Thursday, March 10, 2011

This World Has Lost a Hero…

This world has lost a hero. His name was Craig Lorraine, but he was known on the streets that I now inhabit as Bongo. He actually played the marimba on those streets and sidewalks incessantly, but such a lexical particular was of little matter to his colleagues in The Life. The moniker Bongo seemed to fit this great bear of a man with a voice that rumbled like jungle drums, just fine.
Many a stranger walked by this fellow and took him to be mad and utterly dissipated with booze, and in so doing never earned a little bit of the abundant, unconquerable heart that Bongo possessed and unfailingly strove to share. I can truly say, in my life full of somehow acquiring beautiful friends and even meeting the likes of the Dali Lama, none quite paralleled Bongo's sloppy poise in executing love in smile, a wink, or a single beat on those wooden keys with a mallet that was tiny in his big hands. He also was handy in offering useful advice on how break into an abandoned house to find a place to lay your head on a cold night.
We can't sugar coat the fact that it was, at the foundation of his demise, the terrible disease of addiction that snuffed out Craig's gentle fire. Stupid drunk, he fell down and hit his head. Lights out. Neither can we discount the fact that the world and the streets of my hometown has lost a living treasure, a family a loving son, and that the Universe is a little less complete with him gone.
Photo: Greg Saulman

1 comment:

  1. Folks,

    The day after…

    No need to feel sadness today. Bongo fell down stone smashed and hit his head. He faded away without pain. In this, he left the World a an amazing gift.

    Some of his colleagues put together a memorial for him. We expected maybe a dozen folks to show up besides ourselves; maybe twenty in all. We put up some flyers in the spots he haunted and at the local shelters, AA halls, and at the VA.

    Yet, yesterday, at the memorial, about two hundred of his friends and chosen family came together. A community coalesced as tho out of thin air. There were bums and bankers, raucous drunks and preachers. His sisters sat in the front row weeping with relief and satisfaction, as much as in grief. They found that their brother had not been lost, but had gathered a world of love around himself in a life that appeared outwardly to be a lonely one. Bongo was never truly lonely, it seems.

    There were also a lot of folks that work helping the homeless, the dissolute, the addicted. After about a dozen folks came up to the podium to give extemporaneous remembrances, tell stories, sing, recite Shakespeare from memory, blather, rave, and occasionally dissolve into tears, a good number of the sick and suffering asked for rides to the detox or a meeting, or just a chat.

    Bongo's memorial was his final piece of performance art, and in death he did what he did in life. If I can summarize my take on the fellow's philosophy of life, it is… When you got a problem, throw love at it! I'm not a religious person, but Bongo's final performance was a pretty good operational definition of a miracle, and the waves of Love that he generated continue to move out into this otherwise gloom benighted world.