Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FLAGS, RAIN, CATS, MICE





Note:
This blog post was far too long and disjointed, so I decided to drastically edit it. Now, it's a little shorter and even more disjointed.
In keeping with my recent Flag theme, I've posted the above photo which I took when I lived in Texas. 

 

Well, it looks like everybody survived my previous blog post. A quick head count confirms that I haven't lost any followers. I hate the term "followers". It makes me sound like Rasputin. Or Aimee Semple McPherson.

Undoubtedly my charm and sense of humor saved me.

What charm and sense of humor, Jon?

Hey, don't try to be funny.

The rainbow flag (in my previous post) also helped. When in doubt, disarm everyone with a rainbow flag. Just don't try to fly it in Tennessee. The Baptists will shoot you.
Praise the Lord.



In Tennessee rainbow flags are best kept in the closet (no pun intended). Tennesseans can be disarmed with Confederate flags. Is "Tennesseans" spelled correctly?

None of this will make any sense unless you read my previous post. And even then, it probably won't make any sense.

Despite the bright beginning to this blog post, I'm still in a miserable, bleak, and dire mood.

It's amazing and admirable, Jon, that you can still be witty and cheerful when you're miserable, bleak, and dire.

That's nothing. You should see me on a good day.

I tried to put a temporary fix on the broken water pipes but nothing worked. The plumber can't come for a few more days, and I've been without water for nearly a week. I drove to town last Saturday to get groceries and bottled water. Water goes quickly in hot weather and I'll soon need more.

Besides having no water, I'm also still plagued with other problems. Back pain and other health issues. Multitudes of annoying insects. Endless storms. And piles of unpacked junk because there's absolutely nowhere to put anything. I gave up trying to do any more outdoor painting or yard work because of the rain.

I'm very used to inconveniences. Life has been one Big Inconvenience ever since I came here. If anything went right, the shock would kill me.


  Despite all the hassles, I'd still choose Tennessee over Texas. Texas was a nightmare of endless wind, persistent drought, ruthless dust storms. Not to mention the worst people imaginable. My neighbors were drug dealers who had continuous all-night parties. Six families lived in one house, and a dozen (no exaggeration) completely unsupervised kids tortured me for years.






This is my back yard in Texas
during a typical dust storm 



Here in Tennessee, I at least have peace and privacy, in a lovely rural atmosphere. Some of the people around here are gun-toting moonshiners, but - what the hell. They all go to church on Sunday.

Ouch, Jon, that hurt.




Views from my property in Tennessee
"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
 

Did I mention rain? There are storms every day. Last night the storms were horrific, with Biblical downpours and such intense lightning that it knocked the sins right out of me and sent them rolling around on the floor. A crappy analogy, but it's all I could come up with. If I was getting paid for writing this, I'd have the incentive to do better.

My three cats went into hiding during the duration of the deluge. When the storm finally subsided, Scratch emerged carrying a mouse in her mouth. The kidnapped rodent was still alive. It somehow managed to escape, and we (Scratch and I) chased it around the living room.

Having the kind soul of St. Francis of Assisi, it was my intention to capture the mouse and set it free. Scratch had other ideas.

Later, exhausted from storms and rodents, I fell asleep on the sofa. I periodically heard all the cats scurrying to catch the mouse.

Your rodent tail (tale?) is getting too long, Jon. What the heck happened?

Dawn came with a sunny smile. I went into the bedroom, wondering what happened to the mouse. 
Jokingly, I said "Maybe the cats put it in my bed."

.....I swear to God, this is absolutely true......

As I was checking the covers, I happened to see a tail sticking out from under my pillow!!! Lifted the pillow.....sure enough - there was a dead mouse. 

A present from one of the felines.
But which one?? Scratch, Scruffy, or Bosco? 

My only consolation is that it could have been worse. I have a friend in California who told me that one of her cats left a dead BIRD in her bed!

Ah, the joys of feline ownership.


This post is too long but I have an update (it's Tuesday afternoon). Another storm is raging as I write this.

The plumber stopped by about an hour ago. He surveyed the problem and said he has to buy some things from town before he can fix it. He'll return tomorrow morning.
The poor guy was upset because his elderly father died yesterday. That made me feel extremely bad. I told him not to come, but he said he'd rather work than sit around thinking.










