I just got off a ship from the European theater and landed in the Brooklyn navy yard. The first days I was there I was invited by a sailor name Phillie Gilbert to join a band he was organizing. The night before, however, I could not walk and missed the band. I was in the infirmary for a few days and then got out. I heard about a man named Charlie Parker playing on 52nd st. He was playing a new kind of music called be-bop. I went to hear him and was so impressed that I decided to talk to him but I didn’t know what to say, so I asked him what time it was? He grunted, humm? And that was my night with Parker, but his music influenced me for ever.
I took my horn to hear Count Basie at the blue room of the hotel Lincoln, and later Duke Ellington and got to play with both. Basie asked me to take another solo of one o’clock jump. But my neurosis could hardly let me enjoy it, yet it was one highlight of my life.
I was good at playing solos out of pure feeling but due to my severe ADD I could not learn transposition and many other technical aspects of my trumpet. Then years later I played every Thursday night with the “Psychopathic Syncopators” at the Brentwood mental hospital. Girls came from everywhere to dance with patients; never an untoward event. The entire sax section had lobotomies; and when we travelled for gigs we had to hold hands to keep from losing people. Lobotomy became one of the most devastating therapies of all time and left most patients vegetables.
I have already written about my pal Hector Acosta who, I think because he was Mexican, was assigned to lock himself inside the ship in case of a submarine attack. He would sink but the ship would not. That night he called out from the dance floor and I saw him for the first time since the war. It was such a joy and I asked what he was doing in a mental hospital? He shrugged and recounted his battle station locking himself inside against a sub attack. That did it. I wonder now if he is still alive as we are all in our nineties. Our first battle was in the Aleutians in the early 1940s. From there to the south Pacific and then to Europe being chased by German subs all the way across.
It was while I was playing in the mental hospital band that I played second trumpet to a patient who was pre-psychotic and an addict. He played great, so great that I knew then and there that I could never play that good, no matter what. I sort of gave up on music until I wrote songs with David Foster. I played gigs but I always knew that I was never going to be above an everyday player.
My ADD neurosis was deeply embedded and could not be seen or conceptualized until I saw first line, brainstem imprints decades later. Then I knew what had plagued me all my life and why I could not learn. I treated myself with my new found therapy and now I have an excellent attention span and great concentration.
Why? I dug into my deep brain and relived and therefore eradicated what was driving my ADD. Now, I am never distracted and can work hours at a time sitting still. There is nothing agitating me from inside.
I wrote before that my “No” was taken away in childhood, so when I boarded my ship to be in the band, I was told the papers never mentioned it. I never protested and became a machine gunner. Six battles later I was sent to college by the navy without my knowledge; all because of an intelligence test we all had to take when joining up. I did well and got As. I began to think that I could do this, so I did go to college, paid for by the navy. Spent 11 or 12 years at Oregon State, USC, UCLA, Claremont Graduate University who awarded me the academic hall of fame. Until therapy, I never could feel I earned it until I felt stupid over and over again. Only then, could I feel smart; the dialectic at work and the linchpin of my work. We need to feel deeply hopeless to get back real hope, and feel a failure to then later feel like a success. You fill in the blanks. The dialectic means the interpenetration of opposites. Toward a new state; a new whole. Alas, by the way, success is not a feeling; it is others’ idea of you. So don’t wait to feel it.
So I began to wonder why could I not learn? Why was I so anxious with allergies all over? I found the source. And as I relived it my allergies and neurotic ADD left forever and I am allergic to nothing now.
My last year in the Navy I had a 26 piece band that play all over Oregon and then the war ended. I had a constant pressure in my head with periodic vomiting toward the end. The commander said to me, “Janov did you want to go out like a man or like a pussy?” I answered immediately, “Like a man, sir.” Where upon I lost all chance for a medical/psychiatric pension. So goes life.