Key To The Highway, Chapter 11: Ride The Wind

Mallory and his children built the best production company the industry had ever seen. It would rival all the major studios in Hollywood. In many ways, it would become more successful. 

And again, I insisted on keeping it off the stock markets. It was kept a private holding. No investors meant no compulsion to sell. No option to try a hostile takeover.

It would forever remain mine. That was my intent. Even when I would hire a new CEO, they would not be able to negotiate a salary over $400,000 a year. 

I set the policies in stone. There would be no way to change them without my express permission. Not during my lifetime.

I even wrote a ‘tombstone’ clause that stated that no policy could be changed without physical proof – a legitimate obituary, picture of a tombstone with name and date of death, and/or death certificate – so that nothing could be faked just to change a policy that someone did not like. 

That meant that just believing me dead would not warrant proof. The proof had to be undeniable and legally recorded. Not hastily created for personal gain. 

The company could never be sold. Not even after my death. It was to remain in my family, whoever that might be. 

It was a brilliant move. It meant that my company had to operate under my policies indefinitely and Hollywood could never get rid of me. Or my legacy.

Perhaps I knew, even then, that they would become an overly gluttonous cannibalistic industry devouring each other in a feast of creativity that would destroy that very creativity. I just had no idea who would eat who. Nor did I care. Just as long as they could not devour my work.

The fact was that the cannibalistic feast had already  begun. Even in the 1970s. The number of studios had been greatly diminished. The amount of creativity, though, had not. 

What had started as a friendly competition had become a bloody and cannibalistic battle for supremacy. The casualties would be the fans, eventually. Zanuck was ailing. Disney was long gone. As were Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B.Mayer, David Sarnoff, and Howard Hughes. Oh how they would mourn what had become of their legacies. 

I bought back the rights to all the films I had made from the first books, all dealing with children and scientific advancements not yet seen. I re-branded them and released them again under the new company’s logo while I made new movies.  I even began a dozen television series, all of which became instant successes. I had learned the secrets of success as a producer. 

I would never take a salary from any of my companies. Instead, I made my money producing films, acting, making music, and writing books. What would have been my salary went back into the business. And so I would pattern all of my businesses. After all, I did not need the extra income. I made enough as it was. 

***

We had worked my ‘Baby Jay’ routines into our stage presence. We would do a skit in between our serious or sad songs to keep the mood light and to make the audience laugh. It worked wonderfully. 

It was almost as if the fans were glad to see another side of me. I believe that they loved my ability to laugh at my age, height, and perceived weaknesses. They also loved the irreverence that I exhibited. 

It all gave me a very human appearance, something I had lacked up to that point.it also made me extremely accessible. And open.

We even began building upon those routines, creating even more. My character was easy for some to identify with even if I was not. I addressed things that were hard for most to not identify with. Friendship. Acceptance. Love. Dreams.

I made fun of adults. Their prudishness. Their fixation with riches and fame. Their total lack of respect for children. 

I became controversial. But in a good way. And through the use of humor. 

Some adults took things too personal, but still, they had to admit that I had a point in it all. I never meant it to be too serious. And they knew it. Or they should have.

Thirty-six solo and dozens of band and studio project albums into my career, I was the most seasoned player even though I had only been in the industry for two years. Well, two years and six months. I’d been in continual tour for the first year and a half. I had been in at least a dozen countries. 

I could converse with anyone. Sing in any language. Play in a thousand different styles.

I had worked with all the major hit makers. I had performed onstage with some of them. I tolerated some, loved others.

It was what made me unique. I could do whatever was needed. It didn’t matter whether I liked someone or not. I would still work, at least once, with them.

The bands were also beginning to mix in some of my solo works. My vocalists had to travel with the bands in order to play their parts. And yet, they seemed to love the new opportunity.

Twenty-four albums’ worth of material was now being added into an already heavy show. In hindsight, it was the bands’ way of telling me that our time together was growing short. After all, most of the members were of retirement age and probably had about three more years left in them and none of their children wanted to take their place.

***

Almost from the very beginning, I loved the Tao Te Ching. It is such a poetic and timeless piece of wisdom. I put it into practice almost immediately. At the same time, I became extremely fascinated with the I Ching. 

I also immersed myself in the Vedas and Rumi. I had read and contemplated the Koran and Bible, but had discounted them both as incomplete. As I had done with the Rabbinic writings and the Judaic ‘Holy Books”. 

I had found that there was quite a bit more wisdom in the eastern philosophies. Hell. There was more wisdom in the teachings of Zoroaster. And in the pagan teachings.

Not that I felt that the big three were frauds. In many ways, they were important in their own ways. But, at the same time, it was as if they had been repainted and repackaged by Rome or by those who’d come after the original belief system. Multiple times. 

None more than Judaism and Christianity. After all, the Jewish histories had been destroyed under Xerxes. As had their original texts. It was more than fair to believe that the ‘histories’ and ‘laws’ that resulted from the reconstruction had been deeply influenced by Zoroaster’s belief system as well as the pagan myths of Persia. And Babylon. And every conquering nation that took control of Judea thereafter. 

Christianity had definitely been hijacked when Rome took it as the national religion. Their gods and goddesses had been combined with the message. Lucifer, the light bringer, had been made an aspect of the devil. As had the darker aspects of all the gods. 

And all in the attempt to make divine the assassinations and exiles of royal and political opponents. There was nothing remotely ‘Holy’ left in the religion. It had all been distorted.