Monday, June 29, 2015

SENSITIVITY TRAINING



RED FLAG WARNING:
I'M IN A FOUL MOOD
This could be offensive

I spent an hour the other night writing a new blog post entitled Love, Marriage, and Other Atrocities. I thought it was good. I had a strong feeling, however, that others might find it offensive. My unconventional mode of thinking and anti-marriage sentiments were likely to infuriate everyone - - especially since gays are presently giddy over the fact that they can now legally marry nationwide. I've always been staunchly opposed to marriage - - straight, gay, and Martian - - and I stated my personal reasons why. 

Since it's never my intention to offend (well not much, anyway), and since I'm not in the mood to stir up controversy, I've reluctantly put the post on a back burner.

Most of my regular readers have tough hides and always politely endure my inane rants. They realize that much of what I write is tongue-in-cheek (nothing sexual implied). They know that my bark is far worse than my bite and that - underneath the faux bravura - is an innocuous sweetheart. Newer readers, however, might be unduly sensitive and more easily offended.

I often try to place a filter between my words and my readers, which dilutes the potentially lethal potency (and also dilutes my freedom of speech). I try to curb my caustic wit and reduce the blackness of my humor (no racial puns intended). It's not always easy.

I usually steer away from controversial subjects like politics, religion, and sex - especially gay sex. When writing about my shockingly sordid past I very often omit scalding details and incorporate subtle buffers - - which encourage readers to delve between the lines (although lately I've become a little more open, such as in my post Boulevard of Haunted Dreams or in the last part of Ashes ).
If the links don't work, you can find them on my sidebar.

So - - - in essence - -
I avoid the subject of sex because I don't want to shock my relatives or be the cause of cardiac arrest..
I steer clear of religion, so as not to upset the atheists among us. 
I don't dare mention politics, because - to put it bluntly - 99% of my readers are in direct opposition to my political views.
I never delve into the realms of environmental issues, because some of my personal friends are psychotically fanatically GREEN and have actually issued death threats when I ruefully questioned the validity of global warming......oops, sorry - - I mean climate change.

When I had my old blog Lone Star Concerto, half a dozen readers dropped me because I bashed Hillary Clinton. Two sweet old ladies fled in one day (ironically, they are both still here in Blogland, leaving adoring comments on other people's blogs).
 Before abandoning me, one of the ladies left a caustic comment in which - among other things - she said that I was heartless and advised me to "undergo sensitivity training."

Sensitivity training? WTF??? 
Hey, I'm one of the most sensitive, sweet, easy-going, caring, compassionate guys around. 

That old bitch can take her opinion and shove it where the sun don't shine.

(you can't see me, but I'm grinning like the Cheshire cat) 

So, what's left to write about? Not much.
In the hyper-sensitive environment of our politically correct society, most subjects are now taboo. I'm reduced to talking about the bugs in my back yard and the incessant rain that inspired the weeds to grow ten feet. Fortunately, I have a knack for making boring things incredibly interesting.

You'd never know it by reading this blog post, would you?

I suppose I shouldn't mention that I'm really pissed over the present attempt to ban the Confederate flag. In a humble (and partially innocent) protest, I dug the above photo out of my files. It was taken when I first moved to Texas. I was in the process of unpacking my things and I happened to find a nearly-forgotten Confederate flag. When I took it outside to shake off years of dust, a sudden gust of Texas wind caught it like a sail - - and somebody snapped the photo.

I'm even more angry with that liberal NYC film critic Lou Lumenick, who recently called for the ban of Gone With the Wind because the concept of the Confederate flag (among other things) upset him.

Hey, Louie Boy, here's a flash:  
It took a helluva lot more talent to write GWTW than it does to criticize it. You Libs are constantly trying to mess with our private lives, but you're not going to mess with our American classics.
You'd better not come anywhere near Tennessee (not that you'd ever want to) because if I ever see you I'm gonna roll up my Confederate flag and implant it firmly in your puckered derriere - - and I have no doubt that you'd enjoy it.

Do you feel better now, Jon?

Hell, no. "Sensitivity training", my ass!



Note:
After reading this blog post, I'm sure that most of my readers will drop me.
The only ones left will be Myra. And Geo. (because he's incredibly polite). And TarryTerre.
And maybe Ron - because he has good taste (even though he's a Lib).

