Sunday, January 10, 2016

THE LONG INTERVIEW - PART ONE





In 2014, I was interviewed by Douglas Elliot, a friend of mine who is an editor in Los Angeles. The interview took place in a hotel room in Lubbock, Texas (I was living in Texas at the time). This was one of a series of interviews that the editor was doing for an upcoming publication, which was about the lives of various writers and musicians that he knew.

I posted excerpts of this interview in my old blog Lone Star Concerto. I've decided to re-post it here for those who haven't read it. This rash decision might be a great disservice to myself, but - as a blogger - my life is pretty much an open book.

This is only part one of a very lengthy interview. Part two contains more intimate information. I'll post that next time, if I can summon the courage..... 

I hadn't realized how EXCRUCIATINGLY long this is! You have my humble appreciation (and sympathy) if you read all of it.


Interviewer:
How would you describe yourself?

Jon:
That's a tall order for a first question. Complex, many-faceted, enigmatic, diverse, an intricate network of contradictions and complications. Passionate, sentimental, notoriously sensitive. Moody. I'm definitely not an intellect but I can admirably fake it on occasion. I'm an extremely private person. Except when I submit to interviews, of course.

How old are you?

Old enough to know better than to answer rude questions. I've probably had more birthdays than Methuselah. In dog years I'm 205, give or take. Let's put it this way: I'm older than Justin Bieber, younger than David Cassidy. If you've never heard of David Cassidy, you're too young to be conducting this interview.

Where are you from originally?

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. My parents moved to Southern California when I was five and I lived there for nearly thirty years. Best years of my life.

What is your heritage or ancestry?

I'm 100% Hungarian, with extreme diversity along the Magyar line. My mother's ancestors were of royal blood - no bullshit, it's true. My father's were traditional gypsies.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Survival. My ability to survive a lifetime of  adversities and a myriad of incredibly bad times. I astonish myself at the fact that I'm still alive and still maintain a semblance of sanity.

Would you care to elaborate?

No. The negative aspects of my life are far too numerous and complex to reveal in one interview. The extreme abuse that I endured from my father was an obstacle that took nearly a lifetime to overcome. The self-destructive abuse that I later inflicted upon myself was even more detrimental.

What are the negative aspects of yourself?

How much time do we have? I'm mercilessly self-critical. I can't handle criticism of any kind. In the past I harbored an enormous amount of self-hate. I'm almost pathologically self-conscious. I'm not exactly shy, but I'm an introvert. I can be somewhat selfish, which stems - I'm sure - from being an only child. I never had to share, never had to compromise. I'm not articulate, I'm often tongue-tied (hard to believe but true). I'm far too modest about my own self-worth. I'm often not demonstrative enough.

What are your positive aspects?

Humility. Rationality. Compassion. Honesty. Self-reliance.

Your talents?

I have a few. My musical abilities and my knack for writing. I'm a damn good pianist. I'm a good writer. I'm a mediocre artist. I'm mercilessly artistic and indefatigably creative. It's my blissful damnation.

What things give you the most pleasure?

Books, reading. Reading has always been the greatest pleasure of my life. Music and writing are a close second. Absorbing knowledge. Peace and tranquility are great pleasures, but almost unattainable ones.
And sex, of course - although it's not as much of an obsessive priority as it used to be.

What are your sexual preferences? Are you gay?

Wow - we're quickly getting to the nitty-gritty, aren't we? I'm extremely sexual and sensual. And open-minded. I loathe labels or out-of-the-closet pronouncements. What we do in our private boudoirs is our own business. I used to be extremely promiscuous and experimental. I've done it all. I've had sex with women. I've had far more sex with men. My predilection for the male species is, perhaps, an established fact.

Ever been in love?

Love is very often mistaken for lust or infatuation. I've been in love numerous times and I've been infatuated more times than I'd ever care to remember. I've experienced one great, monumental, absolutely perfect love in my life - - the kind of love that most people only dream of but never attain. It was a love beyond perfection. Unfortunately, that person is now dead. The best things in life are always taken from us quickly. And mercilessly.

Ever use drugs?

