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Another friend gone

Yesterday morning, I awoke to find out that a dear fan of mine had overdosed on prescription pills. He did not make it through the night.

I knew him since he was a kid in high school, befriending him and his friends Justin, Jason, & Nick, who had taken an interest in my music (probably almost 15 years ago). Over the course of a couple years, they e-mailed me, hung out on my message board; I eventually had the fortune to meet them and eat Pizza after a show I played in Orlando. Show or not, this became an annual ritual given my family living in Orlando. In short, they became my friends.

Kevin Cestare was a kind, intelligent and inquisitive kid. He sort of lost his way, as life had smacked him down a few notches. I guess he just couldn’t figure it out. And that breaks my heart.

I am grateful for the friendship that transpired. Even became Facebook friends with his very kind father Warren, who undoubtedly is crushed.

I am struck by the words Warren wrote yesterday announcing what had happened. He wrote of his son: “He is my best friend and I told him I loved him every day.”

Warren, I hope in your sorrow you know what lessons that can teach us all. Rest in peace, Kevin. I only wish you knew how much your kindness impressed me.

Update

Two months and 10 days since my Father died. Thought of him a lot today (well, and every day that has passed since).

Finishing up song #8 for the upcoming record. Song came out of nowhere.

One of my closest friends is having his 2nd baby today. Nice.

Son turns 5 in less than a month. That is incredibly weird, and for lack of a better phrase, wondrously humbling.

Oh, and with an hour and a half to go before lunch, as usual, I’m hungry.

And that’s life for me on March 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM.

Recently, I found out that a song I wrote saved a person’s life.

A pretty bold start to a post, admittedly.

The crazy thing is it is true. View Full Article »

Recording 2013

First song is finally ready for mix.

Today, solo was finalized. Vox were comped, bass was re-amped, and tambourine was recorded.

Next session will be first full mix of 2013.

Recording 2013

New Chance music. All with live drums.

Started recording about three weeks ago. Excited. Will post some details as they come up.

Or…

Or…
Maybe things are not as bad as it’s been made out. Maybe your end-of-the-world suspicions are, thankfully, not grounded. Maybe, while the pundits ginned you up to get your advertising dollars, many of your friends have moved up in the last 4 years: Buying houses, and paying off debt; having kids and getting new jobs. Maybe, after countless years of war, we are winding down our efforts, while the terrorist cowards who shook our foundation over ten years ago, are assuredly dying one by one.

Maybe the economy is in fact recovering, based primarily on… well…economic data (the boring stuff that can’t easily be manipulated into soundbites). Maybe the stock market has nearly doubled in the last 4 years. Maybe you look outside and notice that the sun still came up, that your friends of all stripes will still invite you over for dinner, and that Big Gulps are still available just about everywhere but Manhattan.

So stop worrying so much, grinding your teeth and furrowing your brow at fears that may in fact be mirage. It’s ungrounded and unfounded; unhelpful and unhealthy. Stop banging your head against the wall you’re yelling at. Instead, slowly make your way to the center, and dance with the rest of us.

We’re waiting.

I remember.

The day after I got you.

Hey, little dude.

Do you remember that day? The day I picked you up? It was bright and shimmery. You had brothers and sisters there, but it was all you. All you.

My first dog.

Your name, taken from one of my favorite bands at the time, was already picked out. I listened to their music on the way to Sun Valley Pet Rescue Association.  (specific song? Water Wings)

There you were a young, 11 week-old pup. I put you in the car; you sat in between the two seats and on the emergency brake of my old black CRXsi. Do you remember the sound you made, your panting from the early afternoon heat?

“Ka ka ka ka ka ka….” you whispered, with a wide open smile.

I remember walking to Petco that first day. And not knowing I could bring you with. And not knowing that I had no idea what I was doing or what I was buying or how big your neck was for your collar. So, I walked back to my apartment to get you, and heard you calling: “Yipe! yipe! yipe! yipe! yipe!”

As fast as I could I ran, responding to the sound that would be your signature call for the next (nearly) 18 years of my life.

I grabbed you and walked you to Petco, where—not kidding—everyone in the store came over and up to you. This would be a repeat event; in later years, friends wanted to rent you to take to Venice in order to hit on chicks (I would have made a fortune). Hell, I remember this one friend who didn’t like dogs, but said, ‘Dude, Superchunk is a great dog.’

“That’s right,” I used to say…. “People who don’t like dogs…like Superchunk.”

And on that first day, you sat (“Sit!”) for the first time. Do you remember? I felt so lucky. I wondered: Would you be smart?