Most of the gay guys will flee.
Hey, dudes, come back! I don't give a damn if you're married! I'm on your side! I've got rainbow tattoos to prove it! Wanna see them?
 








Thursday, June 25, 2015

CHAOS ON THE MOUNTAIN




So, how are things going out there in the wilderness, Jon?

I'll make it short and sweet. I have problems up to my ears. I'm inundated with unpleasant situations. On a scale from one to ten - ten being no problems at all - I'm teetering around minus 152.

I thought that life on a mountain in the proverbial middle of nowhere would be simple and carefree. My Disneyesque naivety has turned vicious and is biting me on the ass.


Anyone remember The Willows by Algernon Blackwood? - - that haunting novella about two men trapped in the vortex of the unforgiving wilderness, slowly being devoured by unseen entities of nature?

Although I'm not in those Hungarian regions of the Danube - - I am experiencing the same uneasy (horrifying?) feeling here in the Tennessee mountains.


 My back yard


The birds, the wildlife, the insects....

....the bugs...an untold multitude of bugs......moths, beetles, spiders, gnats, ticks, flies, bees, wasps - - unknown winged creatures that haunt my nights and plague my days.......

I've finally eliminated the 40 (no lie) nests that the carpenter bees made in my wooden porches. And now the wasps have arrived.....by the hundreds....

Yesterday, as soon as I stepped outside, three wasps attached themselves to my clothes. I shrieked, then stripped faster than a Chippendale dancer. Ripped off my T shirt. Peeled off my jeans (no easy task, with the high boots that I wear to discourage the ticks). Didn't get stung.


One of numerous lizards
that resides near my back porch
(hopefully he'll eat plenty of bugs)

Moisture, anyone?
It rains here every day. It's like a Peruvian rain forest. Or South Vietnam during the monsoon.

Gunfire?
My distant neighbor - the mysterious someone who owns the cow meadow adjacent to my property - kept shooting a rifle all day Saturday. Very close to my house. I didn't dare go outside. I won't venture a guess as to the reason for the gunfire.

Late Sunday afternoon.
It cooled down, from 95 degrees to 92, so I decided to resume painting my back porch (I already finished the front porch). 
A horrendous thunderstorm blew in with a torrential downpour and wicked lightning. I said to hell with it and continued painting.


my front yard

 Don't go away. I saved the best for last.

Yesterday, early evening. I'm exhausted, so I laid down in bed. Fell fast asleep. Was dreaming.

The ringing phone woke me up. It's pitch dark, no lights on in the house. I stumble out to the kitchen, still half-asleep, puzzled by the sound of rushing water. I turn on a light. The kitchen is flooded. Water is pouring from two hoses connected to (or near?) the water heater (the water heater is in an area adjacent to the kitchen). The water is hot. Steamy.
In a groggy panic, I call my cousin Nancy because I figure she's the one who just called me (she was). I'm babbling, incoherent. I tell her I'm flooded. I have to go outside and turn off the main water valve.

The valve, of course, is unnervingly far away. It's extremely dark. I'm barefooted and shirtless - maneuvering blindly through tall, wet grass and tangled weeds (places where I'm afraid to tread in daylight, with boots on).

Note: I should mention that I was wearing beachwalkers, but it was so wet and muddy that the mud sucked the shoes off my feet!

I'm on my hands and knees, clawing through thick mud and weeds, trying to locate the friggin' water meter. Insects are biting me everywhere. I'm drenched in sweat. I hear the howls of nearby coyotes (I'm not kidding). Finally, finally I find the damn thing and manage to shut it off.

By the time I get back to the house I feel extremely faint and near cardiac arrest. I call my cousin (she's already in her car, on her way) and tell her not to come. I'm still incoherent.

One of my cats (Scruffy, of course) managed to escape from the house during the excitement. She ran off into the woods and was gone for over an hour. 

I took an aspirin, tried to catch my breath, went out searching for Scruffy. I finally found her, soaking wet but fine.
I spent the duration of the night cleaning up the water.

Discovered that the busted hoses had been carelessly repaired with duck tape (!!) by the previous owners of this place (thanks a lot, morons.....).

