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Saturday, March 10, 2012


Brian


You came second, I came third, middle.

So... you were always there 5 years older, cooler, locked in. You had the devil in your eye at times, your own sense of humour. My first day freshman year Brother Shannon (the one you almost gave a stroke to when you corrected him in history class) with a wry smile telling me "Ah yes, Brian, he was a special one." It wasn't until later when you were gone that I noticed the sadness that was always there in your eyes too.

Chicks dug you-you had your own style, interesting women appreciate that. Though you never looked completely comfortable in the tight collars and neckties that the times demanded. Years later, looking back at photos I realized we looked Irish, not like the English mods we imitated. The hair never laying quite-so always a wave or a curl out of place, necktie slightly askew, a bit rougher around the edges perhaps. More at home running through the woods like savages than posing for pictures all suited up.
I always appreciated  the way you didn't treat me like the idiot younger brother that I was, nor my friends either. So many of things I  value in life I got from you not from parents or teachers or friends. History, birds, reggae, cars, politics, science fiction- things to this day I love. I hope you would be proud to know that I tell people I am who I am because of you, especially when they wonder why I am interested in so many things. Sean is like that too, Brian.
I loved you for taking me to that concert at Wollman Rink in Central Park, (John Sebastian!?!) What I really loved was that you made me feel that you wanted to be there with me, not that you took me because none of your friends were around. Remember too, as we left the venue, there was guy with a stolen carton of LP's who worked for Island Records. It was Traffic's new release “John Barleycorn Must Die” and was selling them for a buck. I'll never forget that you turned to me and asked “Are these guys any good?” I said yes and you bought the record and became a fan. I was surprised firstly that you hadn't heard of Traffic already and absolutely stunned when you asked for my opinion and followed it. I can still remember like it was yesterday you bringing home the soundtrack to The Harder They Come after you had seen the film in New York. We played it until we wore it out, and its replacement too. I already had heard of Desmond Dekker but had noone to talk about it with until then. You gave me my introduction to Jamaican politics too- Manley, Bustamante, PNP, JLP.
I remember borrowing your jeans because they were flares and none of my friends had them and your SDS jacket with the red fist on the back-no one had one of those for sure!. The MG, the Austin Healey that you almost killed yourself in up in Maine, the yellow Fiat spider that you would turn up in and actually let me drive! I mean rugby, Brian? Who the heck was playing rugby in the US in 1970?

The way you could relate to any other person you encountered, complete strangers regardless of age or sex or colour or class I counted that for a lot in you. You could also tell an asshole to fuck off if it was needed, too, but I rarely ever saw you angry.

I remember you telling me about seeing Lightning Hopkins giving guitar tips to people backstage and urging me to do the same, and well, I did it. I saw Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells at the Bottom Line and waited until after their set went over and introduced myself and bought them each a drink at the bar, and they just chatted with me as if I was somebody too. Amazing. I recall being flattered when you told me to come down to Soho where you and Allen Ginsburg and others would meet with the latest Indian guru, the one that liked cognac (was it Remy or Hennessy?) and teach those hippies how to play guitar properly.
Mom and Dad couldn't deal with you Brian, you were too free. They were from a different time, a time where blending in and toeing the line was a goal in life. They loved you though, I am sure of that. They just couldn't fully understand or accept. I don't think our other brothers could either.

When Antoinette and I went to live in Jamaica, I wished you had come with us. Her family has a farm, way up in the Blue Mountains where the air is sweet. You would have been safe there, lived a clean, healthy life, gotten fit, learned new birds and seen ones you already knew that come for the winter's visit. I regret still not sending for you after we got settled.
After we returned o New York and were living at 23rd Street, and me having to go find you in the East Village, hoping, that you're ok. Finding you sad, we had lunch on St Marks Place. Did you know it was Mom asked me to look for you sometimes?
Weeks later on I brought you home for dinner, for a shower, for some cash, but I will always regret not making you stay. At least for a little while. I was worried what my new wife would say, though now I know her better and I know she loved you too. She still shakes her head when she remembers how you used to tickle her feet. I know now I should have made you stay. At least for a little while.
Because just as you left us all, Sean came. You would have loved him and he would have loved you. Like I do.

2 comments:

  1. A touching and impressively well written epistle to our departed brother Brian, Don. Brian's death affected me more than the deaths of any other person I know, parents included. Much unfinished business between us two that I like to think would have been resolved if Brian had made it to his old age along with us. But yea we're alive, and I'm damned glad we are. We've both got sons who we are very proud of and raised them without a lot of the baggage we had to carry when we were growing up. I think you're on to something here, Don. Your writing drew me in as if It was a new story even though I knew of the events and people involved. Having read these pieces I agree with Antoinette that you have a talent for this and I urge you to continue. Your tone and "voice" are attractve and I think others would think so too.

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  2. Thank you Jim, your kind words mean a lot to me.
    Spread it around to others you know if you would be so kind, I would appreciate it.

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