What a switch! In my youth, in California. But I haven't touched them in thirty years, at least. Never liked drugs, mainly because I was a hypochondriac with a vivid imagination. I've had some bad experiences with drugs. I mainly used the Mickey Mouse things that were in vogue when I lived in Hollywood. Marijuana, hashish, quaaludes, amyl, butyl nitrite, various uppers and downers. I wasn't into acid or speed. Drugs of any kind never agreed with me and I don't endorse them.

Are you an alcoholic?

I've been seriously dependent on alcohol ever since I was about twenty, but I've never been addicted. When I stop cold turkey I never crave it, never even think about it. Weird but true. Presently, I haven't had a drink in well over a month. No sweat. I don't miss it. My sole reason for consuming alcohol has always been for courage and self-confidence. I could have never lived my wild, uninhibited Hollywood lifestyle without it. I like myself better when I'm drunk. The world looks better. The massive tribulations of life are easier to cope with when I'm soused



Describe your education.

Rumors of my education have been greatly exaggerated. I attended first grade at Rutger's Prep, a posh, private preparatory school in New Jersey. I was only four years old. My mother taught me to play the piano when I was ten. She was my first music teacher and remained my most valuable critic and mentor.

I studied the piano privately with some of the best teachers in the country - - including Geza Wolf, who was the former conductor of the Belgrade Opera Orchestra in Yugoslavia, and A. Thomas Talbert, who was a concert pianist and close friend of Van Cliburn.

I had several years of college, which I utilized mostly to advance my professional musical endeavors. I studied piano, composition, and conducting in college.

 I'm also largely and proudly self-taught. I've never embraced the meaningless exploitation of fancy degrees or educational pedigrees. They mean absolutely nothing to me.

What have you learned foremost - through education or through life in general?

Never take yourself too seriously. If you do, you'll be lost in the narrow trap of self-absorption. I can't tolerate seriously-minded self-proclaimed sophisticates. I loathe the arrogant, pompous intellectual elite.

Would you ever consider marriage or a live-in companion?

At this late stage of the game? Hell, no. I'm fiercely independent. I can cook, clean house, do windows and laundry, and wash dishes. I can do repairs, home improvements, yard work, and general maintenance. I can overhaul an engine and perform etudes by Scriabin on the piano. I'm very versatile. I enjoy my own company. I'm certainly not a misanthrope, but - unlike most people - I've never needed another person in order to feel whole.

What aspects of life have brought you the most satisfaction?

My artistic endeavors. Music. The piano. Performing. The incredible people whom I've had the privilege of knowing in the arts and entertainment industry. Writing. Having my humble works published. Writing is a powerful catharsis and my personal sanctuary. Reading, learning, absorbing knowledge.

Any regrets?

I have more regrets than I would ever care to remember or confess. My life is filled with mistakes, bad choices, detrimental endeavors, idle absurdities, wasted time, and ample thoughtlessness. Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to realize how precious life really is. Our existence is unnervingly fleeting, transient.

Any mottos or words of wisdom?

Be yourself. Never compromise your true identity or ambitions. Think carefully before you speak. Think even more carefully before putting anything in writing. Remember that anger and hate are self-consuming. Be persistent but patient. Be gentle. Learn from mistakes. Listen carefully, absorb.

The Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions, said  "Always go forward and never turn back." I like that.

What are you views on politics?

I loathe politics and I distrust politicians.

Do you have a political affiliation or preference?

I never voted in my entire life, never will. I never fell for the air-fluffed, mind-altering, Marxist liberal agenda. And I'm certainly not a staunch conservative. The Republican Party, as we once knew it, has completely fallen apart and is - in my opinion - permanently disbanded. Republican politicians are afraid  of saying truths that might be deemed offensive. Afraid of defending our Constitution.

The fairy tale concept of political correctness and affirmative action have completely destroyed our country. Life isn't fair and there's no way possible that we can all be equal. It's a lovely, fanciful thought, but also an alarmingly destructive one. Our inept, indifferent, arrogant, narcissistic leaders have managed to put the final nails in America's coffin.

