Thursday, April 30, 2015

ASHES



Unedited excerpts from my memoir


I was sixteen that autumn and surrounded by danger. My parent's marriage was disintegrating. The tension was so acute that it had become completely beyond the realm of human endurance. 

My father was intent on ripping the last remaining remnants of our lives to shreds, and he did it with such incredible diabolic precision that any semblance of reality was expunged. His violence - which on a good day was unbearable - had increased to alarming realms of maniacal desperation. He lurked in the shadowed agony of his own delusions, waiting with the raw anticipatory patience of a hungry animal, looking for any reason to attack: to pounce and kill.

My mother and I existed under the distorted cloud of his insanity, catering to his every whim, forever terrified of accidentally doing anything that would trigger the next explosion.

The nights were the worst. Darkness magnified the fear and perpetuated our sense of helplessness. My father guzzled beer religiously, but at the time I never fully realized the effect it had on accelerating his anger. The only positive aspect was that the alcohol would eventually make him sleep. Slouched in a kitchen chair, in an impossibly uncomfortable position, his hideous snores would be the signal that we could relax - at least for awhile.

Mom and I would try to sleep during these rare moments of respite - but we always slept lightly and fully dressed, prepared for the next inevitable battle. I slept with a butcher knife under my pillow, but it only provided a false sense of security. I knew full well that if I ever tried to use it against my father, he'd kill me with it.

When he'd suddenly awaken in the post midnight hours, he would be refreshed and ready to resume the violence. He not only derived sadistic pleasure in the beatings, but also in chasing us out of the house and locking the door. Mom and I would shiver in the chilly yard, cowering in the shadows, praying that he wouldn't come outside to look for us. Sometimes we'd sneak into the garage and sit in the car with the doors locked, waiting until dawn.

My father always kept the keys to the car so we couldn't get them. One night my Mom somehow managed to procure the keys. We hastily packed a few things and sneaked out to the garage, which was separate from the house, far back in the yard. The risk was great, but it was our only chance of escape.

I lifted the heavy wooden garage door, then got in the car as Mom started the engine. She hadn't yet backed out of the garage when my father appeared - literally out of nowhere. He opened the car door, twisted the key, and ripped it out of the ignition. Before we could even think, he grabbed a large can of gasoline and began dousing the car and the garage, while shouting that he was going to burn everything and that we'd never get out alive. I frantically made my escape, ran to the house, and called the police.

Within minutes, police cars surrounded our house and everything was illuminated with bright searchlights. I only remember fragments of that chaotic scene, but do know that it ended with my father utilizing his well-rehearsed repertoire of charm and lies. He was calmly laughing off the incident, and blaming it on his wife and son who were troublemakers - always hysterical and crazy.

Those were the days when family violence was never discussed publicly and cops couldn't care less about women's rights. They were always on the man's side - at least that was my consistent childhood observation. My father inevitably won. Always. He was emboldened by the fact that he could get away with anything. And after the cops left, things always got worse. Mom and I would be severely punished for causing all the trouble.

That was the angry autumn of endlessly raging brush fires. We lived in a small, sleepy California town nested in the hills between Orange County and the city of Riverside. The dry, fierce Santa Ana winds were raging and fires were igniting everywhere. By late September the hills near our town were ablaze. By early October, the fires multiplied and we were literally surrounded by them. There was no way out. 

There was danger within and danger without: my father and his volatile, unpredictable temper, and the uncontrollable raging fires. The desert winds shrieked, making the house tremble. The air was so dry and the smoke so thick, that my sinuses were ravaged and I had severe headaches. It was impossible to go outside. 

Then the ashes began to fall, thickly and swiftly, like a hellish storm of surrealistic snow. Everything was covered with gray ash - the streets, the yard, even the astonished palm trees. The sullen landscape was buried in it.

In early evening, at sunset, I ventured outside to timidly survey the scene. The world as I once knew it had vanished and was replaced with an incredibly vivid ethereal crimson glow. The red disk of the setting sun had melted into the enormous lake of fire on the horizon. Everything was covered with ash and drenched in a thick smokey haze of angry red. I could actually feel the heat of the approaching flames. 

I was mesmerized by the magnitude of the unholy scene, and completely unaware that I was being anointed in an unrelenting rain of unblemished ash.




Five years later: another California autumn, in the Hollywood hills. I'm in the upstairs bedroom of a Spanish-style mansion built in the 1920's. Drowsy from little sleep and too much Sangria. Lying in a tangle of damp sheets and a subtle confusion of deepening shadows. It is nearly dusk, on an impossibly hot and breathless September evening.

I glance at my companion who is asleep, gently exhausted, breathing calmly in the abstract sweetness of dreams. The tempting body of a classic Greek sculpture, the deceiving face of an archangel.