Smarter than I’d ever know.

I remember showing you off to everyone. You stopped traffic. This kind of situation never abated: even just six months ago, people would call to us and say: “Oh! What a cute puppy!…What?? He’s how old??”

May 5th, 1995: A surprise puppy shower when you were 14 weeks old. Ihor explains what everyone was up to.

Or how about this story:

My friends at an old job I used to have (Precision Payroll) decided to throw me a surprise puppy shower. It was under the subterfuge of Cinco de Mayo: fake margaritas and Mexican food. Somewhere in the middle—all of a sudden—a cavalcade of people came single file into the room with their hands filled with presents.

Ihor: “Dude, we knew you’d sniff this one out, so we planned this whole Cinco de Mayo party just so we could give you puppy presents.” I was overwhelmed and beaming. Just like a proud papa would, I guess.

You played with those toys for years. I’d hide them from you and “recycle” them later. You’d re-discover them as if I had just given you the best. toy. ever.

Remember when Andrea, my girlfriend at the time, and I decided to go clubbing one night on some party bus? It was to be the first time we ever left you alone. And we put you in the kitchen, with a huge gate theoretically blocking your exit.

We got home at around 3 AM and, just as I opened the door, I see this streak of gold fly across the room. There was ripped paper—toilet, news, otherwise—everywhere. Oh, and poop: there, and over there…and over there. And you came flying up to me as if to say, “Hey!!! What’s going on!! I’m having a fricking blast here!! This place is awesome! What time is it??!”

The infamous kitchen floor, pre-damage. Yea, you clawed through the newspaper too.

That’s right: you managed to get over a fence that was 5 times higher than your height.

I walked into the kitchen. That was when Andrea heard this from me:
“OOOHHHHHH….. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”

In your frantic worry due to fear of abandonment, you had started digging through the kitchen’s linoleum floors…all the way to the old dark wood below. This newly created “art installation” of yours was about 3 feet in diameter. Yea. That was a fun call to the landlord.

Do you remember how you’d fricking throw up your food the first couple of years?? Yea, so California: I had a fricking bulemic dog! No vet could figure it out. Well, I should say no vet bothered to say, “Why don’t you try changing his food?” until a friend of a friend of a friend recommended it. And duh, like magic, it stopped and you began to gain weight to a more normal size.

Oh, remember that time you and I were wrestling at the Beverly Glen apartment, and you popped out of my hands and jetted so fast across the carpet that you ran into the corner of a wall and landed in a really awkward way? I felt sick to my stomach and rushed to comfort you. I was immediately in tears from your wriggling when I slowly realized that you were wriggling precisely because you wanted to keep playing, your tongue wagging and eyes all crazed.

Here’s something I never told you: You were maybe a year old when you experienced your first rain. We went for a walk, down the stairs, and over to the tree in front of our apartment. You looked up when you realized rain was hitting your nose. You looked up again and blinked –just a bit– when some got in your eye. And then you were fine.

That was the first time I ever felt like I knew I could be a father. Your leash in my hand, it felt like your hand. Like I was walking a son.

How about that time when, on your first birthday, I threw you a huge party at an old manager’s house. He was out of town, and he consented, hell probably even suggested it. Everyone brought you presents and I played ridiculous pornos on a 61-inch screen TV because well, it was hilarious and because what the hell else do you play on a 61-inch tv screen except perhaps really bad 90′s pornography??

Oh, do you remember that first time I took you to a dog park, and your eyes brightened because you were surprised the world could be so big and beautiful? You took off running toward the other dogs. I suddenly felt different than you, as if I consciously and for the first time acknowledged we were different species.

At one point, I whistled the whistle that I would use to call you forevermore, one I even now use to call Christina and Henry when we’re separated in a large supermarket. In slow motion you came running, like an old 1970′s Alpo commercial.

You were at the far side of the park when you heard me; I had become nervous you were getting too close to the outside and unregulated area. And to the echo of the whistle, as if on a string, you came toward me. That’s when I knew you were mine. Even g-friend at the time smiled and said, “Well, looks like you got what you wanted (out of a dog)…he sure is loyal!”

And you gave me a look I’ll never forget. It went like this: “Hey Dad! All good, right? I’m going to go back and play, ok?” It had this sense of requesting permission, again like a son to a father. It was incredible.

Or that time we went hiking at Big Bear with friends? Like…a five mile hike? And, on the way back, you kept trying to make a bed (anywhere and everywhere) when it seemed we were stopping, because you were so fricking tired? Kicking up sand, while all of us giggled? You slept on my lap the three-hour drive home.

