Sunday, August 30, 2015

MAGYAR BLOOD

 Traditional Hungarian czardas
the typical music I was raised with
(I love it)


When I was a child I had mixed feelings about my Hungarian heritage and there were times when I hated it. It seemed to be the direct responsibility for the chaos and turmoil in my life.

My father represented the unbridled, coarse, vulgar, volatile Magyar blood - - the explosive temper, the wife-beater, the child-beater, the unrelenting monster whom I feared more than any words could convey. He wasn't alone. I knew many Hungarian men like that and I associated my loathing, terror, and hate with the Hungarian race for many years.

I vividly remember the dreaded nights when my father would drag out the collection of old Hungarian records that had belonged to his father.  He'd play all of them, while guzzling beer, and he'd blast the music louder and louder as the night progressed. My Mom and I cowered like mice, hardly daring to breathe for fear of sparking his temper.

I somehow made the fatal mistake of  provoking my father's wrath. He ripped the record off the phonograph and smashed it against the wall. Those ancient 78s shattered like glass. He chased me around the house with intent to kill. I dove into my bedroom and slammed the door. He put his fist completely through the door, leaving a gaping hole. Then he kicked the door in and pummeled me until my mother - screaming hysterically - somehow managed to save me. I was eleven at the time. This was nothing unusual. It was our normal way of life. Always.

I secretly cursed him and despised all Hungarians. I hated their blaring music, their vulgar language, their very existence.

Ironically, my mother's Hungarian family was refined, soft-spoken, gentle in temperament.
There was a distinct difference between upper and lower class Hunkys. 





 My maternal grandmother's sister Maria (Mary)
in traditional Hungarian dress
(I've posted this photo before, but it's one of my favorites) 



In all fairness, I must say that both of my Hungarian grandmothers were very kind, docile, and loving.  My Dad's violence seemed to be inherited from his father.


In later years, after I had the opportunity of knowing many fascinating and wonderful Hungarian people, my attitude completely changed. I grew to love my heritage and became proud of it.

 A glimpse of my former self
in a Hungarian frame

I eventually realized that my curious psyche was a combination of both my parents. I inherited the sophisticated, intellectual, refined, introverted nature of my mother and the raw, wild, erotic, unpredictable temperament of my father. 

I harbor the traits of a true Magyar:
fervently passionate, extreme sensitivity, unpredictable moodiness, deep melancholia,  morbid sentimentality.

Both of my parents loved music and both sides of the family were musical.
A zene a lelek egy cigany.
Music is the soul of a gypsy.

Why am I writing this?
No particular reason. I suppose I'm in one of my strange Magyar moods. 

A hodgepodge of photos:



Some of my father's Budapest relatives in a Hungarian ensemble. Violin, zimbalom, clarinet (?)

My Dad's father
my paternal grandfather Jakob (James)
(yes, he had a temper) 


My grandfather James in later years
with his violin


 During the start of my magical Bohemian years
probably age twenty
(no logical reason for me to use this photo, but what the hell.....)



My mother Marie
in one of her Hungarian peasant dresses


I asked my Mom 
"Did you know that Buda and Pest were originally two different cities?"

She said
"Yes. Your father's relatives came from the pest side."

I loved her humor. 




 Gypsies!
http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com






Thursday, August 27, 2015

COACHES, MASCULINITY, AIDING AND ABETTING



 My old high school in California
looking exactly as I remember it


Got an email the other day from my dear friend Linda in California, whom I've known since high school. She sent me an article about Coach Wilkerson, who was one of the P.E. (physical education) coaches when we were in school.

Was he one of your coaches? she wanted to know.

I remembered Wilkerson. Incredibly, however, I couldn't recall if he was ever one of my coaches. I hated P.E. so thoroughly that I did my best to expunge the details from my memory. I might have been in Wilkerson's P.E. class during my sophomore year - but it's all a myopic blur (vanity prevented me from wearing my glasses).

I know for certain that Jim Beales was my P.E. coach during my junior year. And then I had Holden as a senior. Both of them were unnervingly memorable, for totally different reasons.

