Thursday, June 30, 2016

FAREWELL TO JUNE



 Sunrise today, with morning fog


Many thanks to everyone who appreciated my previous post, Wild Ride. And thanks to everyone who didn't appreciate it. What the heck - - I'm in a rare good mood today.

There's something that has been bothering me about my previous post. It has to do with the part where I said that Nancy and I removed the back seat of the Camaro through the trunk of the car. It didn't make any sense to me.

The incident happened long ago, when we were teens. My memory has since been clouded by booze and hard living. After I posted the story on my blog I kept thinking about it.
Then! Suddenly! Last night at around 3:00 a.m. I remembered!

My cousin Nancy didn't lock her keys in the car. She locked them in the trunk! We removed the back seat to get into the trunk.
Note: I just revised Wild Ride and made the correction.


I happened to stop over at Nancy's house today and she mentioned my blog and confirmed the back seat incident. She also said that the guy who worked at the stables helped us with our effort to remove the seat.

I've always kept very detailed diaries, and I also wrote down all of my youthful adventures with Nancy in a notebook. Unfortunately, these were all lost by the movers when I came to Tennessee.  Now I only have my rapidly deteriorating memory to rely on.

The past few days have been gorgeous - - but rain is predicted for the weekend, Independence Day (Monday), and most of next week. It's no exaggeration when I always say that Tennessee is the most rainy place I've ever been. That's why I've given up on maintaining the weeds. They would have to be cut at least three times a week. My feeble efforts are constantly thwarted by torrential downpours.

I drove into town today to buy some necessities before the chaos of the upcoming holiday weekend. Everything went alarmingly smoothly, which makes me suspicious. As an avowed pessimist, I always worry when things go well. It's not normal.

But, as usual, I did forget one thing on my list of supplies. I got beer and cat food, toilet paper and cat litter, milk, bread, even a watermelon.....

.....but I forgot to get lemon juice, which I desperately need.

Why don't you just use fresh lemons, Jon?

Hey, Pancho - - did you ever try to find a fresh lemon in rural Tennessee? It's easier to find a Gay Pride Parade. Besides, I'm not in the mood to cut and squeeze anything. Who do you think I am - Julia Child?

My entire life revolves around a large bottle of lemon juice, reconstituted (whatever that means).
Well, that and a keg of beer.
I drank a few beers today to mellow out. 

My cousin Nancy's daughter moved back in with her for awhile. Nancy's daughter is a parrot connoisseur. I'm not joking. She moved her entire pandemonium of parrots into my cousin's house.
I'm almost positive that a group of parrots is called a pandemonium of parrots. In any case, any large number of parrots can definitely cause pandemonium.....

Anyway, I counted about seven parrots - all beautiful birds in huge, gorgeous cages: cockatoos, cockatiels, a macaw, a Senegal.
I recognized the Senegal immediately because I used to have one. It lived twenty years....and then had a tragic, accidental death. It still upsets me to think of it. Someday, I might write about it.  

The parrots are all fantastic - - but my cousin Nancy is a much more tolerant soul than I am. My three cats are enough to drive me to the brink of bonkers. 

Living with a pandemonium of parrots could turn a vegetarian into a killer and a meat eater.

Ponder that for awhile. It might get funny. Then again, maybe it won't.

Farewell to June??
Yup. Tomorrow is July.    



Monday, June 27, 2016

SELF-PORTRAIT




A postscript to my previous post:
Now that I'm sober, I've assessed my previous blog post and have some misgivings about writing it. There are times when I think I'm hysterically funny and in retrospect I'm probably not.

There are also times when I come across as being arrogant, rude, and full of myself (as my critics have pointed out). I've bitched about the people who have abandoned my blog - - yet, some of them probably had plausible reason for leaving. Not everyone understands or appreciates my unique and enigmatic personality (and "unique" doesn't always mean good).

On a positive note, my previous post enabled me to reconnect with the guy in Montana, and (as I had already surmised) he's a very decent dude. My criticism of him was harsh and - although it was done in jest -  might have been over the top.

And I reconnected with someone else, who I always knew deep down was a genuine sweetheart.

Much of what I write on my blog is definitely over the top. Everything I write is genuine and from my heart (yes, I have one) but my words sometimes have dangerously sharp edges. Many unsuspecting strangers don't understand me - or my caustic humor. I can't blame them.

Does this mean I'm going to change and turn over a new leaf? Hell, no. Not a chance. What you see is what you get. My only regret is that some people don't "get it".