Outside, far beyond the open wrought-iron windows, the hills are ablaze with autumn wildfires. They are slowly descending, moving closer at a leisurely pace. There are no Santa Ana winds tonight. The smokey glow of amber and gold has touched the window and is innocently illuminating the bedroom wall. 


I gaze abstractly at the blood red candles flickering in the alcoves, the porcelain vase of dying flowers, and the silver crucifix tarnishing with age on the unblemished wall.

And I think of a long-ago autumn fire in a small rural California town......and I remember my sense of absolute helplessness and isolation.....the unrelenting terror that my father unleashed.... the feeling of impending doom that surrounded me as I was unwittingly anointed in raining ash......

....and in the sudden pang of an emotional moment, I yearn for the innocence I once knew - - a purity of body, if not of soul..... and I realize that this present sin, and the multitude of my other sins, are a desperate attempt to expunge the painful past and to cling to an eternal yet unattainable hope.

I snuggle closer to my companion and derive immense satisfaction at the very receptive response....and I kiss the sweetly tender lips of an archangel, whose words of love and reassurance whisper against my own lips like the promise of a prayer.

In the presence of the softly smouldering night and the silent shower of eternal ashes, we are securely ensconced in the moment - oblivious to the raging fires around us.




This is completely unedited. Please excuse any typos.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

GOIN' TO TOWN




I suppose it could also be titled Comin' Home From Town, but that's beside the point.

One of my favorite Mae West movies is called Goin' to Town, but that's beside the point, too.

I've been trying to exude a brave countenance but I'll be brutally blunt:
the long, dangerous drive into town still scares the living jeeters out of me. I've never gotten used to it. The impossibly narrow, endlessly winding mountain roads put the "F" into Frozen Fear. Not to mention those perilous cliffs.

There are times when I procrastinate for a week before I can summon the courage to embark on the harrowing journey. And then I have to be reinforced with two or six beers. Being soused not only rekindles my courage, it makes me drive faster.

Yea, I know. All of you teetotalers are in a panic from reading this. Hell, when I lived in Texas I was drunk continuously. Here in Tennessee I'm only drunk when I drive to town.

I'm making progress. When I first moved here it took me half an hour to drive to town. Now, on a clear day, it takes anywhere from fifteen to twelve minutes - - depending on how often I don't use the breaks.


The worst part is when I happen to get a logging truck in front of me (no passing is allowed). The last time this happened the truck was crawling about eight miles an hour. Took me an hour to get to town.

And then there are the tailgaters. If I'm driving 75 MPH the tailgater will be on my ass going 95. I always pull over when I can and let them pass.

It's inevitably a woman. In an SUV. Talking on a cell phone. With six kids in the back seat.

I'm going to be mercilessly blunt and say something that most men wouldn't dare admit: women are the most aggressive drivers on earth. When they get behind the wheel they develop Penis Power and all of their pent-up hostilities suddenly surface.

This is an innocent generalization, of course. I know that none of you charming female bloggers would ever do this.

Hey, Jon - don't you ever get nasty and aggressive when you're drunk?

Nope. Drunk or sober, I'm a sweetheart. The only time I get aggressive is when I want to get to know somebody better......

Speaking of intoxication, did I ever mention how difficult it is to get liquor here? They only sell beer in one store. At an inflated price. Only beer. Nothing else. I'd have to grow my own vineyard and get my own grape press in order to have wine. 

The Baptists rule in Tennessee (and in Texas). There's a Baptist church every ten feet but no booze. You'd think someone would summon Jesus and demand him to turn the water into wine......

All right, Jon, stop being a wise guy.

I know I've risked losing my blog followers (all three of them). The Baptists are miffed. The women are pissed. Hell, I hope I haven't offended the heathen gays.

I was laughing as I wrote that. My wildly wicked past would make heathen gays look like Shirley Temple.

Are you a heathen gay, Jon?

Let's just say that I'm a happy heathen. 

I was drunk yesterday and I'm still under the spell of the lingering effects of alcohol. It takes a while to wear off. It's nearly 5:00 AM as I'm writing this, and I'm sort of between days. Didn't sleep much and haven't yet woken up......

I finally bought porch paint yesterday and I plan to paint my two porches this week.

Did you ever notice that all paints are carefully categorized and have a specific purpose nowadays? 
There's porch paint and floor paint, ceiling paint, indoor wall paint, house paint exterior, fence paint, cement paint, environmentally friendly paint, rain-proof paint, sunlight-resistant paint.....WTF?????

Does anybody remember the good old days when you simply bought a can of lead-based paint and a brush?

 Anxiously awaiting a coat of paint.
This pic was taken a few months ago. The trees are now lush and green and the weeds are nearly up to the roof.






 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

DISCOMBOBULATED THOUGHTS



These are weeds but they're lovely


Discombobulated, Jon?