Coach Beales was a rough, gruff, macho-type man's man (ironic phrasing, huh?).  He was also a staunch homophobe. He persistently lectured us boys about the evils of homosexuality and the disgrace and destruction that would be instantly hurled upon us if homoerotic thoughts ever dared to cross our minds.

Let me interject by saying that  when I was in high school I was not only the biggest nerd in the entire school district, I was as pure and unblemished as the Hope Diamond. I didn't  remotely know a thing about  heterosexuality - let alone homosexuality.  I was a combination of Mother Theresa and Pope Innocent.

Ironically, only a few years later I was a slutty  ruffian on the streets of Hollywood. But that's beside the point.

Coach Beales would gather us boys together and tell harrowing tales about all the absolutely miserable and desperately unhappy homosexuals he had known. Only he called them Queers, fags, and fairies.
I recall one particularly nerve-shattering story about a guy, or a gay, that Beales knew in the Army.

"That queer was the most unhappy person I've ever known," Beales told us. "He lived in constant fear that his perversion would be discovered and he was miserable with remorse. One night he took a rope, sneaked outside after everyone was asleep, and......

.....hanged himself!!" 
 Beales eyes flashed gleefully as he said this - - and he looked directly at me.

Holy Crap! It was as if he was peering into the depths of my soul and seeing visions of what was to come.

Years later - when I had a much better perspective of reality, I wondered why the hell Coach Beales had known so many homosexuals. Was it mere coincidence, or - - - was he a closet queen?

Coach Richard Holden, in my senior year, wasn't a genuine coach at all. He was a math teacher who had unwittingly been given the task of being a P.E. coach during a lean time of an understaffed faculty.

Holden hated P.E. class as much as I did and he had sympathy for my plight. He would occasionally allow me to do work in his office instead of forcing me to "suit up" and play football or baseball outside.

In retrospect, I have no doubt that Holden also recruited me as his chosen one because I was the most naive and innocent kid in P.E. class. And probably in California.

He began sending me on secret missions to retrieve things from his car in the parking lot.  No one was allowed in the school parking lot while class was in session - so I was engaging in risky business. 

The "items" that Holden wanted were most often large bottles of soft drinks that were  stashed under the seat of the car.
After completing several of these perplexing excursions, curiosity got the better of me. I might have been innocent but I was no fool. I unscrewed the cap on one of the bottles and took a whiff. 

Zonk!!
Whiskey! Nearly straight whiskey, diluted with a little soda. I took a swig. Nice! Warm, but nice.

Now I knew why Holden so desperately wanted those bottles from the car - - and why he was so admirably able to tolerate his unwanted stint as a coach.

A few months later, Holden showed up rip-roaring drunk for his math class and was subsequently dismissed. I don't know if they ever let him teach again at our school.

I had a few misgivings about aiding and abetting an alcoholic.






MY PHOTO BLOG:

http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com 



Monday, August 24, 2015

VEHICLE TALES


I'm ready to hit the road

 

I was going through old family photo files on my desktop computer this morning and was surprised at how many photos of vehicles there were. Loads of them, from an incredible span of years. Even more amazing is the fact that each vehicle ignited special memories that I had almost forgotten. 

Narrowing these stories down to a few isn't easy, but I'll give it a shot. I'll begin with the oldest. 

The crash of 1928. I'm not talking stock market crash. I'm talking car crash.


The car was owned by my great uncle, Michael Gordon - - brother of my maternal grandmother. Michael was handsome, flamboyant, and artistic. I saw some of his drawings and paintings and they were fantastic. He'd been in the Navy during World War I. After the war he started drinking and indulging in hedonistic pursuits. Despite trying to ignore (deny?) the fact, I'm sure the whole family knew the disturbing truth......that he was.......let's whisper....gay.

One night, on a dark country road, he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree. He was seriously injured. The right side of the car was demolished. If the impact had been on the driver's side he might have been killed.

In an astonishing theory dredged up from the Dark Ages, the family claimed that Michael's eccentricities and homosexual inclinations were the result of a head injury from the accident.

Wham!
Hit his head. 
Woke up the next day with a strange craving for lilacs and Oscar Wilde witticisms.

