Elliot Mintz: I’m in your hands Paul one more time.
Paul Leslie: Yes indeed. Indeed.
I just poured myself my first glass of the evening and it’s a 2012 Macon-Villages Chardonnay.
Well I am also drinking a Chardonnay, the last time we had a conversation of this depth, I was drinking red and you were drinking white and now we are both drinking white wine.
Would you like to propose a toast over the telephone and after you propose the toast, we’ll click our glasses against receiver?
Okay, I will. May the airwaves never cease to carry your work, may the calm voice never fail and may the whole world be privileged to mince words.
That made a lovely sound. So ladies and gentlemen, the man I’m talking to is Elliot Mintz. Thank you so much for joining us.
My pleasure, Paul
Who does Elliot Mintz say that Elliot Mintz is?
Who does Elliot Mintz say that Elliot Mintz is?
The first time we talked I asked you, “who is Elliot Mintz?” and you said it depends on who you ask.
I’ve got you now.
Check, but not quite mate because there are others of course in all of our lives who had issues of who we are, what we represent to them, what we mean etc. and then there are those of us who are quite assured of who we are. I’m not. I can’t answer the question because I don’t know who I am. I am working on that on a daily basis. Well I’m a creature that changes by the hour, minutes and second like in kind of subjectively discuss things that interest Elliot Mintz and this is about I can do all of that but the actual essence of me is still elusive. I think it was Winston Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill who once said that history of all countries should be written as a citizen of a different country so the perspective would be from an observational of point of view and frequently a more accurate biography tends to be more accurate than the autobiography. So I therefore would have to return to my initial answer that I gave to you that it depends on who you ask. I don’t know, but I am not completely in touch by what Elliot Mintz is as an individual.
There are two people that would say that you, they would have called you when they were around, they would have called you son. Everyone on earth has that in common. We all come from a mother and a father. And so, who were your mother and father and what are your strongest recollections of them?
The first of the two that come to my mind is my father because I was closest to him. A very, very, very, very good man an immigrant from Eastern Europe who arrived on the shores when he was 16 years old with just a shirt on his back and no particular skills, a vision and a dream escaping the madness of what Europe was like in that time. Who begin to work in what was called in New York the shmatta business, please don’t ask me to spell it, but Schmatta is kind a Yiddish word that refers to a clothing or fabrics. And he spent 30 or 40 years of his life as a cutter, cutting from patterns what would have eventually become women’s coats, larger women’s coats and he eventually had a small company with his bother called A&N Fashions.
The Garment District was five or six blocks away from Times Square in Manhattan. It was a very difficult life. It was before air-conditioning and summers in that place where my father worked with those machines we would cut through 20-30 different layers or levels of fabric and cotton, things like that, post-war things. I only visited him once or twice when I was a little boy, he took me downtown so I could see where he worked and it was grimy and dirty there where two or three employees a bookkeeper. He would walk with those pushcarts through the sidewalks of Manhattan in the heat of summer delivering his goods to people who might purchase them for retail.
He did that most of his life. Towards the end of his life he dabbled a little in real estate, buying small pieces of property with the money that he saved all of his life. He married my mother after they had a chance meeting at a place called Corsinger’s which was in Upstate New York. It was kind of like the getaway place from New York where usually Jewish couples would go to listen to Henny Youngman to dance, to socialize, they would call it “being in the mountains.” And one day he met my mother there who at that time was a bookkeeper in a small restaurant, the restaurant/nightclub which she left one day telling her friends that she was going to go to Corsinger’s because she wanted to find a husband. And as the story is told to me by my sister, the two of them found themselves in the same large room that what would like kind of a Country Club and there was a Sadie Hawkins dance that came on and my mother, somewhat uncharacteristically but wouldn’t question my sisters reportage, walked up to my father who was at the end of the bar, with a couple of his pals and asked if he wanted to dance.
And he said yes and after a very, very brief courtship, he asked for her hand in marriage and it was less than a year later that I appeared on the scene in 1945. My mother was a homemaker and enjoyed that role, raising my sister and I. We grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in the upper part of Manhattan. My father would wake up every morning at six or six-thirty, board the subway and go down to the Schmatta district, work until seven o’clock in the evening, come back on the subway. He now would be grimy, dirty, exhausted, he would take a shower and my mother would have food prepared at the table for the four of us just sitting and have a simple meal in a two-bedroom apartment that they lived in all of their lives. Both of them passed away in that apartment. He’s the one that I left when 17 or 18. They were loving people, demonstrably loving people. They held hands frequently; they talked with each other constantly and loved to laugh. I was the first born. They had no road map as to what to do. My mother read Dr. Spock’s books and listened to the advice from my granny. She did her very best with me and she did better with my sister. And she loved my father dearly. I remember, I remember my sister told me that when my mother died of a massive, unexpected heart attack in that apartment and the emergency crew arrived and as they were taking my mother away on a stretcher and she was pronounced dead in the apartment, my father asked the EMT guys to stop for a second and he got down on his knees and he touched her hand and he said “thank you.” Those were the kind of people my parents were.