Yea, every once in a while I like to use big words. I have no idea what the heck it means. It just looks good.

In my previous post I promised that I would address all of your comments in my next post. Well, this is my next post and I'm too lazy to address your comments individually. I'll merely sort of generalize.

I've had a few beers, so I'll ask for forgiveness in advance for my disjointed ramblings.

First of all, mysterious and anonymous "NB" brought up the subject of scorpions and wondered if I ever saw my cats kill one. In Texas, my oldest cat Scratch killed several scorpions but I never actually saw how she did it. I had heard that cats are immuned from the venom of a scorpion sting - - but upon doing research I discovered that it isn't true. Cats have padded paws, thick fur, and tough upper palates which helps protect them from the sting.

On the subject of the memoir that I am thinking about writing: it's unanimous! Apparently everybody is in favor of me spilling my darkest secrets like sacrificial blood and offering them for public consumption. So I'll do it.
What have I got to lose - - except my dignity, my reputation, my privacy, my friends, and my relatives?

What reputation, Jon?

I actually think everyone should write a memoir. We all have special stories to tell and they should not remain unspoken. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece - - merely a documentation of memories. At any rate, it's a beneficial catharsis. Several of my blog readers have mentioned wanting to write and they definitely should. Don't let your existence evaporate.

End of lecture.



I've managed to overcome my apprehensions about writing my Hollywood memoir. I was initially worried that it wouldn't be interesting, but I actually have an over-abundance of intriguing stories to tell. And they're not all X-rated.

I was worried about the problem of name-dropping and the possibility of being sued, by the living and/or the dead. The dead can come back to bite. Trust me on that.

Careful evaluation of each situation and a selective choice of wording might save my hide. I'll also (unfortunately) have to change some names when relating compromising situations.
 Like the time I had a four-day non-stop tryst with a film director in the Beverly Hills Hotel.......
 .....or the time I was in the car with the naked actor and I leaped out and ran away when the police stopped us......
or the time I was in a midnight police raid at the notorious Drake Theater (those three incidents are worthy of a book in themselves)

I'm not bragging. I'm just saying.

I'm suddenly (and sadly) realizing that most of these things happened 35 years ago (or more), and many of the places and people I knew are no longer pertinent. My exploits might seem slightly archaic and largely inconsequential. It was a different era but an extremely colorful one.

Now I'm starting to depress myself. 

I suppose I can safely express my observations about people I've met without any major repercussions. 
John Wayne was a rude drunk. Groucho Marx was extremely fragile and nearly senile. Liza Minnelli is a sweetheart but slightly discombobulated (there's that word again). Joan Rivers was intelligent and surprisingly sensitive. Burt Reynolds is more gay than bi.

Hey, I'm certainly no expert on Hollywood. I don't profess to be an historian. And I'm not about to write a celebrity "tell-all" because I don't know all.

I can only offer what I've experienced and observed.  Hollywood is tawdry and fickle, illusional and delusional, very often ruthless and brutal, one gigantic elaborate sham. A lot of tarnish beneath the glitz. The truth that I knew is deliciously stranger than fiction.


Change of subject (and not a moment too soon)

Rain, rain, and everything is green and lovely.

What about those mysterious "ghost" lights that I've seen in the forest? 
The nights have been cold here lately. The lights have been sparse but I did see some a few nights ago. I'm still puzzled because there is no logical pattern as to when they appear. My guess is still fireflies - yet, I've never before seen fireflies on such cold nights. 

 This is the forest by my property where the "ghost" lights reside



 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

MY LIFE AS A BOOK


Moi, in my old age


I'm presently revising my two previously published books. It's slow going, since I have a lot of more important things to contend with.

One is a book containing most of my published poems. A lightweight editing endeavor, but worth a second edition (with a slightly more mature perspective). 

The other book is much more emotionally taxing. The subject is about dying, death, and grieving. I began writing it only a few days after my Mother died, and it was a great catharsis that saved me from plunging over the edge. A revision is in order simply because the book was written with fierce sentimentality and brutal honesty - some of which needs to be expunged. 

For years I've been saying that I'm going to write a book about my life - - or at least about my wild, youthful existence in Hollywood. I desperately want to write this, yet there are innumerable reasons why I haven't. I was pondering this the other night (my nights are reserved for pondering) and I was stunned by the possibility of arising complications.

The process of actually writing the book doesn't intimidate me in the least. I'm a fairly decent writer. It's the content that perplexes me. And the presentation.

I've had an extraordinary life, filled with more drama and adventures than most average people ever dreamed of experiencing. Yet, there's a danger in offering the secrets of my life for public consumption. Will others think my adventures are interesting? Will they believe them? Will I come across as likeable - or at least reasonably tolerable? Or will I seem like a self-serving exhibitionist?