It was a unanimous family assertion that Mike was "never quite the same" after the accident. He became somewhat of a black sheep and his name was mentioned only in whispers of disdain. 

I never met Uncle Mike but I would have liked to. I have a feeling we might have had a lot in common.



This is a rather unflattering photo of my Mom, because she was pregnant with me - - but it's the only photo I have of this particular vehicle.
Anybody happen to know the make or year?

My mother told this story numerous times and it has always stuck in my mind.

It seems that my father bought this vehicle solely because he got a good deal on it. He initially never divulged to my mother exactly where he got it.

In the months before I was born, my father was working at the Metallo Gasket Co. in New Brunswick, New Jersey (incredibly, it's still in existence). He worked the night shift, and my Mom had to drive there every night to pick him up at midnight.

The route she had to take was a dark, completely deserted country road. The most unnerving part about it was that she had to go past an old graveyard.

Mom recalled one particular night when it was so foggy that she literally had to drive at a snail's pace, inch by inch. When she finally got near the factory Dad was outside whistling for her. She kept shouting and he kept whistling until they finally saw each other.

My mother always hated the vehicle that she had to drive. She described it as a creepy old clunker that had a peculiar smell inside. A ghastly feeling came over her every time she drove it.

It wasn't until much later that she discovered the origin of the vehicle. It was originally owned by a funeral parlor mortician, and he used it to haul corpses. It was a Corpsemobile!

I have no doubt whatsoever that my father knew this before he bought it.




Dad with Pontiac

 When I was in my early 20's in California, my parents had five or six vehicles. One of them was a Pontiac Catalina. My father had to take it to an automotive shop for some minor maintenance. He dropped it off there very early in the morning - before the shop opened - and left the key in the ignition. It was a foolish gamble, but he knew the owner of the place and had done the same procedure before.

I was living in Hollywood at the time. That morning, as usual, I turned on the  radio to hear the news. During the traffic report segment, there was a breaking bulletin:
A high-speed chase between police and a stolen vehicle on the 405 Freeway just ended in a fiery crash. The driver of the stolen vehicle was killed on impact.

I didn't think much about it until later when I learned the full story. My father's Pontiac Catalina had been stolen from the automotive shop that morning - along with another vehicle  (by two different thieves). The other vehicle is the one that crashed on the 405 - and the thief was killed.

My father's Pontiac Catalina was stolen by a couple of teenagers. A few days later my parents got a call from the police in Page, Arizona. The teens went to their aunt's home in Page. The aunt immediately got suspicious of the car and called the police.

My parents had to drive to Arizona to pick up their stolen car. It was filled with the teenager's possessions. The cops told my parents that they could do whatever they wanted with the stuff in the car. Dad drove to a local dumpster and threw everything away. Then he had the car washed.

I wasn't there. I heard the story from my Mom.

I have lots of other vehicle tales to tell but I'll spare you. Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure.



 I was only two years old when my parents took a trip from New Jersey to Arizona in this old contraption. I think it was a Chevy. I know it was blue. Incredibly, I remember a lot about that journey. 
In the Texas panhandle, in the middle of the night, a fuse burned out and we were without headlights. We eventually encountered some workers from an oil field. They gave my father some tinfoil as a temporary fix for the fuse.
Don't ask me how that worked - but it's what I remember.




My father in his Willys Jeep. I don't know the year - possibly 1948? This is the vehicle that my parents used when they eloped. He later bought a Willys car.


 Mom, me, and 1962 Ford Falcon. I look kinda bow-legged because a bee had stung my right foot and I was trying to keep my weight off it.


Mom & Falcon several years later. That's the car in which I learned to drive. 

 Our 1965 Cadillac. My father got into an accident the day he bought it. Someone failed to stop at a stop sign and rammed into the front fender. It looked as good as new after it was repaired. That was a great car.

This post is much too long. I'd better stop before everybody falls asleep at the wheel.





Hunks in History
a new post on my photo blog.
Famous hot guys from the past. 

http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com 






 









Thursday, August 20, 2015

MY MOTHER THE ACTRESS



Oscar-winning documentary film maker Leo Seltzer, taken at the time when he was making a promotional film with my mother.


