Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The Kindle version of my new book, The Me Generation.. By Me (Growing Up in the '60s), is now ready to download. Only $6.99. You can order yours here.

The paperback should be out in a couple of weeks. They’re still cutting down trees.

Longtime readers of this blog know I’ve been working feverishly on this for the past three years. I’ve posted rough draft excerpts from time to time. Well, finally it’s ready! This is my memoir of my attempt to come-of-age in Southern California in the '60s. Obviously, it’s the most personal thing I’ve ever written… and hopefully one of the best.

There are elements in here that everyone can relate to, regardless of age. For baby boomers it’s a nostalgic (or acid) trip in the Way Back Machine, and younger readers will find my trials and tribulations to be universal. Same angst, same insanity; only phone service has changed.

If this sounds like a sales pitch it’s because IT IS. I really am proud of this book and want you to buy it.

So to that end – I’m posting a portion of the introduction along with some shameless blurbs that should send you scrambling to Amazon to get yours today!

Thanks so much to all of you who do get a copy. There are some laughs, I promise you.


They say if you can remember the’60s you didn’t live through them. But that’s not true. 99.9999% of the largest generation the world has ever known grew up in the ’60s and were not so drugged out that the decade became a mere purple haze. 99.999999% of them didn’t attend Woodstock, move to Haight-Ashbury, protest the war by burning their bras or banks, or form a band that played Woodstock. Most of us went to school, had summer jobs, wrestled with adolescence, and enjoyed being catered to by the media and Madison Avenue because of our sheer size.

And the world changed dramatically while all of this was going on. But in the background.

Meanwhile, I set out on a journey to find myself and my place in the world set against the most confusing decade of the century. At the time, however, I didn’t know it was a journey. I just thought it was life.

Books on the ’60s generally read like history timelines. (SPOILER ALERT) “Camelot,” then JFK is killed, then the Beatles, then the war, then hippies, then college protests, then more assassinations, then Woodstock, then we land on the moon. The final exam is Tuesday. Please review Chapters 5-12.

Films on the ’60s all have the same tired storyline. Clean-cut All-American kid smokes one joint, moves to San Francisco and becomes either a hippie or college revolutionary. Throw in long hair, goofy costumes, and a Jefferson Airplane soundtrack and you’ve distilled the entire decade into ninety minutes.

What seems missing is an account of what it was really like growing up in this most amazing and turbulent period. The problem of course, is that there is no one story. You have 76,000,000 people all with unique experiences. I’m sure a high school quarterback’s book would be very different from mine. How can he get enough rest for the big game when all these girls are calling him night and day? I have no idea what that world was like. Nor do I know what attending schools with separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks was like. Or having to shovel snow to get to class. Or coming home to a broken home. I grew up in Los Angeles, two parents, one brother, Jewish, uncoordinated, insecure, cynical, ambitious, weird. This is my story. I can’t guarantee it’s the most definitive account of the ’60s but I promise you this – it’s 100% candid and 85% accurate, give or take a few details.

So I invite you to join me on my journey (now that I realize I was on one) through this most exciting decade. Along the way you’ll encounter JFK, and Vietnam, and the peace marches. And also bomb shelters, teen sex, lack of teen sex, the draft, the Monkees, dress codes, Batman, cheerleaders, malls, the space race, water pipes, SATs, LSD, ROTC, SDS, CBS, NBC, ABC, WABC, KHJ, UCLA, FM, underground FM, acne, driving lessons, the generation gap, the credibility gap, Gidget, transistor radios, rabbit ears, Mustangs, Motown, ideals, Sonny & Cher, Sonny Liston, sunny California, storm troopers on the roof, Beatlemania, the Sunset Strip, 007, 1A, 4F, 45’s, Wolfman, the Man From Uncle, Uncle Sam, Hanoi Jane, Mr. Clean, Mr. Ed, Ed Sullivan, dancers in cages, undercover narcs, Love Ins, Drive Ins, the Dating Game, the World’s Fair, the lottery, Coppertone, Koufax, theater-in-the-round, student stand-bys, The Fugitive, John Wooden, Woody Allen, nose jobs, summer jobs, angst, joy, anger, and boredom.

The Me Generation… By Me looks back but also forward. What happened to those ideals? That youth? That attention? The times, they have a’changed.

Personally, I loved growing up in the ’60s. Hopefully after reading my account of it, you will too.


Ken Levine is the guy you most wanted to be riding in the back seat of the car on a Saturday night as you and your buddies cruised the streets of your hometown-- the smartest, funniest, most observant guy you knew, the guy who never missed a thing, and knew just how to tell the rest of you about it in a way you'd be repeating for days to come. For those of us who didn't know him back then, this book is the next best thing-- hop in. You won't want the ride to end.

