Saturday, May 30, 2015

CAT TALES





I've lived with annoying parrots, neurotic dogs, and psychotic lovers. I never lived with three cats until about a year ago. If forced to choose among all the aforementioned evils, I would definitely pick cats. I've always had an intense penchant for feline companionship. It's one of my many idiosyncrasies.

What are you saying, Jon?

I'm saying that I love cats and I'm nuts.


Living with felines isn't always undiluted bliss.
This morning I was attempting to go outside to empty one of the litter boxes (for another litter box story, see my previous post). My back was hurting, as usual, so I temporarily set the litter box down on a bench in the kitchen. Somehow, my cat Scruffy leaped onto the bench and knocked the litter box down.

Cat crap and filthy, wet litter all over the clean kitchen floor. After exhausting my most impressive repertoire of dirty words, I spent over half an hour - in agonizing back pain - cleaning the floor.

All of my cats are indoor cats. I never let them out. A few nights ago my oldest cat Scratch accidentally got loose during a storm. I was busy doing things and didn't notice that she was gone. At 2:00 a.m. I happened to look out the back door and there she was on the porch - soaked to the whiskers and miserable. She must have been outside for at least five hours.

Scratch (Kitzee)
my nearly ten-year-old cat



I never thought I'd have three cats - it just sort of happened.

I got Scratch (also known as Kitzee) at the local shelter in Odessa, TX , in October, 2005. She was three months old. Both of my parents knew her. My Mom always called her Kitzee.
 My father - who generally hated cats - actually loved Kitzee. It was amazing. I never saw him have such affection for an animal. He died two months later.

After my Mother died, in 2009, Scratch (Kitzee) would sleep on her empty bed every night. It was incredibly touching.

 Scratch, cat napping


My two younger cats, Bosco and Scruffy are both a year old. They are the result of an agonizingly long story (I'm notorious for telling agonizingly long stories).

When I lived in Texas my neighbor abandoned twelve cats when she moved. I innocently started feeding them and - - well, it snowballed into a nightmare. I was soon completely overrun with felines and litters. It took several years to find them homes and get things under control. 

Scruffy and Bosco were both born in the spring of 2014 but were from different litters. They were also both so sick that I separated them from the other kittens and kept them indoors.

Scruffy and her four siblings (in Texas)
Scruffy is the smallest one on far right.
Momma Cat is looking at her brood.
All these kittens got good homes 



Scruffy was the runt of the litter. She was alarmingly scrawny and ragged looking, but had such an affectionate and loving personality that I was completely smitten. I had no intention of ever giving her away.

Bosco and his two siblings were only a few weeks old when they were somehow caught in a flood. The rain was torrential and I heard frantic tiny meows in the back yard late one night. I went out with a flashlight and found three kittens nearly drowned. I rescued them, but unfortunately Bosco was the only one who survived.

Bosco (center) and his two siblings
shortly after I rescued them from the Texas flood

For the first few months Bosco was so tiny and fragile that I was positive he'd never grow and very doubtful that he'd survive. It took a lot of TLC to get him on the road to recovery.

Fast Forward - a year later.

Today Scruffy and Bosco are inseparable companions. They both still have some health issues but are doing very well. Scruffy is a wild child - - extremely active and constantly mischievous.

Scruffy as she looks today
one year old

 Bosco is the  sweetest, most gentle cat I've ever seen. Incredibly, he is now as heavy as my ten-year-old cat Scratch (Kitzee), and he looks older than one year.

Bosco as he looks now
a little over one year old


Scratch isn't exactly pleased that Bosco and Scruffy have joined the household, but she tolerates them - - and even plays with them now and then.

End of cat tales.

Excuse me while I cough up a hairball. 



Note:
Scruffy and Bosco had different mothers but I strongly suspect they had the same father. He was a great big black Tom who fathered nearly all the kittens in the neighborhood. 







Tuesday, May 26, 2015

HAWK DESCENDING




Does anyone recall Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughn Williams? 
A few of you raised your hands, and I'm proud of you.

That's nothing compared to a hawk descending.

Let's preface this by saying that my back was destroyed last winter from falling on the ice so many times. Mornings are the worst. When I first get out of bed I can hardly walk from the searing pain. I literally have to force myself to do chores.

