Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Press Is Born

John Rullo
How ironic it is that Kirpal Gordon and I first met in a classroom of a Catholic high school! His first name was Paul back then, and he was a lot shorter, too. Through the course of our four year prison sentence, under the watchful eye of a psychotic dean of discipline, we had a mutual respect for one another. Although he and I didn’t share the same circle of friends or appear to have common interests, we passed comments in the cafeteria or along the corridors, and I had the gut feeling he was one of the good guys.

I wasn’t a big fan of high school, a bit rebellious in spirit, doing whatever I had to do to get by with respectable grades. Paul, on the other hand, always appeared to be intellectually in a league of his own. His thoughts seemed a bit out of reach from some of us. He was one of the smart kids, but I’m not talking just book smart, I’m talking contemplator, questioner, thinker---a trying to figure it out kind of guy. Writer, poet and journalist, Paul had a pretty good command of the English language for a high school kid. All I wanted to do was to play in a rock ‘n roll band!

Several years had gone by since graduating high school and as far as I knew, Gordon was history. One afternoon while walking through downtown Flushing with a close friend from high school, we noticed a bearded fellow donned in white and beads standing on a busy corner waiting for a bus. “Isn’t that Paul Gordon?” my friend asked. “It sure does look like him,” I answered in a perplexed reply. I was a middle class Catholic white boy from the suburbs of Queens who immediately assumed that my old high school acquaintance had been brainwashed into joining a dangerous cult!

Segue forty years after graduating high school. Technology makes it easier to locate fellow classmates through the miracle of social networking sites like Facebook. A forty year high school reunion was planned and suddenly names from my past started popping up on my Facebook screen faster than weeds on my front lawn, each asking me to “Friend” them. I noticed a comment posted by Kirpal Gordon. Later I would find out his meditation teacher Yogi Bhajan had given him the Sikh first name (which means compassionate in Punjabi) upon his initiation into kundalini and tantric yoga, but all I knew at the time was that he was announcing his upcoming performance at a cafĂ© in Greenwich Village just around the corner from my daughter’s apartment. I saw he was still at the writing game so I thought I’d surprise him by showing up at the gig.

Kirpal Gordon
KP’s performance was brilliant as he read from his book Eros in Sanskrit to the accompaniment of jazz pianist Steve Elmer. During a break, Kirpal and I got a chance to get reacquainted and were pleasantly surprised to discover we had much more in common than we had ever realized. I mentioned to him that I had written a book about my physical and spiritual journey entitled, Blind Spots: The Memoirs of a Baby Boomer on the Rocky Road to Spiritual Awakening which he was very eager to read. Initially intimidated about sharing my work with him because of his word prowess, I finally agreed to send him my manuscript. When I immediately heard back from him, I was delighted and relieved at how much he admired my work. At his suggestion, we did a couple of readings together and discovered we had good chemistry.

We continued to stay in touch and within a year we had both completed new novels, my Planet Love: The End of the World as We Knew It and his thriller, Round Earth, Open Sky. When we shared manuscripts, we were blown away by the similarities in our stories and decided to launch Giant Steps Press.

Who would have thought?

- John Rullo

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