Thursday, December 22, 2016

Osborne Christmas

Ozborne the Honored Magician
Meet Ozborne the Honored Magician. 

This familiar performer has decorated the Johnson Family Christmas tree for decades. 
However, until this year he had no name nor peculiar fame.  He was just called "the Magician ornament". 
For me it symbolizes the magic and mystery of the Holiday spirit, and displaying him on our tree has always been my favorite Christmas tradition. 
The Magician has survived 30+ Christmas trees. It is a very well made doll with cast hands and head. The Magician is about 8" tall holding a top hat in his right hand and production silks in his left. I have forgotten how we came to have him and I don't remember  if he was a gift.  The design and look are unique. I have never seen another decoration like it. The name "Magician " seems to have worked well for all these years, but when he was honored by receiving medals, he had to have a more formal title.
The medals were awarded posthumously by Paul Osborne (not to be confused with the name Ozborne) and John Hardman (TO be confused with Argyle the snake), my friends.  It is a final call back to a wonderful evening with Paul and Michelle in Dallas some years ago.

The setting is dinner at the Turtle Creek Mansion.  As always a dinner with Paul and Michelle in any city or at any restaurant is filled with laughter and great times. This one was not exceptional but for one story that stays with me even today.
Paul told me a story that Mickey Rooney occasionally sat by the entrance to the restaurant of the Mansion. I'm not sure why but he evidently would sit greeting people as they arrived for dinner with medals on his chest. Although Mickey wasn't there this particular evening Paul assured me that he had seen him there many times before.  
I know what you are thinking... Paul Osborne is telling me a story that is a little hard to believe and I am buying it? Paul had that power over most people.  At any rate Paul and I discussed getting older, finding some medals to wear and taking turns sitting in the "Mickster's" chair.  It became a call back between us from then on.  Any news about Mickey Rooney that Paul would hear about was forwarded to me and we would both giggle about it.
The last year John Hardman was at KAX he told me that our mutual friend Paul Osborne wanted him to bring me some medals for my jacket when he saw me here in Southern California.  It would mean Paul thought I was ready to retire and sit at some restaurant wearing the medals and greeting people.  John was not sure why that was funny between us, but knowing Paul he was willing to join in.
Before the next KAX conference John Hardman left us. And before we actually could comprehend that John was no longer here Paul joined him for whatever celestial show they are currently doing in the afterlife.  I am still in a state of denial and shock.
So when Michelle sent me a package of honorary medals last week, it was Paul and John's final call back. I laughed and cried.  They had evidently been collecting medals to decorate a tiny Christmas tree to send me with the inscription.... "From the Mickster".  It was a final project/prank from my friends who both left before they could finish it.    
In Paul's honor, my plan was to hang the medals on our Christmas tree this year.  As I was trying to figure out how best to hang them... then... I saw the Magician.  The medals attached beautifully to the fabric of the Magician's tail coat becoming my "new/old" most favorite ornament.  Now he not only symbolizes the magic and mystery of the season, but the love and humor of friendship.  The Magician became Ozborne the Honored Magician in memory of a special relationship with a very special friend.  I think Paul and John would approve and I will never look upon this ornament the same.
Christmas is a time to remember the goodness and kindness of the human race.  Now more than ever we need to be reminded.  
Thank you Paul, Thank you John.... and a special Thanks to Michelle who sent me this Christmas gift from beyond.  I am blessed. Merry Christmas to all.
As you were,
Jay

Monday, December 19, 2016

An Eveining with Alan Thicke

I had done the Alan Thicke show in Vancouver several times and knew Alan casually as the star of the show.  He was always friendly to me and we hit it off immediately.
After one of those shows I did back in the 1980's, I was packing up when Alan stopped by my dressing room.
"What are you doing tonight?" He said.
I replied, "I'm a stranger in Canada. I am heading back to the hotel."
He said, "I have an extra ticket to see the Doobie Brothers tonight at the arena.  Do you want to come?  It's the  best time you will have in Vancouver tonight with your clothes on."
"Sure", I said.
"Good you can ride with me and some of my friends. You'll like them."
I looked at my watch. It was 7:30. "What time does it start?"
"8:00" He said, "I'll just get out of my makeup and we can leave from here."
"Great..." I said and he walked back down the hall.
I finished packing up and washed off my own television tan and waited.  About 8:15 I looked around and the studio was empty.  I wondered if he had forgotten I was going and maybe he left without me. So, I wondered down the hall to his dressing room. There was a light on.
Alan was in a barber chair leaned back getting a facial complete with steamed towels from an attractive makeup girl.
"I thought you had forgotten me. Didn't the concert start a half hour ago?"
"Yeah, but it is okay. There is an opening act.  We won't miss it. I'll be done here in a few minutes and we will go."
"Great" I said.
Forty five minutes later Alan is still in the chair.  I am getting a little nervous, but hey there really wasn't anything else I had going that night.
Finally about 9:15 we get into his car and started driving. But we don't go to the arena, he said we were heading over to some friend's house to go with the rest of the gang.  Fifteen minutes later we arrive at a Vancouver house filled with people.  It is some sort of party and Alan did not seem to be anxious to leave it.  A joint gets passed around.  I plead the fifth, but let us say in a few minutes I was even more ready to see the Doobie Brothers concert.  About 10:00 we pile in the car with several others and head for the arena.  I am sure by this time we have missed some of the Doobies, but again... the adventure was the event even if we missed the music.
We are not far from the arena. The tickets are waiting at the box office window, which is now closed.  Alan says to our group of eight, "No worries, they know I am coming."  We walk to the entrance.
I can hear the crowd screaming and loud music coming from the stage.  The ticket taker doesn't even skip a beat; he hands an envelope of tickets to Alan who looks them over and disperses six of them to the other members of the group.  They scurry off to find their seats leaving Alan and me. Alan says, "You want a hot dog? I want to have a hot dog. Let's get one before we go to our seats."
"Aren't we missing the Doobies?"
"No," he said, "that is the opening act."
"Really?" I reply
"No worries."
We get hot dogs and eat them standing at the concession counter. Alan is obviously in no hurry to get to the seats. "Wow.  I really need a beer with this.  How about you?"
"You're the boss," I said.
As we wonder over  to the beer stand the music stops. The crowd goes wild and although I can not see the arena or the stage it is obvious the house lights go on and there is a break.
"Opening Act", he said.
A few people come out to get their own hot dog and beer but most stay put for the main attraction coming to the stage in moments.  It was then that I realized Alan Thicke, at that time, is as famous in Canada as Johnny Carson might be to Americans.  Several people shoot Alan a look, whisper and subtly point.  Alan is taking it all in smiling and waving to those who acknowledge him.  This continues until most everyone has left the hall way and have gone back to their seats. Alan and I are alone near the beer stand.  I look at my watch and there has been no music for 20 minutes.  I wonder how long this break will be. Alan sees that I am concerned but says, "Don't worry we won't miss anything."
After what seems like hours Alan pulls out the last two tickets and looks at them. Very casually he says, "Maybe we should go to our seats."
We walk in and it is packed. Starting at the top row of the arena we begin to walk down the stairway of the nose bleed seats. There are no seats left in that section so we continue down and down.  I hear people whisper as we pass, "That's Alan Thicke." and "Look it's Alan Thicke"  and "Isn't that Alan Thicke?" Occasionally I hear someone say, "Who is that guy with Alan Thicke?" but we keep walking down until we run out of seats.  All that is left is the section of folding chairs on the floor in front of the stage. We keep walking. We are the only ones still standing. The only two seats unoccupied are fourth row dead center. The friends we rode with flank either side of those seats and everyone is looking at us.
I sit down immediately, but Alan does not. He surveys the arena taking it all in like he was a perspective buyer. It is obvious that Alan wants everyone to know that he is in attendance.
"Wow, It's packed isn't it? he says to me. But he continues to stand.
He adjusts his shirt brushes off his pants and slowly sits in the last seat open.  The minute his ass touches the chair the lights go down and instantly the Doobie Brothers launch into "Listen to the Music."  The crowd goes wild.
Alan gives me a look and a thumbs up as if to say "See, I told you we wouldn't miss anything."
It was then that I realized, the Doobies were waiting for Alan. The show would not start until he was seated.  It was a fabulous concert of the Doobies with Michael McDonald in their prime. I thought it's good to be the King of Canadian Television.
This is the days before cell phone cameras so I have no pictorial record of the event, but it is the "best time I could have had in Vancouver with my clothes on".
Rest in peace Alan. Thanks for a great evening.
As you were,
Jay