Or the time I took you to Malibu State Park and you swam in the river for the first time?

Do you remember going to practices, and to the recording studios, and meeting big time producers, and making everyone laugh? You made everyone smile. You brought us such joy. Like Sebi said, you were the 5th bandmate. Sometimes, I swear I’d think people were jealous of you, and wished you were theirs. I felt guilty to be this lucky.

Or those times I couldn’t take you with and I’d be stuck there a lot longer than scheduled, and you’d sit at home for 12 hours and never “go in the house?” Thank you for that.

Or how about at Ty’s house, when you’d sit on the stoop of his porch. Like a sentinel. For hours, you’d sit there, happy.

Hamburger, boy!!!

Oh, do you remember this: “Hamburger, boy!” Yea, that one I knew you would. Those little plastic hamburgers were your favorite. You went through 7, I think. I always wanted to put them all on a plaque with their corresponding dates underneath. Sorta thought that’d be funny. And when the new one came, you made it your mission to DESTROY THAT SQUEAKER. But I loved it because I’d know it was you.

Speaking of destruction: how about the time you destroyed the first pair of nice shoes I ever bought for myself…a few days after I bought them? Or when you ate about a thousand dollars worth of Ty’s shoes? Or ate through a satchel I bought , eating that one a day or two after I bought it as well. Or when you ate my iPod because it had a leather case, and I thought I hid it well in my gig bag and was straight up wrong?

How about when someone told me, “If your dog does a lot of chewing, just put a little tabasco on it!” So, I dabbed tabasco on the bottoms of the cupboards you’d chew when you were teething, worried about landlord repercussions. You came up,  gave it one lick…thought about it…and kept on licking.

Tennis ball, second only to hamburger.

Remember that one time when we were living at Ty’s house and we threw a huge bucket of tennis balls into the air in the backyard all at once? And we thought it would overwhelm you. You started to go up to each of them as if you wanted to put them in your mouth, when we realized you were actually touching…every…single…one…with your nose. You were about ten touches in when we realized it. And you’d run up to ones you had already touched and turn away when you realized, “Yea, already got that one.” Ty and I stood there with our mouths open. We’d never seen anything like it. And you didn’t stop until you tagged them all.

Remember that time I took you to the vet, and we got out of the car, and you started walking toward the vet’s door and then you turned right the fuck around when you knew where you were?? That was HILARIOUS. A complete U-turn! Your sense of timing: I always used to think you were a comedian.

Or the time I took you on the road with the band, and you were stuck in this big van while we played the show. And my heart had a lot of trouble leaving you there, but I had no choice. And I came out, and there you were breathing steam on the side windows, with this incredulous “Dude, what the fuck??!!” look on your face.

Or how about when Christina and I first started dating? And how, because of the trajectory of our living arrangements and how new our relationship was, I opted to get a single apartment which about two weeks later merely served as a storage facility for a year ’til I got out of the lease.

When you came to Oklahoma in 2008

Sometimes, she and I along with you and her dog, Lulu, would stay at this place so I could justify the expense in my mind. And because I had no real bed, we slept on an air mattress..and you’d sometimes wake up at 6 AM in the morning to eat your food, and would quietly <munch>…<munch>…<munch>…your food… so as to not wake us (because you had manners!)?

Do you remember when you, Christina, Lulu and I drove 1300 miles all the way to Oklahoma? In the snow? It was your first time on a farm, your first time in the snow, your first time spent that far away from home. You ran around the wheat fields, and diplomatically posed for photos on bales of hay.

Or when my Mom came to Los Angeles for the wedding. How, up until that point, she maybe never really understood how deep my love was for you (because, well, you were a dog!), that is… until she met you for the first time. And how, all of a sudden…she just knew. (Because when a Mom knows, she knows.)

When you were my best man

Or how about the time, just a few days later you were the best man at my wedding? And I put a bowtie on you, and you slept through half the night because so much of the day you spent sniffing the perimeter as you always did and because—around 5:45 pm—according to a diary-like note I wrote myself: “Ok,  caterers have arrived, and Superchunk just threw up. Seems he found a doggie bone and fell in love, but his stomach had a dissenting opinion.”

When you met Henry

But you were there, and it meant everything to me.

Or the time you met my son? You walked up to him, sniffed him, and sat down, going right into sentinel mode.