Like cleaning the damn litter boxes. For the cats. Not me. I usually empty the boxes outside, far away, near the abandoned realms of the meadow.

And if anybody tells me that this is bad for the environment, I'm gonna slap you with my used pooper scooper.

So, I'm in agonizing pain from my back. I'm carrying a litter box brimming with cat shit, limping like Quasimodo, heading for the meadow.

Suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, a huge hawk swoops down right at me, nearly grazing my head. I could feel the aerodynamic breeze.

How do you know it was a hawk, Jon?

Because a sparrow doesn't have a five-foot wing span. And I've seen this hawk on previous occasions. He resides in the neighborhood. 

I must have looked like an easy target - - shuffling like Methuselah and toting a box of cat crap.

I think the swoop was merely a friendly warning. If the hawk wanted to, he could have plucked me from the meadow and taken me to his (her?) nest.

When I first moved to the mountains, I innocently thought that I would be living an idyllic existence - like Heidi or the Von Trapps. Instead, I'm riding the Dante Express to Hell.

Yesterday I was attacked by a hoard  HORDE of butterflies. Yes, I said butterflies. When I stepped outside, I was immediately besieged by an aggressive and colorful mob of lepidopterans.They were intent on intimidation.

The hawk was probably laughing.


My back yard - - a haven for hawks and butterflies


So, Jon, what did you do over the long Memorial Day weekend?

Well, I spent some time wondering how I'm going to fit 4,000 square feet of unpacked possessions into a 1,200 sq. ft. house.

I considered getting a helmet to wear outside - - along with a few butterfly nets.

I'm still battling bees and wasps and have eradicated nearly thirty nests.
That's progress. 


 
In the process of painting the swing


I painted my front porch and quickly ran out of paint. The back porch will have to wait.

I went through a pile of my old piano compositions, which I mostly wrote between the ages of 16 and 25. I haven't looked at them for decades and was stunned at how many things there are: 
24 Preludes (in all the major & minor keys), 24 Symphonic Etudes, Sonatas, fugues, valses, variations - -
much more than I ever remembered. 

If I hadn't thrown these manuscripts into the trunk of the car when I was moving to TN, they would have undoubtedly disappeared - - along with all the other stuff that the movers "lost". 

 A small sample of my old compositions

I attempted to play some of them
this afternoon



 




Thursday, May 21, 2015

DISCONNECTED





I'm thinking of how disconnected I am from my musical past. Sometimes it seems so far away that I can hardly believe it was real. Time has a wicked way of diminishing the potency of things that were and eventually eclipses our shining absolutes with shadows of doubt.

I look at my two abandoned pianos gathering dust and  am disheartened at the fact that I've only played them once or twice since I moved here. I'm in a dreary mood lately, battling private ghosts of melancholia.

I think of those golden California years when music and the piano were a major part of my life. I was a soloist, accompanist, ballet rehearsal pianist. I performed with orchestras, chamber groups, choirs. It was a wonderfully full life, overflowing with creativity.


For the past decade or more I've had far too many other pressing concerns to think about music. Lately, the only music that fills my life are the soothing songs of Mother Nature: chattering birds in forest trees......the great breath of the wind singing through towering branches......the lean, hungry midnight howls of coyotes.

It was your choice to abandon music, wasn't it, Jon?

We don't choose the cards that life deals us. Life is a vicious bitch that kicks us in the ass and knocks our dreams into the endless void beyond raw reality.

Bitter, Jon, really bitter....

But I'm not here to lament or philosophize. As usual, I've taken a very long road to get to the point.

I'm thinking of my past music work and the annoyingly infrequent documentation of it. Some of my public performances were filmed but heaven only knows what happened to them (or who is in possession them). Those were the days before the rampant popularity of videos and cell phones. Documentation wasn't as easy or frequent as it is now.

When I moved to Texas I had a small music studio in San Angelo. I also got my first camcorder (better late than never...). I'd prop it up on a bookshelf and film myself rehearsing or practicing the piano. These are some of the piano videos that I have on my YouTube channel. Jayveesonata

Unfortunately my virtuoso days were long gone. I was in my 40's and out of practice. The quality of my playing on these videos is mediocre (according to my critical standards).


