In author John Domenico’s 50-plus years, he’s embarked on a seeker’s journey that has taken him from steadfast Catholicism to born-again Christianity to a unique kind of inclusive spirituality.
In his book, his unique reflections and critiques on the art of growing up is compelling. His book is frank, to the point, and can resonate with every reader.
From rock ‘n roll to Pentecostalism … it’s a succinct, relatable journey. We spoke to John at his home in Long Island.
The Improper: The book almost resembles a map of growing up. Did you have that in mind when you began, or did it just develop that way?
John Domenico: For as long as I can remember, I had always wanted to write a book. I started several and because of life’s distractions, never completed one. When I finally sat down to write “Blind Spots,” it was initially because I wanted to share the spiritual changes I was going through.
These changes created tension in my marriage and somehow writing became therapeutic. As I wrote, I thought in order to tell my story I had better start from the beginning and the book seemed to mysteriously evolve into a memoir.
IM: I found when I read it, I didn’t immediately want to acknowledge the religious overtones, but I immediately gravitated towards them. Is that a common comment from readers?
Domenico: It actually depends upon who’s reading. Many folks are questioning their faith and are hungry for stories that help to make them feel like they’re not alone. Of course, they immediately took to the book’s religious overtones. I received quite a bit of e-mail from readers who thanked me for being so honest with those feelings. Some folks, however, who are completely turned off to religion and were inspired to read the book only because of the “baby-boomer” angle, have told me they somehow got sucked into the story and found the accounts concerning religion quite interesting.
IM: From the local milk man who made deliveries to your home and referencing particular locations in Long Island, it was very personalized. Was that the intent?
Domenico: I grew up in the city, so moving to Long Island was quite the culture shock for me. Suddenly a car became mandatory! It seems, however, that most city folk eventually migrate out to Long Island. I’ve been living there for more than half my life now, and it’s become overcrowded, over-taxed and I’m not so sure I want to be here anymore. At one time, I’m sure it was a much more pleasant place to live with beautiful beaches and wide open spaces. I hope I answered the question!
IM: The message of the book is universally compelling; it does makes you stop and think and question, because we’ve all gone through it.
Domenico: Without a doubt! My favorite reader comment was, “It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me think so much I don’t know what the f&%* I believe any more!” One of my brothers-in-law stated that he thinks the book should be required reading for everyone on the planet!
Baby-boomers have told me how much they loved the nostalgic tone of “Blind Spots,” how it brings back memories from the good old days. So many have commented on how hard they laughed when reading about the indoctrination process we all went through in Catholic school. I also think I was brutally honest in describing the trials and tribulations of my marriage and hearing people tell me how they’ve had similar experiences. A reader from Florida contacted me to ask if I was eavesdropping on his life!
IM: Talk a bit about your musical career; the aspirations and goals you had.
Domenico: Even before the epiphany I had when I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I loved music. My grandfather played guitar and my grandmother sang. Just like every kid who was part of my generation, we no longer wanted to be Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris, we longed to be the next John Lennon or Keith Richards.
After seeing the Beatles, I wanted to be in a band so bad, I figured the quickest instrument I could learn to play was the drums. My parents bought me a beautiful set of Gretsch drums for Christmas; I took a few lessons, and in a matter of months was in my first band. I loved the idea of writing songs, so I taught myself how to play the guitar just enough to become a songwriter.
Through years of playing in cover bands, I finally had my own original band and had the opportunity to be an opening act for some of the hot bands of the era…and like a million other guys, I have the tales of becoming “almost famous!” I wanted so bad to be a rock star! But everything happens or doesn’t happen for a reason!
IM: But, the reality set in and as you say you joined the 9-to-5 club. Give us your take on that whole experience.
Domenico: For the longest time, I never thought I would be part of the straight world. The idea of working for a living used to make me physically sick, anxiety would set in. I wanted to play rock and roll period! When my wife and I finally decided to have children, I knew it was over and had to do something. Of all places, I ended up having a 25 year career at UPS. It paid the bills and allowed me to take care of the family. A far cry from rock ‘n roll, they made me cut my hair!
IM: Obviously, you still listen to music. What do you like out there?
Domenico: Maybe I’m spoiled from growing up during music’s best era, but I find there’s not to much out there I’m liking. I like Wilco very much, but nothing will ever top The Beatles, The Stones, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Kinks. I was a big Jefferson Airplane fan, love Dylan and Graham Parker and the Rumor. I’m sure I can think of a few more if I had more time. My son plays in two pretty good bands, Eytan and the Embassy and Eddie the Gun. Look for them!
IM: Tell us about your family and their reaction to the book.
Domenico: Like all things, it’s about perspective. My wife comes from a family of nine. Seven of her siblings loved it, one of my brothers-in-law is not talking to me. My mother-in-law and father-in-law have cut me out of the will, so to speak! I lost a couple of friends, pissed off a couple of folks, but you know what they say, “Truth hurts!”
My dad loved it, my mom got over it and believe it or not, my wife refuses to read it. Maybe that’s a wise thing, I don’t know. All I know is that the book is NOT mean-spirited in any way and it was not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings. But people are very defensive about their religious beliefs!
IM: They say, everyone has a book in them. “Blind Spots” is an audacious start. How would you like to see it develop?
Domenico: I would love to see “Blind Spots” become a big title because I believe it has a great message. Until we put aside our differences as a species, there will never be peace among men! We’re all adrift on the same planet, why can’t we see that and try to raise our consciousness! I would also love to see it become a movie. I think it has great potential for the big screen! Everyone does have a book in them; each of our lives is a story of its own.
IM: You PR-man said you’re already started a follow up. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Domenico: The manuscript for my follow-up book is complete. It is a novel entitled, “Planet Love: The End of the World as We Knew It.” Talk about a great movie! This is a story of a fellow who encounters a UFO, has an abduction of consciousness, so to speak, and his lif e changes drastically. The book concludes with him being an integral part in the shift of consciousness needed to restore the planet. A few folks have previewed it and they love it even more than “Blind Spots.”
At present I am also working on a book entitled, “Life, Death and Everything in Between,” a very humorous approach as to the theories on where we came from, where we’re going and how badly we screw up the precious time we have while we’re here!