Or that time I threw you yet another birthday party, this time for your 15th? Because seriously, 15 is old! And I felt in my bones you’d soon slow down and I wanted those who loved you to see you still happy. And show up they did: our one bedroom apartment packed with 50 people…who came to a party… for a dog.

And when you finally did start to slow down, and I got very frustrated. And I just couldn’t comprehend what was happening. It started with your hearing; then your sight. Then the incontinence, the loss of your inhibitions, the dementia…. I felt like such a shameful idiot. I just couldn’t come to grips with your demise until it was almost too late. All those obedience lessons I taught you, all those tricks I taught you, were all but gone.

But—it turns out—this whole time you were teaching me:
To be patient so I could be a Dad; to be understanding so I could be ready for my aging parents when the time came; to love unconditionally and deeply because that’s the only way to be to my wife and my son.

Promise kept.

And when Christina and I were about to get our first house. And, whispering in your ear every night, I begged you to stick around so I could give you a backyard. So I could keep my promise to you.

And you did.

Because I knew this day would come. I knew George Carlin was right. I knew this would tear at my very fabric. I knew, when it was time, you’d let me know. I knew your body would soon give out before your being would, and I couldn’t stand the idea of me not being there for you every step of the way. So this had to be my decision. And you let me know, that Saturday… it was time.

And as the Doctor shaved your leg, and began to quietly ease your suffering, I looked into your eyes, and I thanked you for everything; and I asked for forgiveness for all the times I couldn’t measure up. I am such an inferior man next to you. But you never ever stopped loving me. Not once. Not ever.

And that… I remember.

Good night, Supey, my one and only…good night.

Superchunk: February 4, 1995 – August 4, 2012

My best friend…my best man…my first “son”…my first dog:

Superchunk is gone. Rest in peace, little buddy. I love you so much. You mean everything to me.

First Photo- Last Photo:
First: At Brian Levy’s parent’s house: April 16, 1995.
Last: At my house on August 4, 2012 at about 12:15 in the morning.

Captain Bruce MacFarlane: Goodbye, my friend.

RIP: Captain Bruce MacFarlane

My childhood friend, Captain Bruce MacFarlane, was killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan on July 6, 2012 of “unspecified causes.”

(Please see the note about the memorial fund at the end of this story.)

I’m devastated. He’s the 5th person I’ve lost in the past 13 months.

Bruce was a year older than me. Just 5 houses down, we grew up on the same street in Pine Hills, a suburb of Orlando.

We weren’t just friends because we were neighbors.  Or because our families went to the same church. Or because we went to the same school. Or because we swam on the same swim team for years.

We just genuinely liked each other. We made each other giggle. I hear this giggle as I type these words. And it makes me want to cry.

 

Bruce at an early birthday party my parents threw for me, many summers ago.
(Tommy’s there too, of course.. haha.)

 

My favorite memories of us centered around The Doors, swimming & surfing, skimboarding, heading off to Ron Jons in Cocoa Beach to get some OP Surf Shorts and—every summer, of course—the latest Ron Jons shirt (And cut off the sleeves. Duh.)

While in High School, we used to surf at Playa Linda near Cape Canaveral which, yes, was also a nudist beach. The waves, fantastic at times for Florida, were worth drawing the ire of the nudists in order to get to them (the waves).

See, the thing with the nudists is they were corralled to only one section of the beach, as if they had cholera. In order to get to these waves, you had to walk past them. One time—after many times thinking about it— Bruce and I (and another friend) said “fuck it” and walked through the forbidden zone…doing as the Romans do. We yanked off our surf shorts and ran down the beach with our dilly dallies flailing about, screaming at the tops of our lungs: “Baaaahhhh!!!!!!!!! GAAHHHHH!!!!!”

We were idiots. And we didn’t care.

Coolest thing? Playa Linda was only accessible by first driving onto government land (NASA) which meant that we drove right by the Space Shuttle’s primary Launch Pad. Sometimes we were lucky enough to drive by when it was out there prepping for a launch. There were always blackout times when you couldn’t go on the beach, but if we were lucky, you’d get to see it in all its splendor.

And when we went, we drove 110 miles an hour in his old Dodge Dart. He loved that thing, and he always loved egging on the “nice cars” before he blew them off the road. Course, he finally got a ticket. When that happened we went from pretend crazy teenagers to good Catholic boys in a matter of seconds.

And we always listened to The Doors.  They were one of the first bands that made me think I could “be a [so called] rock star.” Reason is, I used to put my little record player on top of my piano and play along. Before the Doors, it was all Beethoven, Bach and Brahms. But once I figured out that, ‘Hey, the music coming out of this stereo I can actually play on this piano!!’, I was off on my lifelong musical pursuit.