I've never had the slightest desire to be an actor, nor did I ever want to be famous. That's probably the biggest thing that set me apart from many of the people I knew in Hollywood. Egotism is rampant in Tinseltown. Everybody has an all-consuming desire to be somebody. Clawing ones way to the often unattainable "top" is a way of life and narcissism reigns supreme.

My goals were neither lofty nor unrealistic. I was a silent observer, retaining the adventures that unfolded around me and filing them away in my memory bank for future use. I knew some famous actors. And I knew even more infamous ones. I was on numerous movie sets, thanks to the influence of people that I knew. I appeared as an extra in a handful of movies (some of them were legitimate) and TV shows. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Malibu Beach, Blue Tide,
.......The Dune Boys of Fire Island.......
Wait a minute - - I'm embarrassing myself.

Long before Hollywood, when I was a reasonably innocent teen, I was in a community theater production of West Side Story. A very minor part. I was one of the Jets. One of the lesser Jets.

When I was a young child in New Jersey (we moved to California when I was five) my mother had a brief brush with acting. She worked for Child and Family Services, which was a psychiatric and counseling bureau that specialized in family therapy. The bureau was well-known and had some very prominent clients. 

Actually, it was bitterly ironic that my Mom worked there, since she endured so many serious personal problems with my father's violence and abuse.

The company was in the process of expanding nation-wide and wanted to make a promotional film to advertise their services. The film would be about a married couple who was on the verge of divorce due to emotional conflicts.

  My mother was asked to be the leading actress in the film. She agreed, even though she had no desire to be in the limelight.  The man who portrayed her husband in the film was a young social worker named Leo Denno. In real life, Leo Denno was the son of Wilfred Denno, who at that time was the warden of Sing Sing Prison in New York.

Note: Wilfred Luis Denno was the warden of Sing Sing from 1950-1967.

The producers initially considered using me as the couple's child in the film, but decided that I was too young. They hired an eight-year-old girl instead. I honestly don't remember my exact age at the time, but I was probably around four - definitely no older.



Me, too young to be an actor.
I missed my big break.....



The director of the film was Leo Seltzer (1910-2007).  Seltzer was a well-known documentary film producer. He had won an Oscar in 1947 for his documentary film First Steps. Later, he served as cinema-biographer for President Kennedy in the White House.

I have vague recollections of Seltzer directing some scenes with my mother. Indoor scenes were shot in a studio, and the outdoor scenes were filmed at Buccleuch Park, in New Brunswick.  Seltzer also took me and my Mom with him when they were recording special sound effects for the film. I remember him showing me some of the interesting ways that the sounds were created. 





My mother Marie



I saw the premiere of the film with my parents at some sort of promotional event, but my recollection is hazy at best. The film was in color.  I remember one particular scene where my mother is in the kitchen, arguing with her husband. It was unnervingly realistic and Mom's acting was convincing. This was undoubtedly because she had so much practice when she and my father argued at home.

This was only a promotional film for Child and Family Services, but I later heard that it was shown in theaters nation-wide. As a young child, the entire filming process had little meaning to me. It was interesting but not particularly significant. I wish I had been older so I could have absorbed more. 

Director Leo Seltzer made over sixty films during a career that spanned fifty years. Being extremely independent, he tended to avoid the trappings and limitations of Hollywood. Seltzer was 97 when he passed away in New York.  I would have liked to talk to him and discuss his recollections of that long-ago film project in New Jersey.

My mother seldom spoke about the film after it was made - at least I can't remember her doing so.  She was always humble and unpretentious, and - like myself - never had any acting aspirations.







 MY PHOTO BLOG




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

OBSERVATIONS, ANSWERS, HOT NAKED POETRY






Observations 

My previous blog post Love Letters to Ghosts got the least amount of views and comments out of all the posts I've ever written. It might have had something to do with the bland title. It definitely had to do with the unappealing subject matter.

On second thought, the title is not bland.....

Many people are frightened by the subject of poetry and tend to run in the opposite direction when confronted with it. Others become bewildered and simply don't know what to say.

And I'm sure some people have intensely odious flashbacks of being forced to read Byron when they were in high school.