There is a bright side to this murky mess of self-degradation. When I lived in California and was an active musician I recorded an enormous amount of my music on audio cassettes. I tossed the tapes into boxes and nearly forgot about them.

While recently going through the chaotic mess of things piled in the garage, I came across a box of my old audio cassette tapes (one of the few things the movers didn't "lose"). 

There are over fifty audio cassettes in the box and they contain many of my serious piano recordings: loads of classical music, a great deal of ragtime and blues, even some of my own compositions (which I thought were lost forever). I even found a unique recording made when I was twenty -  my performance of Gershwin's original rare solo piano version of Rhapsody in Blue.

I plan to transfer these old cassettes to CD and MP3. There are numerous cassette converters available, such as the USB Cassette Capture (but I've heard some negative things about the sound quality). 

I should probably just use the free Audacity software, although - after having looked through the tutorial - it seems rather daunting. Anyway, I want to begin this project ASAP. It will be fun.






Sunday, May 17, 2015

WHO ARE THEY?

A dilemma.
Should I write a personal update about the multitudinous hazards and unexpected unpleasantries of life in the mountains.......

......or.....should I do a worthless, inane post utilizing photos that I lifted from the Internet? 

I'm opting for the worthless, inane photos. 

Interest in my blog is dropping faster than the cat population near a Cantonese restaurant. Think about that for a few minutes. It will get funny.

I need to incorporate some mindless fluff to maintain the interest of my readers. I have some unusual photos of famous people. Can you guess who they are?
Scroll very slowly to avoid seeing the answers too soon.



Tangible proof
that even Commies can be cute.

Joseph Stalin in 1902


 Well, not all Commies are cute.....
Sieg, Heil!.

Adolph Hitler 

I should have probably said "Nazi", not "commie", but - what the hell....




Okay, let's all say it together:

"What the heck is he wearing??"

Is this a Prince? Royalty, maybe?

Nope. It's Donald Trump.  


  
 Tall and slim?

He was never tall and slim.
It must be trick photography.

(his uniform is even fancier than Trump's)

Winston Churchill



 You'll never guess this one.....

not in a million years.

A mug shot? At age thirteen??

For stealing her mother's car and going on a joy ride.

It's CHER!





 Tangible proof that even ugly ducklings

can turn into beautiful swans - -

If they have enough money

Kate Middleton
Duchess of Cambridge

Note:
I was very skeptical that this was Kate, so I double-checked my sources. It is indeed her, in 1990 when she was a Brownie (in Pangbourne, Berkshire). This photo appeared in the Daily Mail.com - - in an article by Rebecca English, published on January 5, 2012.
The photo is originally from XclusivePix.com 



Not quite ready
for Hollywood

perhaps a change of name.....
some peroxide.......and a slight
nose-bob will help.....

Norma Jeane becomes
Marilyn Monroe


Who is this young violin virtuoso?

Paganini?

Jascha Heifetz??

Nope.

It's Richard Milhous Nixon 


 A little bit chubby?

Or perhaps the cowboy suit is a tad too small....

Could it be Beaver Cleaver?

Not a chance.

It's William Jefferson Clinton




What's this? 
Another future president?

A wannabe film star??

How about lighting up a Havana cigar......

with Fidel Castro



 Not much to look at

but at least he's sweet and clean-cut

Could be dating your sister.....
or your daughter......

a nice guy to bring home to Mother....

Charles Manson




Just a simple Mississippi country boy


posing with Mom and Pop.

He could never become a king, could he?

Heck, he ain't nothin' but a hound dog....



Elvis Presley



A simple-looking kid
who doesn't seem to have artistic inclinations....

but you'd be surprised what he could do 
with a can of Campbell's soup.

Just think "popism"

Andy Warhol



A sweet old lady

resting in a garden
with a walking cane in her lap.

Hey, wait a minute.......

Is that a cane........... or an ax???

Lizzie Borden 

rare photo taken in 1922
 30 years after the infamous murders took place







Saturday, May 16, 2015

ROMANTIC NIGHTS WITH REYNALDO




Every once in awhile, I like to throw a curve ball and write a blog post that no one will be interested in except myself.