-- Bob Greene, author of Be True To Your School and CNN commentator

Ken Levine is not an ordinary person, so it figures that his formative years were not exactly normal either. When you grow up in the Valley and your adolescence is all about testosterone, sports and sixties rock 'n' roll, you're doomed to become one of television's brightest talents and one of radio's most sarcastic broadcasters. Trust me, your youth was never this much fun. Vicarious little victories await you, lucky reader.

-- Howard Kaylan, the Turtles

Ken Levine's career path is close to unique. I don't know anyone else who has written for Cheers, and also called grand slams and no-hitters set against the cheers of a packed ballpark.

-- Bob Costas, NBC

Again, here’s where you go to order. Some glowing reviews from people who know me should be up soon.


Howard Hoffman said...

Much more fun than the Steve Jobs book. Okay, Ken didn't change computing by making a stylus-free tablet device. But he did see Jane Fonda naked.

Want to know how this guy turned out this way? Get. Read. Laugh.

Beth Ciotta said...

I am soooo looking forward to this read, Ken! Wishing you mega sales!

Brian said...

Consider it bought!

Mike Botula said...

Jane Fonda naked? Gotta buy it NOW!

gottacook said...

I know I will enjoy this. I also grew up in the '60s but on the east coast and a few years later (bar mitzvah Sept. 1969) and recall quite a lot of the actual era.

On the spectrum of 1960s retrospectives, it sounds like the book will be at the opposite end from what's presented at the "Woodstock museum," the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY. My family and I happened to be vacationing nearby a couple of years ago, and decided after checking out the gift shop (and what we were able to see of the exhibits through a shop window) not to buy tickets.

Richard Y said...

This is going to be a "Must Have" book from all the beta-testing Ken has done with us on the blog. But I will wait for the hard book. I know I must be in the minority but do not much care for Kindle reading.

Anonymous said...

Right there with you, Richard Y. If I can't turn actual pages, I don't feel like I am reading a book. Just spending more time on a computer.

Tom Quigley said...

MikeBo said...

"Jane Fonda naked? Gotta buy it NOW!"

Hey, Mike, if you lived during the 60's you made a point of seeing BARBARELLA. We all saw her naked...

VP81955 said...

To borrow the term of Ken's favorite radio station of the era, sounds boss.

Jean-Paul Albert Cam-who? said...

Anxious to read this. Hopefully, it's better than Being & Nothingness.

Johnny Walker said...

Well darn, if I don't want to go ahead and read this now. Added to the pile!

Tom Chandler said...

C'mon Ken -- how a bout a little ebook love for us Barnes & Noble Nook users?

I'd like to see Jane Fonda naked along with all the other kids.

SkippyMom said...

Argh! You are going to force me to buy a Kindle.
Is it really going to come out in paperback? Because I really don't want to buy a Kindle [or e reader/whatever]

Thomas said...

I will wait for the audiobook. I am a very patient man.

Bryan said...

hmm.. i'm torn between asking my wife to buy now (since she's the one who has Kindle) or wait for the paperback.. arrgggh.. i guess i'll just wait for the paperback..

D. McEwan said...

Tennessee Williams once said to Gore Vidal that he, Tennessee, had "missed" the entire decade of the 1960s. Gore replied: "Well, you didn't miss much."

Can't wait for the paperback, but must, I am still a book Luddite. Will the hard copy price be the same?

Tallulah has promised to plug it on her blog, but today is her birthday (115) so she's busy celebrating. That today is also my birthday, she is ignoring.

DBA said...

Friday question: I have wondered for some time, why if a team finished 80-82 last year do announcers say they finished last season 2 games under .500? There's a set number of games per season, so a .500 finish by definition is 81-81. You can't just win two more games to break even if you're at 80-82. So why wouldn't that record be ONE game under .500? An additional win would require one less loss. Baseball people are so stats-minded, I've always found this math an enigma.

RCP said...

I think there was a Twilight Zone episode a couple of nights ago from 1963 with Ann Jillian - did you know her at that time? I'll find out when I pick up the paperback. Looking forward to your take on the 60s, Ken!

Craig Edwards said...


Stu Shostak said...

I'm reading the book now in prep for my interview with Ken on June 13. Get it! If you're a baby boomer, there is so much here that you can identify with - from Ken's experiences in junior and senior high to getting his driver's license, first date...even going to school with Ann Jillian and Jan Smithers...OK, maybe we can only fantasize about THEM, but buy this book. You will love it!

Mahesh said...

Bought my copy today, good stuff so far!

Friday question: Why do so many sitcom sets have doors that swing in and out? Is it for cost, and time purposes, so the actors don't have to take a while to open and shut the doors if they're simply leaving a scene?

xjill said...

