Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Memoriam......

Trying to run a business......

I once was asked by Leadership Monterey to give a speak to young up-and-coming leaders about small business in Monterey. The program printed my subject matter for my talk as "How to Ruin a Small Business in Monterey." Hey, same speech.....

Trying to run a business and coordinate the return of Carmel Arlington on Memorial Day. We are now up to 5,000 crosses.....double three years ago. Doubling numbers in our world is always on a log scale......double is four times harder.

Also.....given the economic climate, folks are slow in paying for last year's sins in PartyWorld.....and Carmel Arlington ain't cheap. Last time I just said "Screw it!".....and paid for everything myself. Some sweet kind people chipped in and made it all survivable.

The crosses cost about a buck a piece. We can do all the work and run interference with the authorities....but we could really use some help. Maybe think about sponsoring a few crosses.

As much as posting things in this blog is akin to hiring one of those airplanes with a banner.....this project is a secret. We do not want to place the City of Carmel in the position of telling us "NO!"......when we don't actually need their permission to begin with. to have help and support on Memorial Day. Stay tuned.

And, while flipping through the file and photos from last time around, and experiencing that wave of emotion......I get news that my oldest and best friend has been found dead of a heroin overdose.

Peter was no junkie.....he was a genius millionaire surgeon. Well, if you die with a needle in your arm, labels come with the program.

I met Peter in 1964 in Summit, New Jersey in high school. I was the new kid, again. Summit High was my tenth school, and my fifth in five years. I was the dork of all dorks, arriving in cosmopolitan New Jersey from Reno, Nevada. Somehow I fell in with Peter, and we became twins separated at birth.

His parents hated me; my parents hated him. Both sets of folks were sure that the other kid was responsible for all the wild and wacky stuff that their perfectly normal son got up to......and they were right.

I bailed Peter out of jail the first time in 1967, without telling his parents. They are still pissed. We were roommates at Cornell, over everyone's objections. We snuck over to Europe one summer, bought Nortons and drove all over the Continent......while pretending to be painting houses and taking summer school back in Ithaca. The next summer, same thing.....except ten of us drove to California and back.

The farmhouse we rented in Ithaca became a French restaurant, and after eviction we wound up as the first employees.......and the road to ruin was complete.

We worked in Europe in hotels and vineyards and wineries together, worked in restaurants back in New York together to pay for our European sins, all the while getting nowhere professionally and increasing the ire of our parents.

Peter actually saved me from terminal Sixties Cliche-dom (stoned on Nepalese Temple hash, I was about to get on The Purple Bus to Katmandu) with a phone call to my crappy restaurant in Istanbul in 1974. He had bought a restaurant in Telluride and demanded my presence.

Peter saved me again two years later. I had somehow decided to become a lawyer and moved back to Cornell. On the night before the LSAT, well rested, properly fed and ready......the doorbell rang at 2am. Peter was in from Telluride with a huge load of old wines and young stimulants. I went directly to the test from a '49 Latour at 7am.....I actually aced the test (790 of 800) but the gods were clearly speaking: "GTFOH, Jones!" We were in Carmel within the month.

Meanwhile, one night in Telluride while cleaning spinach, Peter ingested some ergot mold. The ensuing days long hallucinations nearly took him out, but the town doc....just a lowly intern....walked Peter through the ordeal and lit a different fuse in my friend. The next day, he closed the restaurant and enrolled in pre-med. Six years later he was a doctor.

A urologist.....instantly in trouble with the local medical society for his billboard: "Bring your problem....big or Doctor Peter, the Peter Doctor!"

It is a long boring story......Best man at my wedding, godfather to my kids......constant touchstone reminder that really ANYTHING is possible, just be bold, fearless and infinitely self-confident.

A wild, genius free-spirit found our world too tame. Peter was the Neal Cassady of medicine and restaurants, and in the end......met the same lonely fate.

I had not laid eyes on Peter in fifteen years.....but each phone call went for hours. There are certain friendships that time and distance have no jurisdiction over. We could resume a conversation from eighteen months previous without a beat.

It is only just now after hearing the news that Peter's crazy, manic mind is forever stilled.....that I can actually feel the silence in my own head. He was always there, goading, challenging, critical, supportive.......Part of me has died as well.

And the irony is not lost that in the midst of preparing to memorialize thousands of our best and brightest who were taken out of this life against their will.....that I have to deal with the memorial of someone who took himself off the board.

I just got a phone call from Will, who is driving himself DJ Skelton style to make the US Para-Olympic team despite the cerebal palsy that basically gives him a 50% race handicap from the get go. Hearing the echoes of that drive and dream in Will's voice both comforts......and amplifies the echo of all these wasted lives in front of me.


Blogger sam said...

Do you accept PayPal?

8:47 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

I'm so sorry you lost your friend. And of course we'll be ponying up moola for you. Do you need help building? I can volunteer Brian without his knowledge - as it should be!

Wonderful, wonderful Will will go far and we'll all be sending those heavy-duty para-Olympic vibes down his way.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Txacoli said...

We would love to have Brian...and may I point out that the whole lining up the crosses in straight lines and ranks is very landscape architecty.

We do accept PayPal: We will send you a deductible receipt from Paradox Sports.

10:27 PM  
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6:23 AM  

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