Friday, December 16, 2016

Magic at the Castle

"Long John LaFeat, Jay Johnson and
Kirk Thatcher creator of "Long John LaFeat"
I have not felt like writing for some time.  The only thing people want to talk about these days is the current state of the Executive Branch of Congress.  I am talked out. I have never felt more strongly that we have elected a deceitful and dangerous President who apparently is the puppet of Russia.  My opinion is shared by many but that narrative seems to be soundly rejected by a base of voters who do not seem to be affected by facts.
However, life goes on.  Finally I have something that excites me and makes me very happy. I want to write about it.
This week I have been performing at the Magic Castle in Hollywood,  It is a gig I do maybe once or twice a year and I am having a blast.  This is a picture taken in my dressing room with my friend and creative genius Kirk Thatcher who happened to stop by my second night. I happened to have "Long John LaFeat" (who was featured in my Tony Award© winning show Jay Johnson: The Two and Only). Kirk created this character for me decades ago and had not seen him up close in a very long time.  That is real magic. Kirk happens to drop by on one of the only two nights that Long John performed.
Although I have been a lifetime member of the Magic Castle for a very long time I have never really felt like I belong.  I was told that I could never headline a show at the Magic Castle because I am not a magician.  I am referred to as the practitioner of one of the "allied" arts of Magic.  Until this point I have felt like an adopted child at the Castle.  No more. I now feel like an anointed son with a legacy involving the Magic Castle.
It was the fourth night of the run at the Palace of Mystery. I was walking outside the entrance to the theater when I saw a man cutting silhouettes near the bar.  He is very good and fast and I was impressed at this talents, so I watched him create the profile of one of the guests.  He saw me and nodded. As soon as he finished he excitedly called me over.
"I built something just for you," He said.
I thought it was a silhouette but it was much more than that.  He pointed to a new cocktail bar that had been installed. It is a beautiful mahogany shelf about 12 inches wide extending from the Castle wall where people can set  a drink while waiting to get into the show.  At the wall end of the mini bar is a shadow box with a skull inside.  It is a great addition to the ambiance but I did not see how it related to me.  Also I did not realize that this man was not only a silhouette cutter but also one of the master carpenters for the Magic Castle.  He continued to explain.
"I saw your show the last time you were here with Mike Caveny" (one of the magician elite of the Castle).  He said, "And so I built this for you."
What he proceeded to show me was something that filled my heart with joy and excitement.  Like a magician teaching a new trick to a novice, he showed me where to stand and how to tap on the shadow box just right.  With just the right technique,  the mouth on the skull began to open and close Magically under his control. I instantly knew what this meant;  I had been given one of the golden secrets of the Magic Castle.
Now in keeping with the Magicians code of silence I can not reveal how this effect happens, but with my talent as a ventriloquist it becomes a puppet under my control.  I can make the skull talk from behind the glass of the shadow box.  The man said, "I built this just for you to use, whenever you are here." And with that he went back to his job cutting silhouettes.
I was left alone for a few minutes with a new magic trick that only I could perform the way it was intended.  If you are not a ventriloquist there is no way to describe the thrill of having a new character to play with.  I worked out a glass muffled voice for the guy and practiced the secret activation until I had them both down.  Then I waited.
My Goddaughter, younger son and his date were at the Palace for the next show.  After wards I took them over to the mini bar to have an after show drink.  There were others there as well so it was time to perform my new toy.
I told everyone that this was the skull of a famous psychic and even after death he could tell fortunes.  I had one of the female guests ask the skull a question.  I tapped on the glass and stood in just the right place and to the gasp of those watching, the skull answered her question and called her by name.  It was awesome.  It was a complete success.  As I walked away with my family I heard the lady continue to ask questions but the skull remained silent.   It was magic.
I don't know how many people know the secret to this illusion nor do I know if they are aware it even exists.  At this point I believe it 's only me and the man who built it who know the truth.  It doesn't really matter because I am the only one that can complete the effect with my "allied "art.
The secret is mine to keep, and since it can only be performed at the Magic Castle and there is no photography nor video allowed to be shot inside the Magic Castle, odds are it will be a special treat for only a few.  If you are ever there and see me... ask me to take you to the fortune teller, I promise it will be a Magic trick you will see no other time.
So, I may not ever headline at the Magic Castle, and I may not be one of the legendary magic members, but I don't know how many of those magicians have their own special "installation" to play with.  I have never felt more honored, nor more appreciated for what I can do than to have this Magic Castle secret in my arsenal.
Art is Art and it can't be separated by "allied" and non "allied" artists.  We all just do what we do for the amazement of others.  I am a very lucky and blessed man on so many levels.
By the way I asked the fortune teller what was in store for us in the next 4 years of this government... He did not reply.
As you were,
Jay

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Is this @ReallyTrump Happening

There is a political smog that covers the country right now that is causing my eyes to burn and my lungs to feel heavy. It could be my heart that is heavy I am not sure any more.  I have sworn off "news entertainment" both on television and social media.  I have tried to regulate my breathing and blood pressure every time I hear the POS elect's name or hear about yet another member of the "military industrial complex" he has appointed to a cabinet post.  I quickly turn away if there is even a picture of the Orange Embarrassment in my purview. It is actually more work than I want to devote to this mistake in American history, and it is exhausting. 
I have turned to "on demand" broadcasts so I won't be surprised by a "news flash" cutting into my program to tell me that the POS Elect has decided turn the Washington Monument into a golden statue of himself.  I marathoned "Stranger Things" and am now half way through "WestWorld" to keep my attention away from what is happening in Washington, DC.   
The result is total mental confusion.  Now I am not sure what is real.  Is KellyAnne Connelly one of those "hosts" from the WW park. Is the POS the faceless long armed demon that lives in the upside down.  Is it me that is crazy or is everyone else hiding the truth from me.  Doesn't matter.  The more time I can waste until the Trumpmare is over the better.  
At some point I was cross-eyed from the never ending stories on Netflix and paused for a moment.  One of the cable stations kicked in and I was suddenly watching a clip of the "Thank You Rally" POS tour.  I could feel my eyes turn red and my skin crawl.  I wanted to yell at the television, but knew that would do no good.  So... like countless others I decided to confront the OrangeFace Pussy Grabber on his favorite media. I decided to tweet him.  As he was speaking live I tweeted these two missives quickly: 
 
To my surprise I didn't feel any better.  Instead of yelling at the television I had sent a Tweet. I seriously don't see the thrill the POS gets out of this form of communication.  But a few seconds later I got a response.  The notification comes up on my screen and directs me to my Tweeter feed.  Orange Face had answered. 
 
