duminică , 5 iulie 2020

ELLIOT MINTZ : A SOUND PORTRAIT

7

On that note, when somebody goes on your website, ElliotMintz.com, you’re going to find a couple of fairly recent filmed conversations that you had. You do an interview with a woman who has written a number of books. It’s on the website, it’s a section called “Self-Publish Your Book.” There are other conversations that you have with different people. Although you’ve kind of gone on to another chapter in your life, in your heart, are you still an interviewer?

In my heart, I’m still a listener and sometimes when I’m with friends and I’m really curious about something they’re speaking about and I bombard them with questions, they sometimes say, “Elliot, this is an interview, do you have the tape-recorder running somewhere?” There are some things, you know, that just don’t leave you. I just find that, just pouring this, something of a glass Chard give me a second Paul…the third glass for anybody who is keeping count. In the website, there is a section that we call fireside chats. The fireside chats basically is to allow people to kind of eavesdrop as to what it’s like at my house when I invite a friend over to sit and talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview although, you know, there’s a subtle line between the two, you will find that in my interviews, I rarely ever give an opinion. In a fireside chat, I tipped my hand a couple of times, just walking outside here in the deck now to look at the full moon as we’re speaking.

In the fireside chats, yes, there’s a conversation with a woman named Jen Ashton who teaches people how to self-publish their own books. She was very successful publishing stories about erotica. That is her specialty. A single mom, raising a child who hit bottom, who I met, who I liked and who overnight amassed an enormous amount of attention, money and sales, just by self-publishing her stories. The reason for me inviting her to sit by the fireplace was to infuse other people with the knowledge that they have that ability, that we all know something about something. And, forget about looking for a literary agent. Forget about trying to convince some New York publishing house to publish your work. Forget about putting up your own money to buy 5,000 books from some organization, some company and it’s up to you to sell them. She teaches you how to self \-publish, put the material online and sell it yourself and I was hoping that that conversation would open the door for other people, primarily women, single women with a tale to tell as to how they could do the same.

That’s why Jen came to the house and I’m hoping that people will go to the site, listen to her tale and say, you know, there are things that occurred in my life that I think I could incorporate. As well as people will say, I’m a good photographer. Maybe I can self publish a book about my own pictures. As well as a plumber, who might say, I’d like to put together a little booklet, 40 or 50 pages as to how to fix the things in your house that require plumbing without calling to say to come to your place for $60 an hour to do it. And I want to sell it on Amazon.com for four dollars a piece and I’m hoping that 10,000 people would click yes and I’ll make $40,000 while I’m sleeping. And I invited Marianne Williamson to discuss the things that she talks about having to do with spiritualism, of course and miracles in her life. I invited Sean Ono Lennon to come by because he’s been to my house hundreds of times. I love him, he is brilliant, he is wonderful, he is funny and I just got, I don’t want to be selfish here, let’s share what a night would be like if Sean Ono Lennon came to your house. And so it is with the number of the fireside chats including some that have some tragic stories to them.

There is a fireside chat that takes place having to do with the subject called Rett syndrome, R-E-T-T S-Y-N-D-R-O-M-E, Rett syndrome, it is a combination of the more advanced forms of autism coupled with neuromuscular disorder where it effects little girls, usually at the age of three. Where you bring a happy, healthy little baby home from the hospital, who develops all of her skills like any other little child, and a vocabulary and all the rest of it and something happens, and that within a day or two, or three, that happy healthy little girl loses her entire vocabulary. It’s like somebody pushed delete on download and she can’t walk, she can’t move, she can’t eat, it’s Rett syndrome.

Well I went to the home of a marvelous couple, Heidi and Jonathan Epstein who are raising a little girl, Hannah who has Rett, a more advanced form, not as advanced form of Rett that I just described, but nonetheless Rett and I spent a day with them, shooting the videotape. And trying to get to the essence of this tragedy, it’s called “A Parent’s Worst Nightmare” on the website. I did it specifically because I want to create public awareness of something that most people have never heard of and in the process to direct people to an organization called the Rett Syndrome Research Trust which is working to put an end to this horror. 97% of every dollar raised by them goes directly to science. Two, three staff members.

