Brian Beker

Brian Beker

Brian's writing career began in his teens at a Manhattan weekly newspaper. Soon after, he became the youngest editor in the history of his college paper, but dissatisfaction with the type of content he was printing led to a strong urging on the part of the administration to complete his education elsewhere. He transferred to Columbia College, and at the same time trained as a pilot and earned his Airline Transport Rating.

As an intern for [MORE] Magazine, the most influential journalism review of its day, Brian investigated the rigging of the 1976 Pulitzer Prizes. Months of investigation led to admissions by the editors of the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and others of their part in the scandal. On the day the cover article was to hit the stands, Brian's editors informed him that the magazine had been sold to the Columbia Journalism Review (Columbia awards the Pulitzers), squashing the story and teaching Brian an invaluable lesson in how the world really worked.

With notions of getting revenge as a spy in the enemy's camp, Brian attended Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. His master's thesis, which investigated the joyride crash of a fighter jet and resulted in impressive threats from the Pentagon, led to his being talent-scouted by a Nationalist Chinese journalism professor for a job at the CIA, which he declined. It did, however, plant the seed for a lifelong fascination for stories in remote and dangerous places.

While trying to start out as a journalist in Asia, Brian was gravely injured when he was crushed in a jeep wreck in the Himalaya. An article he wrote for The New York Times about the accident and the difficulties of hospitalization in a Third World country held the record for column inches of response printed in the Travel Section. Perhaps it still does.

Soon after he he healed from those injuries and returned to work as a pilot, Brian became paralyzed. 23 doctors failed to diagnose what turned out to be a large tumor on the spinal cord. When that was removed, it seemed like time for something new. Brian shifted to documentary film. He wrote and directed "Lines of Fire," an award-winning film about revolution and heroin trafficking in Burma. It premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was selected as the opening night film for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' documentary series in Los Angeles. [When it was shown on prime-time Australian television, Brian's narration had to be dubbed from English into Australian.] Lines of Fire was recently placed in the permanent film collection of MoMA/NY. The highest honor the film received, however, was a death sentence from Burma's military rulers.

Brian has conducted clandestine war zone investigation for Greenpeace. During that operation, he and his cameraman, Marcus Birsel, were captured by Burmese troops deep in the jungle, and escaped, unarmed, from a platoon of soldiers carrying rifles. He has worked as an assistant to director Bernardo Bertolucci, which involved a lot more yelling and screaming than being captured by the Burmese. Recently, Brian directed the aviation documentary AERO. In aviation, Brian owned and operated Black & White Biplane, an open-cockpit biplane ride company based at Santa Monica Airport that made a lot of people happy. He is currently writing about being adrift with his young Golden Retriever rescue, Roo, who is the subject of Notes from a Dog Rescue in Progress.

Brian's next book will be The Dog in the Clouds, a memoir about a dog who appeared as an apparition when the midnight storm clouds parted over Kathmandu. Brian searched for that exact dog for two years. It's the story of the dog he found, and how that dog helped him heal from a decade of life-altering injury, paralysis, and lingering confusion from a brain trauma that medicine couldn't address, but a dog could. It's the story of believing in a sign, and what happens when that sign comes true. Above all, it's about the magic that animals bring to our lives, and how that magic is always there for us to see, if only we look for it.

Brian's blog is The Dog in the Clouds, where new Roo stories, picture and videos are posted frequently.

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