That’s very touching and both sad and amazing image to think of.
More than 50 years together and during that period of time I think they spent two days apart or three days apart. It was a different time Paul, you know, it was what we called the real deal time and I am certain that there are relationships. I’m just pouring myself one more glass, hang on a second. And I am certain that they’re married couples today who have that kind of romantic camaraderie, but I don’t run into a lot of them in this city that I call my home.
Yeah. A lot of people who were born in the 40s that I have interviewed, they have a very vivid, a very vivid image of the first time they saw or they have a memory of the first time they heard the band called the Beatles. Can you recall the first time you heard the Beatles?
Yes, it was in 1963, I had just, it was my first year in Los Angeles and actually it could have been 1964. I don’t have an absolute clear recollection. It’s coming to me now that’s just, the part of my Beatle brain is so overloaded with stories and recollections I confuse them, but of course the first time I ever heard them and saw them was on the Ed Sullivan Show. So that would have been of course in 1963, after I had only been Los Angeles a few months and I turned on my black and white rented television set in my rather sparse little apartment that I was renting for $200 a month I think. And I saw them perform on Sullivan.
What about the first time that you heard Bob Dylan? Can you recall that, or if not when can you remember what the song was?
“The Times They Are a-Changing” and I probably heard it on the radio. At that time in my life, by the way, you do know that both albums what we refer to in America as “Meet the Beatles” and Bob’s first album were both released or recorded during the same month?
So it was the time that I don’t know if I could afford to buy a phonograph record, I was in a very tight little budget. I might not have had a stereo in that little apartment. So the likelihood is that I heard that song on the radio. And it wasn’t long after that that I attended a Joan Baez concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the remarkable musical facility in Los Angeles. And at the end of Baez concert, she said I just want to bring on a friend of mine to sing a couple of songs for you and she introduced Bob and he came on and he sang two or three songs if I recall and the audience hardly would believe, let him leave the stage and one of those songs could have been “The Times They Are a-Changing.” So the first time I saw him live was very young between a very short time after I heard the recording and he was a part of Joan Baez’s encore.
Our interview tonight is with Elliot Mintz. I suppose what’s so fascinating about not only what you told us about the albums being around this in the same exact month but also the fact that you ended up meeting and having a lot of interactions with, not only John Lennon, but also Bob Dylan and then also your other interviews and your other encounters with members of the Beatles. Did you ever dream going back to the days when you first heard them that you would one day meet the Beatles and Bob Dylan?
No. It never occurred to me nor was it something that I lusted after. The fact is I’m a really good audience. I really appreciate art and if I look at a fabulous painting, it never occurs to me, it would be great to meet the painter. I’m just as happy looking on to work that might be hanging on somebody’s wall. If I read a marvelous novel I don’t think in that fan sense that wouldn’t it be great to meet so-and-so and in those days especially when I listened to music, I just felt really pleased to be able to listen to the music, but it never occurred to me and of course I was 17, 18 and 19 so that thought would have been rather irrational as well that I would meet any of these people in certain cases like Bob and John, become friends and the case of Bob represent him for many, many, many years. It’s not something you think of when you’re 17 or 18 in the Hollywood Bowl and studying broadcasting.
It was fine what it was. Now upon reflection, I can tell you where as nine years with Bob were incredibly meaningful to me and inspirational and I hold him in the highest regard not only as an artist, but a client, a friend. I’ve traveled around the world with Bob. We had hundreds of conversations and spoke a thousand hours. He was a guest at my house. I was a guest at his home. We had a very, very wonderful and marvelous relationship. However, if I had only heard his music, it would have been enough. Everything else was dessert and also Paul, just for the record with no disrespect to the group, it’s intriguing tonight as we me speak tonight under the full moon about 25 miles from where I’m sitting, Paul McCartney is doing a concert at Dodger Stadium, it is his first appearance there since the days of the Beatles. He is singing right now. I liked the Beatles of course, very few who didn’t but it wasn’t the Beatles that captured my imagination as it was John and Yoko. I may have been a little too old to have gotten caught up in Beatlemania, to me it was Elvis. It was Elvis and again I never thought about meeting him, I never did. We passed each other by in a hallway at MGM once but there was intriguing passing moment that always stuck in my mind but in a direct answer to your question, no, there was nobody who I quote “wanted to meet” later as my professional part of my life began to you morph and expand and I became an interviewer and I was doing radio and television, well then I had a hit list of people who I did want to meet, but I wanted to meet them for the purpose of interviewing them with no expectation of becoming friends with them or hanging out with them or anything like that. It would also be a bit presumptuous in my part that seemed to be this extraordinary people that I have encountered over the years would be at all interested in spending any time with Elliot Mintz. It Takes Two to Tango. Before you ask a girl out on a date or ask her to go with you to the prom, the first thing that goes through your mind is what is it about you that would excite her imagination to say yes.