“Playing for Change”, I interview a man who records homeless or street musicians,  takes the music, makes DVDs, sells them, uses the money to build music schools. So children can learn how to make their own music. Yes, the fireside chats are chats and conversations with people I would have whether or not I had a website. Those are the kinds of folks that I have coming to visit me and those are the kinds of discussions that we have and those are the subjects of great importance to me.

Your website is free for anyone out there that wants to view the website, it’s ElliotMintz.com. In an interview not too long ago, Livingston Taylor said, “money is a poor substitute for the creative process.” How does it feel to know that people are being able to see the interviews you did throughout your life? What do you think about now that it’s open?

And by the way, it’s only partially opened. It’s about as much as I could handle during the first go-around. I think we put up 100 or 150 hours. I’ve never actually counted it. I couldn’t imagine anybody who would, but Paul, I have to tell you that I have maybe 700 more hours of material that has not been identified, labeled, digitalized, classified. They’re just in boxes, unmarked boxes. I moved very fast during my life and recorded things and took the tapes, and just I never had the time to look back. So, it would take years and probably a professional archivist to go through the hundreds of hours of stuff that I still can’t find. One of the things that disappointed me was there were a couple of things that I wanted to include on the site when it first went public that I just couldn’t find. I knew I had it and I knew I had seen it and I’ve gone through a series of boxes where I thought it might be, but I spent a wonderful, wonderful afternoon with Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in the kitchen of the Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith ranch in Malibu where I just held my little camera and videotaped the conversation with Hunter Thompson and I.

So I thought that would be a really nice get to share with people. I still can’t quite find it and hundreds of others. So, the website is an ongoing work in progress. I want to get away from it for a while. I want to see how many people react to what they’re seeing, if it’s enhancing their lives in some kind of way, if it’s meaningful to them. If it is, I’ll come back with the web designer and we’ll go through the process of restoring these tapes, digitalizing them, removing commercials, removing phone numbers, removing the stuff that doesn’t work, trying to hold the tapes together because they’re stretched or damaged by the heat, but it sometimes can take 10, 15 hours to create a 15 or 20 minute interview ready for the web. And right now I’d like to spend a little bit of time going horse back riding and take my eyes off of the screen. But if there is calling for it, if people’s lives are being enhanced by it in some minor way, I’ll come back to it, I’ll give them more. I like the idea of giving it away. Frankly, I think that if I had charged them for this, it would be a disservice to the whole concept.

During the first interview we had, you told us your favorite Beatles song and your favorite John Lennon’s song. What song of any artist, if you had to pick one, is one that means the most to you? And let me qualify that, I mean, truly, any melody, it could be an American songbook standard, it could be a classical piece, pop song, jazz tune, the song that resonates the strongest in your heart.

“As Time Goes By.”

Why is that?

That’s the one that just bounced into my brain when you asked the question and the time reflection through all the right reasons. It would be like you ask me about my favorite song or possibly my favorite movie, “Casablanca.” I mean, I’m an old softy when it comes to the movies, you know, like movies about romance. And I love romantic songs and I love the old, the American song classics. I was so pleased when Linda Ronstadt liberated those songs from the closet. Prior to Linda doing her collection of those marvelous 1940’s songs, they had been kept in the dust bowl somewhere. She let them out, others started to do the same. Rod Stewart did a wonderful series as well. But these classic, gorgeous songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sammy Cahn and Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hart, and what we call the Tin Pan Alley songs, they come to my mind immediately. Of course, there are rock songs that were anthems to my generation which I love and play all the time. I was in the car yesterday and took the top down and cranked up the “Greatest Hits of Jackson Browne.” I’m listening to him sing “The Pretender” and “Linda Paloma” and those, and listening to Frank Sinatra doing “Only the Lonely” in the late night hours is extraordinary. Do you know the first live recording that was ever done, Paul, the first album that was done outside of a studio where they took the microphones and brought them someplace else?

Which one was that?

“Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall”. Have you ever heard that album?

I have indeed. I didn’t know that that was the first.

That was the first time, to my knowledge, I will be corrected of course if I got this one wrong. To me, that was the case and it’s much better to listen to it on disc, on vinyl than in CD. It was a really poor transfer. A great deal of the audience reaction was truncated to make space on the disc, but on vinyl, that puts you in Carnegie Hall when Judy Garland did that exquisite concert. Well, there are times when I just have to hear “Over the Rainbow” and go to the vinyl and go to the last 15 minutes of that concert and she touches me tremendously as well as signature songs.