In all fairness to myself, I've read innumerable books with unlikeable protagonists - - and even more books that drag on for chapter after excruciating chapter with nothing interesting to say. I think I'm interesting. I have the uncanny ability to occasionally fascinate myself.

Also, believe it or not, I am unnervingly honest. I don't embellish, simply because I don't need to. I write from my heart and tell things as accurately as possible. My biggest crime is that I'm colorfully descriptive and annoyingly verbose.


The biggest challenge by far will be deciding exactly what to include in the book. My life has been an enormously complicated conglomeration of contradictions, opposing forces, conflicting elements, and persistent enigmas. How to sort and present the pieces as a logical (and palatable) whole?

I had an interesting childhood, which included many good times, but it was also seriously tainted by father's maniacal violence and constant abuse. That part of my life could warrant a book by itself. To exclude the unpleasant subject matter of abuse would be impossible, since it was solely the underlying cause of my extremely reckless and self-destructive early adult life.

The journey into my dark side is as unpleasant as it is frustrating. How could someone blessed with talent and good looks squander everything for a seedy life of debauchery? Since I had a distorted image of being talentless and ugly, it was surprisingly easy. My self-destructiveness was my way of expunging reality. Being obliviously drunk or stoned made the brutal world seem a helluva lot better. The time I locked myself in the bathroom and hacked my wrists with a pair of scissors......I didn't really want to die. I wanted to end the insanity of the existence that surrounded me.

How much should I reveal about my rampant promiscuity? Should I give stunning details or merely hints? Will revealing too much sleaze turn me into an despicable egotistical braggart?  In my distorted perception, every time I had sex with a stranger it confirmed my desirability. I wanted to be desired. I craved the illusion of love.

There were many other (much more positive) aspects to my complicated life, like my music: concerts, performances, laurels, and prestige. And my incredible brushes with some of the most famous and powerful people in Hollywood. There was a lot of glitz and glamour, along with the underworld of sleaze and danger. And there were also serious relationships, several of which ended tragically.

After careful consideration, I've decided that the book will encompass my thirty years in California. That is enough for now. My many other later adventures will have to wait.

How will the book end? It will end on my final day in California, when I bid a fond and reluctant farewell to L.A. in order to embark on a new, entirely different journey. I'd like the ending to be a happy one, but it won't be.

Reality never has a happy ending. 



As usual, this post is too long.
I'll write an update about those mysterious "ghost" lights in the not-too-distant future.

Note: I appreciate all of your comments, which have been positive and encouraging (so far). Instead of answering them individually, like I sometimes do, I'll address them with a response in my next blog post.








Tuesday, April 21, 2015

GHOSTS OF THE FOREST




Do I believe in ghosts?
Well, let's just say that several firsthand experiences have inspired me to be a believer when I otherwise wouldn't have been one.

Many initially unexplainable things are eventually dispelled with logical resolutions. Some things are the result of over-active imaginations or illusions. I, for one, do believe in evil spirits and negative forces. Demons. The Dark Side.

Do I scare easily?
Not any more. It takes a helluva lot to scare me. I've been through far too much. In time, eternal fear turns into exasperated anger and loses its potency. 

Long ago I was a timid wimp, afraid of my own shadow. I spent the first half of my life being terrified of my father and his relentless rage. I eventually learned to deal with the endless pile of negative shit that is dumped on us from cradle to grave. It's called survival.

But I'm off track, as usual - - wandering from ghosts to anger. Where was I?

Ghosts. In the forest. 
When I first moved out here in the wilderness, I was admittedly slightly intimidated. Especially at night. Being alone in a midnight forest gives new meaning to  isolation and darkness. There were all kinds of strange noises, inhuman sounds. And the absolute darkness was unnerving. I locked the doors. My imagination went into overdrive.

Eventually I got used to it and almost began to like it. I now go outside at night with hardly a negative thought. I pay little attention to the howling coyotes or wolves or dogs - - or all the other strange noises of the forest. I'm cautious - I'm not a fool - - but I'm not scared.


When night falls.....

A few nights ago it was warm and unusually quiet. I'm doing some house chores at around 1:30 a.m. and happen to go outside to empty a bucket of water. I turn on the back porch light.

My back yard is right on the edge of the forest. It's a moonless night. I suddenly see a pair of eyes glowing yellow-gold in the nearby thicket. It moves slowly across the sightless length of the woods and disappears. I stand there, looking in the direction of the vanishing point. Nothing.

What was it? Coyote? Wolf? Werewolf?? 
Naw, couldn't be werewolf. No full moon. Just as I'm about to go inside, I see something else in the forest - - in the opposite direction of the aforementioned glowing eyes. It's a light. An orb. Round, glowing. It disappears. Just when I'm convinced it was only my acute imagination, I see it again: moving among the trees.