It's May. Spring is in the air (along with pollen, allergies, bees, wasps, and assorted horrifying Tennessee mountain bugs that I've never before heard of). Despite all of the unexpected annoyances of mountain living, the weather is gorgeous. My rustic surroundings are inspiring. I'm in an acutely romantic mood. And I'll make a confession:

I've been spending my nights with Reynaldo.

My readers are gasping in horror, blessing themselves with signs of the cross, and expunging me from their "friends" lists.

I've been in love with Reynaldo ever since I was a music student in Los Angeles. We seem to have lost touch through the years, but have finally been recently reacquainted - thanks to YouTube.


I'm talking about the extraordinary but sorely neglected French composer Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947). He was actually born in Venezuela but his family moved to Paris when he was three years old.

 As a composer, Hahn's style and influence is exclusively French. He was a child prodigy and studied with the French masters: Massenet, Gounod, and Saint-Saens. Hahn composed an extraordinary amount of music - including operas, ballets, symphonies, and concertos. He was also a singer, conductor, music critic, and diarist. Today, he seems to be mostly remembered for his charming songs for voice and piano.

Reynaldo Hahn was extremely popular during his career and was the darling of the Belle Epoque drawing rooms (I won't mention the fact that he and Marcel Proust were lovers). 

I've chosen two of my favorite songs by Hahn - both of which are highly romantic and depict moonlit nights.

La Barcheta (The Little Boat) was written in 1901 and is from a series of six Italian-style songs, entitled Venezia (Chansons en Dialecte Venitien)
It depicts a romantic ride on a gondola in the moonlight.

It is sung by the delightful Italian bass  Giovanni Furlanetto.
Actually, he sings two songs by Reynaldo Hahn: La Barcheta (The Little Boat) and Che Peca (What a Shame)
 





L'Heure Exquise (The Exuisite Hour) was written in 1893 when Hahn was only nineteen.
It is based on the poem La Lune Blanche by Paul Verlaine, which depicts a moonlit night by a lake.

It is sung by the American bass Jason Hardy.
(the video has English subtitles)




 
And for those of you who are still awake and paying attention, I have an extreme rarity.

This is a ancient gramophone recording of Reynaldo Hahn actually singing La Barcheta and accompanying himself on the piano. It was recorded in 1909, when he was 35.
Over 115 years ago!!!!!!

The audio quality is really horrible and it seems much too fast, but what can you expect from a recording so old?


Since Hahn was a tenor, he sings La Barcheta in a slightly higher register than Furlanetto does.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

MORE HAIRY STORIES



(Hey Phil, thanks for making me look cuter than I really was)



I was a nervous, timid kid. My home life was harrowing, since my parents marriage was constantly turbulent. Both my parents worked, so I was often cared for by relatives or neighbors. Things were always unstable and I was always apprehensive. Somewhere around the age of three (possibly four??) I developed the habit of twisting my hair around one finger and tugging at it. I didn't do it constantly, but I did it often enough to annoy my father.

One day Dad grabbed me and whisked me off to the barber shop. He plopped me down in the chair and said to the barber "Cut it all off!"

The son of a bitch did. 

Within three minutes of the clipper's buzz, I was as bald as Humpty Dumpty. I looked like a frickin' midget from Camp Pendleton.



 Me during my third Christmas.
I looked cranky, but at least I still had my hair.

From that day on, hair was a big issue for me and I had an intense aversion to barber shops. I was subsequently subjected to crew cuts for many years, although - judging from photos - the length of my hair fluctuated from nearly bald to almost normal.

On my third-grade school photo my crew cut looked so horrible that I hid the picture from everyone. To this day nobody's seen it. From grades four through six my hair seemed to be a more reasonable length. Perhaps my parents finally realized that I shouldn't go through life looking like Sluggo.



Second Grade, age six. I'm the one in the striped shirt. I wasn't subjected to another crew cut until I was in third grade.


By seventh grade (which was Junior High in California) my hair was long enough to part and comb over to one side. That was the "longer" hair style that the surfers wore back then, so everyone started calling me "Surfer".