Followed by a reply to my second mini-rant: 
 
Knowing that neither the incoming POS nor any of his staff have a sense of humor, I looked more carefully at the reply. It was a dyslexic mistake on my part.  I had not sent to the POS... but to @realdonaldyrump.  I realized my mistake and sent a reply complimenting the creator of this parody. The response was clearly from a person with whom I have much in common.  My hat is off and I lift a drink to the person who is ready with a little light hearted parody to national rage.  It defused me.
With a renewed confusion over what is real and what is not, I went back to watching "Westworld". The need to scream out at the television or flame a pompous asshole POS elect with a tweet has been satisfied and exorcised. 
As you were,
Jay

 

Friday, December 02, 2016

"Blessed are the me..."

As I drove to get my car serviced last week I noticed something that had not been present the last time I drove that route.  The underpass of the 405 and Roscoe Blvd. is packed with a massive homeless encampment.  Shopping carts with blankets and tarps spread between serve as the residence of so many people I couldn't count them all.  There is no more sidewalk under the concrete bridge, just a sub development of the forgotten. They were male, female, white, black, Latino, Asian and some too dirty to profile.

I have become accustomed to the homeless encampment among the trees on Burbank between Hayvenhurst /Balboa and Woodley. It seems to be a more organized tent city.  If this was not Southern California I would mistake it for a refugee camp. The more fortunate of the marginalized live in ancient motor homes parked on the cross street of the Sepulveda flood plain.  Although most people just drive through the area  perhaps stopping at the golf course located across the street, it is not more than a 15 minute walk from my front door.  Like it or not these people are basically my neighbors.

Since you need an address of some kind for voter registration and a way to get to the polls much less some way to find out where the proper polling places are located, I doubt that any of them voted.  They may not even know there was an election nor who won. Their struggle is far more serious than to be concerned about which billionaire was appointed Treasury Secretary.  The trickle down from the "job creators" stopped long before they could feel any effect.  They are not gaming the system, nor in on some food stamp fraud nor are they raising their fists saying "Hail" at a fancy dinner in an expensive hotel.   They are just Americans struggling to find a meal and a place to sleep before they search for another.  If the signs they hold asking for money are any indication some are veterans.  Sandi and I have taken to keeping loose change and dollar bills in the console of the car to give to some we see regularly at a stop light.

The latest demographic to these homeless cities are people in their late 50's.  For some reason they have lost their job and are trying to hang on until they are old enough to get social security. They are too old begin again in the job market.  See it's not government money they want, they want the money they paid (willingly) into a system that would hold it for them until they needed it.  It's their money, earned through their jobs when they had one. They are unaware that their money is now being held in political escrow as a governmental poker chip in a high stakes game of partisanship.

Before anyone says "Thanks Obama" and starts into a rant about who's watch this happened on let me cut to the chase: They don't give a shit. They can't contribute to campaigns or attend a rally or do anything that might get a government representative to pay attention.  The only reason they would burn a flag is for the heat, and they are probably too weak from hunger to stand during a national anthem.  Building a wall on the border won't give them a place to live and deporting a bunch of immigrants won't restore their jobs. If the new administration throws Hillary in jail, she will have better accommodations  than they do now.

How do you explain to the man gathering soda cans to pay for a meal that the country he lives in, paid taxes to and in some cases enlisted to help protect, is spending a million and a half dollars A DAY to protect a building in New York City so a spoiled, rich, entitled white man can safely take a dump in a bathroom of gold fixtures?  Does that flag wave for him too? From his point of view that flag is just a potential wall for his shopping cart tent.

I haven't watched the "news" in a week.  I don't know what the Executive Branch is doing to  "Make America Great Again."  I don't care about this cluster fuck of trust funder cabinet members nor what they are proposing. We can spout all the Patriotic jingoism popular at the time, we can argue if these are the people to get it done. But, America will never be GREAT (ever) until I can walk the sidewalk to the over pass of Roscoe Blvd again and not see forgotten Americans living in shopping carts.

As you were,
Jay

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Word

Words are important. How one uses words is how one communes with others. The written word is most important because it can be more permeate than words tossed out in the emotion of conversation. In older days to spread the Word one had to hand scribe a  text multiple times, or own a printing press or some kind of type setting machine. Today a tweet, post, comment or blog can be instantly published to millions in the time it takes to tap a key.
To counteract the sea of "bad" words and stinging comments that currently can contaminate your attitude, I offer a modern day solution. Below is a YouTube video of the written words from thinkers from all over the globe.  Just words of hope, encouragement and Truth that shine like the light on a hill to guide us through our journey. 
Over the years when I have found a word or a paragraph that lightens my heart I have reprinted, or taken a clipping of that phrase to stick on my office wall. These words surround me when I write, reminding me that what one says is very important. How easy it is to become so blind in your own office that you do not see the truth all around. 
It only takes a minute to relax and watch the video. It is accompanied by a touching Irish melody. Let the words sweep your mind clear of the clutter and even if some are not as easily read as others. Like a literate humidifier, let the mere exposure to it improve the way you perceive the rest of you day.
As you were, 
Jay







Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Okie Dokie

We all believe we can make a difference, and I was always told to speak out.  I was also told I had a gift for gab and I should use it with responsibility.  I will continue to live up to that admonition as long as I believe it is not causing more hatred in response.  I will continue to monitor that balance.
But for now...
I am shocked that people I thought I knew can post things that I can not balance with the person I thought them to be.
I am dismayed that some very intelligent people I know are willing to follow ignorance and intolerance over the cliff. Until I can figure out "what is going on" (the last quote I ever plan to use from the Pres. elect) I will continue to be very careful.
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

History Repeats Itself

 It has only been a week since the election. That is not enough time to gain a perspective on what is to come... Or is it?

I hear people say and read posts to the affect that we must, "Wait and see, Give the new Prez a chance, We don't know what he will do yet."  To those who think time is on our side I say, Really?  What I think is: If it talks like Fascism, appoints people who are Fascist, is embraced by Racists and makes promises to a disappointed working class that can't possibly be kept, it must be Fascism. I personally have had more than 18 months of this new Leader's rhetoric and lies.  When I hear a duck quack I don't wait to see if it is actually a chicken in the pond.

Yesterday was my worst day.  By the end I was so depressed I went to bed early almost hoping that I wouldn't wake up.  That may sound overly dramatic but for a CD (clinical depressive) like me that can be par for the course, particularly when things seem to be out of my control.

My day started off with rage. So many posts on Facebook from people who have been very laid back about a Trump Presidency are now Trumpeteers with a "na na na- we won and you didn't- na na na" attitude.  I even found myself drawn into a "troll fight" on FB with people whom I will never ever meet. I decided to get off the media feed and see if the world was still turning outside.  It didn't help, that rage continued and I realized I was just aching for a fight. I was waiting for someone to cut me off with a car so I could scream and give them the finger.  I was very irritated that a guy in front of me at the Hardware store check out did not have his check card ready fast enough for me. I felt myself just hoping someone would say something that I could take the wrong way and read their beads.  I know it was all my own interpretation of normal events based on this thick fog that hangs over the nation right now.  

So, I am going to limit my time on all social media and this blog, and turn all my attentions to the book I am writing, which is anything but political. I will also say this to anyone who cares to have a open mind.  After Goebbels was appointed advisor to the Fuhrer in 1930's Germany,  there was no more real news, no truth, only the propaganda and lies that the regime allowed.  Yesterday Sean Hannity suggested that CNN, MSNBC and several other "news" outlets have their Whitehouse press credentials pulled because they didn't support Trump. The Trump himself asked President Obama to "Stop talking to the world... their mine now". And so it goes and the new Goebbels has not even officially taken office.
  
