By Doug Robinson
Here’s a Ginny story.
I wrote and recorded a 30-second political jingle backing Tom Bradley for governor of CA when he was running against Deukmajian. The names of those who sang on it–beautifully, I might add–are withheld to protect the innocent but Dan Sorkin was the voiceover and did a bang up job as usual. (We’ve never needed anybody quite so badly–come on California! Vote for Tom Bradley!)
At the time it was probably the most professional recording I ever managed to squeeze out of our burgeoning recording studio.
I had, of course, talked about this beforehand with Jack Harrison and others who were the figureheads for SCRAM–The Synanon Committee for a Responsible American Media–and we had planned to buy time on every major radio station in the Central Valley. And of course we were going to do it anonymously because our name was controversial.
Unfortunately, the purchasing of radio spots was left to me and I didn’t quite think things through. On the day before the election, I purchased spots on four stations from Fresno to Bakersfield. And returning to the ‘unfortunately’ bit…I paid for them with the only way I had to access my cash: with a Synanon Investors check.
Within hours there were stories on the local networks about the controversial group Synanon backing Tom Bradley. As I understood it, he lost the election by around 100,000 votes which was basically the entire voting population within earshot of the radio spots!
And so…there was a public Game at the Strip and I was asked to attend. It was the debacle of the moment that I had single-handedly lost the election for him (probably partly true). I took my lumps while watching Jack and some others who were in on it lurking silently in the back of the building.
In came Ginny who had of course been charged with representing the father principle. Even though I didn’t like where it was going, I did admire how well she handled herself–her indictment was strong and well thought out. I’m not making this up–I knew she was a mouthpiece and I thought she did a good job.
She closed by saying “You are on a forever ban from playing music from this time forward!” and everyone agreed that this would save the rest of the world from my reckless behavior.
Out of the Game, of course no one approached me to put me on a ban from music but I thought it over–partly to spite her and those who never shared the blame, I considered banning myself from music. But I’d also been listening to the Self and the Not-Self a lot, and wondering who I really was, not just as a musician but as a man. So over the next few days I made it clear to those around me that I was putting myself on a ban from music. I wondered if Ginny had heard but she never said anything even though I would see her and say hi at the Home place hot cart.
What happened next was life-changing for me. My partner at the time, Dian, was a brilliant artist and she took me under her wing and taught me how to paint. It was an intense process and I didn’t really have time to miss music…and then I started increasing my vocabulary by a few words per week, and I got into my job on a deeper and more profound level. I wouldn’t allow myself to even think about music, wanting to keep it pure. I actually refused to help move a piano, not wanting to touch it and get sentimental. After a few weeks, people started asking me to reconsider, to rejoin the hoopla band, do a singalong for the kids, etc. I declined and enjoyed my new life.
6 months later, I had a much bigger grasp of who I really was once “musician” was not my main calling card. 6 whole months and I didn’t even miss it. I finally buckled under pressure to play guitar for a special event near the pond at the Strip. It felt good enough that I simply unbanned myself and music got integrated back into my life.
A few years later I told this story to Ginny and she smiled and said “You really did go on a ban?” I said yes, but not because you told me…it just made sense. I could do some penance and learn something about myself.” She was silent for a second and then said “I really didn’t think you would take me seriously! Glad you’re playing again.”