Fascinating, and so that’s how you that’s how you look at in an interaction with a person, you think about that?
Always. Why the heck would that person in the middle of a whirlwind if we’re talking right now as we frequently do about celebrity news, why would John and Yoko want to spend any time with others, what’s the big deal? It’s not like, they had difficulty finding a friend, so I just didn’t think of it in that capacity and was always surprised when such things would work out that way.
Are you aware that people have said before about you that you are magnetic person?
I’ve heard the phrase but I’m not in touch with that. You know, I’m not magnetized by Elliot, Elliot doesn’t attract Elliot. The magnetizing concept suggests that there is something about me that draws people to me. I have a slightly different take on that, Paul and that is I think that there is something out there that attracts each of us to each other, but it is removed from individual personalities. Right now, the super moon is embracing and touching almost everybody on planet earth. I’m standing out in my deck now, looking directly at it. It has a magnetic impact. I can’t divert my attention. I can’t say well there’s the full moon, I think I’m going to go back inside my living room and look at the orchids. It got me. Well. That’s the full moon in its majesty, in its mystery, you look hold of its powers to affect gravitational flows and the tides, almost a quarter of a million miles away. Yes, one could say that probably about Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ, and Buddha and Krishna and Moses and a variety of other people who the world or followers were attracted to there was some kind magnetic, mystical, magical energy that just emoted from them. I acknowledge the fact that there are beings like that have walked the planet earth but none of them with a name called Elliot Mintz.
You mentioned the moon and when someone goes on your website ElliotMintz.com, they’re going to see that you’re very much a night person and you’ve and you’ve posted a lot of things on social media about the moon and I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at mine that you’ve probably noticed that I also share your fascination and yes I would use the word love for the moon. What do you think about when you look up at that moon?
And I have looked at your website and I do understand your appreciation for the moon. And look, this is something that’s not a private club. This is something shared by so many of us just do a YouTube search of songs having to do with the moon.
And it is one of the essential things that we will see is how closely the moon is related to the concept of love.
Even more so than sunshine. So it is with all due respect to somebody like Stevie Wonder who might say, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” with me and a woman it’s “Fly Me to The Moon.” Now, what is it about the moon? Well, you know, it was up until just a half a century ago, it was an enigma, it had been there for billions of millions and every being that ever walked the face of the earth shared an encounter an infinite encounter with the moon, almost everyday of their life, if one can think of the handful of things, that all of us gazed upon together, with the same sense of mystery, curiosity, fascination, love, passion and in some cases fear, it’s the moon. It is the moon that has brought out the most loving of our inspirations, the moon, the Lunar is from the Latin, it gave us the word “lunatic.” For centuries we were told that the full moon could bring out the very worst in people, could evoke the spirit, the werewolves could be demonic in its own sense, and it’s still today amongst certain indigenous people, the appearance of the moon or more specifically a full Solar eclipse brings about great consternation and disturbance. Animals have been knownto just howl at the moon although I’ve noticed in recent years there are very few reports about that. I’m standing out on my deck now in Los Angeles. There are lots of houses not from where I live and many of my neighbors have dogs, the area that I live in which is a little bit rural, my neighbors are coyotes and the occasional mountain lion, deer and others, as I speak to you. I have not heard one howl.
Something that I have noticed about Bob Dylan, he had sung many, many songs that mention the moon. I’ve never met Mr. Dylan, but most recently he recorded and made it like a single “Full Moon and Empty Arms,” he recorded and put that on his website which is an old, old song that Sinatra recorded. When Bob Dylan comes through your town do you still go see him in concert because I’ve noticed on your website, ElliotMintz.com, you’re proselytizing for Bob, you are encouraging people out there, please go see Bob Dylan in concert, you believe in his concerts.
I believe in his artistry and his magic and his performance and his continuity and I believe that he might be the last link of the chain so I encourage especially younger people who were not raised with him to avail themselves of this opportunity while Bob is still touring which I presumed he will be doing until the final encore in answer to your question, yes, when he is in Los Angeles, of course I make it my business to go to see him. Look, I’ve traveled with him throughout Europe and I probably have seen him perform live, 50, 60, 70 times. When I was working with him, a lot of those times I was backstage doing the kinds of things that I was doing, however, when I knew that there were certain songs that were about to be played maybe because I saw a playlist before he went on where I heard first few notes of the piece that particularly resonated in my heart, I of course just walked to the back of the auditorium and stood there, transfixed listening to him and watching him and feeling not only his night applies to him but watching the audience, looking at the audience, seeing how they’re affected and how they’re touched, noticing the different types of people that are in the arena with me. I’ve seen Bob perform before, 80,000, 90,000 people. I’ve seen him perform in a night club like setting and when he is doing what he is doing and he is completely in the moment, one cannot avert their eyes or ears from the uniqueness of the performance. So, yes, I seldom miss an appearance of him, I’ve never grown tired of music and certainly have never grown tired of the man.