(I've censored a large part of my answer because I don't want to offend anyone. I abhor self-censorship - - but I'm considerate).

What are your views on religion?

Organized religion, throughout history, has done much more harm than good. Too much religion has a subtle but uncanny way of devouring and often destroying people.

Care to elaborate?

The original concept of religion has been misused and abused over the centuries. The original intent has largely been lost - through greed, power, ignorance, and the merciless twisting of the scriptures. I'm certainly not sacrilegious. We all need faith and the reassurance that a Divine power exists. If you have no religious convictions, if you don't believe in a power greater than yourself, then you have absolutely nothing. I wouldn't profess to be that arrogant. Let's bring back the undiluted purity of the concept of spirituality. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in God, a Divine Creator, but there are many times when I simply don't understand Him.

Incidentally, I don't believe in the concept of Hell. Hell is what we endure here on earth.

What are your biggest fears?

Old age, sickness, poverty, isolation, death. Inevitable extinction. It's difficult to comprehend. And interviews, of course.

How would you like to be remembered?

Remembered? Heck, I'm not quite dead yet - - although there are many times when I have to keep reminding myself I'm still among the living. I'd like to be remembered fondly, with kindness and compassion. I'd hate to think of someone saying "I'm glad the bastard is gone."
 

The next few questions were about my life in Texas and the extreme amount of problems and bad luck that I had there. Since I no longer live there, I've omitted the Texas segment from this post.


Interviewer:
I have a few innocuous questions.

Jon:
Lay them on me.

You are a musician. Who are your favorite composers and/or musical groups or performers?

As a musician, I tend to favor whatever composer I'm performing at the time. Some of my favorite classical composers are (in no particular order) Mozart, Scriabin, Dvorak, Smetena, Lyapunov, Puccini, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Chopin. And, of course, Beethoven.

Non-classical groups? King Crimson, the Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, Pink Floyd (this proves how archaic I am). Jane Olivor. Enya. The Celtic Woman. Oh, yea, and Lana Del Ray - does that make me a masochist?
I once had a crush on Chris Isaak. Maybe I still do.

Favorite foods?

Are you kidding? I'll eat almost anything but sushi. I'm a junk food connoisseur. Pizza. Fish and chips. Anything Italian, Mexican, Hungarian, or German. Sea food.
I'm definitely not into fancy cuisine - like quail beaks with carrot curls. I want a side of beef with a pound of potatoes.

Favorite colors?

Various shades of blue. I'm a blue boy. Or yellow. I also love earth-tones and autumnal colors - - russet, peach, amber, subtle orange and gold, dashes of crimson, and the like.

Favorite flowers?

Gardenias, above all else. White roses. Honeysuckle. I'm pro-flower, pro-nature.

Any final words?

Sounds like I'm going to be executed. I've said far too much already and have perhaps overstayed my welcome. I'll quote the final words of Isadora Duncan - before that scarf and the Bugatti launched her into oblivion -
Adieu, mes amis. Je vais a la gloire.


Note:
I'm still debating whether or not to post part two.....














15 comments:

  1. Pretty interesting stuff.

    I, myself, started piano lessons at 5, but quit when I could no longer 'fake it,' that is, copying my teacher.

    My piano teacher was my neighbor friend's Mom. She graduated from the Paris Conservatory, where she studied with Arthur Rubenstein...pretty heady woman.

    I went on to become a fairly accomplished clarinetist, but haven't touched a horn in 35 years or so. Now I mostly bang on the piano and guitar.

    I, too, drink too much, so we have a couple of things in common.

    :-)

    -Andy

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    1. I've always had a big problem with being "forced" to obey a piano teacher's artistic whims or adhere to his/or her personal style of playing. I was a difficult student and seldom did as I was told. I used to be an accompanist for a clarinetist - it's a beautiful instrument.

      Hell, drinking makes it all worth while......

      Delete
  2. Most interesting. Fascinating actually. You certainly seem to have sailed through that interview - most articulate. Can't wait for the next part.

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    Replies
    1. I've never thought of myself as articulate, so I appreciate your kind assessment. My biggest fear is that I'm boring everyone with too much of myself - - but I will probably be brash and post part two.

