The Convoluted Path Part Seventy-Six

4 May

Hand colored Larry Norman December 2000

I’m overextended exhausted and worn out. I’ve been spinning my wheels and trying to succeed in many directions or endeavors. They are all interrelated and connected together. I’m attempting to pull together all my resources and research and presenting it in final form. My goal would be formidable in itself, but I’m attempting it while living an average middle class life, while raising a large family. It’s hard and I often think that I’m fantasizing when I think that I’ll have success. I’ve been living on begged, borrowed and inherited money for five years now. No matter how hard I’ve worked it never has been enough.

Larry Norman called me and told me that the CD’s came in that used my photos on the cover and the inner booklet. We went out for dinner at a Thai restaurant that he likes to frequent. His son Michael and Carey came as well and he gave me a half dozen copies of the Larry Norman Live at Cornerstone 2001. We got into a discussion about Greek culture and when I mentioned the battle of Thermopylae pass and the 300 Spartans none of them were familiar with it. There was a 1962 film of the event and in 2007 a popular contemporary version if “300 Spartans” would be made. I read the account in Herodotus’s “Histories” that I purchased in graduate school.

You would expect it to be an innocuous subject but for some reason it upset both Michael and Larry. Larry asked me to explain the story so I did and before I finish Larry interrupted and concluded with “I suppose that they succeeded in holding them off?” When I responded with a negative and said that they all died Larry was shocked. Then Michael tried to contradict me and when I repeated that they all died he angrily responded that he was talking about another story, so I just dropped the subject.

I vacillate between believing that everything will work out and knowing that it will all come crashing down on me. I’ve built a fantasy out of my dreams. I decided that I would rather be dead than to live the rest of my life without pursuing 100% wholeheartedly the dreams within me. When I was younger these dreams didn’t exist with the clarity and tangibility that they do now and I have done so. I am financially in debt up to my ears. At one of the most potentially fruitful periods of all these years my computer crashes and burns. I got the hard drive replaced but lost everything including important email. I’m four classes behind on the on line web site building class I’m enrolled in and handcoloring.com needs my scanned images.

Bonnie Raitt came to the Elsinore theater the Friday after 9/11 and I had two tickets and a photo pass to cover it. Kathy went with me and we had pretty good seats in the mezzanine along with my photo pass allowing me to go up to the stage to get some closer shots. The lighting was dim and reddish which don’t create the most desirable lighting but I had good shots at a daylight concert from four years earlier anyway. The photos were acceptable but not as sharp and evenly lit as the ones at the “Riverboat Show Queen.”

While I was looking through the Oregonian’s A&E section that came out every Friday I saw that the artist Peter Max was coming to the Portland Lawrence art gallery for a special appearance. He was going to unveil a painting of environmental senator Mark Hatfield who was also the governor of Oregon. I was doing interviews for the Wittenburg Door magazine at the time and already had a few published so I was feeling confident. I contacted the gallery and told them that I was a journalist and wanted to cover the opening night with Peter Max and interview him. They gave me the phone number of the local publicist that was handling everything.

When I told the publicist who I was and the article interview that I wanted to do she was positive and told me to come to the gallery and tell Peter Max who would be there that she would inform Max. I decided to call Larry Norman and tell him that I was going to interview Peter Max and cover his opening night. I was hoping that I could ride with him and not have to drive but he was going with his friend with the PT Cruiser whose name was Doug. Doug was sold sunglasses to convenience stores across the Northwest and made a good living doing it. Larry was leaving from Doug’s house and it was near Portland so I drove by myself and met him there.

I found a parking space a block away from the gallery and when I walked in with my camera bag I saw Peter Max talking to some people and found the gallery director. I explained who I was and even had my printed email from the publicist that he gave me the number for. He took me to Peter Max and introduced me to him. Max gave me his attention and when I began to tell him who I was with and the interview he seemed skeptical. I had all my interview questions on a sheet of paper that I printed out that I showed him. He took it and when he read it his attitude changed and he became excited to do the interview. I had done my research and was asking questions that directly related to his religious beliefs in an objective interested way.