So, Jon, when are you gonna get to the good stuff?

There is no good stuff. I'm merely walking down a Hairy Memory Lane. 
 
My high school years occurred during the  hippie era. One or two guys dared to have long hair in school, but they were inevitably expelled. Hair cuts for boys were still de rigueur. If your hair grew long enough to touch the top of your ears, it was considered too long.

I was sixteen during my senior year. My maternal grandmother died that autumn and we went back east to attend the funeral. Numerous relatives icily commented that I needed a haircut.



Graduation, age sixteen
my hair was considered too long


Men's hair was a huge issue at that time. You were either a clean-cut non-conformist collegiate type, or a radical, freakish, trouble-making hippie. If a man let his hair grow anywhere near the realms of "shaggy", snide comments would inevitably be hurled.

When are you gonna get a haircut?
Do you want to be a girl?
Are you trying to be a hippie?
Are you a frickin' fairy?
(Yea. Wanna see my magic wand?)

When I was sixteen I happened to encounter my cousin George in New Jersey. George was ten years older than myself and a successful restaurateur. He was always known as a stuck-up condescending snob.

He didn't even bother to say "hello". He simply sneered and said "I'd never let you work in my restaurant with hair like that!"

I was shocked. Hey, Georgie old boy - how'd you like a turkey baster up your ass?

Fortunately I was disgustingly sweet and polite back then. I didn't dare say one word.

Here's a delicious aside:
Ol' George has since been married about five times. I heard that one of his ex-wives dumped boiling water on him, then drove her car through the side of his house (no lie - I couldn't make this stuff up).
Hey - revenge is sweet....... 




After high school graduation I slowly but surely started letting my hair grow - nothing close to radical hippiedom, but long enough to be contentedly shaggy. I began using lemon juice on it (like some surfers did) so it was sun-bleached.



 Hippie Jon (I'm the one on the right......in case you couldn't guess....)

I went through numerous phases during my colorful California youth:

The Huntington Beach Surfer. 
 I was far from ever being an adept surfer, but I could pass for a reasonable facsimile.

The Quasi-Hippie.
 Any one remember puka shell necklaces, granny glasses, and mood rings?

Devotee of Transcendental Meditation.
 I wore sandals and East Indian clothing. A guru told me to give up my worldly possessions and abstain from sex. 
I had no worldly possessions. I abstained from sex for about three hours.

Post Vietnam Army Fatigues and Dog Tags.
 I used to haunt Army & Navy surplus stores. I wound up looking like a reject in a casting call for "Platoon".

Hollywood Boulevard Midnight Cowboy. Arguably my best facade. And my most popular one.



So, what does all this have to do with my hair? 

Through all of my many phases and identities, I've never again went to a barber. Never had another crew cut. Never trusted anyone to cut my hair but myself. Never gave a damn about what anybody thought about my hair.


I might look like the far side of hell, but at least I'm content.







Nowadays, at 150 years old, I don't give a rat's ass what anybody thinks. 



Note:
all of my family photos are still stored on my desktop computer, which I haven't unpacked yet, so I didn't have much of a choice. I had to take all of the above photos from my old blog Lone Star Concerto.



 










Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HAIRY STORIES




The photos on my previous blog post (Mother's Day) brought back memories of hair. Yes, hair.

My mother had gorgeous hair - very thick and luxurious. Many people thought she wore wigs, because of the radical hairstyles and color changes that she often assumed. In truth, she never wore a wig in her life. She simply enjoyed experimenting with her coiffure.

There was a certain very well-known hair stylist in Los Angeles who liked working on my mother's hair so much that he actually offered to do it for free. She never took him up on the offer.

Mom's hair was naturally light, but her color changes ranged from blonde to dark brown. When we first moved to California and I was about six years old, Mom was hooked on Egyptian Henna. It was a potent powder in a box that transformed hair into a deep reddish auburn color. The process of mixing and using the concoction was so messy that she only dared to do it when my father wasn't home. He would have never tolerated it. 

Egyptian Henna tin.
It came in a box when Mom used to use it


The henna powder had to be mixed with water in a bowl and applied (if I remember correctly) with a brush. Mom would sit at a table, with a towel around her shoulders, wearing rubber gloves, and applying the dripping henna. One thing I have never forgotten was the odious smell.