Congrats Ken!!

Frank Abe said...

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.! Can't wait.

Cap'n Bob said...

I ordered it after your first warning. Guess I'd better switch on the Kindle to let it download. But I thought it was $3.99.

jango said...

Wow, its already out on the torrent sites, downloadable as pdf for ibooks for free.
800 downloads so far.

Just kidding Ken...............LoL

Chris said...

Friday question: So many great shows were shot on tape and now there's no possibility for an HD release.

Who and when makes that decision and how does a show like Seinfeld get shot on film when they had one of the smallest budgets and the shortest order in American TV history? NBC obviously didn't wanna spend any money on it. Was Almost Perfect shot on film or was it tape? I can never tell.

Rob Reed said...


This is related to an old post I found where you mentioned your Dad was station manager for WLS in '88.

I was at WHFB in Benton Harbor, Mi at the time and listened to WLS all the time.

One late night I was driving home from work and heard the WLS DJ say something like, "Whoever can tell me what today is wins the keys to a brand new Porsche. Not the car, just the keys."

A few minutes later someone called in and correctly guessed that today was the first day of spring.

The DJ joked about winning the keys, not the car, and that was the end of the gag.

Until, a few days (weeks?) later I read in, I think, the Chicago Trib that the person who called in was a lawyer (or had a lawyer in the famil) and contacted the station threatening to sue for a "fradulent contest."

IIRC, the station investigated, and decided it would be cheaper to buy the guy a Porsche (and fire the DJ) than fight the suit and any possible FCC action.

The thing is, no one I tell this story to believes me and I can't find ANYTHING to document it.

It would have been around 1987 to 1989, but I can't remember what year.

Any chance your Dad might have any info or be able to ask around? I bet there's gotta be SOMEONE else who remembers this.

Rob Reed

Kirk said...

I wish I had been born 10 years earlier and seen the conservative 1950s turn into the liberal 1960s/1970s. Instead, I saw the liberal 1960s/1970s turn into the conservative 1980s. Not the same thing.

SEAsr said...

Hi Ken,

Thank you for telling good tales of the '60s. I've recently come upon your book "The Me Generation" and thought I'd offer my memories of the valley and my radio work as well.

I too grew up in Woodland Hills in the early '60s. Well almost. As a spoiled only child of the South Bay, the folks thought it important that I spend summers with the cousins for a dose of normal sibling adventures (and doubtless their own sanity). So for a few weeks each year (1960-64), I lived in the guest house with Jim (two years older) and Ken (two years younger)on Oxnard, just a few doors down from Fallbrook.

Nearly every day we'd walk (barefoot-ouch!) on that hot street down to the corner to buy candy at Basso's Drug Store. In 2000 while on the way to a meeting in the area, I stopped in and sure enough Mr. Basso himself was still standing behind the counter. That knot in my stomach suddenly reappeared as it had when he scowled at us kids forty years before. I asked him how much for an Abba Zabba bar these days, and how much for the Marshettes? I then handed him five bucks, thanked him for still being around and turned to head for the door. Wait, he says, you forgot your candy. Nope, sorry I finished 'em off in August of '62.

I also learned why the older cousin like getting haircuts so often. Right next door to Basso's was the barber shop (remember the "Balboa"? A flat top with side wings). But the real star of the show was the current selection of Playboy magazines. Enough to melt the Dixie Peach Pomade from a kid's scalp! I checked on Google Earth and both shops are indeed still there.

When not swiping candy, we used to ride our bikes to the pet cemetery, and swam out back in Uncle Jim's pool, or next door at Willy's. Willy's dad was a Walter Lantz artist (Ray Abrams) and sometimes worked on Woody Woodpecker cells in the garage just over the hedge. So occasionally we'd stop by in our dripping swim trunks and basically get in the way.

At thirteen I had my first driving lesson, in the circle driveway, when the adults were "out". That '61 Sprite could peel out great. However, the tell tale tires marks on the nice clean driveway got us busted!

Thanks for including POP photo (Pacific Ocean Park)in the book and website! It was the first radio automation I'd seen in action. Up until then, it was just seeing a newscaster from KNX reading a magazine at a home show remote. I graduated from Don Martin Radio/TV school, on Cherokee and Hollywood Blvd, and began my career in Glendale in 1965, and still at it today. I've often thought there might be a book in some of the interesting interviews I've done over the years.

Harry Morgan once offered to submit my material for consideration to the MASH writers, but I chickened out. Years later Stan Freberg scolded me for not doing it! stuff like that. What do ya think? Thanks for encouraging me to get started.


Steve Atkins
West Linn, Or
(email) studiob107@gmail.com