At first he wanted to do the interview at his hotel room after the gallery closed but his girlfriend didn’t approve so we decided to do it in the backroom after the unveiling of Senator Hatfield’s painting. Larry and Doug arrived a little after me and I took photos of them looking at paintings. Both Larry and Doug purchased small paintings that measured around 11×14 for nearly three-thousand dollars each. Larry said that his was to give his mother for Christmas. I later found out that the Norman’s had a family tradition of giving each other items that were used rather than brand new so this violated that standard. At the same time Larry’s website was asking for donations to help with his medical expenses.

I shot some photos of Larry posing with Peter Max and his purchased painting along with Senator Mark Hatfield and his painting after the unveiling. Peter invited me to go into the backroom which was a storage area to do the interview. When we were still in the gallery Larry made sure that Peter knew that I was friends with him and invited himself with Doug into the backroom. At first I was irritated because it was distracting and I wanted to be alone with Max but ignored it and went on with the interview with Larry and Doug hovering over us.

Larry Norman was finally getting some recognition from the GMA (Gospel Music Association) since they were inducting him along with Elvis Presley and Keith Green into the “Gospel Music Hall of Fame.” Unfortunately it was at the same time that he was going into the hospital to have a heart defibrillator implanted in his chest so his son Michael accepted the award for him. After that Larry was out of commission for a couple of years. I got my interview with Peter Max published in the “Wittenburg Door” in the same issue that they published my interview with Ian Anderson from “Jethro Tull.”

I got the interview with Ian Anderson through one of the publicists that I know named Ann Leighton. Ann lives in the Bronx district of New York City and is one of the nicest persons to work with. She handles some of the older music artists as well as new and upcoming people. I photographed Jethro Tull two different times at L B Day amphitheater in Salem, Oregon and used my photos for the Door interview.

The post office is front page news again for the wrong reason. This time it’s because of Anthrax and the Washington DC Brentwood post office where postal workers were infected and two died from exposure. Letters were sent through the mail to senators Daschle and Leahy as well as most major media outlets. A total of 5 people died from exposure to the anthrax and it cost multi-millions of dollars to clean up all the contaminated buildings. In the end the culprit responsible for the attack wasn’t Al-Qaeda but one of our own scientists with mental problems.

One day when I came to work when I was working on Tour II (the day shift) and started at 6:00 AM I went on my first break at 8:00 AM. I sat down in the TV room to watch the news and learned that the entire capitol building was closed down yesterday because of an anthrax scare. It seems that a letter in the capitol bldg. mail room contained a suspicious white powder so people in hazmat suits were the only ones investigating. It was concluded that the suspicious powder was harmless and it was a false alarm.

Nobody in the room said a word as we all sat there until I spoke. Where do they think that the letter came from before it got to the capitol building mail room? Nobody ever told us about what was going on. Why did we have to see it on the news to learn about it? That’s why the Brentwood postal workers died, because they didn’t know that they were exposed to anthrax until it was too late. Were the statehouse workers all notified and sent to the hospital?

The next day plant manager Cliff Koch called everyone together for a meeting in the break room. He explained that postal upper management and the postal inspection service commended him for handling the anthrax incident properly. In the old days I would have pointed out the fact that I was never notified along with many others but what’s the difference anymore. Fuck it, who cares, so what, big deal.

My 35mm “Successful Photos” class was going well along with the “Hand Coloring class. After doing paid demonstrations at all the Michael’s art supply stores in north western Oregon I decided to take a chance on teaching it. The main problem was having the right photographic paper that was absorbent. Glossy, luster and most other paper surfaces won’t accept the oils and it just sits on the surface. Since I have my own dark room if the student gives me their negative I’ll print an 8×10 or 11×14 for them at half the price of “Photovision.”

The war with Afghanistan began in October and they annihilated Al-Qaeda’s training camp and after a month completely defeated the Taliban and the Northern Alliance was starting to take control. The most infamous incident that took place in Afghanistan was when football player Pat Tillman was killed after he enlisted in the army and served in multiple combat tours. We mopped up the Taliban just like it was predicted but that wasn’t the end of the conflict. We set up a puppet government just like the Russians did and have to stay to protect it while failing to get the main target, Osama Bin Laden.

