And say my glory was I had such friends
--The Municipal Gallery Re-visited,
William Butler Yeats
True friends are a reward,
leaving them is the penalty of life.
--Faryal Khan Kharal
An eloquent light in the military and political blog world has gone out; a gentleman of the old school, ruffian though he was.
This post is in memoriam of fellow blogger Lurch of Main and Central. He was the first person to comment to our blog, before we were even savvy enough to put ourselves on search engines. I don't know how he found us, but he was a staunch ally and adviser from the outset. One could say he was a guardian angel, of sorts.
Ranger says Lurch was an "upright guy." True enough. I will add to that some thoughts on the Lurch I knew.
Because I could not engage on the level of MRAP's, bridges or any of the myriad topics upon which Lurch [John] so ably discoursed, we spoke of the world outside the blog. Though we met only once, I came to know him via email and phone conversations and I believe we enjoyed a special candor.
He batted every ball I threw, and as I am pretty blunt, finding someone to play is always a pleasant surprise. Sometimes I would pose "silly women's questions" to him, and predictably he would come back with, "Well, I know what I would do," which meant doing something smart and taking decisive action. "Sometimes you just have to shove your chips in the center of the table and stare the other guy down." John would have made a terrible little woman.
He was great romantic, and loved his late wife dearly. He was also a great cinephile who loved all genres, but especially romances. You can imagine how he earned his nickname, and I always think it is dear when such a big gruff man reveals himself to be such a softie. I am left with a list of film suggestions I will now never get to discuss with him.
He kept me in the pop cultural loop with the most absurd You Tubes. Uncannily at times he would send me music which was just right for the moment, such as the evening he sent me Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Over the Rainbow."
Sometimes, he would answer a question I would pose via song lyrics. It took thoughtfulness and time, coupled with his encyclopedic storehouse of knowledge. I fancy he had a 6th sense. He tried to expand my musical repertoire with Europop, techno and Afro-Latin fusion, but generally he was firmly ensconced in the late 70's and 80's NYC CBGB era.
His great revelation was living in San Francisco and being able to go to work in shorts and and a T-shirt. He loved his little dachshund, "The Master of the Universe." Like many bachelors, he had some inviolable routines, like 7:30 dinner prep.
He surprised me on occasion with a late call if he would see a late post go up. Being a night owl, I never minded. Of late, I noticed more music on his site with an optimistic tone. I hope he is untroubled and free.
Like a lover's voice, fires the mountainside
(I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered.
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered)
I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime..."
--In a Big Country, Big Country
Finally, an excerpt from one of our first correspondences from two years ago which is a perfect example of his introspection and directness:
"Candor is a dangerous tool; a two-edged sword because when it is turned on another, it also cuts the wielder. Thus endeth the philosophy lesson.
"But candor is also honesty, and we cannot survive as a species, nor as individuals if we are not honest to others, and to ourselves.
"I had a basset hound once that I was walking down the street and he was so intent on staring at another dog across the street that he walked right into a streetlight. He gave me a look that was, for a split second, a perfect anthropomorphic example of confusion and embarrassment, and so help me it changed to a look I considered, 'I meant to do that.' We've all had those moments, and it's important not to fool ourselves in our attempts to fool others."
He was my friend, and I'll miss him.
*Addendum: Came across a reference to Edith Piaf today, which reminded me of what may have first opened the door to our free-roaming conversations.I once posed a question which now escapes me, but John thought he was clever and in response cribbed the lyrics from Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rein," without identifying his source. I thought he was a tremendous drama queen until I made it to the second line of the translation and realized what he'd done.
I responded, "Alright, Edith," and from that point out realized how much he enjoyed being caught in his little inside jokes and double entendres. Verbal sparring was a great pleasure, and I shall miss that, too.