Wish me luck in trying to get a plumber to come out here in the boonies. I sure as hell will need it. 

 A deer, just after dark, near the back porch. I didn't use the camera flash because I didn't want to scare it.


Update: the plumber can't come until the middle of next week.



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

BLAME IT ON CHOPIN





I've played the piano since I was ten years old (that's about 200 years, give or take). I have a large musical repertoire. I've seldom met a piano composition that I didn't like.

I found this old video the other day, stored in the dusty archives of my personal piano rehearsal tapes. When I watched it, the music immediately annoyed me - - as it unfortunately always has. My negative opinion hasn't softened over the years.
Note: I was pushing fifty when I made this tape and was out of practice. 

I'm talking about the infamous Polonaise Militaire (Military Polonaise) in A major, Op. 40 No. 1, by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849).
In essence, it's a polonaise in the style of a military march.

Chopin's piano music is brilliant - - actually extraordinary. His keyboard innovations were revolutionary. I love all of his compositions. When I was a music student in Los Angeles I studied most of his etudes, preludes, ballades, nocturnes, mazurkas. And a fair number of the polonaises.

BUT (here's the inevitable "but".....)

Of the two dozen (give or take) polonaises that Chopin wrote, the Military Polonaise has always been my least favorite. In fact, it's my least favorite of all of Chopin's piano compositions. There are times when it actually irks the hell out of me.

Why? 
It's not only brash and brazen, it has absolutely no modulation of tone and no variation of style.
For the layman, that means it's too damn loud and too structurally boring. And - with all of the endless repeats - it seemingly goes on forever. And I mean for-ever.
Incidentally, I play all of the repeats - - exactly as Chopin intended them.

It's the only piano composition I can think of that is marked Forte (meaning "loud") throughout - with no contrasting tones - and it crescendos to an ear-piercing triple Forte in places. It's definitely loud and long.

Are there any redeeming aspects? 
It's fun to play. I enjoy performing it. It's not particularly complicated or difficult - - but you have to have large hands, lots of energy, and plenty of pianistic technique. It's a cacophony in octaves.

An octave is a span of eight keys - which most pianists can easily execute (I hate that word) . I have large hands. I can very comfortably reach a span of ten keys. And, when I'm in practice, I can span eleven keys with my right hand and twelve with my left.

Are you impressed?
I didn't think so.

I was initially hesitant to post this particular video on YouTube. After careful consideration, however, I figured I had nothing to lose.

If it annoys you, don't blame me. Blame Chopin.


 The only known photo of Frederic Chopin,
taken in 1849 - the year of his death from tuberculosis.






Sunday, June 21, 2015

FATHER'S DAY







I could never bring myself to call him "Dad" or "father". Ever. That generic term of endearment was completely foreign to me. I considered it to be a title that had to be earned - not given. I usually called him "the old man". Or worse.

I'm not proud of my reluctance. Or resentment. Or hate..... but it was there deep within me where it festered for years. I never really connected with him. We never bonded. I was perpetually uncomfortable in his presence, to the point that I often stammered with a loss for words. 

When he attempted to be kind I would recoil and resist. All the wicked, detrimental things that he did over my entire lifetime would well up inside me and become a defensive wall of immunity around me - rendering me resistant to the intended truce.

In retrospect, I was often at fault. My hate was a self-inflicted venom that had been slowly poisoning me since childhood. It had little effect on him.....but it had completely destroyed me. My self-hatred was profound.

I was with him when he died. A sudden, completely unexpected heart attack. As he clutched his chest in pain, I held him and said "It's okay, Dad, you're going to be all right."

They were the last words he ever heard. And I had called him "Dad". I never thought about that. He has now been dead for nearly ten years and I never thought about that until last night. I'll admit that it made me cry.


My parents in Atlantic City
before they were married
 

Dad holding me.
I was born nearly three years
after my parents were married 

My father was the most terrifying person I ever knew. His temper, violence, and rage was inhuman and superhuman. It always came unexpectedly, and with such unbridled fury and insane viciousness that any rational attempt to describe it would be futile. 