This burning rage which seethes within my soul both motivates and deviates my progress on this journey called life. The pain of my agony, an agony not uncommon to man, but nevertheless an agony results in the continual crucifixion of my goals. The way and the course has been long with twists and turns, plunges and ascensions. Along the way I have accumulated skills and progeny herewith manifesting itself as who I am.

Sometimes I think that I am totally full of shit and other times I completely understand where I’m coming from. Right now I want to explain how I could conclude a delusional mystical episode with reality. I was in debt up to my eyeballs, at least as a common average everyday postal worker who moonlighted as a rock & roll journalist. I believed that proof of God’s direction would be in complete financial success. I believed this in spite of what I saw, experienced and was told about what the financial success is of rock & roll journalists unless they somehow become part of the momentary zeitgeist of some particular era.

Birth

30 Apr
Birth

Birth is the beginning of life after nine months of development from the conjugation of a sperm cell with an egg ovum. The fact that fucking is the purpose of life is an unspoken truth. In order to detract attention from the fact we make the subject taboo to discuss. However the Bible itself blurts out the truth with the very first sentence which states “in the beginning God created.” In other words God produced something. How did he do this creating? It doesn’t matter because the command is clear and with the natural urge to have sex among human beings we must assume that this urge is a fulfillment of that initial command in Genesis. Birth is the beginning with an entire life following with all of its convoluted paths which is the adventure that we are free to create according to the abilities that we were born with.

John Fahey in the New York Times

28 Apr

Smashwords – Conversations With and About John Fahey – a book by Bob Gersztyn

An Illustrated Book About the Real John Fahey

John Fahey died in February 2001 yet an article just appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 talking about his influence on solo guitar players in the 21st Century. They called Fahey the “Father of the Solo Guitar” because he was one of a few that could fill a five-thousand seat auditorium with paying customers to watch he sit in a chair and play an acoustic guitar all by himself for two hours. The article complained that the field has long been dominated by white men but in recent years there has been an addition of people of color and female guitarists like Yasmin Williams.

DEATH!

27 Apr
Los Angeles City Cemetery

Bob Gersztyn | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

When I was 13 years old my childhood best friend, Freddy Mazzonne and I would ride our bicycles to the Michigan State Fair, which was about 7 miles from our houses. One of the many free exhibits that we would enjoy was an area where they showed previews of upcoming films. One of the films was Disney’s “Pollyanna” with Haley Mills. Karl Malden played the preacher whose sermon punch line was included in the preview, “Death Comes Unexpectedly!!!” The other film was the “Castle” film of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The House of Usher,” another film about death. The subject is fascinating and just about every interesting story deals with it. This is the reason why I have always photographed cemeteries and graveyard as much as anything else.

Michigan Detroit Area Cemetery

Bob Gersztyn | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

My Latest Blind Joe Death Post

25 Apr

Smashwords – Conversations With and About John Fahey – a book by Bob Gersztyn

John Fahey 1997

I loved talking with John Fahey otherwise know as Blind Joe Death because he was intelligent and was interested in the same things that I was. He was always trying to figure out life and observed multiple religious traditions to find a pattern. In the end it drove him to abandon all religious affiliation as he became an atheist. I recorded our conversations and then interviewed his friends, fellow musicians and a former wife to get other insights into who John Fahey really was. My book, “Conversations With and About John Fahey” published as an ebook on Smashwords is nearly 200 pages long and is profusely illustrated with my photographs. Check it out at this link. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/952357

John Fahey July 2000 Venetian theater Albany, Oregon

Photoshop Choice Comparison

22 Apr
Rachel & the Rain Kings in front of Ron’s House 2021

When Rachel and the Rain Kings met for their latest group photos it was at drummer Ron Caton’s house. After I edited some photos and made a collage I decided to try a different background. Since I just visited Pocatello, Idaho the previous weekend I had images from that. My most interesting one’s were at the city dump so I did a Photoshop cut and past program to put Rachel and the Rain Kings in a new location for a different background. Click on the link to listen to the band. Rachel and The Rain Kings | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Rachel & the Rain Kings at the Pocatello, Idaho garbage dump 2021