I'm inclined to suggest the idea of having naked poetry readings. With free wine. No nudity on the part of the poet. Only naked audiences.

An aside:
I only added Hot Naked Poetry in my current blog title as a cheap ploy to see if it would generate more interest.

Don't forget my poetry book on Amazon. The Look Inside preview has finally been activated.




Answers

I'm now going to answer the eleven questions that Myra has submitted in her most recent blog post. Here's the link:

http://mevely317.blogspot.com/2015/nominated.html 

I love answering questions, as long as they're not annoyingly personal.
These are the kinds of questions I hate:

How old are you?
Rumors that I was at Appomattox during General Lee's surrender are greatly exaggerated. I was, in fact, in Richmond.
 
Are you gay?
Let's have a few drinks tonight and we'll find out.

Have you ever killed anyone?
I'm considering it.
 



Here are Myra's eleven questions:

1.  If you could have chosen your own first name, what would it be?

That's a tough one because I'm never satisfied and would always regret whatever I had chosen. One thing is certain, I NEVER wanted to be a "junior" - especially since I loathed my father. When I got out of high school I legally changed my name from John Jr. to Jonathan.
My mother wanted to name me Paul - - heaven knows why. Possibly for the Apostle Paul?? I think my maternal grandfather had a brother named Paul.
How about Branwell? Or the Hungarian Zoltan? 

2.  Everyone's heard of "The Apprentice."  If you could apprentice under anyone in the world for one year, who would that be?


Strangely enough, there isn't anyone with whom I'd want to be an apprentice. I'm too independent. And stubborn.


3.  What is one vacation destination that many people think is just fab, but which you have no desire to visit (or re-visit)?


I am tired of hearing incessant, nauseating raves about Hawaii. I'm not a tropical-type person. I loathe hula, poi, and leis. Besides, I'm scared of islands and volcanoes.


4.  Considering all the big-screen movies you've ever seen, which one do you believe has had the greatest emotional impact on you?


Wow, I'm a passionate movie lover and have been emotionally charged by many of them. I think some of the ones that I saw at an early age (early teens) impacted me the most. I was profoundly moved by The Pawnbroker, The Virgin Spring, Two Women, Ballad of a Soldier (a Russian film), Zita (a French film), and...believe it or not....The Bad Seed. There are many others.

5.  If you were to rank the four seasons - as you know them - in order of your favorite to your least favorite, how would the seasons be ranked?


As a child I loved summer. Now I dislike it. Next to winter - - which I despise.
I love the transitional seasons, autumn and spring.
Autumn is my absolute favorite season. I have an autumnal soul

6.  What song has the power to bring you to tears faster than any other?


I can immediately think of two - The Beautiful Isle of Somewhere and the hymn entitled He (He Can Turn the Tides).

7.  If you could have any view in the world visible from your bed, what would it be?


Impossible to decide. Hey, how about the Grand Canyon?

8.  If you had to name a smell that always makes you nostalgic, what would it be?


The scent of Gardenias. And perhaps sandalwood after-shave.

9.  If you had to pick the TV personality you were most in love with as a kid, who would it be?


I was crazy about Popeye cartoons. In retrospect, good Gawd - I have no idea why.

10.  If were were to have 3 new baby daughters, what would you name them?


Kyra, Mariah, Sasha
....don't ask why....it's all I could come up with....

11.  In terms of the actual time (e.g., 5:00PM) what is generally your favorite time of the day?


Midnight - - the end of one day, the beginning of another....the witching hour, a time of peace, solitude, dreams.



* * *


A new post on my photo blog
HOLLYWOOD, IN COLOR



Sunday, August 16, 2015

LOVE LETTERS TO GHOSTS




I've been dreading this post for a long time, simply because I am adamantly against self-promotion.

Despite the faux brashness that I sometimes  project on my blog, my desire to indulge in blatant egotism is non-existent (or nearly non-existent).

It is with genuine humility that I'm announcing the second edition publication of my poetry book Love Letters to Ghosts. It should be available on Amazon sometime next week (it's presently on their Coming Soon list).