As I've said many previous times, this blog is one of the few places where I can be myself and say what I think. I've spent the best part of my life catering to others and bending over backwards to please. It didn't get me anywhere - - and it didn't make people have any more respect for me. I'm finally being true to myself.

I learned at an early age to feign toughness and to wear a mask of defiance and defense. I assumed an attitude of hurting others before they hurt me. 

I'm not fond of using excuses or giving sob stories of heartbreak and victimization, but I will say this:
I survived the agony of an abusive father who beat the living shit out of me and delighted in tearing my confidence to shreds. He nearly destroyed my life - and later I continued destroying it myself.

I survived the streets of L.A. and Hollywood, where I learned to wear a mask of toughness and indifference that was in complete contrast to my genuine self. 

I embarked on a long dark journey of rampant self-destruction, self-hatred, and the  solace of sex, alcohol, and other devices of escape. Later (and astonishingly) my work as a published writer and professional pianist did absolutely nothing to buoy my confidence.

My adverse reaction to criticism has always been my very greatest weakness. Actually, I can tolerate constructive criticism, but let's face it - 95% of all criticism is intended to hurt.

After enduring a lifetime of ruthlessly devastating criticism from my father, my initial reaction is to lash out in fury and fierce defense. My underlying vulnerability is intense - - a wound that never healed.

Perhaps my over the top reaction to people who abandoned my blog stems from ancient ghosts that continue to haunt me. Abandonment. Rejection. Ridicule, criticism, indifference.
Life - and the impact it has on us - works in very strange ways.

I'm not a philosopher or a psychiatrist. The older I get, the less I understand.
I only know that - for better or worse - my words are always a reflection of myself. I enjoy writing them - and it's satisfying to know that you accept them
and sometimes enjoy them
or at least tolerate them.  

Jon 

  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

AN ODE TO THOSE WHO LEFT ME







Warning: this post was written while I was drunk and might be offensive to sober people.

 Is this going to be about your ex-lovers, Jon?

No, Kemo Sabe. If I ever wrote about my ex-lovers it would easily be a 10,000 page manifesto. This is an ode to all the readers who abandoned my blog.

You've already done that subject to death, Jonathan. It's old news. Nobody cares.

The subject entertains me and irritates my readers. What more could I ask for? Besides, I just drank two or six beers and can feel a sudden burst of literary inspiration.
Or maybe it's only gastroesophagal reflux.

Anyway, it's no secret that within the past few months numerous readers have abandoned my blog (for trivial and petty reasons, but that's beside the point).

Since nearly all of these disgruntled ex-patriots still leave comments on other blogs that I frequent, I'm wondering if there is any special form of blogging etiquette on how I should handle the awkward situation.

No entiendo, senor.

To put it bluntly, I feel very uncomfortable leaving comments on blogs that are frequented by people who hate me. Should I expound?

Not really.

There's one particular lady who's comment addicted. She leaves comments on every blog I've ever seen.  She's generally a sweet, loving, considerate person - and she used to be a faithful reader of my blog, until I happened to mention my disdain for Hillary Clinton. 

This must have coincided with a menopausal chemical imbalance or something, because she completely freaked, lashed out with the fury of a tigress, and dropped me like a newly microwaved burrito.

Problem is - every time I leave a comment on someone's blog, her comment always pops up right next to mine. It's an uncanny coincidence. I've tried leaving comments on blogs that  she doesn't read, in order to avoid her. But - no matter where I go - her comments inevitably appear simultaneously with mine. It's spooky. Should I stop leaving comments on all blogs?

Why don't you just chill out and ignore her, Jon? She probably doesn't even remember you. Few people do.

I'm going to politely ignore that snide remark.

Then there's the old European lady who's a "serious" writer (or so she claims) and a tedious stuffed shirt. She could be Queen Victoria's evil reincarnation. This old broad used to like my blog and occasionally (and reluctantly, I think) admitted that I had an uncanny ability to toss words together. Then one day I wrote a political rant which caused her to go ballistic. She finally found her true tongue and used it to lash me soundly.

After inflicting an enthusiastic chastisement, she told me that I was extremely rude and completely insensitive to people.....and advised me (I am NOT kidding) to take sensitivity training classes!!

I'll have you know that "Sensitivity" is my middle name. I am extremely  compassionate, caring, loving, sympathetic, and wholeheartedly sensitive to the feelings of others. And I'm always tactful.

What did I have to say to her?

Blow it out your ass, grandma!!