On your website which for anyone listening they can visit this website. It’s completely free, ElliotMintz.com. On that website, the flagship interview, the first thing, it’s kind of like the introductory course, if you will, it’s anextensive interview that you do and you’re being interviewed by the famed DJ Jim Ladd. I wanted you to tell everyone what are your recollections of that night, of the night because you and I’m assuming that it was all one night, it looked like it was, you covered a lot of ground.
We did two interviews. We did one interview, just Jim and I are talking and it was a long two, three hour interview and at the end of the interview, Jim said, look there is so many other questions I want to ask you but it was two or three o’clock in the morning, you know me, and he had to get home but he said we should try and do this again sometime and go into greater depth. I thought that we had pretty much done it. In fact that first interview with Jim was edited and I’m debating right now whether or not we should place some of those segments on YouTube because there are things discussed in that first one that I never got around to in the second but we finished that interview and not long after that, I met a young web designer who I’ll be talking to you about in a little while and I showed him what we had taped that night with the two cameras.
You know, he said, you know, it’s just kind of interesting but basically you just have two talking heads going back and forth–his language and I don’t know who the heck you are and barely know examples of what you’ve done, so you might consider doing another conversation with Jim that could be intercut with videos and audio tapes and stuff and your archives and photographs and like a little bit more intriguing than just to talk again. That led to me inviting Jim back to the house a few weeks later where we sat. It was all done in one evening. I think we taped six hours that night. It was a two-and-a-half bottle Chardonnay evening, because remember when the crew left around 3:30 in the morning and I was kind of cleaning up, I did notice and I noticed the bottles that were directly behind the speaker which was the platform that the Tiffany lamp was standing on. And it was very long, it was very intense and Jim exercised a tremendous patience.
He obviously took a nap in the afternoon to prepare himself for that but I was determined, Paul. I was determined to tell my tale once completely so I would not have to revisit those experiences again. And I simply told Jim, he should feel free to ask me anything and everything that he ever wanted to ask me, no holds barred, there would never be a “no comment” on my part and that’s how that, on the website it’s called Mintz on Mintz, a homage in a way to “Blonde on Blonde” and I wanted it done. Also in the old days when people would sell Hoover vacuum cleaners door to door in the media and in marketing and in sales, they tell the story of that when Hoover introduced there standup vacuum cleaner, a salesman show up at the door, they would knock on the door and they would say to the housewife who was at home in the afternoon, look, I’ve got this wonderful machine that will take all the dirt and dust off the top of your carpeting and floors and if you let me come in for just a minute I’ll demonstrate the product for you. And obviously 10s of thousands said sure, come on in, the man would come in, he would toss a little bag of dirt on the carpet, plug in the Hoover, go back and forth for 15-20 seconds, allow the housewife to do the same.
The dirt was gone and he would say for $39 or whatever it costs, you can have this marvelous device. Frankly, I don’t know how people got dirt out of their carpet before the invention of the vacuum cleaner. Something worthy of research on a very quiet evening and that was how the Hoover vacuum cleaner became a household product. In media, one of the lessons learned is, if you want people to trust the product, you have to get them to trust the salesman, who knocked on the door. Imagine today if somebody walked up to your front door, knocked on the door and said they were, you know, selling a vacuum cleaner, would you let them inside, so they can throw some dirt on, you know, people hanged up on telemarketers, they would slam their door, it was in that first moment when the salesman would have to convince the housewife who he was, that she was safe, he had something to deliver and perhaps it would enhance her life and he had 30 or 60 second sound bite in opportunity to do that.
“Mintz on Mintz” on my website is modeled up to the Hoover vacuum cleaner to some degree that before you pay any attention to the 100 hours of content that I present on the website, maybe it’s important to know a little something about the guy who did this stuff and put it together and who is giving it to you for free. Maybe you’ve got to trust me a little that I’m not going to send you astray. Maybe you have to trust me about halfway through a sign will come up if you want more send $8 a month to this post office box address. Maybe if you knew something more about me and how I felt about the world that you might feel a camaraderie with me and say, you know, I kind of see things, very much like that guy or I don’t but I find what he says to be intriguing. I’d like to know a little bit more about his world, his experiences, and the voices in people that brought him to the tentative conclusions that he is sharing with me. That’s the purpose of “Mintz on Mintz.”
You were just talking about voices. One of the voices that one might find on ElliotMintz.com is a very hypnotic voice, this man, I asked you who had made the biggest influence and you said it was him. And this man was Jack Garris. What was Jack Garris like to be around?
Jack Garris was my very first spiritual teacher. He was a remarkable, remarkable man and left behind a series of recordings. He passed maybe 15 or 20 years ago, if memory serves more recently. He was certainly never a super star. He wrote one book that had only modest sales. He lived in the valley with his wonderful wife, Jeanette and he was the one who set me on the path. I would later make arrangements for him to do a radio show every Sunday on the first station I ever worked on, KPFK Radio. He was, he never proselytized, he never sold any faith trip, best of my knowledge he had no specific allegiance to any faith group. He was a scholar who studied the world of spiritualism, metaphysics and religion and had one of the greatest libraries I ever saw in the subject it was in his garage, he converted his garage into an old library.