Mom completely stopped coloring her hair by the time she was 50 or so. It never turned gray. It turned an ash/champagne color that was much more beautiful than any of the dyes she used to use.

My father hated hair (undoubtedly because his hair was very fine and receding). For as long as I can remember, he never let Mom brush or comb her hair in the house. He always made her go outside in the yard. If he found any semblance of a hair around the house he'd go into major conniptions.

Ironically, this blog post was going to be about my hair and my own personal hairy tales. Unfortunately, it would be incredibly long. So - in order to maintain your interest without being boring - I'm going to divide this post into two parts. I'll probably post Hairy Stories, Part Two tomorrow.

Stay tuned. 

 Mom was sixty years old when this photo was taken. My father was about sixty-six.
You can tell by the look on her face that she wasn't used to Dad acting sweet.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

LESSER DEGREES OF LOSS

 


The greatest loss that we will ever experience is the death of a loved one. I've experienced many such losses, and with each one a part of my own life was subtracted and subsequently will never be regained.

The losses I'm thinking about today, however, have nothing to do with death. They are monetary losses - or losses of personal possessions that have sentimental value. As an incurable sentimentalist, I can fiercely relate to this.

I've known numerous people who, for one unfortunate reason or another, have lost everything. Several of my relatives are included. My cousin Cookie (Elizabeth) in New Jersey lost all her possessions when her house burned down (happened long ago).

My cousin Nancy - who presently lives a few miles away from me here in Tennessee - was a former resident of Homestead, Florida. She lost everything in August, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew demolished the entire city.

I've never experienced such a great loss of possessions and wouldn't know how to cope with it.  Starting from scratch isn't easy. Optimistic fools will say "Well, at least you have your life. You can always replace possessions."

I would answer "No way in hell can you replace treasured possessions. Everything that enhanced and confirmed my existence is gone."

While in the process of moving from Texas to Tennessee - I suddenly realized that I don't need 85% of the things I own. The idea of downsizing and becoming a minimalist is very tempting, yet it's an impossibility for a hardcore sentimentalist. I have an incredibly hard time letting go of my treasures. The simplest things often evoke the strongest memories: a photo, a letter, a book. Shells retrieved on the beach during a walk with someone special. A dried flower pressed between pages.

Mildly interesting, Jon, but where is this blog post taking us?

It's taking you on a sentimental journey. We'll get there soon enough - just don't try to make me climax prematurely. Telling a good story takes time. Just like having good sex takes time.

No need to get nasty, Jonathan. Is your mind always in the gutter?

Yes. Always.

I've mentioned in a previous blog post that - during my move from Texas to Tennessee - the movers somehow managed to lose (misplace? steal?) some of my most cherished possessions. It seems almost beyond belief that some of these items happen to be things I loved the most. So far I've gotten no explanation or restitution (more about this later).

Among many "missing" items are antique books, a valuable oil painting, some of my piano music, and a large three-drawer tool chest containing every tool I ever owned.

The most upsetting thing is that all of my mother's (and grandmother's) piano music is gone - - and so are all of my California diaries.

My maternal grandmother had an enormous amount of piano sheet music from the 1920's and 30's. 
My mother played the piano since she was a child and had a large collection of music from the 1940's through the 1970's. Every single one of them is missing.

The most devastating thing to me is the loss of all my handwritten diaries and journals that I kept in California from when I was ten years old until I moved out of state when I was 35. A total of about thirty volumes.


In essence, these journals contained my entire California existence. They were a meticulous and extremely private account of every aspect of my life. There is no price that could compensate for the valuable wealth of information in them.

Besides all of my deepest and most personal thoughts, these journals documented everything that I ever did: my school and college years, my Hollywood years, every concert and performance that I ever gave, and every concert that I attended - - information about the rehearsals I had, the places I lived and visited, my friends, the famous people I've met. It revealed the sordid details of my love affairs (that alone is priceless).

It's bitterly ironic that I'm in the fledgling process of writing my memoir and desperately need my journals to use as a guideline and memory refresher. I now have nothing tangible to rely on but the recesses of my raw memory.