It came unexpectedly, and yet it was always expected. It was an inevitable and unavoidable part of my existence. Anything could ignite his insanity, and most often it would be small, insignificant things. His rage wouldn't just last for hours. It would last for days. Often weeks. The same eternal pattern. When the rage finally ended, he would be like someone who had awakened from a deep sleep and remembered nothing. He would be completely normal.

He would also never be apologetic. Anything that had previously happened was entirely my fault, or that of my mother.


My father, long before he was married.
I think the car belonged to his brother Jim.

 Dad in his Willys Jeep. The year was either 1948 or '49. This is the vehicle that my parents used when they eloped.

I had no siblings. My mother and I endured the impossible, unresolvable situation completely alone. All we had was each other. I was accused of being a mamma's boy. She was accused of being over-protective. 

In retrospect, I was seldom a child. My role was that of mediator, referee, counselor, protector, psychiatrist. I would endure nights of incredible violence, beatings, shocking scenes of insanity that can never be expunged from my memory. Mom and I would often have to hide in the yard until dawn. And then I would go to school in the morning and pretend that nothing happened. It was my way of life.



This was taken at the Grand Canyon but I have
no clue what year. My guess is that I was about
fourteen. The body language is evident. I always distanced myself (the photo is a Polaroid and has moisture damage)

It seems foolish and futile to dwell on things that happened in the long-ago past, but some scenes aren't easily expunged from memory. I have learned to forgive - but it's not easy to forget.

When angry, my father would lose all sense of reason. His strength was incredible and his sole instinct was to kill.
He ripped a solid oak bedroom door off the hinges and beat my mother over the head with it.
He fractured two of my ribs when I was fourteen.
He savagely attacked me with a shovel because I used some tools from his tool chest. I was usually attacked with whatever weapon was available: a crow bar, a wooden ladder, a chair.
When I was eighteen, he choked me into unconsciousness.

Once, when I parked my car in the "wrong" place in the driveway, he opened the hood, ripped out all the wires and loosened the engine. 

I still shudder when I remember the day, after a particularly violent blowup, that he handed me a loaded gun and told me to kill myself.

These are only a few random incidents out of a multitude of others. The most unbearable thing for me to witness was the violence he inflicted upon my mother. I have no intention of relating  details or offering analysis. My parent's relationship was extremely complicated and warrants more than a few lines.


Me and dad, barbecuing in Glendora, 
California. I'm probably six years old.
I'm holding a can of his beer. 


 Dad and Mom during a rare pleasant moment.
I took the photo (I think I was seven at the time). That's the Chevy truck that we drove  when we moved from New Jersey to California


There were definitely good times, but they surfaced infrequently. I think I resented them the most, because I knew they wouldn't last. 

By all accounts, my father's life hadn't been easy and he was troubled at an early age. When he started school he only spoke Hungarian and didn't know a word of English. He learned English entirely on his own (children of different ethnic backgrounds weren't catered to back then). He left school at an early age to work full-time. Got in trouble with the law numerous times. Was in the Navy during WWII. He narrowly escaped a blitz in London. His ship was bombed near the coast of Africa. He was later a participant in the invasion at Normandy.




Dad is on the right



In describing his virtues, I have to carefully differentiate between the madman and the person of rationality.
He was meticulous in every aspect of his life. Obsessed with cleanliness and absolute order. Scrupulously efficient - never owed a penny to anyone. He was an indefatigable workaholic, had astoundingly endless energy, and was the most hyperactive person I ever knew.

He was mechanically-minded and could build or fix anything. He had a great passion for music of all kinds and loved to hear me play the piano. Ironically, he tried to break one of my fingers once when I was practicing. As bitterly ironic as it sounds, he sometimes had a good sense of humor. And he was a good cook.

He would brag whenever I had an article published or gave a concert. He once confided to my mother that he wished he had been handsome like me when he was young.

My father was deeply troubled and extremely complicated. In that respect, we were very much alike. Fortunately, I didn't inherit the violence.

I forgave my father for all the wounds he inflicted long before he died. After he died, the hate completely vanished like a lifted weight.

I never told my father that I loved him.
It is one of my deepest regrets.



 My parents on their 37th wedding anniversary
Mom was 59, Dad was 64.



In later years
when Dad was in his 70's


Friday, June 19, 2015

A COLLECTION OF CHARACTERS



You've seen the photos before. You've heard the stories. This is merely a refresher course. I'm in the mood for encores, reruns, regurgitation. A collection of characters, a photo album of my relatives.