Now I'm spooked. What is it? A flashlight? If so, who would possibly be out in a forest in the middle of nowhere at nearly 2:00 a.m.? A blood-drenched escapee from a mental hospital, desperately looking for shelter.......

I hurry inside, lock the door, turn out all the lights. Grab my cell phone. Who am I gonna call - Ghostbusters?
 My kitchen window is oversized and curtainless. I sit by it, looking out at blackness until my eyes slowly adjust. I see the orb light again, and then another, and another. They're drifting among the trees - - some low to the ground, others higher up. They vanish, then reappear.

Are they ghost lights? Will O' the Wisp? Ignis Fatuus? Feux follets? My intuition tells me they're fireflies. I'm certainly familiar with lightning bugs (which are supposedly fireflies) but they emit a soft, yellowish glow. These forest orbs are large, blueish in color, and bright. Perfectly round.

I become so mesmerized by the lights that I eventually go outside, walk to the edge of the forest, and watch for at least fifteen minutes. It's an enchanting display of post-midnight magic: lazy round lights, drifting on a sea of nothingness, blinking in blue iridescence.

I anxiously wait to see them again the next night, but it's cooler and there are fewer lights.
Tonight, as I write this, it's very cold and there are no forest lights at all.

No ghosts. No escapee maniacs. My uneducated guess is fireflies. Or, perhaps, Will O' the Wisp.
Whatever they are, I'll look forward to seeing more of them on the next warm night.

This picture of Will O' the Wisp, which I lifted from the Internet, is exactly what they looked like.


 Note: I removed my most recent blog post Family Photo Album. I might re-post it in the future.









Saturday, April 18, 2015

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH



Rainy Day


My blog posts are losing their punch. The last few have seemingly crashed and burned.

You're trying too hard, Jon. Just relax and let the nothingness flow.

Good advice. Today I won't try to entertain. I'll be boring and mundane. People can relate to that. I'll incorporate scenes from my daily life, accompanied by uninteresting photos. 

So, how is your daily life going lately?

Well, I haven't fallen on my ass in three days. I'd call that progress. I still have such excruciating back spasms from my most recent fall that it takes twenty minutes to get out of bed in the morning. Once I'm out of bed, I wince and teeter - - doing a sort of combination St. Vitus Dance and Jitterbug. Fortunately, my cats are the only witnesses to this sorry spectacle. They laugh, but they'll never tell.

I'll admit it. I wasn't prepared for the perils of mountain life. I figured (erroneously) that, after life in West Texas, anything else would be a cinch.

The rain here is frequent and fierce - - sort of like the monsoon season in South Vietnam.
I'm still battling bees and wasps and sealing up their nesting holes.
I've recently been bitten by a tick. The tick horror stories that I've read on the Internet have elevated my dimensions of fear to a whole new level.

Yesterday my cat Scratch brought me a dead mouse. A gift I can't exchange.


Scratch: the mouse catcher


I'm sporadically doing some more unpacking and trying to make this dump look a little more decent. 
Incidentally, my cousin Nancy has been a saint. She's always helpful and always there when I need her.

Yesterday, I unveiled part of my vast art collection. I have nearly fifty original works of art. I can either open a mountain museum or use them for firewood next winter. I'm surprised I still have most of my paintings. The movers did lose one of them (stolen??).

I'm trying to fix up the living room but the rest of the house looks absolutely horrible.

I've said enough. Here are photos.


 One of my pianos. Unfortunately I haven't had the time or inspiration to play lately. The other day I sat down for half an hour and played the final scene from Puccini's opera Suor Angelica - - which I love with a passion. It seemed strange to play again after nearly a year.


The painting above the piano. It's European, from the 1850's, signed - - but I can't decipher the signature.


 My cherished desk, which I purchased in Odessa.
The painting above the desk is of Bamburgh Castle (Northumberland, England) painted in the 1840s. 



 Portrait of Empress Alexandra in a hand-carved antique Russian frame.


This 1889 original painting is a copy of Gainsborough's painting of Lady Sophia Charlotte Sheffield. I initially thought it was Frances Duncombe, but Duncombe wasn't wearing a hat (all of Gainsborough's paintings tend to look alike). Anyway, I simply call this "The Blue Lady".

 This painting used to be in the "family room" in the Texas house. Now it's in my tiny living room. My Mom used to love this painting, so I have fond memories when I look at it.


Old faithful - my grandfather clock. It kept perfect time for a decade, but has ironically been running slow ever since I moved. Perhaps it's now on Mountain Time??


This is an original painting from the 1700's. It's a copy of Raphael's Madonna Della Seggiola. I got it from a dealer in New York for a very reasonable price because it has damage and needs restoration. It's one of my favorites, but it is very heavy and I'm hesitant to hang it on the wall.