 Rats fleeing my blog


I think everybody in Blogland knows about that old man who lives in the desert. He's a blogger and he hates EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING (should "every thing" be one word or two??). 

He's constantly bitching about other people's blogs. When he started following my blog I was admittedly very worried. If this guy hated normal people's blogs, what the hell would he think of mine?

In all my years of blogging I've never felt intimidated by a reader. This old cougar scared the living japoozies out of me. I was afraid to write anything.

I just made "japoozies" up. Nothing racial or radical is intended.

When he bluntly informed me that he hates poetry and complaints, I totally panicked. Holy shit - - my entire life consists of poetry and complaints.
He finally abandoned me - - and I breathed an extended sigh of immense relief.
The desert heat does strange things.....

And how about that man from Montana? He has health problems, but - what the hell - so do I. That doesn't give me the right to trash other people's blogs.

This guy used to leave COLD comments on my blog. I could actually feel the chill. They were more frigid than a Montana December.
One day he suddenly informed me that he had read over 100 of my blog posts (no, I'm not joking) and he concluded that I'm completely "full of myself". All I do is talk about myself - - and (get this) I congratulate myself at the end of every post!

I don't know what medications this dude is ingesting, but I haven't "congratulated" myself since Napoleon was in diapers.

And, quite frankly, if I ever read 100 of my own blog posts it would probably drive me to suicide. Believe it or not, I very often hate what I write after rereading it. Really.
BTW - read the comments on this post. There is a happy ending - - a truce between me and Montana!

I won't mention the trio of readers who abruptly abandoned my other blog Cabinet of Curious Treasures
All three were "offended" by my homoerotic implications. 

Hey, I'm almost always halfheartedly careful about the things I post. I try to be tasteful (with great difficulty - but I try, nevertheless). If my readers are homophobic, perhaps they should go to a more benign and wholesome retreat - - like Peewee Herman's Playhouse.

You're good, Jon. Perhaps you should write a Hollywood screenplay.

The real ass kicker is the latest lady who abandoned my blog. She used to love me. She even pimped my blog a few times (nothing sexual, for those of you in Des Moines). She is intelligent, has a great sense of humor, and loves cats. Could I ask for more? Everything was going as smooth as a Dairy Queen Blizzard.....


......until I favorably mentioned Donald Trump and the NRA - - both of which she loathes with pathological intensity. She blew up like the engine in a '59 Edsel.
And, of course, she dropped me like a used condom in an Adult Bookstore parking lot.

Intense visual supplements are my specialty.

I regret that she's gone and will genuinely miss her. Perhaps one day, when she finally sobers up, she'll realize her big mistake.

Curiously, none of my gay readers have abandoned me. Well, not yet, anyway. Give it time. That's because gays have compassion. And impeccable good taste.

It's a rare thing to find a blogger who is interesting, intelligent, witty, and  colorful. Not to mention cute. And who isn't petty enough to abandon anyone  simply because of a silly disagreement.

I was talking about myself, in case you didn't know. 

Actually, I'm delighted when people abandon my blog.  It neatly eliminates the insincere and narrow-minded. I don't need those kinds of lightweights in my life. I cherish sincerity.

If anyone else wants to abandon my blog, feel free to go. The loss will be yours, not mine. And you can be sure that I'll feature you and your impudence on a future post.

Wow! You're pressing your luck, Jon! Arrogance, threats, and back alley intimidation will get you nowhere. Nobody likes a bully.

I'm pressing all the right buttons today, Kemo Sabe - - and it has a joyous, purging effect.


You really get a kick out of inflicting verbal retaliation, don't you?

It's almost better than giving a physical kick in the ass. Almost.....

You can't fool me. Janos the Terrible is really just an old softie - - whose bark is far worse than his bite.

An apt observation, Kemo Sabe. But I do occasionally bark and bite. And I'm sure as hell not always soft.

Many exciting implications can be extracted from those simple words, Jon.


  Amigo, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


 ...off into the sunset together....

There. That wasn't too painful, was it?

  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

MY BRUSHES WITH THE DUKE

A YOUNG JOHN WAYNE


I first wrote about this on my old blog Lone Star Concerto. It's not particularly interesting, but I'm rehashing it anyway.

One night, while surfing the web for no plausible reason, I stumbled upon some old photos of Hollywood celebrities. I was stunned to see one particular photo of John Wayne because it was taken the night that I first encountered him - and it was taken while I was standing there, about five feet away. Unfortunately I'm not in the photo - - the photographer was interested in the Duke, not some unknown 18-year-old kid.

