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Formless circumstance and the stuff of sleep and dreams
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 6:25 pm
Yesterday I attended the memorial service for a close friend and colleague. We were compatriot innkeepers charged with welcoming the stranger and sheltering those traveling the road of life. We worked together for a time and kept in close touch after I left his hotel.
We were of similar age and had similar families. The pictures of him and his wife from the 60's and 70's resemble the pictures from my family. A picture of his daughter from her youth resembles my daughter.
In triumph, we stayed together in the Governor's Suite at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. I visited him in the hospice center shortly before he died. The two images of him in these disparate places will always be joined.
Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, "Love Itself" came on the shuffle play of my recorder. There is something about the state between sleep and wakefulness that helps us reach a part of our being that our fully conscious state cannot access. My highly charged emotional frame of mind made me more susceptible to the peace behind the words and music and something became resolved. All of us search for a meaning in life and I'm sure each meaning is individual.
This is a tribute to my friend, Cal and his family who told me that they wouldn't trade the difficulty of these days for anything. Take care, dear friends and live strong.
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:20 pm
Dear Joe ~
I'm sorry to hear of the death of your friend. This is a beautiful and tender tribute to him and your friendship. The spiritual realm seems to bring to us what we need when we need it. The impeccable timing and meaning of "Love Itself" was surely intended for you, in your time of loss. He died so young.
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:33 pm
Love itself... yes. Probably the most beautiful song Cohen ever wrote - and so wonderfully apt in your memories of your friend.
It's like the grasp of an understanding hand, or the embrace of... love itself...
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 10:53 pm
Dear Lizzy and Fljotsdale,
Thank you for the kind words of comfort. Tonight there is a musical tribute to my friend who was an important presence on the local music scene. Cal provided a constant venue for jazz musicians and co-founded a local jazz seriers. His brother, who is a professional musician in Italy, will perform along with other jazz musicians- most notable among them is Ben Sidran. Ben is a local but has an international following. His album, "Concert for Garcia Lorca" was nominated for a Grammy award.
I'll be there with the jazzers raising a glass to my friend's memory.
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 11:15 pm
It's very interesting to see how things converge, isn't it, with things still coming round to Garcia Lorca.
As you know, jazz venues are hard to come by, and Cal did a real service for jazz lovers in your area.
The musical tribute tonite sounds like it will be very healing for the friends remaining of a man who was clearly well loved. I know it will be an emotional time for you and many others. I'd be interested in hearing what things were done in his memory.
Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 1:06 am
I'm not a believer... but I hope your friend can somehow know and appreciate what you are all doing in commemoration of him. And even if not, I am sure it will help all of you.
May it go well with you.
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 3:56 am
I know that it is probably not a proper thing to say, but we had a wonderful time at Cal's Jazz tribute last night. It was held at a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Mendota. I think there may have been upwards of 300 people. Cal's wife, Gale told me that the memorial service on Sunday was for her and this night was for Cal as it was the type of event that he would have loved.
I confess that I didn't have the opportunity to fully appreciate the music as I was too busy reminiscing with many old friends. We all told great Cal stories and had many laughs. The music was outstanding-word had spread throughout the music scene in Madison and many musicians showed up spontaneously. Even the slightly weird piccolo player referred to as "Orange Guy" who plays for tips on Library mall showed up. His nickname refers to his wardrobe which is orange head to foot-last Halloween "Orange Guy" was the most popular student costume.
Tomorrow night, is the first night of the "Jazz at Five" series that Cal co-founded. Ben Sidran is performing again and I'll have more of an opportunity to appreciate him there. (One little known Ben fact: He wrote the lyrics to Steve Miller's "Space Cowboy.") Ben, Steve and Boz Scaggs all played together in a fraternity band here in Madison in the late sixties.
Thanks again for the kind thoughts for Cal and his terrific family.
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 5:01 am
Joe, please accept my condolences. I guess, by the description you are giving of him, that your friend would have been very happy ("no offense"), that his friends and family gather around his memory and have a good time. Sharing true feelings is the only thing I know that can sooth the departure of a beloved.
Love Itself is a very deep song, i imagine well that it could be a support of your feelings.
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 10:49 am
I'm glad it went so well, Joe.
Cal may be dead, but he is certainly not forgotten, nor likely to be. He will always live in your memories.
That is a trite thing to say, but nonetheless true.
Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 4:19 pm
Dear Joe ~
The tribute gathering for your dear friend, Cal, went just as it should have. His wife clearly understood the difference and how, with her being the one left behind, she needed a time of quiet, remembrance, and grieving, but that Cal
would have enjoyed your gathering. Cal, no longer affected by anything going on here, would love knowing that so many came together in his honour and remembering of him, and that he had left such a wonderful legacy behind that many people could spend hours sharing their memories. Celebrating and feeling the joy of having known someone, someone who was so special, is truly worthwhile. I can't say that I've been so good at doing this myself. My grief tends to linger in an interfering way. However, wakes are a long-standing tradition and this certainly sounds like it was one, whether it used that term or not. At literal wakes, didn't the body of the person used to be there, as well?
I'm glad that this was, indeed, a healing time for you and so many others. "Jazz at Five" rings a bell ~ or is it just because it's so close to "News at Five," and such a catchy name? It sounds like you have some very talented ~ and proven ~ musicians on hand
, as well as some very colourful ones
. Musically, your night must have been awesome. I'm guessing that listening to the program will be a more reflective and poignant time for you.
Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:36 am
Joe, we're only passing through. lc's singing of that song is not meant as an appendage to my opening line.
There are lots of worthy similes/metaphores/wise-old-sayings, that we can all remember, when trying to put the death of another person, into a context that helps each of us to feel warmer and more at-one with our time on this planet called Earth.
The impact which Cal had on the lives of those who were lucky to know him, is evident from your words above. That alone is testimony to the way he lived his life amongst you. We're only passing through.
Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:28 pm
Thanks again, Tchoco, Lizzy, Byron and Fljotsdale.
In my office at work, there is a large portrait of the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club, on which most of the employees wrote nice words when I left. Cal wrote-"Never say no"-as he always teased me about my inability to deny guests (and employees) those things that they asked of me. Cal was much the same way which is why we worked well together. When I look back at the legacy that he left here in Madison, it was that willingness to add what was needed and never be a roadblock that allowed so many good things to happen. He was a good man and I'll miss him.