 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

ME, HOLLYWOOD, AND A FEW NAKED TRUTHS









In a previous blog post I mentioned that - just out of curiosity - I googled my full name and it resulted in a surprising revelation: there's a gay porn star with my exact name who makes films in Budapest. Upon further investigation I discovered that he's Latin and has no Hungarian blood whatsoever. I'm 100% Hungarian, not that anyone cares.

A few nights ago I did a random Internet search for Hollywood hustlers (aw, settle down - it was for a very legitimate cause) and I was completely shocked when some ancient photos of me showed up. I kid you not.



After I regained consciousness, I realized that the Internet photos were lifted from some posts about Hollywood that I had written on my old blog Lone Star Concerto.

So what's the point of all this, Jon?

The point is, it's ironic and almost funny that I'm inadvertently associated with gay porn stars and Hollywood hustlers. That's a term for a male prostitute - in case any of you innocent Midwest Baptists are wondering.


 A Hollywood hustler
(it's not me - - hell, I looked better than that)
actually I think this hustler photo was taken in San Francisco....but who cares?

First of all, I never made any gay porn movies (well none that I'll admit to, anyway). Second I was never a hustler. I was a cruiser. There's a subtle difference.

Why do I have the feeling that I'm digging myself into a hole and will soon be buried?

I'm smiling while I'm writing this because 
1) I find wry humor in the whole situation, and 
2) I'm an idiot.

I plan to write a book about my Hollywood adventures, hopefully soon - - not because I'm particularly proud of my youthful debaucheries, but because I had the rare opportunity of experiencing many extraordinary things in an extremely unique environment. The few incidents that I revealed in my blogs are only paltry fragments of an incredible journey.

Yea, I know - the sleazy subject of West Hollywood, aptly known as Boystown, has already been done to death in more tawdry novels and mediocre memoirs than anyone cares to remember. A few of the memoirs are good. Most, however, are embarrassingly bad - with poor writing about inconsequential incidents that drag on for unnecessary chapters.

I'm not saying that my contribution will be any better, but it's a subject I know well. I was a part of the Hollywood scene during a fantastic time: when it was still dark and trashy, raw and real, with delicious lingering remnants of the golden past. It hadn't yet become the renovated, revitalized, plastic Disneyesque parody of Hollywood that it is today.


.....my life is an open book......

My biggest obstacle - and the main reason I'm hesitant to write - is that most of the people involved in my adventures (and sexual exploits) are still alive and many of them are well-known. Changing names is a cop out, and revealing them runs the risk of lawsuits. I suppose I could transform my memoir into a quasi novel, but that would derail my initial intent. I prefer to write about reality and have never derived pleasure in embellishment.

One of my big regrets is that I have very few photos of my Hollywood years. When I moved from California to the Missouri Ozarks most of them were lost. Ironically, when I moved from Texas to Tennessee, all of my California diaries and journals were lost (stolen?). 

These are enormous loses from which I've never recovered.  With the absence of my photos and journals, my California past is largely expunged. All I have left are my memories - which is why I have a desperate desire to write them down.

A question may arise concerning my photos. 
Why, do you keep using the same old photos of yourself over and over, Jon?

 Good question. I'm glad you asked. 

First of all, I looked a helluva lot better a hundred years ago than I do now. If I use recent photos I'll frighten people and dissolve illusions.

Second, since I only have a few Hollywood photos, I admittedly have to overuse them. Most of those old photos were taken by my "friend" Phil - - the ex-con-drug-dealer-turned-photographer, who had been in prison for attempted murder. I wrote about him in a previous post.....  
The night we were stoned and drunk and went over a cliff in a stolen car after a 90 MPH joy ride.

In retrospect, the story of my life would not only make a good book, it would probably make a damn good movie, too.....


Alas, it's far too late for me to die young and make a good looking corpse. I'd rather be remembered as a young California cutie than the dilapidated, washed-up, sunburned alcoholic that I am now.

I'm starting to ramble. Time for me to quit writing and go to sleep.


 Me now  -
an ancient relic






Sunday, April 12, 2015

MOONLIGHT AND CONFESSIONS


moon photo by Jon


I suppose these aren't really going to be confessions, but merely rambling thoughts after midnight. I just had a large cup of tea and the caffeine is kicking in. It's another very chilly night - in the 30's.

I'm still hurting (a lot) from my recent fall. I probably wasted too much time describing it in my previous blog post, but stretching a story is one of my specialties. It's been a habit of mine since I was a journalist. 

When I first moved to the Tennessee wilderness I never thought about the hazards and dangers of living on a steep mountainside. My biggest concern was the long drive to town and the prospect of wild animals. And the possibility of being accosted by a hostile band of roving hillbillies - - who would rape, rob, and skin me
I sure as hell don't want to be robbed or skinned.