Is there a moral to this lengthy tale of woe?

If you're ever in the process of moving and have items that you cherish - don't entrust them to anyone and don't let them out of your sight. 

I made the horrendous mistake of trusting the movers. I should have taken these things in the car with me when I drove to Tennessee, but I already had three cats in large cages. There wasn't enough room.

The final kick in the ass - -

Between moving and storage costs, I paid these bastards nearly $10,000.


 




Monday, May 4, 2015

DESCENT INTO ABYSS





In retrospect, it's foolish and futile to blame a chaotically destructive adulthood on a turbulent and unhappy childhood, but that's what I did for a long time. As a child and early adolescent I had been too good, too complacent, too willing to please others and never bend the rules. I was as perfect and compliant as it was humanly possible to be. I emotionally remained a child well into adulthood.

I absorbed my father's violence and negativity like a sponge and never questioned his terrifying reign of absolute autocracy. I feared him more than anything else on earth and this fear continued well into my adulthood. I once told my mother that I feared him much more than God - because God is an abstract entity whose presence relies solely on faith and imagination. My father's incredibly powerful presence was horrifyingly real. He ruled every aspect of my restricted world and had the power over whether I lived or died.

My mother was my only anchor in a sea of chaos. She was beautiful, brilliant, and extraordinary in many ways. She was emotionally strong for enduring my father's insanity and for surviving it, yet she was also weak for never leaving him. She tried to leave many times but always failed. One time, when I was twenty, she escaped to Reno, NV and filed for divorce. My father did some detective work, found out where she was, and drove up to see her. He begged her to come back and she reluctantly acquiesced - - knowing full well that there would be no happy ending.

Why am I burdening my blog readers with all this ancient personal baggage? These past few posts are merely random thoughts, preliminary sketches, prelude to a memoir. The things I've written about my father in Ashes (my previous post) are whitewashed fluff. If I ever wrote how bad the situation really was, it would be difficult to believe. I was an emotional zombie for so long that it took years and enormous effort to resurrect myself.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I've finally shed the detrimental effects of my ravaged past. Nothing heroic was involved. Survival is an animal instinct. Life is an on-going exercise in the art of survival.

My eventual escape didn't set me free, but rather trapped me in a detrimental web of self-destruction. Often it is much more difficult to
escape from the ravages of what we do to ourselves than from what others inflict upon us.

I willingly entered the dark, dangerous, delusional underworld of escapism: sex, sin, booze, drugs - the deliciously enticing gamut of debauchery. In essence, it was escape from myself and the world of reality.

The grand illusion of Hollywood was the perfect setting for shedding my painful past and assuming the identity of someone I never really was and never thought I could be. It was surprisingly easy. 

I was young, good-looking, desirable, and more than eager to be corrupted. My transition into the depths of Sodom was swift and seamless. I initially had no clue that I was desirable, and my guilt about being sinful was profound - but I soon learned to suppress any vulnerabilities. 

I projected an exterior facade of abject indifference and intriguing mystery. I abandoned good manners and correct grammar. I eventually learned to be street-wise and to speak in crude abstractions. I feigned being tough. I smoked cigarettes - even though I disliked them and seldom inhaled. 

I dressed like a faux cowboy, for no particular reason other than I liked it: leather boots, Levi jeans, Kennington shirts, occasional cowboy hats. 
I hated hard drugs but I smoked grass, did poppers (amyl, butyl), took quaaludes, and indulged in other assorted downers and uppers. I mostly drank - and drank heavily. On occasion I'd mix dangerous concoctions of alcohol and pills together, just to experience the effect.

Sex? I was a sexual addict - easy and eager to please. What I really desperately wanted was love, but I quickly learned that "love" is a dirty word in the cold and merciless realms of midnight anonymity. 

Later, I had ample opportunities to have serious relationships and I rejected most of them - in the false and selfish belief that it's better to initially reject than to eventually be rejected. Don't ask me to explain this distorted reasoning.

Writing about myself only serves to puzzle me. I was always an enigma and have never yet completely figured myself out. 



I've just deleted the last part of this post because I feel that I'm becoming boring by saying too much.


Well, at least I didn't charge admission.