Sunday, October 31, 2010

Too many inputs. Too much stimulation. When I log on to my computer and take in my view of the world on a computer screen, I forget that I am neglecting a real, physical world that is just outside my office door. People are real, friends are real, even if they live in another time. I spend a considerable amount of time with my friends from the past, re-living moments that happened then but still feel current to me. Does anyone else feel this way?
When I write, “too many inputs“, I mean there is just too much information passing into my eyes and ears. I’m sure that anyone who has lived awhile has the perception that in the past, i.e., “the good old days “, things were simpler as well as more wholesome and meaningful. Letters came in paper form and contained thoughts or conversation between friends. Punctuation was used. Music was something that you had to seek out – it didn’t pound you into submission at every click – and when you found music that you could relate to, it was like making another friend, an ally in the world against the injustice of mediocre, over-packaged art forms. Movies were an experience that entailed going to a theater and mixing with the rest of the local population. Now, we have the means to watch a movie anywhere on a 2”X 3” screen and we act like this is a good thing. All I can think of is: poor kids these days. They’re getting it all but at what cost?

Prepare for grumpy old man rant! I guess I’ve just been thinking lately about mortality and the meaning of life (or the lack thereof). It is easy to get into the bubble of your own little world and think everything is fine, plans are being laid, things to do, places to see, but all it takes is the passing away of a friend or two to remind you that this here life situation isn’t a permanent state of affairs. You know the quote, “Live every day like it’s your last and one day you’ll be right”? I guess this guy said it. I try to remember to take it light and rejoice in my family, friends and the people I like and maybe think a little less about politics, war, murder and bullshit and people and things that make me ill. I still have visions that one day, I will be able to force my version of Utopia upon humanity, but until then, I’ll just continue to practice being a better hedonist.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Well, damn it, another friend has died. Joe Brooks, a friend to many, a well-respected man in these parts, has died, leaving behind a grieving family and many saddened friends. Joe was like family in a way, since he was married to my former wife, Spirit and he was the step-father of my son Cosmo. His death has hit his family hardest of all, and my thoughts go out to Spirit, Cosmo and Joe’s daughter Fiona. He died suddenly while running a 5k footrace in Elijah Bristow Park, not far from where the Brooks family lived in Dexter. The death has been ruled as being a massive heart attack. This really sucks.
I first met Joe in 1995, when I auditioned for his band Billy Jack – he was the drummer for those who don’t know, and he was also the driving force behind the band, booking shows and doing most of the managerial duties. He was a committed bandmate and a great guy, a true hard worker in the local music scene in the 80’s and 90’s. Billy Jack was a fun experience for me, even the part where I was kicked out of the band – another valuable life lesson. Joe and I remained friends. Spirit and I had dinner with him and Vanessa when they were still a couple. Eventually, things went the way things go, Spirit and I broke up and then she later got together with Joe. They made a great couple and we got along well for the most part. I always had the highest respect for Joe and was ultimately grateful that it was him that ended up being the step-dad of Cosmo. I knew he was a good guy with his head on straight and a good work ethic – not to mention a big heart. I knew he would be a good role model for my kid as well as his own, and he indeed was. I don’t think we will truly know the loss of Joe for quite awhile – he affected so many people in a positive way and was a pillar for his family. This really sucks, but thank you Joe Brooks, just for being here on planet earth with us for the time you were. Your memory and deeds will live on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Okay, this is my first post in a few months. It’s kind of funny to have an old (nearly dead) blog. I’ve been doing most of my internet-sharing on facebook and I still lurk on myspace a little bit, but I like checking in to my few friend’s blogs to see if they are still active. Dan Jones of course always stays relatively busy and posts a lot of his comings and goings on his blog. Justin Hrabe, the hub blog of many of my old-time friends, always has a good combination of music and musings on world affairs and Central-North -American living.
Me, I’ve been living the good life, mostly in Eugene, but I did manage to get out of town a couple times this summer + I got to go to the river at least twice during our all-too-brief sunny days. Back in August, I made a list of things I wanted to blog about . It read like this:
1. Louis has been harvesting green beans
2. Carl has (leg) cancer
3. We’re going to the (county) fair
4. Summer Vaca – we went to LA
5. Went back to work
6. I turned 40 and had a big party at Sam Bond’s
7. Boner had a throat lump (removed, successfully)
Boner – or Brian – I’ll start with a shout out to you. You are the one friend that reminds me to update this blog and we always have entertaining exchanges on Justin’s blog comments; I’ve got to say, I’m glad you survived your throat lump removal and follow-up treatment. Now, just go buy yourself a new bass and start practicing for the 2012 Garden Weasel reunion tour.
This year, I’ve had a few friends stricken with the dread cancer. 3 out of 4 have a pretty good prognosis – good odds of recovery with treatment and lifestyle adjustment. Brian, Slayer Carl and Robin, you are the lucky ones. One friend wasn’t so lucky and passed more quickly than any of us expected – talking here now about my old Humboldt buddy Tom McConnel, a great guy and a serious music fan whom I worked with at cafĂ© marina in Eureka back in 1990/1991. Tom and I used to shoot the shit while working behind the scenes with grumpy cooks and harried waitresses , me washing dishes and him up on the cooking line. His manner was ultimately NorCal – a slight surfer inflection in his speech, a cynical sense of humor that shielded his sensitive, poets-heart from the barrage of insensitivity and bullshit that he had to endure on a daily basis. Tom loved Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and the Descendents and we always had a laugh about Henry Rollins and GG Allin, two people that we admired as well as loathed at the time. Tom liked to drink and it was most certainly a necessity in his life just to endure. He used to shake so bad in the mornings that I do believe he was one of those that needed a beer before his coffee on certain days. Harsh, but for all I dish about my late friend’s habits, he was a lovable imp.
Years after I had moved from Humboldt county, Tom would call me up at all hours of the night, drunk off his ass, and berate me for being such a straight little wiener-boy, or for being married, or for having bad taste in music or whatever; I would almost always pick up the call and just banter with him, even if I would have been better off sleeping. He was just funny as hell and I loved it.
In more recent years, we still kept in touch via email and then facebook, but I learned that he had stopped drinking years ago due to a bad liver diagnosis. He was still the same, cynical cat. Most recently, I defaced an old Flipside magazine I had by cutting out a picture of GG Allin’s head and pasting it into a Christmas card for Tom with the words, “ Merry Fuckin’ Christmas you Scumfuc.” ( a term of endearment ). I hope he enjoyed it.
It seemed like soon after that, he started to have major problems with his guts – something about cysts and operations and procedures. Tom was in touch less and less and horribly, after enduring 3 or 4 operations and prolonged healing sessions, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was pissed, I think because he was just about to get a clean bill of health and here had an even worse diagnosis. The cancer was already advanced and doctors gave him a year to live. I expected him to last that long and hoped that I could visit him at least once before the end of all things but he ended up dying earlier than expected – about 3 weeks ago. I feel most for his parents, who took care of him until the end. According to some of my facebook friends, he didn’t want a funeral or service. Tom died quietly and now he has disappeared from our lives. Sucks, don’t it? I miss ya Tom, and even though we hadn’t seen each other for years, you were one of my favorite personalities. I’ve worked with a lot of folks, but your combination of sweetness and cynicism was unique to you, and I’m glad I knew ya.
The rest of my scheduled topics will continue next week. Have a nice day, stay healthy and party ‘til the world obeys,