Love Letters to Ghosts was originally published about four years ago. I decided that an update was necessary, to make minor revisions and to add eight more poems. The new volume contains 54 poems and 112 pages.

No Kindle edition is yet available but it probably will be at a later date (although I personally dislike e-books, especially for poetry).

About 95% of the poems have been previously published, during that distant time in my life when dark drama and youthful romanticism invaded my sensibilities. I seldom write poetry now, although a future volume is not completely out of the question.

These poems are resurrected laments of my past: the haunted memories of lost loves, lost lives, and distant places that I once knew.

I'm certain that my poetic style will not be appreciated by everyone. As stated in the introduction:

Much of my poetry is composed in minor keys: melancholy, sentimental, somber. They are often tainted nocturnes of lonely midnight streets and one night stands.

If I had to critique my own poems with absolute honesty, I'd have to say that there is a bland sameness about them with little variety of style - - yet it is my genuine voice, so I'm reluctant to apologize.

I designed the cover myself, which was a maddening endeavor - - since I had to try dozens of images before getting one with the perfect visual texture and resolution. I'm no graphic artist.

After viewing an incredible amount of published poetry book covers, I was determined not to use the usual trees, sunsets, flowers, or puppy dogs. A fragile cobweb was more suited to my literary intentions.


I soon plan to revise my book Notes From the Midst of December, which deals with the subject of death, loss, grieving, and the final three weeks of my mother's life. This book has been previously published in a private edition, but it needs a revision before ever being publicly released. Problem is, the entire heavy subject is too emotionally taxing for me to deal with.

More than anything, I want to complete my memoir as soon as possible (untitled as yet). This will be a raw, honest, lengthy, unapologetic account of my turbulent life - -
actually a bold, self-sacrificial endeavor in which I will cut veins and offer my blood.



Sample poems from Love Letters to Ghosts

(Sacraments is one of the early poems, written when I was 21)




SACRAMENTS

You have not given your blessings here.
They are singing on the steps of the altar,
Breeding darkly through weary confessionals.
This morning I accepted your finger on my tongue

And the bread lingered there like a lie.
All the while the room grieved in silence
And your face was masked with that of a saint.


Tonight you are whispering a litany of words
That shimmer like candles in the alcoves,
Words that burn only for me and my possibilities.
The silence around us echoes.
Muted ghosts are kneeling in empty pews.


The heavens have become a burden.
Outside the night is trembling
In the wake of thunder washed ripe with rain.
It is too easy to become intoxicated
With the numbing wine of your words
The sweetness of your tongue
The voiceless music of our embrace.
In the shadow of an altar,

In the flutter of slumbering candles,
In the presence of tear-stained saints,

We have begun our own private sacraments.





WHAT I WAS TO YOU

I will soon be an old man
that you may not remember,
a vacant ghost lingering
in all the memories you've forgotten
the photos you've lost
the letters you've discarded.
The name you once called me
is on the tip of your tongue
but your palate has other reasons
to ignore distant tastes.
The fabric of what I was
is now unclear,
the threads unravel
and the thoughts
you once perceived as absolute
have dissolved
into a percussion of uncertainties.
I will soon be a young man
on the edge of your faulty coherence.





BEING SEDUCED

It is simple at first.
The night will caress you
encourage you
whisper what you imagined
you wanted to hear.
In time she will tempt you


to taste the danger
of your desires.
You enter her possessed:
the anonymous rooms
and unwholesome haunts,
the empty womb


of hungry, desperate places
buried in neon-winking streets.
When you have exhausted
all the possibilities
she will taunt you.
Despite your protests


she will force you to retrace
the paths of her loneliness.
Soon she becomes brutal.
You suddenly wake
to find her gnawing the years
from your astonished flesh.









Note:
There's a new post on my photo blog
Cars of the 1950's

http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com 


 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

NEAR THE GHOST OF SHARON TATE


 I wrote this several years ago on my old blog Lone Star Concerto and the post (inexplicably) got nearly 4,000 views. I've decided to post it again here.

It has nothing to do with ghosts, and isn't even particularly unique - -  but I still think it's interesting and worthy of a second post, for those who've never read it.