And Bruce was the one who turned me on to their Greatest Hits. We loved wondering just how crazy it was that it always seemed to be raining when the car radio played “Riders on the Storm”, not exactly realizing that a) DJs could control what came on the radio, and b) that we lived in fricking Florida and gee, what are the odds of it raining in Florida??!!

Bruce, I think of you every time that song plays. And now it makes me want to cry.

We were on swim teams together. He was always tall and lanky, and had the distinct advantage over my short and skinny. But I would always root for him with pride and enthusiasm when he made it to the final heats and I did not. I never felt in competition with Bruce. We were just different enough that we could simply enjoy each other’s friendship with fondness, camaraderie and nothing more.

We used to build skimboards together, usually in his Dad’s garage. We’d go out and buy some ol’ Dr Zoggz original sex wax, prime that bad boy up and head over to the Central Florida Fairgrounds. Reason is, this fairground was completely abandoned when not in use. So, it was just large fields of ignored weeds and uncut grass. And it’d get a lot of water that would puddle after rains, sometimes 6 inches deep. So, we’d park our car and just spin that skimboard over the puddles and skim the light fantastic. I hope that I can somehow give my son the opportunity to have such a memory.

Then, a shock: his family moved to California. San Francisco, if I remember correctly. I hated it. I tried my best to stay in contact, but it just didn’t work out.

Then, through a series of “barely missed ya’s”, he moved back to Orlando. My parents were going through a divorce, and soon thereafter, I had gone on the road with my old cover band singing “Hello, I love you” just about nightly. I remember always wanting to tell him that I thought of him every single time I sang it.

By the 90′s, I had moved to California. When the Internet started up in earnest, I tried like crazy to hunt him down. I’d call anyone named Bruce MacFarlane in Florida phone books. Everyone said, “Nope, I’m not him.”

All this while and unbeknownst to me, he only happened to be serving in Kuwait and Afghanistan while earning medal after medal after medal, notably the Bronze Star. He flew Attack Apache Helicopters, achieving the rank of Captain.

In late 2010, I finally found him. Yes, on Facebook. The golden goose** of my childhood, he was the one remaining true friend I could never seem to track down. And I caught him.

I even told him as such on the phone, the day we got in touch. “Dude, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for years! You were my golden goose**!!” (**note: I realize I probably had my fables mixed up, but it’s what I called him, and he knew what I meant!haha) He just laughed and said that he didn’t really like being “available” on the Internet. And I think we laughed at that too since it was ironic he had a Facebook account!

We spoke of each other’s lives, accomplishments, and the time that had passed. I told him I was coming to Orlando in August (of 2011) and that we had to meet.

And so it was. After 20 plus years of looking, there Bruce was standing in my mom’s living room—in my childhood home— looking just as he always did: smiling, giggling, fit as could be and quite simply a happy man.

We went to a stupid chain restaurant with my wife and we just caught up. We spoke of many things, but he was most proud of two things: his service and his family. Don’t get me wrong; he was humble in regards to his service. But it made him happy. Just because he was easy going didn’t mean you couldn’t see the gleam in his eye.

I was proud of it all. Just so happy to see him. Just so thrilled he was everything I thought he would be. Just so happy that our lives were connected again.

And then this.

 

His last words to me, just a few short weeks ago, were a Facebook comment he wrote on a photo that my wife had posted of Henry and me taking out the trash:

(Bruce’s last words to me)

 

See? Always giggling.

Bruce, I am so grateful we got to see each other last year, and grateful for the friendship you gave me. Grateful for the service you gave to our country. For the love you gave to your children and to your wife. For the example you set, and the accomplishments you achieved.

I love you,
Chance

*Note
Bruce leaves behind his wife Kristina, and their children Conner and Chloe.  A memorial fund has been set up.

Captain Bruce MacFarlane Memorial Fund:

Fairwinds Credit Union.
12800 Tanja King Blvd
Orlando, Fl. 32828

Payments can be made through PayPal. Use: remembercptbrucemacfarlane@gmail.com

 

An interesting feeling last night…

An interesting feeling last night as I was in the middle of making our first home meal:
Basil just chopped, garlic and olive oil slowly simmering, my son playing in the backyard; the windows all open, my wife walked in and said, “That smell! Now it feels like our home!”
She puts her hand on my shoulder and gives me a quick kiss on the cheek. That’s when I finally thought, “Wow, this really happened.”

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