It was right next to a little barnyard he had. It was a tiny little house in the valley and he would record his radio shows in the barnyard where there would be geese and goats, he had an open door policy. When he was in the library, the door would be open in case any of the goats or geese or other animals wanted to come in, they would occasionally make sounds or connect on some level. He talked about teaching. They were comprised of dozens of conversations I would have with him and his wife Jeanette usually over a dinner in a place called Reseda, California. He taught me how to question, how to listen, these are spiritual things. He directed me towards certain teachers, books, philosophies, religion and just asked me to approach it with an open heart.
Did he ever discuss with you the time that he worked with Cecil B. DeMille?
In passing, he said that during the course of his life, he was a, briefly a Hollywood screenplay writer. And I said, well that’s intriguing. Did you write any movies that I might have seen? He said, I worked with Cecil on the Ten Commandments.
That’s such an incredible thing.
It’s a throwaway of mine over an organic dinner where he taught me how to milk a goat. And I kind of looked at the soup and I said, “you worked with Cecil B. DeMille and helped write the Ten Commandments for the movies?” He said yeah but that was a long time ago and then he went on to another subject.
Completely disassociated for what some would consider to be a credit, what I perceived from Jack is being a distraction. A lifetime of metaphysical pursuits, if ever there was somebody who was not part of Hollywood, it was Jack Garris, but we all have to earn a living, he never sold anything. He would have classes at his house informally for people who wanted to learn. His only book was called the Wayless Way. People would listen to him on Sunday mornings. He would just sit in front of the microphone in his garage library and he would talk extemporaneously. And then he would do four sides of those programs bringing the tapes to the radio station and they would be played, currently to those who are interested, there is wonderful radio program called “the Roy of Hollywood Show,” it is broadcast nightly from midnight to 5 a.m. over KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and that program is streamed along with the other KPFK programs on the internet. So you could listen to Roy of Hollywood, who presents spoken arts. He is not a disc jockey, it’s not a talk show, interview with telephones, but he has access to the most marvelous collection of the most intriguing people in the world. Some are with us and some of them have passed and he frequently plays recordings of Jack Garris. So, if any people who visit my website and listen to my conversations with Jack Garris, say, oh this is cool, I want more I would direct them to the Roy of Hollywood Show on KPFK.
As a matter of fact, Roy of Hollywood is someone that I find intriguing and for this reason, one would assume because of the nature of his program that he has spent a great deal of his life listening. He has heard from an enormous number of people, I remember reading an article where he said, I like to listen, I like to listen to what I play. Not too long ago, Roy of Hollywood played our first interview, you and I, the first Elliot Mintz interview that I did. He played it on KPFK, his show “Something’s Happening.” So I’m asking you, Elliot, for someone who has not met Roy of Hollywood, according to you what is the essence of this guy Roy Tuckman?
I don’t know and he is very shy when it comes to revelation having to do with his own identity and persona. I could never imagine him doing a “Roy on Roy” interview. In fact, I’ve never read an interview with Roy and he keeps his private life pretty much to himself and allows these marvelous broadcasts to speak for themselves. In the old days, I used to go to do his program each year when this radio station which was a listen, is a listeners supported station like public broadcasting. People who like what they hear, they will send in money, that station stays on the air and does not have to sell any advertisement and they probably did the program for five or six years where I’d come by and help in the fundraising ventures.
Outside of meeting with Roy, in person on the radio I think I only had one dinner with him. We went out for a meal and of course we tape-recorded the conversations. That was part meal, part, we broadcast, a little bit like my dinner with Andre was the concept except I lacked the rich history but Andre imported upon the person who he was dining with at the time. So I knew very little about Roy’s private life and his personal philosophy. He obviously wants it that way. I’ll honor that. However, as I’m now beginning to talk a little bit about the website and I’ve been advised it’s a good idea to do actually a number of interviews just to let them know it’s there, I will call Roy and ask if we can have a chat.
And maybe, just maybe if he’s willing, I might say, hey how do you feel about going out and having a meal together or having a chard and getting to know who he is, because he is clearly a man there is Roy Tuckman in Los Angeles and there is Bob Fass in New York. He does a late night show on WBAI Radio. These fellows have been broadcasting for 20, 30, 40 years. Spoken art shows again and none of them are getting rich off of it. This is a survival radio, it’s a higher calling, it’s the sharing of the sound of the tribal drum. It is the last outpost of broadcast communication before it all kind of disappears into Miley Cyrusville. I would like to know more about the people and I think that their tale should be chronicled as well.