I see the America train heading for the edge of a deep canyon and unfortunately I can't get off.  I get marginalized if I try to warn the conductor, and this causes my depression to rise.  Not heeding the lessons of History condemns us to repeat it.  With the educational level of this country at an all time low it is now possible to fool most of the people all of the time.  
I am white, college educated and live in an affluent neighborhood with a healthy amount of retirement cash stashed away.  If I feel this hopelessness, how must those who have none of these advantages be feeling today with a propaganda guy like Bannon helping run the country?  
Over and out,
Jay



Monday, November 14, 2016

Next Up: Full Disclosure

 
The very haters who elected Trump are now calling for unity and togetherness.  The very candidate that said "throw them out" and "lock her up" and "Beat the hell out of them, I'll take care of your legal fees" and "throw them outside...its cold so no coats...not coats" today told his supporters to "Stop harassing Muslims, Latinos and minorities".  Are you Fuckin' Kidding me? Mr. President Elect... this is your doing you should be very proud of them not scolding them. Those same haters are dismissing civil disobedience and peaceful protests as sour grapes on the part of the progressives and liberals.  The thousands in the street are not exercising the right they were given under the first amendment of the Constitution, they are whiny losers who didn't get their way.  Even those who did not support Trump are saying the protests are "disruptive" and for no purpose. I've seen posts that say, "All they are doing it disrupting traffic and making it harder for real people to get home from work."  They agree with the right to protest, but believe (sincerely) that they should wait till "Something happens to protest about".  Basically they are saying wait till Trump does something to get mad about  THEN go to the street. 

I would like to address these two points one by one. First, "All they are doing is disrupting traffic and making it harder for real people to get home from work." That's the very point.  If Americans can still go about their lives as if nothing happened last Tuesday, we might as well all get fitted for brown shirts and learn to goose step.  The 1930's German people who were not members of the Nazi party, nor Jews, Gypsys, Political enemies, and not homosexuals, nor handicapped went about their lives without disruption while a race was slaughtered, Poland was conquered, Austria annexed, and France invaded.  To make a change the sacrifice has to be shared by the entire country.  The whole of America suffered and sacrificed during World War II. Gas was rationed, food was in short supply and everyone had some close relative involved in the War.  Women had to take factory jobs to make the tanks to send to their husbands who were liberating the conquered. America's involvement in that war lasted 3 years because everyone in the Nation was negatively affected. War is not just a lead story on the evening news, although that is the way war has been waged for the last 50 years in America.

Secondly, Let's wait until Trump does something to get mad about and THEN go to the street. Let me count the ways the President elect  has done something to get us mad. How about:  Mexicans are rapist, Muslims are terrorists, women are objects, homosexuals are deviants, accusers are lairs, competitors are criminals and the system is made to game.  If having a President elect that stands for all those things is not enough to get mad and protest about in the street... I'm not sure what is.  Perhaps it is true that he could shoot someone on Fifth-Avenue and not lose any supporters.  If his own words, temperment and juvenile response to serious matters is not enough to send people to the street what is the galvanizing issue?

The Alt.Right has taken over the Government. They hold the Executive, the Legislative and soon will control the Judicial branches.  The three branches were designed by the founders of the Constitution to act as a check and balance to each other.  There is no check, and no balance if one party controls the government.  Single party rule is called Fascism. The last and final check we as Americans have is protest. Since the last check and balance on this reactionary ideology that has taken over our country is mass protests in the street... let us exercise that right until that ideaology falls.  

The very people who are complaining about the anti-Trump protests are the same ones who praised the Arab Spring protesters three years ago.  We were so glad that the Arab people were taking to the streets to protest the oppression of a corrupt and senseless government.  That is exactly what Americans in the streets are doing now.   We don't have to wait to see it this a bad deal for America... we already know.  The problem is that soon the very supporters who believed this President was the right choice, will find that he is incapable of true leadership, and is only a puppet of a single party government. We did elect and outsider who is not part of the establishment. A wolf is definitely an outsider to the herd of sheep, but putting him is charge is not a good idea.  That is why we protest. He enters the presidency with the highest negative approval rating in the history of America. Now that he has the job where the buck stops, his negatives will only get worse.  All I can say is soon all of us will be in the street protesting this repressive, regime as one people and that ..... is when America will be great again. If not, well, for those of you who elected him enjoy the ride. I chose not to accept the lift. 
Keep protesting, keep marching, keep shouting and keep being Americans.

As you were
Jay
 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Path, and the guide.

Thank you to friend Jon-Erik Jordan for posting this video.  It is a creative call to everyone who can think and write. The next step of Fascism is to marginalize and stop any reminder of what Freedom really is. We will see the rise of a very misguided electorate who believe their stupidity is true patriotism.  It is a big challenge for creative artists of all genres to hold a mirror to the nostril of hatred to make sure it stops breathing.
It is said much better here:

As you were,
Jay

President Trump

 I am writing this at 12:12 and Trump has just given his acceptance speech.  I am shocked and surprised that America has elected a complete amateur. I do not know how to process this improvable event. 
It will take me a long time to accept this result.  I'm sure that I will have more to say later, but I am for the first time in my life speechless. 
America you elected him you deal with him. 
God help us all,
Jay

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What is that Feeling?

 


I feel it. Most of my friends feel it. The whole country seems to be  suffering from it as well.  Some just think that it is election fatigue, I think it is something more. In fact I printed out my opinion of what it is and attached it to the refrigerator.  The note to self reads, "It's Depression Stupid".
There is still so much misinformation about depression most civilians can't really identify it for what it is.  For some, depression is just something you get over.  A momentary sadness that will get better in time as one learns to cope with an unhappy situation.  Their depression is gone before it can even be identified.
No so with us "clinicals".  For us it is not just a situation that has made us depressed, it is a chemical imbalance that keeps us from moving past that "unhappy feeling".  Eventually it becomes a chicken or the egg situation.  Initially we think  we are depressed because of some situation that is happening or has happened in our lives. Everyone has times that are not as productive, happy or satisfying as they could be and it is normal to have darker feelings about those times or events.  The death of a family member of close friend is the most obvious trigger for depression.  Depression is something that all people struggle with at one time or another.   Clinicals don't get past it, a clinical eventually realizes that it is not just the situation causing the depression, but depression is shaping the situation.  It becomes a death spiral. The depression makes a situation unbearable which leads to another situation that is no better than the first. Soon the entire world is a giant pity party requiring more pity and  depression as it begins to feed on itself.  This leads to hopelessness and helplessness as a person's life becomes so off track and out of control it is not worth living that pain anymore. 
Although depression can mask itself as various physical symptoms it is caused by a mental stew of feeling worthless, inability to affect your own happiness or future  and the idea that no choice before you brings any chance of change from sadness, which pretty much sums up this current Presidential election drama being played out.
There are so many conflicting ideas being touted as the truth, and so much hostility from both sides of the issue that even a non- Clinical feels helpless. As we can see an end to this cycle on Nov. 8th, it should be the light at the end of the tunnel and relief around the corner. For a clinical depressive like myself all I see is a new chapter of more hostility that will never end.   John McCain said he will not allow ANY Hillary Clinton Supreme court nominee to be seated at the Supreme Court if she is elected.  Ted Cruz said the same thing in the Senate chambers yesterday. And so my feeling of helplessness and hopelessness seems to just be beginning anew. 
The GOP spouts the idea that this election is about change.  The change they are talking about is a "change" from a Democratic President to a Republican President.  That is not where we need the change. While blocking nominations, killing bills, holding budgets hostage, with their majority in both houses of congress Republicans have done nothing for the last 8 years. In fact they have not just been idle they have made a massive attempt to squelch any legislation at all.  They suppress the way governing is supposed to happen, bully their rivals,  prosecute those they disagree with while their Presidential Nominee says elections are rigged.  If the democrats could rig elections don't you think they would give themselves the majority in congress?
The only change that will be effective is to rid Congress of the Republican strangle hold. Get rid of the Good Ole Boys who have become fat with power. Otherwise the election of the President is just a matter of PR.  
It's Depression Stupid. That feeling of hopelessness. The feeling that I can not change the situation I am in.  The feeling it is going to be bad no matter what I try to do and there is nothing I can do to really affect  my own future.  This is not just a sad time for a clinical depressive it is a sad time for everyone but while some of us may be able to cope with the madness,  there are those of us who will struggle no matter what happens.  
I plan to vote mainly because Prop 64 is on the California ballot.  That is the Pot Prop, and Pot is a well known effective anti-depressant.  No matter what happens on Nov 8th.... we are going to need some safe and helpful ways to deal with it. 
I thought writing about it would help me feel better..... It did not.  Rome wasn't built in a day, but it came crashing down very quickly. 
As you were,
Jay 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ventriloquist in Dancerland..


