Monday, March 29, 2010

brother john

i recently reconnected (_not_ via facebook!) with my high school friend john w. (we went to different ones together), who emigrated to new zealand around the time i moved to texas. he'd seen two people shot to death at close range in different incidents at the same bar while he was attending grad school at the university of chicago, and decided he'd had enough of the u.s. his father was an aussie, his mother was a kiwi, and he'd been born in canada. he had to renounce all of the above citizenships to get financial aid to go to school in the states, but luckily for him, none of those old british commonwealth countries recognize anybody else's citizenship, so off he went, to marry, raise a family, make a life.

he was back on lawn guyland helping take care of family business subsequent to his father's death, and he reached out to me through a mutual high school friend's myspace account, but as soon as i read the message, i recognized the phone number. he persuaded me to get on skype, which he'd used to stay in touch with his dad during his father's illness, and i was amazed at how much he still looks like the fella i remember from 30something years ago.

he's playing guitar now and digs blues. we're planning to play music together via skype when he's back at home. (coincidentally, HIO has been discussing the possibility of attempting a skype link if hickey's unable to make one of the shows we're currently trying to book in houston and austin.) i look forward to it.

we talked a lot about days gone by and the folks we know from that time. one of them was michael r., the guy that showed me more stuff on guitar than anyone else, who went from being my idol to being my best friend to being someone i dreaded hearing from because i knew he was going to want something. he was a junkie and died from an overdose while i was in the service. he was 28. i remember feeling absolutely no emotion when i learned of his death a couple of years after the fact, but when i picked up guitar again a few years later, i was astonished by how much i still sounded like myself, and how much of what i considered "myself" i'd learned from him. so i guess he was still with me then. still is now, too.

anyway, john got together with michael's sister while he was visiting, and she told him about a gig that michael had played the night before his death that a lot of people who were there said was the best thing they'd ever heard and just happened to be recorded. supposedly the tape is in the possession of carl j., another guy i used to play music with back in the day. last i heard he was moving to florida with his mom, around the same time john and i were making our respective moves. michael's sister told john that carl is being "very mean" and won't let anyone hear or have copies of the tape. i'm starting to think about how i might go about tracking him down. weird journey through the past.


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