I've met a lot of famous people during my adventurous Hollywood years. I also had  brief, casual encounters with others. I saw John Wayne twice. Both times were brief, casual encounters. 

My two brushes with the Duke didn't happen in Hollywood. They occurred in Orange County, where he lived (Wayne lived in Newport Beach).

Just for the record, I've never been a John Wayne fan. Never cared for any of his movies and couldn't remotely relate to his personality - - on screen or off. Seeing him in person didn't generate much excitement on my part. And I doubt if it generated any excitement in the Duke.

My first encounter with Wayne happened when I was eighteen, before I ever went to Hollywood. I was living in Orange County. Sometimes, on warm summer evenings, I'd walk to Knott's Berry Farm (in Buena Park) which was about two miles from where I lived. Hanging out at the "Farm" was a pleasant way to kill a few hours. I'd smoke a few cigarettes, get something to eat, and amuse myself by watching the tourists. Often I'd sit by the antique carousel and listen to the music.

One night it was getting late, near closing time, and I was almost ready to leave. I happened to strike up a conversation with a girl who worked in the Candy Shop. She told me that John Wayne was going to arrive for a private party in the Banquet Hall. "Do you want to go see him?" she asked.

"Sure, why not?"  We walked to the Banquet Hall and waited by the entrance. No one else was there. Only me, the girl, and a couple of photographers from local newspapers.

A long, white limo pulled up and out came John Wayne, his wife Pilar Pallete, their daughter Aissa, and actress Maureen O'Hara. I think Wayne's son Patrick was there, too (well, one of his sons was there).

Wayne was so close to me that I could have easily picked his pocket. He was tall. I'm six-foot-one and he towered over me. Maureen O'Hara was beautiful, all decked out in a green silk gown. She and Wayne were close friends for nearly forty years and they made five films together.

Daughter Aissa kept smiling at me and I would have been flattered - - if it wasn't for the fact that she looked exactly like her father. Picture John Wayne with a long blond wig.

The photographer snapped the photo that I discovered on the Internet. I think it was used in the Orange County Register (I was a proofreader there briefly).



John Wayne and his wife Pilar Pallete.
This is the photo that was taken while I was standing right by them.

My second encounter with Wayne happened about four years later at a party in Newport Beach. I went there with an actor friend and the Duke happened to be one of the guests. My impression of Wayne could be summed up in three words: aloof, gruff, and soused. He was always soused. It seemed to be his trademark. Maureen O'Hara was also there and she was very lovely and gracious. O'Hara  seemed to be the Duke's constant sidekick. It's rumored that they had an affair long ago and I strongly tend to believe it.

Ironically, around the same time, my mother happened to meet John Wayne at an Orange County cocktail party. My Mom was an executive secretary for a top honcho O.C. businessman. He invited her to the cocktail party. My mother generally disliked parties and mindless social gatherings, but she went anyway and she did meet John Wayne. Much like myself, she wasn't particularly impressed.



What do I know about John Wayne? Only the basics. He could be nasty at times, and I've heard a few firsthand stories about his unpleasantness from people who knew him. He was a hardcore drinker. Smoked five packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day. Battled numerous serious illnesses, including lung cancer and a stroke. Suffered fractured ribs and broken limbs while making movies. Wore a hairpiece. Had plastic surgery for eye bags and sagging jowls. Was a staunch Republican and member of the John Birch Society. Believed in conservative values. Real name was Marion Morrison. Nickname came from a dog named Duke that he had as a child.

Wayne holds the record for the actor with the most leading parts in films - - a total of 142.

What have I observed from my personal encounters with Wayne?
One thing for certain, his personality wasn't fake. What you see in his movies is exactly what he was in real life. He wasn't acting. He was merely being himself. I don't think he was ever comfortable with all the Hollywood fluff.

Anyway, that's my take on the Duke.



If you hate this blog, you'll really hate my other one.
Here's the link: 
Cabinet of Curious Treasures 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SOLSTICE AND MOONLIGHT



Private thoughts often clash with public perception. That is why there's a danger in keeping a public journal. Revealing the sacred mechanisms of your inner self always encourages adverse reactions and willingly invites opposition. Fires rage.

After the smoke of the conflagration initially settles, however, a reassuring calm and clarity prevails: and I realize that this is my special place and all others are merely interlopers treading on uncertain terrain.