A Montalbon Theater full of dancers each with  Joe Tremaine stories to tell.
Joe Tremaine accepting the first of an annual WCA award in his name after watching a stunning dance done on stage in his honor. 

This is the World Choreography Awards Ceremony, awarding a trophy and honors for dance choreographers in categories of all media. The nickname for the World Choreography Awards ® trophy is Corry, which fits in nicely with the Emmy, Tony, Grammy world.  The evening is Terpsichorean Royalty honoring those who create outstanding work in the name of dance.  As I looked down my theater  row I counted at least four Emmy winners attending. It was a beautiful crowd and and exciting evening.
The purpose of an Awards show is to give Awards which is repetitive but the show moved rather quickly and was filled with  production numbers and HD playback (on a great Media wall) of the nominated dances. The live numbers were moving and transformational pieces that spoke to this audience like no other. 
I love the theater, now called the Ricardo Montalbon.  Especially when the theater is filled with the dance world.  Dancers are like no other athletes nor are they like any other performers.  Dancers endow their surroundings with an energy that can only be experienced. I know you might think me bias since I am married to a dancer, but being with Sandi lets me observe the dance world as an insider.  I have observed that dancers are an extended family of brothers and sisters who were all born to dance. It is not complicated, dancing is the life of a party, and dancers are masters of the dance, therefore dancers are the party. It was a audience full of the beautiful and the talented. 
I have been blessed with wonderful friendships and so many of my friends were there. Later I realized, they were all dancers.  I was introduced to everyone of those good friends by my best friend Sandi.  Sandi is the very definition of a blessing in my life.  

Before I get all emotional, I know all my dancer friends will understand when I say: 
 "I would rather be with you dancers than the greatest people on earth."  

As you were,
Jay

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A final Debate-

I am not sure we need to suffer through another Presidential debate before the election.  Is there anything  left to learn about either candidate?  Don't we know far too much already? If it was an actual debate with a discussion of policy differences, and political perspective then maybe.  However, the last two debates have been nothing more than a presidential episode of Judge Judy.  The debates have turned into a name calling "rank out":  "Your mother is so ugly, she's a model for Halloween masks."  It is the only thing that can be done since the Trump campaign is based upon the "Oh yeah well what are you?" philosophy.  The determination of who "won" the debate is based upon how many zingers a candidate was able to deliver. And, the networks promote the debate like they promote a heavy weight boxing match.
The fact that the electorate is supposed to dismiss the Trump Access Hollywood tape, as just locker room banter, is ridiculous.  The assumption that the women, coming forward stating that it was more than banter, are lying or are seeking publicity, is the Cosby defense.  It was the same counter argument with Cosby. They even brought up the same questions.  Why are these women coming forward now after all these years?  Why didn't they report it at the time it happened?  Why would Cosby, with all his money and have to drug women to have sex? Why would Trump with, all his money and fame, have to grope women he just met? Rich and powerful men use their power, reputation and wealth as a sword against women more than a shield for them. Just look at what a woman has to go through when she does come out with an accusation.   
At least Cosby had the decency not to refute their complaints by saying they were too unattractive to drug and rape.  Trump has used that excuse for two of the women who have come forward so far. Hidden in that excuse is the implication "I only grope beautiful women."  I guess we have to think like a Trump to understand that the more attractive women are the more susceptible they are to assault.  It is in line with every assault and rape case that ever gets adjudicated, "Well, You Honor, the victim was dressed in a very provocative way." (Read... "she had it coming"). 
Trump is not just a narcissist, he is the narcissist mirror itself. Things that are true for him get reflected by his ego to someone else.  In fact he seems to go after people for the same misbehavior he is promoting.  
Questions about the Trump Charity?  Trump: Look at the crooked Clinton foundation.

Trump sniffed his way through two debates, is he on cocaine? Trump: Something is wrong with Hillary, I think we should both take a drug test.
  
Why won't Trump release his tax returns?  Trump: Why doesn't Hillary release her emails?

 Trump is recorded as saying he likes to grope women, is that true?  Trump: I've heard Bill Clinton say much worse on the golf course, much worse, believe me.

Lots of women are coming out now accusing Trump of sexual assault, are they liars? Trump: My actions are just words, Bill Clinton actually did those things.

_________________________________________
Here are ten suggestions for the next and thankfully last Presidential debate.

-Hillary will submit to being drug tested if Trump will release his tax returns.

-No talking about a person who is NOT running for President.  No mention of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush.

-Both candidates will be hooked up to lie detector machines during the debate with results streaming live.

-For this one time only, Hillary Clinton is allowed to hold a press conference with the women who now accuse Trump of sexual assault and they will be allowed to sit in the front row facing Trump.

-Both candidates will be placed in isolation booths.  They will not be allowed to hear the audience so they can't play to their invited cheer leaders, and their microphones turned off when it is not their turn to speak.  They will not be able to interrupt the other candidate because the Microphone will be off until it is their turn.

-There will be no determination of who wins the next debate. The only winning that matters  is who wins the election.

-For three hours after the debate all television stations are required to play re-runs of MASH. There will be no post debate with rabid supporters from each side trying to spin the facts you just heard.
  
-Both candidates must stick to talk about what they will do for the country, not things they will do to the other candidate if elected.  (Actually, that one is only for Trump... he is the only one in American history who has ever threatened to "lock up" their opponent if elected.)

-Hillary is allowed to say "What the Fuck?" To the most outrageous Tumpism stated at the debate. But for the sake of the kids watching, She can only use that "trump card" once.

-Finally each candidate from the isolation booth will be required to stick to and answer the question asked.  Their microphone will be turned off if they begin to repeat a well rehearsed nugget or begin to ramble.  

If they are not going to make these ten adjustments to the last debate, why have one.  The only alternative would be to put up a hexagonal cage around them and have a brawl with Mixed Marshall Arts rules.  Trump will be allowed to wear a hair net so he won't mess up his hair, and Clinton will be provided with an aluminum bra and crotch protector.  

As for me, if I do end up watching the debate I will play a drinking game.  It is a simple game I just made up.  Chug a beer every time either candidate is asked a question. That way by the end you don't care, but you are relatively happy,  unlike how most of us in the electorate feel now. 
As you were,
Jay


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

America Great Again?

 I'm not sure what era Donald Trump wants to go back to when America was "great". I use the word in quotes because I am not sure what the Trump definition of "great' is.  I am assuming he wants to take America back to a time when he personally thought it was "better".  Being the narcissist he is, I assume that means he wants an America that is "great" for Donald Trump.
The Two Faced Apparition. 
I remember a time in the mid-seventies when America was celebrating its bicentennial.  I just moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business. America seemed pretty great to me at that time. No cell phones, no personal computers, no twitter, no Facebook, and only a choice of three television networks to watch.  The news was broadcast in the morning and in the evening.  If you missed what was happening  then you would read a newspaper. Information was harder to come by.  To do research you had to use the library.  Before I find myself writing "you kids get off my lawn" I want to make a point.   