I know a lot more about my mother's side of the family than my father's. All of my ancestors are from Hungary. My father's relatives were mostly from Budapest. His mother, my grandmother Szofia Santos, came from a tiny village near the Romanian border - not far from Transylvania.


My mother's relatives were from the Bakony Mountains, the Austro-Hungarian region. Her grandfather Janos Gurdon (or Gurdanyi) was of royal blood (no bullcrap - - it's true).

The photos are from my dusty archives. The descriptions are from the cobwebs of my memory.

 My maternal great-grandfather Janos Gurdon (1863-1936). His Americanized name was John Gordon.

Born into a royal family, he was disinherited when he married a peasant girl named Justinia Schmidt. They moved to American around 1893 and had twelve children. 
Their eldest child, Katalin (Kate), was murdered when she was eighteen. Ironically, the man who murdered her was her own uncle - the brother of her mother Justinia.

This is the birthplace of my great-grandfather John Gordon - near Borzavar, Hungary



This is Katalin Gordon (1887-1906), eldest child of John and Justinia. She was my great-aunt, sister of my maternal grandmother Anna. This photo was taken only a week before she was murdered, in April, 1906. The white Easter dress that she's wearing is the dress she was buried in. 

Katalin (Kate) was eighteen when she was killed by her uncle Frederick Lang (her mother's illegitimate brother). Lang was only 21 at the time. He was passionately in love with Kate and wanted to marry her. When she refused (and teased him) he pulled out a revolver and shot her through the neck at point-blank range.

Moral of the story? Don't ever tease a temperamental Hungarian.

 Frederick Lang (1885-1909). The brother of my great-grandmother Justinia Gordon (does that make him my great-uncle?).
After murdering his niece Katalin in April, 1906, he managed to escape and wasn't captured until July. The trial took place in Middlesex County, New Jersey, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

During his three-year-imprisonment, Lang tried to kill himself numerous times. Among other things, he set fire to his jail cell and braided a noose out of bedsheets and tried to hang himself. He was publicly executed by hanging in March, 1909 at the age of 24. The last man to be executed by hanging in New Jersey.

Despite his tough exterior, Frederick Lang wrote tender, impassioned letters to his mother in Hungary - begging for forgiveness. All the letters were confiscated by the authorities. His mother never saw them.
He was buried in an unmarked grave. My relatives refused to claim the body.



 Maria Gordon (known as Mary). She was a sister of Katalin, and my great-aunt. Mary was with Katalin when she was murdered (Mary was 14 at the time).  After Fred Lang shot Katalin, Mary tried to escape. As she was running, he managed to shoot her in the elbow. 

Mary is wearing a traditional Hungarian outfit in this photo. She eventually left New Jersey and established a ranch in Tucumcari, New Mexico (where she was known an Tucumcari Mary). She was always a flamboyant and colorful character. 

 My great-aunt Mary in New Mexico, with her favorite horse.




 Two more of John and Justinia's twelve children. Lizabeth (on the left) and Anna (right). Anna is my maternal grandmother.
She was 10 years old in 1906 when Katalin was murdered.
This photo was taken around 1916.


Catholic Communion.
Three more of the twelve Gordon children (my grandmother Anna's siblings).
Juliana (left), John (Jr.), and Gizella.

I knew all three of them when I was a small child in New Jersey. Juliana (my great aunt Jule) had an unhappy life with a very abusive husband.

Gizella (known as Aunt Gussie) never married. Her lifelong fear of men came from the fact that, at an early age, she had been roughed up by a drunk and nearly raped.

John Jr., by all accounts, was kind, humble, and led an exemplary life in upstate New York.





My great uncle George (Gyorgy) Gordon. The youngest of the Gordon children. Like his sister Mary, George left New Jersey and went to New Mexico, where he had a ranch near Clovis.

I saw him many times when I was young (he died when I was 20). I seldom knew a kinder, more generous person. And he told fascinating stories about life on the ranch.

This blog post is much longer than I intended it to be. I initially wanted to include photos from my father's family, too, but that will have to wait for a future post.