There are dozens of them. Music plays an incredibly important part of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without music. That business about if you had to surrender one of your five senses which will be always problematic, always problematic, but the one that would remain number five would be the ability to hear because to be deprived of the sound of music; that’s like living without food or water. I have music playing almost all the time wherever I am, unless I’m in meditation even it’s just in the background. I like the melodies of life. I like where music takes me. Songs are mini-biographies, they tell the tales of the person who wrote them, in some cases the people who sing them, in the best cases, a little bit of both. And also, in the music department, I love jazz and I love classical music and play as much of those two genres as I do the standards or the rock songs. I like Japanese music. I like music from foreign lands, I like Middle-Eastern music. The only thing is that I’ve not been able to totally embrace as I know I should is opera. I would love to develop a greater clarity and connecting to opera, it hasn’t happened yet, summer’s not over.

If there was a theme song, keeping with the theme here of music, if there was a song that best describes you, it could have lyrics or it could be an instrumental? What would be the song that would best describe you?

It’s a great, great question. Now why didn’t I never ask that question when I was doing this stuff, give me a second. The song that would best describe me, I don’t know, I mean the two obvious knee-jerk responses would be “Imagine” by John and “Chimes of Freedom” by Bob, because all the obvious reasons. But they would describe a part of me, the wish aspirations of me, the hidden, not the hidden but the spoken belongings, but the song about me which I think goes to heart of your question, I don’t know if I’ve heard it yet. Maybe I should write it.

Maybe. Elliot, again, it’s been a very, very fascinating conversation. I’ve enjoyed it so, so much but I always end in the same way. I always end very open.  For anyone who is listening, wherever they are and whenever they hear this. What do you want to say to them?

Well, two things. One, I want to make an addendum to an earlier question you asked when I was indicating some of my favorite interviewers. I’d like to insert your name in that vestige because as I mentioned to you during our first encounter, I think that you are superb at what you do and encourage you to do more. I think you are a marvelous, marvelous interviewer.  So that’s the addendum.

Thank you.

You’re welcome, Paul. And as far as the other, this is the first interview that I’ve done. Now that the website is complete and available on mobile devices and all the stuff and I intend to do a few more, but I wanted to do this one with you because when we first spoke, you got it. I think you really got the essence of who I was in terms of broadcasting, in terms of being a media consultant. I listened to the radio show that you put together. I thought it was really comprehensive and intelligent, sophisticated and classy, more so than I deserved. So, I invite people to sample the site. And again, this is free. I don’t put a dollar in my pocket and I am not selling any kind of a trip, I’m not telling anybody what to believe or not believe. It’s just a gift.

I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with them in some cases, become friends with some really extraordinary people. To me it’s just a honor to share the gift with others. And I hope that some people will be touched by it. That’s the reason that I invite you to visit the website. I’d be very interested with your comments, your thoughts, and your impressions and beyond that, nobody is more anxious or interested or curious as to where the next step on the Yellow Brick Road will take me. So, now that the website is for the most part complete, my slate is clean again, the blackboard does not have any scratches upon it and we will see what destiny’s hand places on the agenda for what’s to come.

Elliot, first of all, thank you very much again for giving us this interview and I only hope that the next interview isn’t as many years away as the last one was.

You have my phone number and you are always welcome to call, Paul. You’re one of the people I would speak with anytime you have any curiosity about anything that I might be involved in.

Farewell is a beautiful and soft word and yet it is a horrible and a heavy thing too. So, we won’t say farewell, we will say “so long.”

So long, Paul.

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Elliot Mintz - A Sound Portrait

CONCLUSION

In the first month of 2011, I found myself on an airplane heading to California with the intent to interview Elliot Mintz in his home.  I asked him, “Who is Elliot Mintz?”  He said, “it depends on who you ask.”  Little did I know, I would find myself asking several people…all of whom had a different perspective on who this man is.  Elliot Mintz is a man who never thought very much about who he was.  He was always helping other people share who they were. 

Thanks to our interviewees, Roy of Hollywood, Sirius XM DJ Jim Ladd, Michael Levine, Te Kay and of course the incomparable Elliot Mintz.  Thank you for joining us on this journey…but, the travel is not complete.  You can find out more information at elliotmintz.com

Who is Elliot Mintz? Now you know.

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