Tuesday, June 13, 2017

THE LONG INTERVIEW - PART ONE





In 2013, I was interviewed by Douglas T. Elliot, a friend of mine who is an editor in Los Angeles. The interview took place at the Hampton Inn Hotel in Lubbock, Texas (I was living in Texas at the time). This is part one of a series of interviews that the editor was doing for an upcoming publication,  about the lives of various writers and musicians whom he knew (I used to occasionally write for one of his publications).

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 - what the hell - it's not like I ever had a reputation....

PART ONE




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 and touchy questions. I've probably had more birthdays than Methuselah. In dog years I'm 305, 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 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 extremely self-conscious. 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. Creativity.

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. That doesn't coincide with drug use. I've had some really 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 coke, acid, or speed. Drugs of any kind never agreed with me and I don't endorse them.

Are you an alcoholic?

I enthusiastically indulged in booze 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 two months. 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 liked myself better when I was drunk. The world looks better. The massive tribulations of life were easier to cope with when I was 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 (formerly Wolfenstein) 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. And 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, fragile, 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. 

Wipe your feet on the doormat of caustic criticism. Remember that anger and hate are self-consuming. People who love to put you down are inevitably people who hate themselves and their own shortcomings.

Be persistent in endeavors but patient when expecting rewards.. Be gentle. Learn from mistakes. Listen carefully and absorb. 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-numbing, 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 ridiculous 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.

(This was my opinion before the 2016 election. I have since revised many of my opinions - - which I'll keep to myself, mainly because they don't pertain to this interview).

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?

Losing control. 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 totally 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.



If I survive Part One, I might post Part Two.





22 comments:

  1. I remember this post, Jon! Honest and enjoyable. However, about your age: 305 dog-years are 43 us-years and that's only 6.1 celsius. I am 19.4 celsius.

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    Replies
    1. Your making me sound too young...which is making me blush. All I know is that I stopped counting after forty - - and that was about fifty years ago....

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    2. Excuse me for going a bit off-topic, but you have an exceptionally good memory. Just been to Harry's site and you identified the wallpaper from a bar in w. Hollywood. It is indeed from the saloon at the Roosevelt Hotel. Nicely done!

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    3. I knew I saw it somewhere.

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  2. INSIGHTFUL. you are the most interesting fella i know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate that. I've often said that I'm the most interesting person I know (in jest)...but sometimes I almost believe it.

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  3. I think my comment got lost in translation. If not, just delete this double post :-)

    P.S. Loved your honest and amusing answers - interviews are tough...

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    Replies
    1. I never delete the doubles, Dylan - - only the hateful Trolls.
      I'm glad you enjoyed my answers. I always try to be as truthful as possible...even when it hurts.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Those two words are sweetness to my ears...

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  5. I was confused at first. I thought I had read this, then I saw you had said you posted on your old blog. A good read again none the less. I wish we could get beers and I could hear your stories all day........

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    Replies
    1. You'd probably need a lot of beer in order to tolerate my stories. And I'd need a lot of beer in order to tell them.

      Oh, what the hell - - let's have gin!

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    2. " Oh no! Spirits do the most horrible things to me. I'm no the same person."-Agnes Gooch

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  6. I'm glad you shared this again!
    ... Tho' it's a bit disconcerting to read my own thoughts voiced by another. Your 'negative aspects' response might well be my own.
    I'm toying with posting an "I am" declarative and would love to 'borrow' one or two of your phrases -- with due credit, of course!

    Happy to know I'm not the only soul who loathes sushi.

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    Replies
    1. `Borrow anything you want, Myra. I'm free and I'm easy....

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    2. I consider sushi to be a health risk.

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  7. Good interview. I hope you post part two. :)

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    Replies
    1. I've just "secretly" re-read Part Two and I will post it soon.

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  8. Jon, your honesty is appreciated since it's become rarer and rarer these days. Interviews are tough and not everyone can open up about themselves. Interesting post ... part two perhaps ?

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    Replies
    1. I seem to reveal a lot - for claiming to value my privacy - but I actually enjoy answering questions. And I do try to be as honest as possible.
      Part Two will be arriving shortly...

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  9. I loved this when you posted it the first time, and I loved it again this time. (Yes, I re-read the entire thing from top to bottom.)

    I forgot you liked Pink Floyd. Me, too. Have you ever listened to Muse? I only "discovered" them in recent years. My favorite CD is "The Resistance."

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  10. Anyone who dared to read this entire thing has my wholehearted appreciation. I've never heard of Muse but I'll check it our on YouTube.

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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.