Thursday, April 23, 2015


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.


  1. Some biographies are written as fiction to protect the guilty. The book and death and dying might fit into my work (I do research on aging and end of life issues are a big part of it.)

  2. Jon,
    I have zero doubt your book will be interesting. You are one of those rare people who have a natural talent for writing, story telling, a narrative. I've read many published authors who are boring as hell. How do they get published baffles me. I've read biographies that should be interesting but are self-serving snoozefests. The most most recent wan an autobiography by Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's former second banana. I knew (of) Ed during his early days in Philadelphia. I so wanted to read about those days but all Ed would talk about was what a wonderful salesman he was and his wonderful family. BORING.
    I don't claim to be an expert on book writing but I do know something about reading and the best books are the ones that are honest, sometimes brutally honest. I know sometimes that can be hard and even impossible to do because of sensitivities of living and even the deceased relatives. I too want to write a book about my life journey. I think it is very interesting and I am sure others would find it so too. But do I risk hurting some people's feelings? I'm still struggling with how to get over that hurdle.
    I say start your book and put it al out there. Change the names of the guilty and innocent where need be. I've thought of doing that too but even then people who know who I'm talking about. Tis a dilemma, that's for sure. Anyway, put me on the list for your book.

  3. It sounds as though you are editing the book before it is written. Perhaps you should write the book and "let it all hang out" as they used to say. THEN decide how much should make the final cut. Stephen King's advice in his book "On Writing" is to just write and write. Just do it.
    I have often thought about writing a book mostly about unusual people and situations I have encountered. But that format would have to be more like a series of short stories or essays. My Grandmother, alone, would be fodder for many chapters, having 11 children in various stages of marriage (or not, or between, or before) around the turn of the century (1900) and living in the Ozarks and in a tent some of that time. She was a wild one. And some things I witnessed around age ten and never told anyone, since we didn't need a murder in the family. I often think I should tell my Mother (age 88) ... just because. It would change her view of a few things. But what would be the use of that at this point...

    Write your book. You can legitimately change the names to protect the innocent(?) if there are any innocent.

  4. Jon,
    I agree with Pudge, "let it all hang out." And I also agree with Stephen Kings advice, "just write it." We have a very good writer down here who I admire greatly and that is also her advice, "don't do a lot of thinking before, just write it." And in fact I think that is what I will do. I can always go back later and blur up some of the identities. Probably wouldn't make much of a difference anyway at this point because I've already alienated those relatives by things I've written about them in my blog. My closeted gay niece who lives with her very religious parents (her father is a Bob Jones University trained "stone the gays" pastor). My former high school classmate who is still closed and doesn't believe he is gay but comes on to me. My philandering father who my mother caught many times cheating on her but always took him back. Another niece from another brother who isn't his biological daughter that the rest of the family didn't find out about until her mother took up with the same man 17 years after her birth causing her to find out about her true birth and she ran away from home. She hates me because she found out that I have dated and will date other men even though I'm in a long term relationship with Bill. All kinds of "good stuff" that every family has Jon. Shall I write about it? Why not?

  5. And Phoenix makes three! ... 'let it all hang out' and worry about the clean up some other time.

    Again, without warning, three of your sentences resonated so keenly ... instinctively, I wanted to reach for a towel. .
    Thank you for sharing your vulnerability, Jon. I know it's not your intent, but through your shares, my own resolve to write is gaining purchase.

  6. To reveal secrets for public consumption is ballsy. I have yet to do this in my own life and must admit I admire it in those that can. You have so many stories to tell, do not try to tell them all at once. Just focus on one at a time. You have alot of bestsellers within. Discipline yourself to write one page at a time until you finish. WRITE and we will READ.

  7. Only counsel I can offer is from Twain, who advocated writing about what you know. Of course he then proceeded to write imaginary fiction that knocked everybody's socks off. You'll do fine.

  8. I agree that you just have to to let it pour out and if you need to thin it out later then so be it. How fortunate you are to have such a large range of experiences to relate to us. Happy writing!

  9. I think the years in California would make a really fascinating book. Who isn't interested in Hollywood, the bright and dark sides? I'm sure you'd make it fascinating and readable. I'll be there to buy a copy!

  10. Hi, Jon. This is completely off topic from your post, but a comment you left on Ron's blog about hooking up with someone made me wonder about something. Have you ever tried one of those "dating" (hook up) apps like Grindr, Scruff, etc. where you live now? I wonder how many profiles you might find there (somewhat) local to your secluded hideaway.

    Also, I forgot to comment on your post about the much dreaded scorpion. I once had the "pleasure" of living in Palm Springs for a season, and our rental agent warned us about checking shoes, shaking clothing and towels, etc. However, when she found out we had two cats, she said they would probably help keep us scorpion free. I found this odd, I had seen my "champeen" mouser (to my knowledge, my baby boy cat never knew a rodent in his life) girl cat in action a couple of times, and I seemed to recall that cats pounce and trap with their paws/claws first, before delivering the killing neck bite. I would have thought this method would result in a sting from a scorpion, which would be painful and maybe even require veterinarian care. I do know that the upper palate of cats is more like ridged bone (found that out when the baby boy lost around half his teeth to a bad dental infection I was unaware of until it was almost too late; oh, the guilt I still feel about that, even tho he has been gone for years now) and that even toothless cats can manage dry food most of the time. And I have seen dogs snap at, catch, and I suppose eat bumblebees, without any apparent ill effect. Since I know you are a cat person, I was wondering if you ever saw a cat kill a scorpion?

    Now as for the much dreaded spider, black widows were EVERYWHERE in the desert. As part of my job, I visited many different dwellings (no, I was not a rent boy) and often saw them in their webs on porches right outside the entry doors. I always pointed them out, but the residents usually never seemed to mind. MY porch and patio (and washer/dryer/storage area on the patio) where the cats never went, were regularly swept and pesticided, however, because I DID mind. No spiders for me, thank you. We never had any problems. But when we moved back to the Midwest, my partner was bitten by "something" very near his left eye while sleeping and required a lot of medical attention. Best guess is that it was a brown recluse; he lost part of his eyebrow and was lucky not to have any lasting visual problems for his eye. Since it was the bedroom and we had cats, we were hesitant to use pesticides, but hired a pro to come spray something that was safe for us and the furry children routinely.

    Sorry for the long (and OT) comment! I tend to ramble. Also, please do work on your book. Once written, you can decide how to deal with any living names (or the estates of dead ones), perhaps with a knowledgeable editor or attorney's help. Hope your weekend is a good (and fall-free) one. ~~~ NB

  11. Wot everyone else said!.......apart from, perhaps, Mr. Anonymous above who has bamboozled me slightly! I'd take any version, any time - get those finger crunches going soon.......♥

  12. Jon,
    First of all, you are always interesting. I have always found your blog postings interesting. Never did I find them self-serving or verbose or boring. And believe me, I have read many a boring blogs (whose names I will not mention just because I'm a nice guy and many of those bloggers are too).
    Your decision to just write about your years in California is a good one. That way you can focus on that aspect of your life. I've often thought of writing a book too but have been stymied also for many of the same reasons that you state. Would I be interesting? Would I divulge too much thus making the reader dislike me? Would I be too verbose? But you know what? To some I probably would be but from my experience with blogging I have found that there are those who are interested in what this minuscule grain of sand here has to share with the world. My life's journey, as is (and was) yours is worthy of putting down in writing for future historians. And why not? We're all important in spite of what our fathers tried to brainwash us into thinking about ourselves.
    By the way, I see I already left a comment on this posting. Oh we'll, it's worthy of two comments (smile).


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