Despite the dangers and vulnerabilities, there is an intense satisfaction and curious comfort knowing the intruders are there. Without the recurring footfall of  interlopers the silence would be deafening.

Thanks for being here.

Wouldn't it be more simple to speak in layman's terms, Jon?

Probably. But it would be far less poetic.

Moonlight and summer solstice. A full strawberry moon. Moonlight floods the open spaces with dazzling silver light and starkly shadows the forest with intriguing shrouds of mystery. The night is alive with all things nocturnal: owls and bats, 'possums and racoons, crickets, frogs, coyotes and wild dogs.

The coyotes have been abundant these past few nights - howling and shrieking, uttering grievances in a barbaric language that often sounds unnervingly human.

 back yard in moonlight
(and moon rising in header photo)

Last night, just after midnight, piercing screams came from the trees that skirt the cow meadow. The screams continued and increased as they moved closer to the house. Then I heard something running through the tall grasses just beyond my bedroom window. I looked out and saw nothing. 

I dared to venture out on the front porch but could see even less. Clouds were obscuring moonlight and a surrealistic vagueness prevailed. The porch is on a much higher level than the ground. It's more like a balcony.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks -
it is the east and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon
who is already sick and pale with grief
that thou her maid are far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious....

Long ago, pathetically long ago  I used to know most of Romeo's soliloquies by heart and I could recite them with reasonable conviction. Unfortunately these oratory talents never impressed anyone.

Why did I mention this? I'm simply marveling at the artistic dimensions of my youth.
Nowadays, I have trouble remembering my phone number.

The lightning bugs - or fireflies - are everywhere. When I was a very young child in New Jersey we called them lightning bugs. My family moved to California when I was five and I didn't see lightning bugs for the next thirty years. They are not a west coast pleasure. It's very satisfying to see them again.

Remember those haunting blue orbs that I saw in the forest last summer? They are completely gone. I never saw them again. I'm certain they were some type of firefly.

Summer nights are enchanted here in the wilderness. 

 

 

Friday, June 17, 2016

ENCHANTMENT




I got a request on my previous post from blogger John Gray of Going Gently 
He wants to see a photo of the painting that is hanging above my cat Bosco:





Well, it is actually an antique poster of a 1913 painting by Maxfield Parrish, entitled Enchantment. This particular poster is an advertisement for Edison Mazda light bulbs. 

The original painting is on my header photo, and this is my poster:


 I specifically hung this poster above my bed, because if it falls off the wall and hits me while I'm sleeping it will do only minimal damage (it's framed under sturdy lightweight acrylic). 

I once had a heavy oil painting above my bed. It fell one night and nearly killed me.

I've had this poster since I was eighteen yrs. old and it brings back lots of fond memories. I bought it in an antique shop on Hollywood Boulevard. I loved it at first sight and......these many years later I still love it. It's one of the very few things I have left from my Hollywood days.

My diaries and journals are lost, most of my photos are gone. I'm left with only memories of an incredible time and a fantastic place -  when I was adventurous, reckless, enthusiastic, outgoing. A far cry from the introverted hermit that I've become. 

I also still have this antique owl, that I bought in another small shop on Hollywood Boulevard.

  
 I had kept the owl on my desk for years. One time long ago, in a blind (and uncharacteristic) moment of rage, I threw it at somebody. It hit the wall and broke apart at the base. I managed to glue it back together and it has endured all these years.

Another of my Hollywood momentos is an antique Turkish hashish pipe made of brass and wood - which I actually used. It might still be around somewhere, packed away. I haven't looked for it.

So why am I mentioning all of this crap? 

Tonight as I look at these token relics of the past, I'm thinking of those long-ago times. And I can almost smell the cool, damp air of a misty California autumn night - when I haunted the after-midnight streets of Hollywood.....

....when I smoked Kool cigarettes and sometimes hash, when I swigged whiskey from a pint bottle that I kept in my coat, and popped occasional quaaludes, when I had a switchblade stashed down the side of my boot....when I thrived on adventure, and was always ready for a sexual encounter....




It was a different time, in a world infinitely far away from where I am now, and I miss it immensely.





 One of the very few photos left, taken when I first went to Hollywood. It was used in a local periodical, in an article about West Hollywood musicians. I was still pathetically skinny - wearing a loose-fitting shirt from India. I also had on the boots in which I kept the switchblade.

This started out about a poster and somehow got lost in a ramble of memories. But for me it was a satisfying ramble.

Am I living in the past?

Nope. But I'm sure as hell missing it.