At that time in America, a man named Jimmy Carter was running for President of the United States.  In a very controversial interview for Playboy Magazine Mr. Carter admitted that he had sometimes "lusted" for women in his heart.  The Republican party became outraged at his lack of morality and used that quote as often as they could to demean the candidate.  It almost derailed his Presidential bid.  Not unlike the controversy that surrounds Trump with his "star privileged pussy grabbing" comment to Billy Bush. But here is the difference.

Jimmy Carter was using that "lust" comment to say that as a devout Baptist he had fallen short of  Jesus's teachings that said, "if you have lust  after  a woman in your heart you have committed adultery". It was a contrite way to say that he was not perfect in his faith but trying to keep on the straight and narrow path.  To some fundamental religious right wingers Mr. Carter had as much as admitted he was a sinner and an adulterer, and unfit to lead the America.  This was even before the Religious right decided to hijack conservative politics. 

On the other hand, Mr. Trump's comments were not contrite but pompous. He bragged about not only lusting after Nancy O'Dell but attempting to have sex with her, even though he knew she was married. He himself newly married to his third wife.  If the fundamentalist are keeping score that is actually an admission to breaking a couple of commandments in that one statement.  Then, however, in Trump style he doubles down on the statement by saying that he could abuse his "celebrity star power" to take advantage of any woman he wished to "have".   Unlike Carter who was making the statement that as a Christian he was trying to be better, Mr. Trump brags about his conquests and his lack of respect for women.  If we take America back to that time of Greatness, the Trump campaign would be over.  

Two days ago there was a very mean and hateful claim about Hillary Clinton on Facebook. According to this "meme" Mrs. Clinton is a criminal, liar, traitor and unfit to be the President.  The meme originated on a Facebook site called Christians for Donald Trump.  Other propaganda on that FB page says that Christianity is under attack by Hillary Clinton and only Donald Trump can save the Christian faith.   Really? Trump is the Christian cross bearer?  The man who quoted his favorite Bible verse was from, "Two Corinthians?"  Trump? The man who has never been seen entering a church except for participating in his last three weddings. Trump the man who has not just "lusted after women in his heart"  but publicly embraced adultery during two marriages.  The man who openly states that physical qualities of a woman are more important to him than the quality of their character? Trump the man who said he would be dating his daughter Ivanka if she wasn't his daughter.  The Father that agreed with Howard Stern that the same daughter was a "fine piece of ass".  The man who sees people as Mexican rapists, Muslim terrorist, oppressed blacks and refugees as a poisoned bowl of candy?  If his rhetoric of hate, racism and blatant sexism is acceptable to Christians for Donald Trump, I resign.  I disavow my endorsement of Christianity.  In my opinion, Christians who support Trump do not understand the Constitution nor the Bible. 

Maybe we CAN make America great again.  We should start by embracing the idea of separation of Church and State.  It is a two edged obligation, duty and right. It means that America will not impose religion on its people, but neither can Religions impose a government on Americans.  Stop using tax deductible sanctuaries to promote a political addenda. Government should protect all religions and favor none, and  religions should protect any government that keeps the promise of religious freedom for all. 

As you were,
Jay


Friday, October 07, 2016

Hold Friends Close

With a week of friends and relatives passing away, I wanted to remember someone who is still here. This post is a reprint from 5 years ago.  I hope Harry reads it again so he will know how much his friendship means to me.Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What's a BFF?
Once in a lifetime you connect with a person who becomes your Best Friend Forever. 

It was a chance meeting at the Circus Circus Reno showroom with a guy who was hired to be my opening act. I don't know what draws a comic magician to a ventriloquist, but it was an instant connection.

I became the "roper" to the "wise guy", the pitchman to the carnival lifestyle of Harry Anderson. Before the two weeks were up at the Reno gig we had hustled the pit bosses, played on the trapeze and cuffed the head of security with his own handcuffs. They closed the showroom after we left and turned it into a Keno parlor.

It was the crest of "Soap" for me, but Harry went on to become the star of "Night Court", "Disney's Absent-Minded Professor" and "Dave's World" as well as several network and cable specials, most of which I participated in either by producing or performing in or both. We co-wrote scripts, acts and I even wrote the introduction to a couple of his books. For a while we were developers for Macintosh software, and even converted a Mac program into an application we sold to Disney. 

But live shows were where we really excelled. We did annual Halloween shows and April Fool's shows and New Year's Eve shows at any venue that would let us do our thing, mostly during the rock and roll days of the Comedy Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. We would spend more time and energy in producing those shows than we did for NBC or CBS. 

After his series ended Harry moved to a Green and Green mansion in Pasadena. We converted his basement into a "walk through" spook house that took months to construct. For a party of special invitees one Halloween we tricked, amazed and scared a group of friends with every illusion we could come up with at the time. It was special enough that David Copperfield flew in, before we took it apart, for a command performance. After we tried to establish several companies together we realized that having fun together was much more interesting to us than trying to make a buck. My wife says, "Jay and Harry play together very well." It was Harry who coined the phrase that became the title to my Broadway show, "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only."

Harry moved to New Orleans where he opened a magic shop and nightclub called "Oswald's Speakeasy" dedicated to Lee Harvey Oswald. There was a drink called the "single bullet" and a "grassy knoll". The men's room was papered with the Warren Commission report. Harry's act was the main attraction. We made a deal that I would come into the club and do my act several times a year so he could go on vacation. The club was going strong for several months, and I was ready one week end to come down and survey the club for my show. I never made it. That very weekend the airport closed due to something called Katrina. The town was never the same, Harry closed the shop, sold the club and moved to North Carolina.

After 30 years of friendship it is not so surprising that he would fly across the country to celebrate my birthday a couple of week-ends ago. There were other friends there, but we could have had a great time just the two of us. As usual his toast was the highlight of the evening. His funniest line, "You have to remember, I knew Jay Johnson before he was what he no longer is today." 

My Buddhist friends say we are friends now because of our connection in a previous life. I don't know about that, but I hope we find each other in the next one. Harry always says, "Friends are the family you get to choose". I am godfather to his kids and he is godfather to mine, so I guess we made it official. 

I don't know why I feel compelled to write about this in the blog except to say this. Hold your friends dear, friendship is one of the great gifts we humans have been given. Don't let friends slip away even if they move across the country. In today's high tech world distance is no barrier. Make sure you tell the people close to you that you value the gift of their very existence. 

BFF is thrown around on the Internet like it was a :) or "sincerely" attached to a letter. Not to me... if I use it, I want to mean it. In this case it could not be more accurate, to me my BFF is a BFD. 

As you were,
Jay

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Uncle Hoppy

I have three uncles on my Mother's side of the family. (the Toler Clan).  The oldest was Marvin, followed by my Mom, Wilma, then there is Robert and the youngest brother Orville.  I know Robert as Uncle Melvin, Orville as Uncle Hoppy and Marvin, well he was just Uncle Marvin.  Growing up my Mom, Wilma, was called Cricket and when she got married, Dad called her Paulene. My Toler Grandmother, Oma Freelove Carpenter Toler, was Mama Toe.  To add to the confusion Robert, my Uncle Melvin, referrs to everyone in the family by both their first and middle names.  He would never call me Jay.  I was always Jay Kent, my brother Leon Don, Uncle Melvin's son was Ken Ray. When the Toler's got together you needed a Playbill to know who the characters were.  It is easy to see why I thought the Toler side of my family tree was double the size it is. When we got together it was constant laughter, stories and music being played. It was a lively, loving crowd filled with two name cousins. 
Uncle Hoppy was the youngest and was always the baby of the family. Because my maternal grandfather died when my Mom was 12 and Hoppy around two years old my Mom became more than just a sister to her younger brothers, she was the nanny, babysitter and caretaker while Mama Toe had to work to support the four of them.  Until I was 14 we lived in the same town as all my Toler Uncles and Mama Toe.  