What you were talking about how there’s not a lot known about Roy Tuckman and I located an interview he did, with Jay Kugelman and I recalled very vividly something he said in the interview and he said, you know, I tried to tell people like the X Files, the television show, used to say the truth is out there. And I’d like to say the truth is within. So I’m curious about this Elliot, what you learned from Jack Garris and your experiences with meditation, did that ever intersect, did meditation ever intersect with your interviewing, with your passion for interviewing?
Oh yes. The short answer is yes. Meditation teaches you among other things how to listen, how to be still, how to turn off the endless sound tracking your brain. How to tune out the pre cacophony of sonic input that we all move through to be very, very still with an open heart, and those are just some of the things about the meditative experience that brings into certain people’s lives. Of course meditation is not a goal-oriented pursuit, don’t meditate, has to how to put a new Porsche in the garage. You don’t use meditation to put in the good word that you’re going to find a job next month. That falls more closely into prayer and I have said from time to time that prayer is when you ask of God. Mediation is when you listen to God. So with meditation, in its simplest form, it teaches you how to first shut up, get out of the way, open your heart, your chakras to absorb whatever appears without judging, in answer to your question I apply all of those bedecks to be interviewing experiments when I’m interviewing somebody. You know, I don’t do it anymore because I am at my retirement point here, it’s hard, it used to be at my doorstep. When I was interviewing people, I did interview over 2000 people, part of what I tried to do was to shut up get out of the way and let people express themselves, without interruptions without challenging them, to let them have their moments. So the meditative experience was extremely, extremely helpful during the broadcast years.
On the note of broadcast years, the first interview that we did together, we talked a little bit about the “Lost Lennon Tapes,” there are some content on ElliotMintz.com about the lost Lennon tapes for anyone that’s out there that’s kind of how I became aware of Elliot Mintz was a number of bootleg recordings of the “Lost Lennon Tapes.” It completely and totally drew me in. We talked about it last time and I didn’t ask this question last time, but I wanted to. So I’m asking it to you now, how did it feel when you put together the last episode of the “Lost Lennon Tapes”?
It was difficult for me. The reality was, I had then, I don’t know, it seemed like 200 broadcast, 200 hours of this series which was a collection of unreleased John Lennon material from rehearsal tapes to outtakes to spoken word recordings to interviews with other people that he interacted with. It was the most comprised, I could say, well, we’ve got an ego attachment, some believe the most extensive radio biography, ever presented about any human being in the course of broadcasting. There are not many who would be able to sustain 200 hours of examination over a four-year period. It wasn’t me, I mean I just introduced segments or explained the outtakes or the rehearsal tapes we were listening to from what album, you know that kind of, but when it came time to do the last one, because we’d run out of tape, there is just X amount of tape. I mean I went to New York and Yoko allowed me to go through the Dakota building, in the basement to the old bedroom to drawers in the house and office where red bind cassette tapes, and just take whatever you’d find make radio shows from them, allow people to listen and to share. That how the concept originated.
When I reached the last tape I know that, you know, anything beyond that would be padding and the “Lost Lennon Tapes” was followed briefly with another radio show called “The Beatle Years,” which I hosted as well, which was more along the line of “Breakfast with The Beatles” and more along the line of, you know, an overview of the group but in that area of course I could not play any outtakes or any of the material involved in the other delayed and sold copyrighted, whatever you want to call it, you know, it belongs to them. Yoko gave me permission to air the material on John, but it was different with The Beatle Years.
So whereas The Beatle Years was a good primer and I think helped people understand the phenomena, who may not have been their the first time around.
It was not like “Lost Lennon. “The last radio show I did where I had, it was basically a goodbye and then a little piece at the end indicating that this would be morph into the Beatles. I remember leaving the radio station which was located near Culver City, California, not far from here. And if memory serves, I am stuck at a local bar in that area that I’ve never been to before. Unlike me, and walked in and just ordered a glass of Chardonnay and reflected about, you know, the previous four years at least once a week I would drive out to Culver City and sit behind the microphone, do the stuff. The first episode of that show was listened to by more than six million people. The show would have eventually be syndicated into public place around the globe. It was very popular in Australia, I’m told. Yes, I know there is a bootleg market for those programs on the internet but obviously I can’t and wouldn’t promote that kind of thing because, you know, it’s not kosher. I do know that there are fans who trade recordings and who really enjoyed the program. I certainly understand that, but on my website of course, I couldn’t rebroadcast any of those, those programs.
The engineer and co-producer of the show, this show for many, many years, he would tell me stories about waking up very early in the morning when it was broadcast and he would wake up and he would record the “Lost Lennon Tapes” and that all came to an end because of a relationship that he entered into with a woman and that, but he was a religious listener of the “Lost Lennon Tapes.” That was what got me started on listening.
What happened between him and the woman? Did the woman object to the fact that he would wake up early in the morning and leave or did they to the radio and to record my radio show?
Well, I think what was happening was he was becoming distracted by her. I hope you just put…
Was he becoming distracted by her or by the broadcasts?
