In clearing out my digital desk drawer in down time amidst the book/movie project that I'm lately about, I've discovered that I had inadvertently got into the eulogy business. I suppose that will happen to a writer as he careens into his sixth decade on this terran orb. The bodies do tend to pile up.
The following first two remembrances are for two dear friends, themselves each other's best friend. They died at about fifty years and each within a week of the other. Yes, drugs and alcohol may have been involved. Whatever. Even if you never met Kenny nor Bill, know that the world would not have been complete without their brief stay on the planet. Likewise, this is so of my newer but no less sweet friend, Andy, also remembered here.
Res Ipsa Loquitor,
For Big Bill What's'name…
Big Bill What'is'name had the fix in on the ghost scam long before he became utterly invisible. He'd been squaring in on that con since before we knew him. He was a true professional. He went out of this world and perhaps to another on a bet made when he laid his head down one night with that big, sloppy grin. He likely made his last breath whispering "I love this place, but I gotta get goin'". Yes. He was, indeed, a true professional. Ghosts are very quiet.
He worked his craft, that ghosty thing, most all the while. He was mainly silent. How such a big man could be so quiet, so stealthy, I have no idea. How such a huge heart beat so steady as to barely make a sound, even under the sledge hammer of enough corrosive stimulants to crush or explode the chests of lesser men, well, that is just a marvel. Yet, his heart would not be still nor bereft of love, even as it ceased beating. I'm quite sure of this. This ghost was a man. He was a man and, as I said, a true professional and crafty in the Art of Being a Ghost.
Late in the morning, when the laughing children in the rafters had all climbed down and gone to bed or plotted to burn up the barn where the music finally had stilled, he would still be there in that Church of What's Happening Now. Never mind the falling, flaming timbers. A ghost no never minds much conflagration. He'd waft thru the smoke and the embers past the beleaguered, bewildered band and crew to pile up six tons of smoldering electronics and a good portion of the stage on his back to heave it a hundred yards into the old truck. The tires would explode, fairly reliably, but he gave no never mind. The drummers went next, and then the guitar players and those goddamn pianerists. Being a good ghost, he let the women folk with the pretty voices run away. Of course, the Hammond B3 and what was left of the incinerated old bar were something of a struggle, but not too much for a man who was a mighty ghost and now shall ever be.
Tonight, when we burn this place down, be welcomed to a big sloppy smile. Big Bill is smiling on your face. The ghost is in you.
Thank you Bill, for a real good time!
Solomon, September 26, 2006, 3:33PM
For Tina, Howie and Luella, the Conklin family and the many fine, fascinating friends of Kenny Conklin…
It’s been just about a week since I got the news about Kenny. Pretty soon afterward, everything was a swirl of phone calls and emails from friends all over the continent, and even as far away as the Korean peninsula. Yeah, there’s a guy on the other side of the planet that knows the legend King Cong. He misses Kenny. Myself, I’m still adjusting to the reality of missing him.
Surprises. There are many that come with the recollection of a life lived and done. Although we had spent much time in intense, heartful conversation, the extemporaneous discussion of philosophical matters, it’s a little embarrassing that it took his passing to learn that I barely knew how crucial he was to one beautiful, beloved friend. He changed her life and development as a truly excellent Human Being. I think Kenny was unusually graceful in that capacity to lend spirit and true love to folks.
But, I did expect that the guy was indestructible, that he would always be there, year after year, for three decades smiling, loving, lending love and spirit, a core of our chosen family. He was a loving Man.
Kenny had such a big heart. In the Encyclopedia Galactica, under the entry for “Human Being”, there is a moving picture of Kenny, pumping his fist in the air, clapping out that Bo Diddley beat as the kids dance madly devoted and shake their bones. The fat guy with the guitar hollers to shake the rafters, “Love is Real, Not Fade Away! Love is Real. Not Fade Away… Not Fade Away… Not Fade Away!”
Kenny is irreplaceable. The Universe would not have been complete had he not been born. He was born, and we were so blessed. He will be missed. His spirit and love will not fade away. Not fade away…
January 12, 2006, 8:23AM
This last bit is for and to my pal Andy. He passed over just a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to know this fellow during my time on the streets.
You were a fine man. Besotted and bedraggled, a rounder, bounder and down and outer. But you knew how to share and with whom to share what. When we met in the cot shelter down on Center Street, when I was ragged and worn out at the end of my rope, you offered me a swig of your contraband hooch.
I declined the offer, but was quite impressed that the good folks tending night watch who would otherwise have no tolerance for such poor behavior as yours found some forbearance in the illumination of your inherent sweetness.
Still, you were no innocent. You knew how to find a place to escape the rain in the city and the floods down by the river, the cops in the parks in the late night and early dawn. I cannot share those secrets, as I do not know them as well as you and, like you, would not want to give a friend a bum steer. But, I do thank you for pointing me toward that space under the old church one punishing night that fell upon a particularly hard day.
You gave me other gifts, as well. One afternoon after a hard autumn rain, I found you sitting in a muddy puddle under the trestle on Main Street. You were content, but would entertain some company. It was my privilege to join you. Skinny as your sorry butt was, you were the biggest fish in that pond, and I was made your guest. You honored me with a smile and some wry crack about proper people walkin' by. I don't recall what it was you said, it's now lost on the wind, but I felt at the time that there was some wisdom in your observation. I know it made me smile and to be proud to be sitting in that puddle.
That wit! You kept a tight grip on it, but you could fling it like a switchblade to tear the meat off the bones of the pompous and self-absorbed. A few moments later you would be dispensing more kindness to those folks around you who knew what to make of such.
Well, anyhow, in your hours 'tween blood and roses, you did stomp on the floor boards of what can pass for reality to most of us. Your clear eyes, no matter how drenched in that russian wine, never lost their shine until they closed one last time. Your voice is now silent, yet still on the wind. You don't need anymore change nor booze. So, in a way you won when that vein in your head finally blew out. But, your loving friends have lost a treasure.
Thank you, Andy.
Hic Finis Est,