I was old enough to  participate in my Uncle Hoppy's wedding to Mona Struve.  Today that memory is replaying itself in my mind.
Hoppy came down with Pneumonia the week before the wedding.  There was some talk about rescheduling the ceremony but it became easier to cure disease than change wedding plans.  Since Hoppy was living with Moma Toe, when he got sick, Mom brought Hoppy to our house so she could take care of him personally.  My brother and I gave up our  bedroom gladly for the ailing Hoppy, and our house became Wedding central for a couple of weeks.

Hoppy's buddy from the Army came to be best man for the wedding.  Thackeray was a Mormon from Salt Lake City, Utah.  I didn't even know what that was nor what it meant.  But I got to watch this guy, who was always in a white shirt and tie, very politely refuse the ubiquitous sweet Iced Tea that my family guzzled, as well as the coffee that was alway brewing. He said he had religious reasons.  Thackeray stayed with us for a few days and he could not have been a more charming guy.  I wondered if I were to give up my childhood addiction to that "crack" Ice Tea, would I become as nice as this guy.  Since I still drink iced tea and before I started to write this I had three cups of Expresso, you can see where all that wondering ended up.  
Hoppy recovered enough to attend his own wedding although my brother was the stand in groom for the rehearsal.  At that rehearsal when the Methodist minister was going over the ceremony my Uncle Marvin  (who had a very wicked sense of humor) said, "Listen Reverand, when you get to the part about 'in sickness and in health' you can leave that out cause they already passed that test."  

Hoppy stayed in Abernathy and when my family moved to Dallas, Hoppy and Mona bought the house I grew up in.  They added on to the house so much that I never recognized it as my house anymore.  To take care of his family Hoppy took over the General Hardware store that serviced the farming community of Abernathy. It was a store that offered not only the hardware but ready to wear dry goods. His property on Main street in Abernathy was the virtual heart of Abernathy.  After Walmart and True Hardware moved in to Lubbock, only a 20 drive from Abernathy the store began to lose customers.  Eventually the store front was turned into an antique shop museum and Music Hall serving pizza and offering the latest country western performers on tour.  Hoppy went from retail store owner to show promoter and presenter in his years before retirement.  
I took my first plane ride and did my first "road gig" ever in my career for Hoppy.  After we moved away Uncle Hoppy hired me to fly back to Abernathy and perform for the ladies night of the civil club he had become President of.  It is hard to believe looking at the 3 million miles racked up on American Airlines, that I was 14 years old before I took my first plane ride.  Hoppy did not know what he started.  We lost Mama Toe in 1985.  Marvin the oldest, passed several years ago followed by his wife Hazel a few years later.  
After losing two people in my life this week, my sister called to tell me Uncle Hoppy passed away.  Walking in Rudosa, NM he had a fatal heart attack.  He had no history of any sort of health issues that I was aware of.  But like my friend Paul Osborne he did not linger he died instantly, and as I get closer to it, that is exactly the way I would like to make an exit.  
Hoppy remained in the town he was born, becoming the exfacto historian of Abernathy.  He knew everyone and everyone knew him.  To know Hoppy was to love him.  He was a wonderful man with a kind heart and gentle presence. He leaves his wife, three daughters, three son-in-laws and a number of grandkids I can't even count.  
Rest well Hoppy. 
Jay
 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Good Bye Paul

 The tradition is to break a magic wand in half in honor of a magician who dies.  Symbolically it says that his magic will not be done again.  Today it will have to be a Zig-Zag Lady cabinet we break in two, nothing smaller would be appropriate for the loss of my friend and magician Paul Osborne.  
From the Brilliant Mind of
Paul Osborne
Paul Osborne was introduced to me as the college guy who was helping to market a Dallas singing group about the time I graduated from High School.  I saw the hand out materials Paul  had done for the group and they were great. Paul could visualize his ideas with a pen and ink and he could write really good copy as well.  It was easy to think of Paul as a future advertising maven.  
It was only a matter of time before a Dallas magician and a Dallas ventriloquist got booked on the same show. It was a few months later that Paul and I were booked to perform together for a Braniff Airline's Christmas Party,  and...I remember that show very well.  It was in an empty aircraft hanger at Love Field on a riser with a sound system that created an echo effect like we were performing in a stadium.  The guy I thought was just a commercial artist turned out to be a really good Magician. Needless to say an  act that was amazing to watch (Paul's act) went much better than an act you have to listen to (my act). 
I only knew two Dallas magicians. Since one of them went to North Texas and knew Paul, I tried to make conversation about the other magician in town. I only knew his name and saw him perform only once.  I asked if Paul knew Garland Kellogg?  Paul said, "Yes and the next time you see that guy grab him, call me and hold him till I get there.  He owes me money."  I am pretty sure from that moment on Paul and I were friends.

The thing that I remember most about Paul's show even then, were the props.  A magic act is all about the props. Mostly what you saw in Dallas were props purchased at Douglas Magic Land.  They worked fine, but it was not unusual to see a Cowboy magician doing the doll house illusion with a box designed and painted to look like a Chinese pagoda.  Paul made his own props.  They looked different, they fit his act, his illusions looked more like beautiful stage sets than oddly coordinated boxes.  Soon Paul was designing illusions for other magicians.  His Illusion Systems were beautiful draftsmans blue prints that not only were great plans to build it, the plans were works of art themselves.  
With Dallas as a starting line Paul and I continued to cross paths as friends and performers as we both tried to create a career for ourselves.  Theme parks were popping up all over the country and while I was busy performing 10 times a day in the stage show, Paul began producing, directing, art designing, building and staffing theme park shows.  While I was grinding them out day after day, Paul had several shows running in several different theme parks with hired performers... doing the 10 a day.  His eye for the look of a show, his ability to draw, his instinct for advertising and Marketing combined with his sense of humor and magic skills made him unique.  
I remember a story that exemplifies how Paul's mind worked.  At a "rides and attractions" conference Paul happened to be having lunch with a guy who sold large expensive carnival rides.  As the conversation unfolded the guy said he was trying to sell a ride to a client.  It was a stock ride where people stand on the inside of a round spinning cage.  At maximum G- force the wheel would turn on its side so that the riders would be spinning perpendicular to the ground.  The guy said to Paul the client wanted something different. 
Paul asked where that theme park was located.  The salesman said, "In Nevada, near Vegas."  
As they talked, Paul took out a sketch pad and began to draw.  At a point when the sketch was ready Paul slid it across to his friend.  It was a sketch of that stock ride only Paul had drawn it to look like a roulette wheel.  With sketch in tow the salesman went back to the client.  They loved the idea and bought the ride.  The salesman eventually gave Paul a 10% commission on the price of the ride. Not bad for a simple conversation over lunch. Paul could put his imagination down on paper so those less imaginative could see what he saw.  
Over the years if Michelle and Paul were in Los Angeles, or Sandi and I happened to be in Dallas we would have a dinner out together. It was all about friendship, showbiz stories and laughter.  You didn't "catch up" with Paul after being apart for awhile, you tried to hang on and pick up where you left off.  One evening I got to the waiter before he brought the check arrived and paid it.  I told the waiter to say that Garland Kellogg had picked up the check.  It became a call back joke.  The college guy who owed Paul money became a punch line, perfect retribution.  The last time I used that name was three days ago when I replied to an Osborne Facebook post. 
This morning I found out that Paul was gone. I will miss his presence on Earth in ways that highjack my emotions. Since most of our relationship was spent laughing, I smile at the thought of Paul Osborne, then feel a profound sadness that I will never laugh with him again.  
Michelle said he didn't like funerals, nor memorials, maybe he wouldn't even like this tribute to his memory in a blog.  I know he was a regular reader of my blog and we shared the need to rant out loud occasionally.  We had plans to work on a book project together that I was looking forward to very much.  It wasn't about the book, it was about the excuse to creatively hang out with my childhood friend Paul. 
So Paul, it wasn't a very satisfying goodbye. I will always be in awe of your talents, your humor, and your personal magic.  Since you spent your life building magic illusions is doesn't seem right to break a wand in your honor.  So I will just look forward to laughing with you again some day but for now I don't want to think of you as gone.... Magicians never die... they just disappear.  
As you were,
Jay