Here it is:


 


 The house on Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hill where
I lived as a young musician. It was located very near
the house where Sharon Tate was murdered.



Everybody has heard about the Sharon Tate murders. If you haven't, look it up and you'll find plenty to read. Here's a quick recap:

In August, 1969, fledgling actress Sharon Tate was savagely murdered in her rented Beverly Hills house, along with four other people. Tate was twenty-six years old and nine months pregnant.

Her husband, movie director Roman Polanski, was in London at the time and due to arrive back in L.A. within a few days. Since Sharon didn't want to be alone during her husband's extended absence, she had invited three friends to stay with her:
Abigail Folger (the coffee heiress), Voytek Frykowski (Folger's lover), and hairdresser Jay Sebring.

A nineteen-year-old boy named Steven Parent was also murdered, simply because he happened to be visiting the caretaker of the house, who lived in a guest house on the premises. Steven Parent didn't know Sharon Tate.

The murders were committed by the  hippie cult "family" members of Charles Manson.
To say that the murders caused a mega media frenzy would be a gross understatement. Sharon Tate and Charles Manson became household names and the L.A. news media feasted on the subject for years. The Manson murder trial was undoubtedly the biggest event in Los Angeles history.



Ill- fated Sharon Tate

So why am I writing this? Because, about a decade after the murders occurred, I lived in a Beverly Hills house that was extremely close to the house where Sharon Tate was murdered.

Sharon Tate and her husband Roman Polanski

I lived on Benedict Canyon Rd. The house where the murders took place was on Cielo Drive, which was only a stone's throw away. Cielo Drive was a narrow road just off of Benedict Canyon, which wound into the nearby hills. The house where Tate and Polanski lived was secretly nestled in the hills. If you didn't know it was there, you'd never notice it.

I knew it was there, of course. I'd even heard  silly rumors about resident ghosts and bad things that happened to people who lived in the vicinity of the murder house.

It might have only been a freak coincidence that I had an auto accident on Benedict Canyon - - directly in front of the cut-off to Cielo Drive, and within walking distance to the Tate-Polanski house.
And it happened  on the 9th of August - -  the anniversary of Sharon Tate's death.


The spot on Benedict Canyon 
where my accident took place.
The 30 MPH sign is in plain view.



I'm pulling out of my driveway on Benedict Canyon late one afternoon. There's a curve in the road and the view is blocked by large juniper trees. As I slowly emerge I'm immediately hit by a speeding Ferrari. The speed limit on the Benedict Canyon curve is 30 MPH. The Ferrari was going at least 65 MPH. The force of the crash was enough to send my modest Ford spinning. 

Major damage to the driver's side of my car.
Substantial damage to the Ferrari. The driver gets out. To my surprise, it's an elderly lady with a long cigarette dangling from her Max Factor red lips. Her face-lift was dragged down with a ferocious frown.

Long story short - -
the old buzzard tried to sue me. I had to make an appearance at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. I politely presented my case, then Miz Ferrari presented hers. The judge couldn't decide what to do. After thoughtful consideration he announced that he thought we were both very nice people and he called it a "draw". Nobody won anything. To this day I still maintain that the lady was sailing at a reckless speed.

At the time I was in my early twenties. I was a musician. I wasn't Perry Mason. I probably didn't present my case with enough passion or flair.

In time I put the unpleasant incident in the distant realm of my memories - - but I always had the strange feeling that being near the Sharon Tate murder house had something to do with my accident and bad luck.
Who knows..........?

The Tate-Polanski murder house on 10050 Cielo Drive was eventually purchased and subsequently torn down. A new mansion presently stands on the spot. The infamous address has also been changed. I happen to know who purchased the property and I know the new address. I think it was wise to expunge the old address and the horrible ghosts of memories.


An unrelated side note:
this was around the time when I used to frequent the Beverly Hills Hotel. I hold the honor of having been kicked out of the famous Polo Lounge twice. Once for being drunk. Once for wearing a cowboy hat.
Ironically, I played the piano at the Beverly Hills Hotel on several occasions.

So much for my (fairly) interesting Beverly Hills days.........


The house on Cielo Drive where the murders occurred in 1969.
It has since been torn down.