Think about that for a minute. It will eventually get funny.

The drive to town is agonizing. I've never been bothered by wild animals. Or hillbillies, for that matter. There are plenty of coyotes and wild dogs at night, but I'm used to them.

I never thought my biggest problem would be continuously slipping, sliding, and falling on my ass. And being infested with nesting wasps and bees.


Perhaps I should utilize a cane or walking stick. I thought of getting a walking stick with a silver wolf head handle, like the one Lon Chaney Jr. used in the old movie The Wolf Man. It would be most appropriate. 

I haven't seen any wolfbane around here - - but I occasionally get the urge to howl at the full moon.

That's my cue for a smooth transition into moonlight......

Last night I watched the 1995 movie Total Eclipse, which I haven't seen in a long time. It's a decent and historically accurate flick, despite being mildly depressing and continually annoying. Based on the play by Christopher Hampton, it portrays the maddeningly tempestuous relationship between the 19th century French poets Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis) and Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Leonardo DiCaprio as Rimbaud

Although this is arguably one of DiCaprio's best performances, he comes across as so thoroughly despicable that I think Rimbaud himself would have been annoyed. The only time DiCaprio is tolerable is when he's in bed, naked, with no dialogue. 
Is that merely a personal opinion, Jon?

Actually, he slightly reminds me of myself when I was that age....only I wasn't quite as annoying.

Continuing with the moonlight theme.......

Moon setting on Easter morning


I took several photos of the moon setting on Easter morning. They turned out blurry but I've posted one of them anyway.  I also took a few moon photos a week or so later, which are more clear.


What better way to end this semi-moonlit-themed post than to have soprano Anna Netrebko singing the aria Song to the Moon from the opera Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak......

Okay, I'll confess it: I've been passionately in love with Netrebko for years. I'd marry her in a minute (unfortunately, she's already married).
And all this while you thought I was in love with DiCaprio, didn't you?

I had planned on writing something about the opera Rusalka but it would take too long. And would be too boring.
 Briefly:
Rusalka is a sort of mythical water sprite (the daughter of a water goblin) who falls in love with a human prince. In this aria she sings to the moon of her love for the prince.





Another moon photo






Saturday, April 11, 2015

REPEAT PERFORMANCE, WITH MUD


 The meadow at the edge of my property:
Lovely but dangerous when wet

I was covered in mud on Friday, but I'll begin my story the night before when I was relatively clean.

On Thursday night I decided to go to bed early, which was around 3:00 a.m. As a hardcore night owl, I often don't embark for Dreamland until dawn. Then I'll get up in about three or four hours to start my day.

This could possibly be the reason why I usually feel completely exhausted, quasi comatose, and on the verge of death - but I'm not sure.

Anyway, as soon as I climbed into bed, a massive thunderstorm began. Torrential rain, nerve-shattering thunder, and lightning so sharp and bright that it singed the hair on my chest and eradicated several of my best tattoos.

I only threw the tattoo part in to colorize my story and possibly pique your waning interest.

Since there was no possibility of sleep, I laid in bed for several hours watching the storm from the window. All three of my cats went into hiding because of the thunder, so I had the luxury of having the bed all to myself.

Incidentally, I have no curtains or blinds on my bedroom window because I love gazing out at my rustic surroundings (and the lightning) while snuggled in bed. I never worry about prying eyes or Peeping Toms. Heck, I'm in the mountainous middle of nowhere. Who's gonna see me - - Bigfoot? Smokey the Bear?


My boudoir window

By mid-morning the storm subsided and the torrent dwindled to a drizzle. By early afternoon the sun appeared and the freshly-drenched landscape (mountainscape?) looked gorgeous. Since the temperature had dropped drastically there weren't very many bees or wasps to annoy me.
Check out my previous post to read about the aforementioned bees and wasps.

It seemed to be a perfect time to venture outside and take some photos.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a fairly new and inexperienced resident of the mountain wilderness. I've never quite grown accustomed to the dangerous slopes. I had several extremely nasty falls on the ice last winter - one of which was so bad that my back still aches every time I move.


Ever since then, I've tried to take some precautions. I've traded my slippery cowboy boots for shoes with rubber soles and traction. I'm careful where I walk and usually watch where I'm going.

So I'm outside, wearing rubber-sole shoes, and scaling the hazardous slopes with reasonable caution. And I'm capturing the wonders of nature with my El Cheapo digital camera.


As I point my lens skyward, toward the tops of the towering trees, my skid-proof soles come in quick contact with slick mud. I'm suddenly airborne and even more suddenly landing directly on my astonished ass.

The slide down the muddy hill is so fast and seamless that I don't have time to be scared. I crash into the side of the house with such force that the breath is knocked out of me.