Rachel & the Rain Kings 2021

21 Apr

Rachel Blair – Musician in Salem OR – BandMix.com

Rachel Blair 2021

Rachel and the Rain Kings has is a blues band that hails from Salem, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. Rachel first began singing as a child growing up in both the Los Angeles, California inner city and the Detroit Michigan working class suburb of Warren. She’s lived in Oregon since the late 1980’s other than a couple of years in Wyoming and Connecticut. The band’s repertoire ranges from classic rock to blues from all periods. The links provided provide two songs to listen too, “Dream Big” and “Lie to Me.”

Rachel Blair – Musician in Salem OR – BandMix.com

Rachel and the Rain Kings 2021

Mormon Seagulls

20 Apr
Seagulls at the Pocatello, Idaho garbage dump

Over the last weekend I drove nearly 700 miles from Salem, Oregon to Pocatello, Idaho. We ended up at the Pocatello garbage collection and landfill. When we arrived there was a flock of seagulls swooping down on the garbage littering the hillside. I was surprised to see seagulls so far inland but then I remembered the story of how the early Mormon settlers in what is now Salt Lake City had their crops being eaten by swarms of insects when seagulls descended and ate them all. Because of this today the California seagull is the state bird of Utah.

The Pocatello, Idaho Landfill and Garbage Dump

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Bob%20Gersztyn

The Convoluted Path Part Seventy-Five

15 Apr

Uncle Eddy in front of my childhood house

I sent all the color film to Dale Labs in Florida and had the negatives developed that then were transferred to slides as well as digital images on a disk. I gave all the discs to Larry Norman according to the photographer copyright laws. When I delivered them I asked Larry for the thousand dollars for the week as we agreed and he wrote me a check. I gave all the unused film to Larry and then we went out to dinner. Larry likes Thai food but I talked him into going to the “Best Little Roadhouse” instead. Kerry came and so did Larry’s son Michael who accompanied Larry for almost everything. He was a caring father and tried to spend as much time with his son as he could. When we were at Cornerstone they would watch movies all night.

One time when Larry came over to the house and someone dropped him off I was driving him back to his place while I was supposed to pick up my ten year old son Jason from soccer practice. Larry was in a hurry to get home so he wanted me to drive him home before I picked up Jason. I told him that I was already late and couldn’t wait and he was upset. When we arrived to pick up Jason he was waiting and complained that I was late and he was getting worried. I could tell that Larry felt bad and he suggested that we stop at Diary Queen in West Salem before driving him home and he would treat us to ice cream, so we did.

I spent more time with Larry that Summer which is like a dream come true that I didn’t care about anymore. Back in the 1970’s I contacted “Solid Rock Records” when it was still in Los Angeles. I talked to someone on the phone and told them about my photos of Randy Stonehill and when they found out that I also had “Love Song” and Chuck Girard they asked me to send them the original slides and negatives to look at which like a fool I did. They never returned them and other than a few 4×6’s and a black & white proof sheet someone still has everything. One time I told Larry what happened and he said that he wasn’t responsible for what his employees did.

Jesus called spiritual wickedness blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10. The context of this passage is Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath as well as picking wheat heads and eating them. He quotes I Samuel 21 and Isaiah 42 to support his argument that the entire system was set up by man as a tool which had limitations as well as a purpose. This happened when individuals were filled with God’s spirit and were in the process of creating positive change or shifting the focus. When such a thing was happening all prvious bets were out the window. A new context was being created. This new context is simply the evolution of civilization into a more efficient form. This has occurred over the ages by the meeting between two cultures. Whether Semites and Africans, Judaism and Hellenism or Christianity and LSD.

