“May you live in interesting times.” (Confucius) I am humbled as I recall my austere beginnings, but it sure has been an interesting life so far. And my feeling today is “You ain’t seen nothin yet!”
During my grade school years I recall selling magazine subscriptions and shining shoes, both on street corners and door to door. Also, I worked at Jerry’s G and L Drive In, at the intersection of Green and Lake streets, in Pasadena. They paid two bits ($0.25!) an hour and I got meals! I washed dishes and peeled hundred pound sacks of potatoes for French fries. It was fun and interesting, kinda. All of a sudden, I was grown up, (not mature, I found out later) but grown. I’d always loved music, listened to big bands and jazz mostly. I’d already led my own 11 piece band for two summers at Lake Arrowhead at age 15 and 16, in 1943 and 44. All of a sudden, I’d served in the Army, during the Korean War, finished school and graduated Westlake College of Music in Los Angeles. All of a sudden, I played for every big name singer, musician and entertainer alive. Almost literally. I never played for The Beatles, for instance. I’d also married, been divorced and had a new baby girl, Karen Ann. And I never grew up really, or matured. This was never taught to me. I had gotten by with being “good hearted, industrious, loving and well-meaning.” Shortly thereafter, in 1958, my best friend, a drummer, (who is still with me here on this planet alive) said, “There is a new class at the Science of Mind church.” (He meant the one on Harmon St in Las Vegas.) “I’m taking it and so are you!” I took the class, and started to grow up almost immediately,
I give thanks all the time to the drummer, Gordon Fry and to Dr Ernest Holmes, author and teacher of the Science of Mind, and to Dr HAP Polite, minister of that Church! Together, they grew me up! Or, at least started the process! I’m still working on it! What’s next? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Frederick Nietzsche wrote “There are no truths, only interpretations!” Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the deluge of interpretations masquerading as truth that pour over us all the time via both the news and social media! It feels to me like I imagine a duck would feel after an oil spill, when its world is saturated with gooey, slimy gunk. I have no good response to the goo, the slime and ugliness being spoken, written and published. No one is exempt, from ordinary citizens to public figures and elected officials. Everything is fodder for the hate-mongers it seems. Civil discourse used to be civil. People with opposing opinions were “learned colleagues on the other side of the aisle.” Even one’s sworn enemy was a “noble adversary” deserving of, worthy of, and getting our respect. We had a creed handed down from our grandmothers: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all!” We lived by that, remember? I have a question for the goo-makers and the mud-slingers: How does it make you feel?
Here is what lives in my heart; I offer it to you if it touches yours: “I am a whole, complete and perfect creation of God and all right action is taking place in my life, right now. This is the truth and for it I am grateful, and so it is!” Climb out of the ooze with me and let’s live the Ideal!
I have noticed, as perhaps you have, that not everyone on this planet arrives here exactly the same way. For example, my mother, was born into a family of wealth; my father was not similarly advantaged. His parents were not prepared for or equipped to raise a child. He was adopted as an infant by a family of modest means with big hearts and limited resources; no other information is available. Whether a baby arrives into great wealth or completely dire circumstances does not seem to make much difference. I know of a young man from a well-to-do and successful family who has been in prison for many years because he used and sold illegal drugs. And yet there are others, with no apparent predisposition at all, who do remarkable and useful things and perform miraculous feats based on love and goodness. I have noticed, and I am very grateful for, this built in urge, this biological imperative within each of us to nurture, to help, to foster and promote the highest good for all concerned. When unimpeded by outside influence or interior error thinking, the Divine intention for humankind is to flourish together. The Science of Mind, my study of consciousness and adopting altruistic Ideals are the precursors of all the good that has shown up in my life! This is the source of coherent thinking and the energy to do good! All appearances to the contrary are merely the result of habitual down thinking, a negative use of mind, consciousness and ideas. What great news for all sentient beings! Breathe and stay happy. The good is now!
I’m attracted to most music and songs, bet you’re not surprised! “Make Someone Happy” came to my mind today. Years ago I used to believe I could. Naive, huh? A line in it says: “Fame if you win it, comes and goes in a minute.” I almost experienced fame in the ’60s. I”ll explain. Herb Alperts’s Tijuana Brass had achieved a lot of success back then. An agent I was working with told me, “Gil, if you put together a group similar to that, I will book it for you.” I was busy traveling with Billy Eckstine about 35 weeks a year and in the big show rooms the rest of the time, but I thought “Why not? More work is always good!” Long story edited: the agent went the way of many agents, he vanished. I put together a group I called Tequila Brass and we auditioned for the then-Sahara Hotel at Tahoe. We only had twelve arrangements and some sort of jive costumes, (mostly sombreros, I think). And to my delight and amazement, the entertainment director there hired us: two trumpets, trombone, bass trombone, piano, bass and drums. It was an afternoon gig in the Juniper Lounge for the summer. Twelve charts are not enough music for four forty-five minute shows, which the gig called for! So, our bass trombonist, who was a great player and superb arranger, busily wrote out charts on paper napkins during our breaks in the coffee shop! Other members soon contributed and, in time, we got really tight and good. Count Basie used to come in and dig us. It was a gas! We played two summers at Tahoe, then they booked us for a gig at the Mint Casino in Las Vegas. That was a success also and we were even held over. Shortly afterward Harvey’s booked us in their lounge back here, at home in Tahoe, a nice contract. I bought wicked-wonderful, outrageous mariachi-type costumes, new charts, expanded the band, added a pretty girl singer; I spent a ton of money! We played one show, opening night, and the musicians’ union called a strike and we all went home! There had been talk of our going on the Ed Sullivan Show, recording an album, the whole package: real fame and fortune! It all ended after that one set. By the time the strike was over my almost-fame had disappeared. Then I got a call to go back to Vegas and work an afternoon show and a night gig simultaneously, which lasted about three years. Thus went the brief flame of Gilberto’s Tequila Brass. (Does anyone want to buy a Herb Alpert style library with enough charts to play four forty-five minute shows?) So much for fame! Even if you win it, it can come and go in a minute!The Real stuff in life I can count on is to follow the spiritual paths taught by ancient as well as now-living spiritual masters. The Ideal is mine NOW!