I'm completely covered in mud. My right leg took the brunt of the impact and my knee is twisted. My wrists hurt. My back has discovered new dimensions of agony. If I still have my spine, it probably looks like a corkscrew.

As I laid there for fifteen minutes (no exaggeration) three thoughts crossed my mind:

1. If it wasn't for the house, I would have probably slid all the way to Kentucky.

2. The tires on my new wheelchair will have to have damn good tread.

3. My digital camera is undoubtedly in the trees.


After I locate my camera (it wasn't in the trees) and limp to the house, I begin to fully realize how extremely dangerous this place is - no matter what kind of shoes you're wearing. Hell, I hated Texas, but at least it was on level ground.

This was a repeat performance of my wretched experience last winter. Same fall. Same slide. Same pain. The only thing missing was the ice. 


My surroundings are beautiful,
 but is it worth the pain?
(all photos were taken yesterday) 
So how am I doing now?
Not too good. I ache in places I never knew I had, but at least I can still walk. I'm suddenly realizing that I might not be so lucky next time.


It took a helluva long time for me to tell this story, but extending small incidents is my specialty.


 

 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

FEAR




"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself....."

.....and spiders, and wasps, and bees, and......


In my previous blog post I listed some of the narrow escapes and harrowing experiences I've had during my tumultuous existence. The restraints of time and space prevented me from mentioning all of them, but I think I gave a reasonable sample.

I also mentioned that, at this point in my life, I'm nearly immuned to fear. It takes a heckuva lot to scare me. Besides the ravages of old age and impending death, there are only two things left that fill me with undiluted fear:

Spiders and scorpions.

When I lived in Texas, scorpions were everywhere. I found them in my shoes, on my clothes. There was a huge one on a towel that I was going to use after washing my hair. One night, just as I was about to turn out the light and go to sleep, a scorpion was lurking on the headboard of my bed. I would wear my boots all night long, for fear of stepping on one.





My terror of spiders has been a lifelong obsession. I hadn't seen very many spiders here in the mountains (of course not - - it was winter). The other night, however, I happened to go outside via the back door. As I was coming back in, I suddenly noticed two big spiders on the door that I previously hadn't seen.

After I was safely inside again (or reasonably safe), I Googled poisonous spiders of Tennessee and spent the duration of the evening scaring myself witless while reading Internet arachnid horror stories. Brown Recluse infestations, vicious spider bites, deadly infections, horrifying amputations......

Holy crap - - I was suddenly having flashbacks of  childhood stories about Miss Muffet on her tuffet, innocently eating curds and whey. 
What the hell are curds and whey, anyway? For that matter, what is a "tuffet"??




Is is too late to get to the point of this blog post?


Probably, Jon, but you can give it a shot.

I have recently - temporarily - retired my fear of scorpions and spiders, in favor of bees and wasps.
With the arrival of spring, my place is becoming infested. Bees and wasps of every conceivable denomination are nesting (or attempting to nest) on my front and back porches. They are so aggressive and intimidating that I can no longer go outside.

carpenter bee in flight

Thanks to the help of two people who left comments on my blog, I was able to identify the dreaded carpenter bees - - who are drilling enough holes in the porch wood to make it look like Swiss cheese.
This is all new to me. In Texas my house was made of brick and I didn't have wooden decks.

Holes in wood made by nesting carpenter bees
(this is not my photo - I got it from the Internet) 

Since I presently have absolutely no defense against the onslaught, I plan to drive into town tomorrow and stock up on insecticides, wood putty, paint, varnish. Oh yea - -and fly swats.

It's obvious that none of the wood on my porches or decks have ever been painted or treated with anything, and the bees love the natural wood.

Yesterday I clobbered a monstrous carpenter bee with a mop and he went down like the Hindenburg.

Oh, the humanity........!!

Later, when I opened the front door, an angry bee immediately came in and I chased it around the living room for twenty minutes. It also chased me around the room. Since I had no weapons at my disposal, I finally managed to kill him with an empty pizza box (I kid you not). It wasn't easy.

While in my Internet quest to find ways of eliminating bees and wasps, I came across some of those "environmentally friendly" websites that suggest ways of gentle elimination without pesticides.
Talk to the bees. Develop a friendly rapport. Plant posies away from your house to gently distract them. Build them a wooden guest house.

Hey, here's a flash:

I'm not an environmentally-friendly type person. I don't want to save the Madagascar Doo Doo Bird. I don't give a rat's ass about saving the planet. I'm not "green". And I'm not "natural".

You're not "natural", Jon? Hey, we already knew that.

I'm gonna get the most potent pesticides I can find and blast all those buzzing son-of-a-bitches right into the far side of the Hereafter. 

Full speed ahead!!!
 


Wow, Jon - - you've just sealed your fate. At this very moment, hundreds of Earth-Friendly people are putting curses on you and scratching you off their "Friends" lists.