still a radical college professor.
Twenty years ago, Bohmer organized and inspired hundreds of young San Diegans — including Ritter and Remer — to oppose the Vietnam War and block the Republican Party from holding its 1972 national convention here. “Peter was unbelievably charismatic,” Ritter says of the then-27-year-dd economics instructor. “He was smart, funny, and remarkably articulate. He was to San Diego State what Mario Savio was to UC-Berkeley.“
Bohmer’s success in melding Marxist theory with street protests made him the target of bullets and death threats from the Secret Army Organization and other local right-wing extremists. He was arrested ten times for anti-war activities and served 50 days at Chino State Prison after being convicted of “aiding and abetting" a group of radicals who burned a pile of wooden railroad ties in Del Mar during a protest march. After being fired from the SDSU faculty in 1972, Bohmer ran the Center for Radical Education and worked at the Jackie Robinson YMCA in Southeast San Diego. But he says he tired of “trying to get by on $150 a month" and returned to the University of Massachusetts to finish his PhD in economics. (The judge who sentenced Bohmer in the felony case had also ordered him to complete his graduate degree as a condition of probation.) “Despite the irresponsible, even criminal actions of the police, editors at the Union-Tribune, and administrators at San Diego State, my reflections of San Diego are kind of positive, believe it or not,” Bohmer now says.
After finishing his dissertation in 1985, the New York native taught at Pennsylvania State University-McKeesport, where he also advised steel mill workers on how to purchase and operate bankrupt foundries. In 1987 he joined the faculty at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he's preparing the syllabus for a 1992 course titled “Columbus: 500 Years of Oppression, 500 Years of Resistance." Bohmer also says he has devoted 70 or 80 hours a week to organizing protests against the Gulf War, which he sees as a cover for U.S. "efforts to establish a permanent military presence in the Gulf to control oil and the Third World." His anti-war activities have made the 46-year-old father of four the target of a death threat and prompted more than one state legislator to demand he be fired from his teaching post.
Franz Schnaubelt retired from Convair in 1970, a year after the original Star Trek television series was canceled. Had the TV show disappeared from memory, Schnaubelt’s golden years doubtless would have been predictable. But we all know what happened to Star Trek — the astonishing popularity of its reruns, the string of movies, the highly popular “Next Generation" series. What happened to Schnaubelt is that, at least for a few years, the Trekkie force field warped his life, quite pleasantly.
Schnaubelt never watched the original series; he thought it was silly. His daughter was an ardent fan, however, and when she was 15, he began accompanying her to various Trekkie functions. At San Diego State, Schnaubelt, who’d worked for 30 years as an industrial designer, found himself chiding the young people for their clumsy attempts to replicate certain items from the TV show. He helped them prepare three-view drawings of Star Trek-style “phasers," and soon the young fans were asking for his assistance in re-creating whole sets. In order to do that, Schnaubelt began studying the show’s reruns and ultimately put in some 1500 hours creating a complete set of blueprints detailing the starship Enterprise.
Urged to market the plans, he quickly sold 500 self-published copies, then signed a contract with Ballantine Books. Two years later, he also produced a Star Trek “technical manual" ("literally a Boy Scout manual for space." he says with a chuckle).
Both the blueprints and the manual "went like wildfire from their first publication," Schnaubelt states proudly. (More than 550,000) copies of the manual have been sold, while fans gobbled up some 385,000 sets of blueprints.) In the mid- to late-70s, newspapers all over the country wrote stories about the La Mesa resident, and he fielded invitations from numerous talk shows and Trekkie conventions (though his eye problems and his wife's ill health limited his ability to respond to them). Interested congressmen called him to chat, and Schnaubelt heard that the manual was being taught in at least one university-level class. The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., turned the blueprints into a permanent exhibit.
He says the blueprints, alas, have gone out of print, and although a 1986 20th-anniversary edition of the manual still can be found in certain bookstores, the furor over the works faded years ago. Schnaubelt, who’s now 76, says he’s never watched a single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he has absolutely no interest in producing blueprints of the updated Enterprise featured in that program. He says the whole idea of blueprints for a 23rd-century ship is ridiculous. "The ship would be controlled and driven by a computer which could create and originate things," he says. "So the ships would be self-repairing and constantly changing."
On Thursday, June 24. 1982, viewers of the 5:00 p.m. newscast on Channel 8 were jolted upright when Allison Ross read a news story about Mac Heald, one of her fellow anchorpeople Ross reported that Heald was wanted in Los Angeles for child molesting. And so began one of the most bizarre episodes in the history of local television news.
Heald, 33 at the time, was a co-anchor of Channel 8’s noon news broadcast and a popular feature reporter on the ratings-dominant evening show. He had his own video segment. Mac Heald’s San Diego," one of the first of an eventual glut of such personality-based fluff features. Popular with co-workers and viewers alike, Heald’s career trajectory was angled upward. "He was a peach," remarks one of his former colleagues, "and very talented. He had a girlfriend. This was the most out-of-left-field thing you could imagine."