Tag Archives: TDPRI

deaths of children

I spend my Internet time on FaceBook, like everyone else. Just kidding. After I spent about three months last year avoiding it entirely, I came around to its usefulness. I had to prune mercilessly, though. Many people who I liked in person ended up being ‘unfollowed’ after too many food pictures, cat videos and/or political rants. Ashley and her pictures and posts of Rosalie were the most important factor in resuming. Thank you, Ashley! So I have ended up checking it almost every day but the family-to-post ratio is much higher and I can usually get through new posts in fifteen minutes.

That was all later in the year, though. The first three months after Zach’s death it was invaluable. I took great comfort in the many comments of support at the time.

I like to play guitar, so a guitar site is important. I’ve spent time on TalkBass (oddly, not about guitar at all, but bass) and recently on JazzGuitar, but my favorite is still TDPRI, the Telecaster forum. The Telecaster is a type of guitar, for those who don’t know, but the best discussions take place in the catch-all sub forum called The Bad Dog Cafe.

My other regular stop, especially now during the baseball season, is McCovey Chronicles, where Grant Brisbee is the best baseball writer of his generation. I believe Jeremy, who reads a much more varied diet of baseball writing, will agree with me. The crowd of regular commenters are mostly far younger than me and I have fun watching them tease each other and talk about things I don’t understand. When I started hanging around McCovey Chronicles in 2009, there was a commenter named Alex_Lewis who had a certain style and fostered a good repartee with other regulars.

One day there was a post by another regular that went in a completely different direction. Gallo del Cielo was another username that I had also become familiar with. It turned out – follow the link for the details – that he was Alex Lewis’ father and that Alex had died the night before in a sudden, tragic and senseless accident. Alex was 27.

Gallo still posts regularly on MCC with an inimitable style. Tonight he quietly noted that this day, June 5, was the date, and the day of the week even, that Alex had died 5 years ago. While I hadn’t forgotten Alex’s death, the details had receded in my memory. Surely not for Gallo.

Zach was not a contributor to MCC, nor was he a regular reader but occasionally I would send him a link to a particularly funny or trenchant post. He was of course a Giants fan. We had many good conversations started by MCC.

I mention TDPRI in this context because I have posted there a fair amount, sometimes referring to Zach’s death. In those conversations I have now ‘met’ three other men who have lost children as I have. Tomorrow night I will be going to my monthly meeting of The Compassionate Friends, which is devoted to parents who have had children die before them. We’re in an exclusive group, me and Gallo and Toto’s Dad and the others. One that all of us, I’m sure, would give anything to not be members of.

As a coda, I offer this tribute to Alex by Grant Brisbee: In Memory of Alex Lewis. The comments that follow it are filled with further tributes to the kind of man he was. They remind me of some of the things that were said about Zach that Friday in Baton Rouge and that Sunday in Jackson and that Saturday in San Francisco. Oh, my Z.

53 in a 35

I think about this often when I’m out driving. The 53 is a guess. I think of it as too fuckin’ fast. I used the phrase earlier today when responding to a poster on TDPRI who I thought was kind of a jerk. He responded calmly that he, too, had lost a son.

The TDPRI thread had to do with automated driving, with many posters stating that they enjoyed driving and would never willingly give up their hands on the steering wheel. Others said that the number of deaths and injuries by automobile were too many to be ignored and that the government would step in when the technology was ready. Most thought that would be less than 10 years.

At one time I was going to post here all of the statements made by the witnesses of Zach’s death. I haven’t looked at any of that stuff for many months now. I’ve had more than one therapist tell me not to look anymore. The one I can’t remember very well is the statement of the passenger, Shawn R Allen’s girlfriend. It wasn’t as lame as his but it was pretty lame. I guess they’ve gone on with their lives.

I talked to Micah at the work weekend. He said he was living in a different house in Baton Rouge, which I had not been aware of. He went on to tell me Jake moved to Las Vegas and sold the house. Well, now I don’t have to worry about being invited to stay there if I ever were to go back. Going back is unlikely but some days I do have a fantasy of walking from the corner to see exactly what the distance is and really watching the speed of the traffic.

 

Chuck Berry’s legacy

Chuck Berry died over the weekend. He was 90. Some might say he had a good long life. On the guitar forum I frequent (TDPRI.com), there has been a lot of commentary about his passing. Most of it appreciates the pioneering music he created but some commenters have felt the need to remind everyone of some of Chuck’s not-so-nice qualities. Anyone interested in the unsavory details can get them somewhere else. My thesis is that art is greater than the man (or woman).

Maybelline, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen, and especially, Johnny B Goode, will live on in Rock ‘n’ Roll music long after anyone cares about the kind of person Chuck Berry was. Once art is created, be it music, writing, painting, or whatever, it belongs to the community of humanity. Arguably, that’s where it came from anyway.

The example I thought of this morning was the reluctance of Jews after the Holocaust to perform any music by the German composer Richard Wagner. This seems understandable since Wagner was a favorite of the Nazi’s who tried to exterminate the Jews. Eventually, though, the art was allowed to speak on its own in 1981 when the Israel Philharmonic played an excerpt from Tristan und Isolde.

(That was what I remembered, but the truth is, as usual, somewhat more nuanced. I did some research and found that there was such an outcry after that concert that the orchestra has not played any of Wagner’s music since. Interestingly, the reasons for that are not clear. Many other well-known composers who were worse anti-Semites and/or more popular with the Nazi’s are performed by Jewish musicians without any comment. Wagner has that special something . . . Still, I will stand by my thesis.)

So, Chuck Berry is gone but his music will live on. Tom and I, along with Loose Gravel, will be playing a CB retrospective set on Sunday in Loomis. Chuck’s music formed an important part of our coming of age as band musicians. We won’t be celebrating the man so much as the music. The music will live on.