Ever since Louise Dunlap left as the plant manager and Cliff Koch took over overtime began to increase. Since I was a perennial overtime desired list member and we were still on the verge of bankruptcy I took all I could get. However, it was different than back in the 1980’s and now I was older and had less energy as well as a number of outside activities like teaching photography classes at both Chemeketa and Portland community colleges. At the same time I was still shooting concerts on a regular basis and now I was even doing interviews with the artists for the “Door Magazine.” Kevin McGrory was the Tour II superintendent at the time and when he would call overtime and I had to tell him that I couldn’t stay because I had a class to teach that night he was upset. That’s the problem with the ODL when you have a lot going in your personal life but need the money.

In August of 2001 my godfather, uncle Eddy died and my aunt Irene called me to tell me and ask if I was coming to the funeral? We were struggling to pay the bills and even though I wanted to I told her that I couldn’t do it financially. She offered to pay my plane fare so I said okay and booked a seat on a plane to Detroit. Of course the post office was not happy that I would have to be gone on emergency leave for a week so I needed to make sure that I brought a note from the funeral director verifying the death.

One of the clerks had a son that died in the early 1990’s and the day of the funeral she had a wake at her house. She told me that Louise Dunlap and Cliff Koch knocked on her front door and she answered it. When she saw who it was she said, “did you come here to make sure that my son is really dead? When they denied her accusation she didn’t let up and said that she made them feel like shit. There have been cases where workers were off for a death and when they failed to bring proof, like an obituary or note from the undertaker they would mark you AWOL and deny you paid leave. By this time in my postal career I understood and accepted the rules so it was no big deal.

When I got to Michigan I stayed with my sister Karen and of course she would be at the funeral and funeral parlor. I connected with my old friends Jerry DeClark and Dave Loughead and enjoyed lounging in the swimming pool during the hot August days. The funeral service was held at St. Florian’s in Hamtramck and Orlikowski Funeral home where most family funerals took place. Many of the relatives from the Gersztyn side of the family came to either the visitation or funeral so I saw them for the first time in over thirty years and the last time before they also passed on.

I met my cousin Carol’s husband for the first time and we did not hit it off. It felt like a dick measuring contest and maybe that was just my impression but we didn’t have too much in common. He made a comment about how many kids I had and I said that I had seven because that is the perfect number and he pointed out that seven wasn’t always for good.  When he started talking about doo wop music I told him that my era was the psychedelic Jimi Hendrix period.

After I flew back to Oregon my aunt Irene called me a few months later and asked if uncle Eddy ever told me how much he was willing me. I told her that he once sent me a bank for to fill out for that I signed, dated and mailed back to him. Unfortunately I didn’t make a copy of it and aunt Irene said that she didn’t see anything in his records. Since she had been taking care of him in his last days she became his executor and controlled all his money. Karen’s husband Gunther is a successful financial advisor and he estimates that Uncle Eddy could have a million dollars save up.

Uncle Eddy never got married and never owned a car. He either lived close enough to work that he could walk or he would get a ride his entire life. He inherited his parent’s house that he lived in until he retired and went to a senior home until he was dying. The house was two story with two separate residences and he rented out the top floor. He worked 12 hours a day six or seven days a week for years. In the early 1980’s he had heart surgery and because of a botched anesthetic he was partially blinded and had a settlement after a lawsuit. When Fisher Body closed and he was either eligible to retire or could collect his full salary until a new plant was built he chose the latter. The day the new plant opened and he was called to work he put in for retirement, sold his home and moved to a retirement center.

Aunt Irene asked me if uncle Eddy told me how much he was giving me and I truthfully answered that I didn’t. She told me that she was going to send me a check for $10,000.00 from uncle Eddy’s money. I never heard from her again after she sent the money and when I sent my cousins Carol and Marsha Christmas cards they ended up being returned because they moved with no forwarding address. A few years later one of my cousins was searching the internet for something and they found Aunt Irene’s obituary. Her children, our cousins didn’t even inform any of the family on our side. Of course this drew suspicion that they wanted to distance themselves from the rest of the family because they didn’t want to share uncle Eddy’s wealth and for that reason acted like we didn’t exist. Who knows if that is true, but if it is then the God that they say that they believe in knows and will deal with it. The ten thousand dollars helped us to survive a little longer but it hardly made a dent in our debt.