No, no, no, he would do this every single morning and then I’m guessing what happened was he was occupying his time with something else when he entered into this relationship. I’m trying to keep it PC.
I somehow just feel that there is a priority into taking place. And dear, I’d like to give you one more kiss but there is an ultimate take of “Instant Karma” that I’ve got to, you know, make a cassette of. I do not know what we’re speaking of and so I don’t wish to know and the relationship of course is none of my business but never leave a woman who you’re involved with intimately to make a dub of a radio show. I think that that’s kind of an edict that we should apply to the male female, dynamic.
I think that there are many people both genders who concur. How does Elliot Mintz define love?
Placing someone else’s needs, desires, passions, insecurities and everything, just a few steps ahead of your own. Love is about surrender. When I say to somebody “I love you,” that’s a declaration. If Isay to somebody “how can I love you more, how can I demonstrate the extent and depth of my passion for you?” That’s more. It’s placing yourself second. Now, if you say it to the right person, and also we’re partners, it’s 50-50. It’s a mirror image and you try to achieve a point in the center, where both of you are reflecting each other’s passion. It has to do with the sound of two hearts beating as one.
It’s been described exquisitely by people like John Lilly and Lisa Lime and others who speak of the dyadic relationship, dyadic relationship, studies that you create a dyad with someone where the line between them using this in a traditional sense of risk of sounding politically incorrect but the line dividing the man and the woman becomes secondary. I remember that completely John Lennon and Yoko Ono would refer to themselves as JohnandYoko as one word. And for a long time the world thought of them as JohnYoko. It wasn’t where one begins and the other one ended and the other one begins. It was this amalgamation. In a dyadic relationship, of course, you still retain all of those things that are you but it’s combined with a new image.
I remember I was speaking to a woman who I knew well who was involved in a dyadic relationship and she told me that when the phone rang, well, let’s refer to her as Jane, let’s refer to the man she was in love with as Bill. When the phone would phone ring, somebody would say to Jane “hi, I’d like to talk to Bill.” She would say, “you are,” so the dyadic relationship is an extreme extension, probably not the definition you were seeking, sort of or sort of backwards before I get into the tantra and just say that, facing the one you love slightly ahead of you is a pretty good model as to what the essence of the lovers have been. Women understand this better because they do it daily with their children. Single moms really get it. Single moms have to decide, well, do I want to really do something just for me, call a babysitter and go to a movie with a friend or go on a date or do I want to be a present mom during my child’s image of years? Men are not as in touch with that, I don’t think. That’s why they say that the female now is the lioness as you know, that they are so in touch with the heart beats of their baby. Well, love has to do with being in touch with the heart beats of your lover.
Elliot, how do you define good communication?
Well, listen twice as much as you speak. You can fill in the missing spaces later. Be able to listen to people without judgment or imposing your own values and beliefs upon something that they say. Recently, I listened to a lecture by someone who was talking about how you might deal with somebody who was experiencing grief. Somebody comes to you and said they just lost their mother or father, their husband or wife, heaven forbid their child. What should be your first methodology of how to deal with that announcement? Well here is one of the biggies: don’t say “it’s going to be all right,” don’t say “you’re going to get over it,” “that time heals everything.” Listen. Let them speak. Let them grieve. Another one is don’t interject “yours.” Somebody told you that their cat or their dog of 20 years, 15 years has just passed. You do not pick that sentence up by saying, “oh yes, I remember when my dog died” and for you to do a narrative about that, see a lot of that kind of thing on social media. That people take mistaken that somebody named and personalized it to conform to their perceptions, which steam rolls over the initial declaration. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen, be present, be sensitive, be emotionally available and when it’s time to go, listen to the cues.
Fascinating. There are some information there on your website, ElliotMintz.com, there’s some information there about many different topics relating to media, relating to publicity even stuff on there about paparazzi. Something that would occur to me is that you’ve had a lot of interactions dealing with the media going back to your very early days in radio. When you were interviewing people, you no doubt contacted many people who were associated with press agents, publicists, that kind of thing having been a media consultant yourself. You may be especially qualified to answer the question of who is the best publicist? who is the best PR person you’ve ever known?
Let me think about that for a moment. I never thought of PR as a particularly noble occupation and some of the best PR people where people who just have the position that they would do anything to make their clients famous. They would bend rules, they would lie, in some cases pay off journalists, engage in various behavior that was not all that, I mean there never was a publicists that Mother Teresa would have retained to represent her. It’s a service profession, but like all public relations work is to get people to take an interest in a client or a product. So when I think of people who did it well, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s kind of like thinking that who is the best criminal attorney in the United States? Well of course if I was to pick a name, the best criminal attorney would be the criminal attorney who got his client off even if he knew that the client may have been guilty of what a person has accused of.