Note:
I wrote an article about the murder of Katalin Gordon, which was published in the December, 1997 issue of the New Jersey Monthly. I have since uncovered much more information and would like to write another article.






Perhaps the biggest character of all the relatives - - photo taken in the heyday of his vanished and sorely misspent youth (about 150 years ago).
Jonathan, Janos, alias "Maestro", "Faux Cowboy". And a few unmentionable names.

Pianist, writer, poet, artist, dreamer, blogger (I despise that term - it sounds so demeaning).

Monday, June 15, 2015

DEATH BY YOUTUBE





I'm addicted to YouTube. It has long been one of my major sources for free entertainment. Within its wealth of video treasures I've found every type of music, from Bessie Smith to Kiri Te Kanawa.  I watch opera, ballets, concerts, documentaries, silent films. I even watch episodes from TV shows like Doc Martin and the old Alfred Hitchcock series (to name a few).

So, what's not to like about YouTube?
  Despite the many positive aspects, there's one thing that irks the hell out of me: the comments.

Those vicious, vile, nasty, ignorant, abusive, negative, shocking, crude, rude, offensive, insulting, asinine, hateful, horrific comments that people leave about the videos.

They are written by some of the most angry, bitter people imaginable. If words could kill,  the YouTube community would be the slaughterhouse of the world.

If you leave a comment on any video - - no matter how brief or innocent it is- - you'll inevitably get  hateful replies from people who will not only disagree with you, but will also insult your integrity, your race, religion, gender, and  sexual persuasion (not to mention your grandmother and your puppy Bowser).

YouTube has long had a notorious reputation for a caustic comment community. I've heard that several attempts were made to monitor public comments and clean up the negativity, but - from what I have personally observed - the attempts have failed miserably.

Fortunately, anyone who posts a video on YouTube has the option of disabling the comments (which is an incredibly good idea) but most people, for whatever reason, don't do it.

Incidentally, the videos on my YouTube channel have never received any negative comments, but that's only because very few people ever watch my videos. Just give it time......

A simple video - like a religious hymn - will generate comment attacks by anti-religious zealots, heathens, Satanists, and pagans of all denominations. 
Hey, if you don't like hymns, what the frickin' hell are you doing seeking them out on YouTube?


The other night I was watching the opera Tristan und Isolde on YouTube (a formidable task, at best). I happened to glance at the comments and, sure enough, the majority were anti-Wagner and extremely negative.

I was miffed enough to leave my own comment, which concluded with:
"If you can't handle Wagner, go back to the minor leagues."

It's not profound, but it made my point.

Hey, are you still awake? Wanna hear more examples? I've got plenty.

I recently watched a documentary about Anne Frank. You guessed it. This encouraged the Nazis to come out of the woodwork. The comments were dripping with anti-semitic venom. Anne Frank didn't exist. The diary is a fraud. The holocaust never happened. Jews are evil.

Holy shit - the Third Reich is alive and well.

I can sense that you're getting restless, so this will be my final example.

About a year ago, one of the Hollywood documentary videos on YouTube prompted a discussion about Diana Dors (of all people) and Marilyn Monroe. 

I innocently (and foolishly) left a worthless comment which, in essence, said that Diana Dors never projected a particularly appealing on-screen image. Marilyn Monroe's personality was much more likeable.

This benign observation - inexplicably -  rubbed some guy the wrong way and he pounced on me like a cougar. After posting several comments berating my opinion - - he then proceeded to tear me apart with personal attacks. I was stupid, ugly, uninformed. I didn't know anything about Hollywood, or films, or anything else for that matter.

"You write like an old person", he said. "You must be very very old and senile." (those were his exact words).


Hey, I'll give him credit for uniqueness. Of all the many insults I received during my lifetime, nobody has ever told me that I write like someone very old.

A day later I received an email from him. He said: "I looked VERY carefully at your profile photo and you're not quite as old as I thought."

Thank God I had posted a photo that was taken 300 years ago.

He then proceeded to send more emails, all  filled with his initial venom and negativity.

I finally sent a brief reply:
"Your unwholesome obsession with me indicates that you might have a crush. You're wasting your time. I'm not interested in idiots or assholes."

I never heard from him again. 


I have more personal examples but I'll skip them because nobody likes to read a long blog post - - even when it's good (*sarcastic smile inserted here*)