Don’t rob yourself of the now: Timmy’s tribute to José as a balm for those who grieve

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My interview with climber, comedian, friend, and _____* Timmy O’Neill is now live on Xero Gravity, please check it out!

Timmy was a consistent presence during my Yosemite years, and he recently wrote a beautiful tribute to our late friend José, asking:

How do you bring someone long gone, back to life, and what are the physical and emotional artifacts that allow you to personify him?

I feel similarly trying to describe Timmy; *there are precious few words for describing those people who just vibrate at a higher level, even when they are still with us Continue reading

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Chris van Leuven: my other “brother”

chris-vlChris van Leuven spent quite a bit of time at our house in high school, so much so that I often thought of him as the third sibling in the family. Things at his house weren’t going that well, we gathered, but neither my brother nor I asked many questions. Instead, we would bring him home after our afternoon sessions at the local boulders or climbing gym. We’d let his endless stream of words, spoken in such animated, rapid succession that anyone else would have struggled to comprehend, melt into our own stories from the day. Often, all three of us would be speaking at the same time, but that didn’t hinder our understanding.

In the Spring of 1996, I was just finishing my first year of college in Montreal while Chris was actually living our high school dream of dirtbagging in Yosemite Valley. Continue reading

Appreciating the wizards behind the musical curtains

Last night I drove up to Sonoma to see, among other bands that I like, Sandy’s play in a barn at the Huichica Music Festival.

One of the things I really appreciate about live performances, and especially intimate ones like last night’s, is that we get to experience all the work that we hear the results of but never get to see on the records: the load-in, the sound checks, the broken strings and forgotten lyrics, the moments of accidental ear-piercing feedback, and the communication between the musicians and people like Jeremy Harris behind the soundboard supporting Sandy’s.

Jeremy ripped it up onstage during Vetiver‘s set later in the night. A lovely human being in general, Continue reading

The point your love song misses

I’m going to see Andrew Bird tomorrow night, so I’m trying to catch up on his latest… but since discovering this duet I’ve barely been able to focus on anything else. What a spot-on depiction of That sort of conversation, gah!


The whole album (what I’ve made it through so far, at least) is stabbing me between the ribs in that Andrew-Bird-is-a-fucking-genius, “how does he KNOW this is perfect?!” kind of way Continue reading

Good grief

Yesterday Dean let me know that Stanley, a long-ago friend of mine that he was still close to, has passed.

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Each time I hear news like this, I remember my other since-departed friends from that era of my life, their number growing with the number of years since I have been in touch with any of them. And so today I think of Jose and Micah in addition to Stanley.

Jose

Micah

[All photographs (c) Dean Fidelman]

Continue reading

We know what we know

Last October/November, I caught that horrible cold/cough that was going around… and it stuck around for more than five weeks by the time I finally got over it.

My friend Mike knew exactly why I was sick.

The day before I woke up with the telltale tickle in the back of my throat, Mike and Penny and I had biked to the Clement Street farmers market. I bought a bunch of carrots. And proceeded to eat several of them. Unwashed. Much to Mike’s horror.

A devout germ-o-phobe, Mike hates touching things in public places Continue reading

Why prescriptions are bullshit

At 5:04 PM on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 (oh, the magical/horrific specificity of digital records!),  I emailed the following to my brother:

Howdy,

I woke up this morning realizing that we obviously need to start writing a brother-sister tag-team relationship advice column. Not because either of us has really demonstrated any long-term relationship success (ha), but because it would be awesome. I can smell the book deal already!

Your 3 Things (“things”??? do you have a better name for them?):

  1. Honesty.
  2. Accountability.
  3. No Bullshit.
  4. (I would add compassion, ie, you give people the benefit of the doubt, but these are your things, not mine…)

He’s been talking about his three things for years. Not sure why I decided to add my own on that particular day, but that’s the kind of thing annoying big sisters do.

I then wrote up my own 4 Prescriptions for Healthy Relationships (be it with romantic partners, parents, colleagues): Continue reading

Reasons

Kitties

Several months ago my friend Mike mentioned an article he’d read about a parasite in cats that may contribute to turning people into (as I remember him telling the story) crazy cat ladies. As I have become more and more smitten with this handsome kitty, it amuses me to imagine that his rough licks are in fact a form of feline manipulation rather than a demonstration of any affection.

Why wouldn’t he want to infect me? Well, for one, why else would I get out of bed at the first sound of his meow Continue reading