Does that, I guess that makes a person a very good attorney but not always the best people but I’ve also known some excellent criminal defense attorneys who have explained to me that whether or not the client was culpable of committing the crime, it was still their role to defend them. I understand that a doctor who receives a wounded or injured person who has just been in a, I don’t know, a gun fight with the police and in the process may have killed a law enforcement officer and he was shot at and he appears in the emergency room on a gurney or a stretcher while it’s the role of that doctor, he took an oath to do everything he could to persevere the life of the assailant and I get that too.
The role in PR, you don’t have to take any kind of poll and most of the people and I apologize in advance to my former colleagues who, you know, who were really, who many of whom where very respectable people and real gentlemen and gentle ladies. I may have liked them as people, but I never cared very much for the profession. There were some superb publicists over at Rogers and Cowen, there were publicist from the old days of Hollywood, who you know, they would do anything to make their client look good. Today’s spin doctors and media people, in many cases lack the passion. It’s just becoming too much of I don’t know, it’s real hard to explain these things without getting myself into trouble by citin examples. I can tell you that today, there’s a man, friend of mine named Michael Levine, he’s been a publicist, I don’t know, for 30 years, 40 years. He is a very, very honorable man. He has represented dozens and dozens and dozens of people. They have won Academy Awards. He had their books in the New York Times bestseller list and he is a person of honor. I’ll tell you what makes a great publicist, just occurred to me. It’s a person with a conviction of saying no to a prospective client because they know it’s a sham. So if somebody comes, you know, in that hay day of my public relations days and media copy days, is somebody came to me and said, look, I have come up with this new thing that I want you to promote. I don’t believe in it, the thing really doesn’t work all that much. It’s a piece of exercise equipment, it’s a phony diet pill, it’s a handgun that can be made out of paper or cardboard so you can get it through airport security. It’s kind of a electronic cigarette that really may contain some carcinogens. It’s all of these things but look, I really think that you could come up with a plan and I’ll pay you $25,000 a month to promote it. Well of course, I would say “n”o and I probably turn down more people than I have accepted. And I know some other people in media, in PR, who would do the same. That would be my definition of a great publicist.
Well, what about the best interviewers, who does Elliot Mintz say the best interviewers are?
Are or were?
How about both?
Today, Christiane Amanpour, who you see on CNN and occasionally on “60 Minutes” is one of the very, very best interviewers. She is excellent. Her style and her technique is, I mean that’s the bar that you have to reach. I think that Charlie Rose does a fabulous job of what he does. Bill Moyers, is a man who give us the extraordinary series of the interviews with Joseph Campbell that’s available on YouTube and DVDs or however you get things. I always admired him and I admired his style tremendously. And those are three names that come to mind immediately. In the old days and I guess I can refer to the old days as well, I liked Jack Paar because of his natural curiosity. I liked Mike Wallace because he knew how to extract information. He was tough and, you know, certainly wasn’t my style, now, but if you were a bad guy and was foolish enough to sit down with Mike Wallace to try and spin your story about what you were doing, you know, telemarketing boiler room, well Wallace was good in getting to the heart of the matter.
David Susskind was one of the pioneers in television. I liked the way Steve Allen had interchanges and exchanges with people. He was very conversational. In a very underrated category, Hugh Heffner in the probably early 60’s, hosted a program, a television show called, “Playboy After Dark” where he recreated a living room scene and invited jazz musicians and comedians, people like Mort Sahl or Lenny Bruce and he would engage in conversation. I thought he did a really fine job at that. Those are the ones that come to my mind immediately. It’s also the dying art, a dying art. Partially because people don’t take the time to listen. Larry King was very non-judgmental in his approach in broadcasting and I liked him very much for that reason. He allowed people to speak, which is why so many people went to see him. One of the criticisms that was lodged against him was that he only asked softball questions, I heard that many times that he, I didn’t know why it was necessary to always ask hardball questions.
An interview doesn’t have to be a deposition. I mean that was something that Mike Wallace specialized in. Chris Wallace does the same, but I think he’s more arrogant. I tend to like conversations more than interviews. By the way, among the five things, and there are only five that I do well, interviewing was one of my skills. They can see that unabashedly, you know, that when it came to that form of exchange, I was pretty good at it.
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, 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 willsay, I’m a good photographer, I’ve taking pictures. Maybe I can self publish a book about my own pictures. As well as a plumber, who might say, you know, 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 apiece 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 avocabulary and all the rest of it and something happens, 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.
Our conversation tonight is with Elliot Mintz, 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 and you’re seeing this interaction on Facebook and so forth, that people are being able to see the interviews as you did throughout your life, it can be entertainment. It can be education. How is it feel when you know that people, this entire library, it’s just, you’re opening it up, 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, 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, you know, I will be corrected of course if I got this one wrong. To me, that was the case and if you and by the way, 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 in the rock sonnets. I like Japanese music. I like music from foreign lands, I like Middle-Eastern music. The only thing is that I’ve not been 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, summers 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, you know, 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 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.
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 radio show that you put together. I thought it was really comprehensive and, you know, 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. And that’s the reason that I invite you to visit the website. I’d be very interested with your comments, your thoughts, 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.