After I returned to Salem after the funeral I returned to work at the post office and brought a letter from the funeral director verifying that I did in fact attend my dead uncle’s funeral. Over the years there was at least once incident that I remember where someone was off for a funeral and was shocked and offended that they had to bring in proof before they were able to get paid for their own annual leave. Otherwise they would be marked AWOL and forfeit getting paid. I already told the story that Betty Ritter told me about her son’s funeral.

On Tuesday September 11, 2001 they brought me into work four hours early on overtime so I arrived at 2:00 AM instead of 6:00 AM and helped out with the dispatch. After I returned from my break at 5:30 AM I began hanging orange airmail sacks that I always did after dispatch unless the dispatch clerks had time to do it before their shift was over. I had my CD player on and was wearing earphones when a few minutes after 6:00 AM Greg Parkinson came racing by and asked me what was happening now? I told him that I wasn’t listening to the radio and he said that we’ve been attacked as he raced to the break room with me following to see what CNN that was always on was showing. They replayed the video footage of the second plane hitting the tower beside the other tower that had a flaming airplane impaled in it.

After I finished hanging all the priority sacks I went out to the dock to help Parkinson and Dennis Stires’ with the city dispatches. Parkinson asked me what I thought would happen because of this and I said when they find out who it is they’ll retaliate and security will be beefed up. “What will happen is we will lose our freedom because of all the rules they’ll put in place.” All the planes were grounded after a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I had the next two days off and spent most of it in front of the TV set watching CNN reporting on the aftermath of all the planes crashing and the World Trade Towers collapsing. It was horrible and when they said that it was of Biblical proportions for once they weren’t exaggerating. I immediately thought of the story of Sampson in the Bible and how he collapsed two pillars in the temple of Dagon and killed over three-thousand people. He asked God to help him avenge himself for blinding him. He succeeded in his task and was buried with honor by his family. It seemed like it was a parallel story but with supernatural power compared to today using modern technology that would be magical to the Palestinian culture three-thousand years ago.

Three Finger Jack

13 Apr
Three Finger Jack & Duffy Lake at Dawn

Three Finger Jack is a blown out volcano that is just under eight-thousand feet. It was named after an outlaw named Three Finger Jack from the last days of the Wild West. When I first moved to Oregon in 1980 I heard about the beauty that could be discovered by going into the wilderness from loggers. They described beautiful meadows of wildflowers and lakes mirroring the mountain peaks. I longed to see it since I was a photographer and wanted to capture the natural beauty of Oregon after photographing the concrete cities of Los Angeles, California and Detroit, Michigan. In 1989 I met someone who invited me to go backpacking with them and I had two teenage boys at the time so we all backpacked into Jefferson wilderness. I went on a dozen three day treks during the 1990’s and brought all my camera equipment with me loaded in a backpack that weighed a solid fifty pounds.

After a couple of years of all four of us backpacking to a couple of locations, I decided to go in by myself one time in October because I wanted to get some shots of dawn at Duffy Lake before winter began. I hiked in alone on a Sunday afternoon and arrived at the spot at Duffy Lake that I wanted. It was only four miles from the trail head and was pretty much flat all the way, unlike going into Jefferson Park at the base of Mt. Jefferson that was six miles of uphill switchbacks that gained two-thousand feet of elevation.

Three Finger Jack and Duffy Lake

I arrived just as the sun was setting since I had left home too late since this was a last moment decision. I managed to pitch the tent and get everything set up before it was pitch black. There was no chance to gather wood to make a fire so even though it was only 8:00 PM I had no choice but to go to bed. I had a sleeping bag and a space age aluminum blanket but was freezing when I woke up at midnight so I put on all my clothes, jacket, hat and gloves and slept uncomfortably until just before dawn.

When I awoke I drank the coffee that I brought in a thermos and got my camera equipment ready and set up my tripod. After I determined my settings for exposure I began to take images as soon as the first rays of dawn touched Three Finger Jack and continued to shoot until the sun fully rose and I packed up my equipment and hiked out and went home to develop my black and whites and send in my color to get processed.

Three Finger Jack and Duffy Lake

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