      Delete
  3. Cor blimey! Pretty detailed, not to say DEEP, stuff! Don't know where to start commenting. But here's one from offstage:-
    I used to think that 'fish and chips' was as English as John Bull, such that I didn't think that anyone not from these shores would know what the term meant - or if they did, an American would say 'fish and fries, which has a more pleasing alliterative sound. I say "used to think" because Stan Laurel uses the phrase in one of the L & H films (I forget which) and Ollie takes it up in a manner which suggests that he DOES know what's being referred to. Is it a widely recognised expression in the U.S?
    Pretty inconsequential as compared to all the rest of the interview - Part I, but I only mention it to make some sort of modest inroad into all what you've said which precedes that trivial phrase.
    I'll see if I can find something a little more challenging about your Part II.

    Btw: I've been trying to recognise the music in your header photo. At first I thought that because of the preponderance of treble clef on this page it might be just the right hand of a duet piece; but then I see that when in the bass bars they hand is required to go low down the keyboard. And I can't quite make out whether it's one or two sharps in the key signature - so G major/E minor or D major/B minor. What seems to be the absence of a sharpened leading note leads me to think it's a major key work. Sorry to go on at length but, as you can gather, I'm intrigued. (I daren't attempt to play it myself because of Mr Nasty downstairs!)

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    1. In second line of my 'btw' above, of course I don't mean 'right hand' but the 'treble player'!

      Delete
    2. I'm still debating whether to post Part Two of the interview - since too much of me is probably not a good thing.
      The term "fish and chips" has been used here in the bad ol' U.S.of A. for as long as I can remember. When I was 11 or 12 years old we lived in Anaheim (California) and there was a fantastic place (called Tony's Fish Market)that had the best fish and chips I've ever tasted. My family ate there for years - - and I would still give anything to have those fish & chips again.

      As for the music on my header photo, I have no clue what it is. It almost looks like it could be something similar to Haydn, Clementi,....Mozart?? Who knows.

      I'm sorry you have to live near a Mr. Nasty. Believe me, I've known a few.

      Delete
  4. This interview has all the makings of a fine personal essay, which is an art form in itself. My compliments, Jon.

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    Replies
    1. After rereading it, I fear that it's excruciatingly long - kind of like a State of the Union address in slow motion. But I greatly appreciate your compliment.

      Delete
  5. I remember this interview! Well, most of it, anyway. Once more, I'm taken aback by your first answer/self assessment -- feeling you've the uncanny ability to peer inside my own soul.

    This is such an interesting, splendidly-written piece. This may sound silly, but I wish there was an audio accompaniment... a narrative in your own voice.

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    1. Myra, I think you're one of the few people who read the original post of this interview (I can think of about 2 or 3 others). It's probably brash for me to inflict it upon the unsuspecting public again, but it does reveal a lot about me.

      I'm wondering if an audio version would subtract from its impact....??

      Delete
  6. I enjoyed your candid post. You're much braver than I'd be. And you're very articulate and honest. I love your answers for their truthfulness to you. So refreshing. Especially your words or wisdom/advice.

    "I've never needed another person to feel whole". Love it! That puts you way ahead of some many people spiritually and emotionally.

    Can't wait for part 2. (And this shows the need for a book!). :)

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    1. Amanda, I love your vote of confidence and I appreciate your input. It's obvious that you've read it carefully. You've given me enough encouragement to post Part Two....

      Delete
  7. I'm glad you reposted this... and part two, which I read first. (I'm a rebel.) Ahhh, but now I see... and remember... that you didn't conduct this interview with yourself. It really is terrific, though. Great questions, and of course, fascinating answers.

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  8. I am back and read this too! I am really enjoying this series! I do see a lot of myself in you. I too am fiercely independent. I had one long love that lasted 14 years and we then moved on. Since then I have dated many many men, but I feel my independence will keep me from settling again....at least for now. I am glad you opened this for us to read.

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I love comments. Go ahead and leave one - I won't bite. But make sure you have a rabies shot just in case.