The funniest thing happened last month when I posted a deeply personal note about the untimely passing of my old running buddy and musical compatriot Gary Primich. Not funny "ha, ha," but funny really, really sad.
As if you hadn't noticed, this here "blog" is just for me, my family and anyone else stupid enough to read it. I never imagined that anyone else would turn to it as a news source. Well imagine my shock and surprise to receive at least a dozen of the most hateful and vitriolic comments from anonymous posters using the death of my friend to make vicious personal attacks on me. It's a blog, fer chistsakes, read the description in the left column. Of particular issue to many these gutless cowards was my noting that it was evidently Gary's addiction that killed him. I really should have saved all of them so you could all see just how churlish and mean spirited these missives were, but ultimately I felt no need to infect that sort of negativity into Gary's memorial, a guy who from what I recall never said a bad word about anybody. At least not in my presence.
True enough, I had no possible way of knowing what killed my buddy, but I have had a lot of junkie friends and the one's who died too soon, they died of junk. There's no way to sugar coat it, or speak in codified language; the path of heroin is death. Period. Maybe today, maybe years from now. Just like everybody dies eventually, though most folks try to deny it evidently, junkies (and fat people like myself) die much, much quicker. It's tragic and sad, but as the 400 lb comedian said "it ain't exactly unexpected."
In my opinion to turn your gaze away from this simple truth, to sweep it under your rug, is to be in fact an enabler. Made all the more ignoble in postmortem. "The truth," as my old man was fond of saying, "only hurts a liar."
My old friend Danny Barnes was on all of those Steve James sessions with Gary and me. He too has had his own hard fought battles with substance abuse over the years and on the occasion of hearing of Gary's passing he shared with me these thoughts on the gruesome nature of addiction. I think they bear repeating.
He said "i been thinking about your pal gary and sobriety and the whole thing. you know, alcoholism, drug addiction is a progressive disease. in other words, even if you are not drinking at the moment, the disease gets worse and if you start up again, things get real bad and real dark and real fucked up real quick.
in any AA group of size, once you get in there and get to know everyone, you lose one or two folks a year to the shark of the disease. without fail. maybe more. some guy will quit coming to meetings and the next thing you know he blows his brains out in a drunken rage. or does something really weird and goes to the pen. if a person with the disease doesn't get the program, that's his other options.
i had heard that GP was going to meetings and had put together some sober time. i'm sorry he didn't make it. lots of folks don't make it. he probably did experience some sobriety and maybe had some light in his life. but he must have turned his back on that and went back to the dark place. we've all done that. sometimes it kills us. one of the things that makes sobriety really hard is that you can get fucked up once in a while and it won't get you, but eventually, it does get you. you just don't know when. so better to just stay sober and go to meetings and work the steps and read the book."
Pretty damn wise words if you ask me.
Now to business. An open letter to all you folks who felt the need to drop me a line, hike yourself up on my friend's corpse and use my personal expression of love for him and his life as a platform to tear me down:
I wish you love. I wish you a ray of sunlight that illuminates what must be a very dank place that you find yourself in to spew such bile and hatred. I hope that in your darkest monets, you will hear the sound of Gary's harp and that you will use the purity of his love and honesty as a key to unlock your evidently diseased and withered soul to open to the spiritual commonality of all beings. I hope that you will use the message of the end of his life to inform the rest of yours.
Either that, or you can go fuck yourself. Whichever works for you.
Great, now that's out of the way I'd like to share with you a note a got from Gary's sister. She's referring to the memorial gathering where a lot of Gary's musico pals gathered to celebrate his life, share stories and play his tunes. (Most did by playing his tunes way too loud and playing the harp poorly, effectively putting into sharp focus just how much better he was than anyone else. He would have loved the irony.) It was a generally positive and uplifting event all told, which I hope seals Gary's spirit in our collective memory. I did an acoustic tune with Steve, when my emotions got the better of me and I pulled the bridge clean off my bass when I was playing, wrecking the bass entirely. I wandered around the stage while Steve kept playing looking for some way to rescue the tune, when I saw the drum sticks out on the house trap kit. To save face I sat down and played out the tune on the drums. I had to split so I could wrap up the Rob Curto session I was producing, so I didn't get a chance to talk to any of Gary's kin.
The next day, I got this from Gary's sister:
(The family has asked me not to publish any personal communications. Suffice it to say, I feel quite vidicated.)
And I promised myself I wasn't gonna cry.
And don't forget: Change your oil every 3000 miles.