Not larger than life, just lodged in it sideways

Some of you may remember Gordon Jennings, who was an editor of car and motorcycle magazines in the 1960s and 1970s. Most people who knew him found him to be both brilliant and difficult. His hardscrabble beginnings as the oldest child of migrant farm workers in the Great Depression shaped his view of the world as, he often quoted, “nasty, brutish, and short.” Competition of all sorts engaged him. If he couldn’t beat you on the race-track, he’d later browbeat you at the dinner table. Not an easy man to be with; yet, I stayed married to him for a decade. In private moments, when Gordon felt as secure as he ever could, there was a sweetness to him; a gentleness and honesty that made me feel secure with him. He would have been 81 years old today.

15 comments on “Not larger than life, just lodged in it sideways

  1. Gordon must have been an admirer of Hobbes, as seen in his frequent use of the line: “nasty, brutish and short.”

    It was first written by Thomas Hobbes in “Leviathan” published in 1651, and concerns the structure of society and legitimate government:

    “In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

    — “Chapter XIII.: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind As Concerning Their Felicity, and Misery.”

    There is much to be admired about a “man of letters.” Thank you for your post.

  2. Mark Homchick says:

    I look upon Gordon as one of my mentors and miss him to this day. The fact that he tolerated–and ultimately seemingly had some affection towards a nosy 17 year-old teen (yours truly) who invited himself in the front door of “Cycle” way back in 1973 warmed my heart then and still does today. I still remember the wonderful dinner you and Gordon prepared for Anna and me at your Ventura home. I shared some of my memories of those days in a short piece I penned for a website bemoaning the loss of “Cycle” to its readers: http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2006/Sep/060928hom.htm

    It is good to know that Gordon is not forgotten by those who loved him.

    • cpmilieu says:

      Thanks, Mark. Gordon was one of my mentors, too. Sometimes they were lessons in what not to do (!), but I’m certainly a better writer because of him. If you are in touch with Schilling, could you let him know about the blog?
      Thanks,
      Margaret

  3. Mark says:

    Yes, I speak to Phil regularly, and will send him a note about your blog.

    I put together a Cycle reunion of sorts in 2007 that we had at Stein’s house in Santa Barbara. If you can provide your email addy (you can send to me privately as I submitted it to your blog when posting), I can send you some photos if you would like. Please let me know.

    Yes, I speak to Phil regularly, and will send him a note about your blog.

    MH

  4. Jess Thomas says:

    Gordon was one of the rare few who understood a society that his parents could not have imagined. His life was self described as “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”. He hired me as a technical editor in 1967 and we spent the ensuing two decades mercilessly attacking each others mental legitimacy. God, I wish that we were still going at it.

  5. Jess Thomas says:

    Gordon drove men to drink and women to women. Aaaaaand, I have to agree that kissing women is more sensual than kissing men.

  6. Mark Homchick says:

    Margaret. Do you know where Gordon’s remains are? Or was he “scattered?”

  7. Tom Carter says:

    I just happened upon this blog as I was also trying to find if Gordon had a gravesite somewhere or…
    Gordon was also a mentor to me in our forensic work and life. We traveled together quite a lot and became good friends. He called me often to talk during his last days when he was really to weak to say much but he wanted to listen to another voice I suppose. I live in Tennessee but I get out West fairly often and would like to attend an reunion of his friends. He gave me an unfinished partial manuscript of a fictionalized version of his family story – I understood at the time that Karen had the remainder of it…if it was finished at all – I would sure like to know. I do miss his wit and advice. Mark – I wish I had run across this blog last week as I saw you at the Trailblazers Banquet just this past weekend.

    • MarkH says:

      Tom, do you have a FB account> We can connect that way as I don’t want to make my contact information public, It’s under “Mark Homchick.” I can fill in some blanks for you.

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