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dub and Mary Frances



 Edward Albee said, "I write to know what I'm thinking about."  Today I am thinking about Dub and Mary Frances Crain.
If I had godparents growing up they would be Dub and Mary Frances, MF to most of her friends. They were my parents best friends and lived next door to us in Abernathy, Texas. Dub was the band director of Abernathy Public school where my Dad was Superintendent.  I remember many times going to sleep in the back of the house with the smell of cigarettes and brewed coffee supporting the conversation between my parents and  Dub and MF in the kitchen.  I loved clandestinely monitoring their stories and laughter. Dub was a Navy guy like my Dad and there were plenty of "Sea Stories" when they got together.  I was too young to understand all the things they talked about, but Dub made my Dad laugh more than anyone else could.  Dub taught me my very first note of music, a love that stays with me even today as I play the very piano that Dub arranged for my parents to buy.   Every tuner that tweaks that piano tells me how great it is even today.  It wasn't just a piano that Dub found for the family, it was a really great piano.  

Mary Frances could not have children so my brother, sister and me became her children until they adopted their first child. Eventually Dub and MF adopted the same family of two boys and a girl. But before they moved away when I was in junior high school, I thought I was one of the Crain's kids. 

I remember with great joy the day that MF came over to the house with hoopla hoops for me and my sister.  It was the hottest toy of the day and on a school administrators salary it was financially out of reach for my family.  But my next door godmother bought them for us.  That hula hoop was only a symbol of the love that I felt for both the Crains.  

The families kept in touch for a long time after Dub left his job as band director and moved from Abernathy. But as geography would have it the connection faded over the years.  Their new family grew as ours did and eventually addresses became out of date and years went by. But for me, I never forgot the adults that loved me when I was a kid. 

Although I have not seen them for more than 60 years, and Dub passed away a couple of years before my own Dad. I found MF on Facebook and developed a FB connection with her over the last few years.  We corresponded with meme's and messages that reminded me of how much those two people meant to me when I was a kid.  It has been far too long since I got a message or a "like" from her. Today I heard that Mary Frances passed away.  

Although my destiny was not to be found in Abernathy, Texas, growing up in that tiny town gave me a sense of protection that I will always be grateful for. To know that living right next door was a couple who would not think twice to help and/or protect me and my family is a priceless gift for a child.  
I am sure I told her in my adulthood how much she and Dub meant to me, and she expressed the same love back in those FB posts, so I don't feel there are any missed chances or unresolved emotions.  And even though we had not been geographically close for a decades she will always have a special place in my heart. 

Today when I play my piano it will be in honor of the godparents/neighbors who introduced me to that gift of music.  Welcome home Mary Frances.  Give Dub and Ferrel Ray a kiss for all of us.
As you were,
Jay 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Politics will continue......

 

The Trump Drinking Game

 So who knew that the drinking game for the debate last night would be "take a drink every time Trump sniffs" and "chug a drink every time Trump takes a sip of water".  Back in the 80's if someone had been sniffing all the time, spouting rambling thoughts of self- absorbed importance and thirsty all the  time, I would have used the word cocaine to explain those actions. In fact the best explanation for his sometimes incoherent bull shit, total narcissism and complete disconnect from reality could very well be cocaine.  From my experience with coke heads it fits the pattern completely.  
His constant interruption with childish retorts, like "that makes me smart" when Ms. Clinton suggested that he pays no income tax is more evidence that he not only is an egotistic paranoid sociopath, but perhaps a cocaine user as well?  In Trumps favorite form of communication, the Tweet, Howard Dean suggested the same thing, Cocaine.  
There are so many things that made me yell out loud at the television last night but the most disturbing was a constant statement by Mr. Trump bragging about his "property".  No matter what country or city was mentioned Trump's knee jerk response was, "I have property there."  He said it so many times it struck me as quite dangerous.  If he became President and there was some necessary action to be taken toward a country where "he has property" would his first thought be the good of the country or the value of his "property" in that other country.  Since we will never see those tax returns of his we will never know for sure.  However, if he considers that paying no taxes while making a billion dollars makes him "smart" then I suppose he considers Al Capone a fricken genius.  
In fact as I listened to Trump last night he sounded more and more like a Mafia boss than a man who would be president. About NATO he said- we are protecting all these countries - they need to pay us for that. ( Mafia calls that protection money).  Regarding trade from other countries he said, they need to pay us. (Mafia skimming off the top of the profits).  On Iranian boats harassing our ships he would "blow them out of the water".  (Mafia allows no disrespect for a made member). 
Once again he sent hugs and kisses to Russia's Putin saying no one knows for sure who hacked into the Democratic computers. "Maybe it was the Russians, maybe it was a 400 pound guy sitting on a couch somewhere."  The FBI has determined it was most likely Russian hackers who accomplished the hack, but facts are not anything that a Mafia Boss need to be concerned with. 
Trump is an aged spoiled brat who has been able to buy anything he wanted, no matter who he had to stiff to get it.  Trump is the poster boy for the 1% who control most of the wealth in the country and his proposals of lowering those "job creators" tax rates is the old "trickle down theory".  Trickle down doesn't work, never will in this country.  He admitted he thought it was smart not to pay taxes, why would it be smart to pay any of his workers a decent wage, or in some cases even the wage he contracted to pay them for their work.  
The deal is... I am just wasting my time talking about how dangerous, stupid, ill-prepared, destructive and racist Donald Trump is.  Those who think that a person with his lack of intellectual curiosity is what America needs will never be smart enough to see through his bull shit.  If there are enough  sheep around for Donald to sheer and he actually wins the Presidency, I will get no pleasure in writing a plethora of  "I told you so" blogs.  That assumes he doesn't push us into a thermo-nuclear war before I get the chance to write them.

There are real issues about where the loyalties of a President Trump would lie. (I use the word "lie" in both its contexts). Often the interests of the Nation are greater than the biggest corporation in the Nation, and may even be at odds with corporate rationale.  I have no doubt he will think like a "business man" first and "president" second.  That is the very platform he is running on.  He is going to treat America like it was one of his casino's.  For those who think America needs a "business man" at the helm,  why don't you get a "business man" to perform your next surgery. America is more like a Non-profit Organization than a publicly held corporation. Based solely upon his ability to run his own non-profit, it is not something Trump is very good at.  

I have sworn off political posts, and will again after this one. I just can't get past the idea that the America I see every day is too kind, too intellectual, too progressive and too good to fall for the kind of hateful, uninformed, narcissistic rhetoric that Donald Trump spews.   I remain totally baffled.

As you were,
Jay