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Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

Happy Deathday, Brother Theodore.

Brother Theodore was imprisoned by Nazis at Dachau. He played chess (a game he excelled at so profoundly that he once beat thirty fucking Stanford professors simultaneously – yes, read that again) with Albert Einstein, who helped him emigrate to the United States, where he would eventually become a cult hero with his uniquely surreal gallows humor and eccentric monologues, along with acting as Gollum in the classic Rankin/Bass animated feature The Hobbit, and in such movies as The Last Unicorn and the Tom Hanks vehicle The ‘Burbs. He was a staple of the late-night talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s. He died nine years ago today.

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the chasms

Nov. 6th, 2008 04:54 am
transmothra: (Default)

Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

omfg where do i start?

today sucked.

preface: we are so poor. that is all about that. we are poor, and it sucks balls. Holly works so hard, and for what? what the hell do i do to make the world any better? not a god damned thing. especially not her world.

on to the viewing…

my old friend is dead. younger than me, dead and gone. i remember yesterday when we were all young and crazy with life and the ecstasy of the world being at our fingertips.

i got there, alone. i killed time rolling a smoke and killing it. i rolled a couple more and walked up. almost immediately some cat comes up for a light. he’s a friend of Jason’s. there is some small talk, then he reveals that there are internal social problems & factioning, a division going on. he calls it childish; “bizarre,” i reply.

after chatting with another of his more recent friends, i mustered up just barely enough guts to go inside. what awaited was hell.

so i go inside and i don’t see anyone i know. except for Susan and Mike, who passed by on their way in. i couldn’t tell if they were ignoring me or if they didn’t recognize me. that was sort of a theme of the evening. they have every reason to ignore me. when i was younger and stupider, i did stupid things and said foolish things to Susan, who i loved then, about Mike, who was actually a terrific guy, really. so there’s that.

i’m in line for about a half an hour, behind a small group of people who obviously bothered to keep up with him in his last years. suddenly i realize that the older gentleman standing idly by is Jason’s dad.

omg. it’s his dad, i thought. omg. is it better that he does or doesn’t recognize me?

see, we used to be really crazy teenagers. really crazy, just completely off the chain and full of joy and insanity. we used to bounce off the walls with energy. we also used to do some questionable stuff. nothing terrible, just not real virtuous behavior. all in good fun, we figured at the time. and it was.

but we got suspended from school once, toward the very ass-end of my senior year, which would have been Jason’s sophomore year, for showing up drunk at a school dance, with liquor and beer in my car to boot. crap. i got him in trouble. i hope they don’t remember that.

he looks at me and we chat, and he doesn’t seem to really remember me well. that’s kind of a big relief.

then the question i was dreading.

no, i said, even though i only live a half hour away, i didn’t really bother to go and see him, as he’s dying, because i just didn’t. because i don’t fucking know, right? i didn’t say it like that, but i certainly meant it like that.

i tried several times to gather a posse together. too many years had passed. i needed a buffer to fill up the empty space of time that had grown like kudzu between us. he and i talked on the phone a few years ago, and the net result of the conversation was, i felt at the time, that he was grown up and doing his thing, and though we were greatly cordial, there was a fairly vast chasm that had come up there in the middle. we weren’t those kids anymore. he didn’t need me in his life. we of course said “we should get together sometime,” and “give me a call anytime,” and neither of us really meant it. though i would have secretly loved to. but you know how it goes. it’s happened to everyone. two old friends, grown apart after too much time.

i loved him, though, and i never stopped loving him. it had just become awkward. that’s why i wanted help, someone to go with me to see him.

so i answered that question. no, i didn’t go to see your dying son in his last couple of years in life. fuck! i wanted to. desperately. i was too scared of that god damned void that had opened up its gaping maw between us to suck our friendship in. i pussied out.

finally, i see him up close.

no mortician on earth really ever makes a dead body look natural. not to me anyway. it’s always a horrific shock to see something that resembles someone you used to know very well lying before you like some kind of expired doppelganger. it was just too unreal. i knew it was him, he just didn’t look… real. that always happens.

the shock, the numbness of it all was overwhelming.

i go outside, roll a couple more smokes, pretend like i’m talking on my phone. anything to keep the questions at bay. thankfully, Travis shows up with his mom. i keep quiet and let them do all the talking. conversations get better that way.

Fred texts me that he can’t show up because he supposedly doesn’t have enough gas. me and Jason were pretty tight back in the day, but Fred and Jason were like peanut butter and jelly. completely inseperable. i am disappointed.

Kevin Holsinger shows up in a little while. the other day i practically cried at the thought of seeing that kooky lil’ kid again. we were never all that close, but i always liked him. you couldn’t not. and we always had terrific laughs together. he doesn’t seem to know who i am, and since it doesn’t really matter anyway, i let the matter be as it is.

later on, Travis and his mom and Kevin and his whole family go out to eat. i didn’t go, it was just too awkward for me. i had a bad day. plus, i needed to pick Holly up from a business meeting. it turned out she got a ride, a fact i knew at right about the same instant as everyone was driving away. not that it would have made a difference.

there was not one single moment of the day that i had any business being a part of. but i owe like hell.

it’s hard when it really sinks in how much you never really mattered in the end, when someone you loved so much and had so much fun with is dead and gone so many years after you last saw them.

transmothra: (Default)

Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

The house next door to us is abandoned and boarded up. It didn’t used to be. There used to be some middle-aged lady living there. She was an addict of some sort. There was often craziness over there, including one priceless Trailer Park Boys moment which i will leave for another time.

Then she moved out.

Squatters moved in. And out.

The place was boarded up, the brush and foliage have overgrown, and the place is a headache for all of us over here.

Today, there is a dead thing in the back yard. It looks like a dog from where i can see it.

First, i called Dead Animal Removal. They directed me to Animal Control, as it’s not public property and they don’t have jurisdiction to just wander onto the property and remove random dead things. Animal Control directed me to the police department - i guess the call was transferred to the county Sherriff’s office, because they advised me to contact city police, who advised that i should definitely contact Housing… who suggested that maybe someone (as in one of us neighbors) could just get a bag and a shovel and get it over with. I persuaded her to connect me with the inspector for that address, and left a rather terse message on his voicemail that someone needs to do something about this problem property and that either he needs to contact the owner or let me know how i can do so myself.

Square one.

So i contacted the Mayor’s office. I can’t remember the lady’s name, but she was wonderful and took the information down to pass along to whoever it is that needs to know these sorts of things.

Then i got antsy. I looked up the property info on the county’s web site (see here and here). A simple search on the name and address gave some interesting info, including the fact that the address is the same as that of a previous owner. Oddly enough, that same address in Dublin, Ohio also was the address of a defunct UFO organization called MORA.

So to you, mister Timothy Freidenberger TR (or mister Kurt Novak, whoever owns the goddamn place), i say this:

Come and get your fucking house under control, sir! I would burn the god damned thing down myself but your overgrown branches would no doubt catch our own place of residence, with ourselves inside, aflame to boot, not to mention the nasty legal ramifications of such an terrible but no doubt really goddamn enjoyable act.

UPDATE1: Mister Novak returned my call. I advised him that the property is a nuisance. He shifted blame to the city, which certainly bears some of the burden of responsibility. I advised that the owner is also a source of the problem, as there is brush and trees so overgrown that the bums who appropriated our television panel had no problem hiding in them. He seemed to be under the impression that someone he pays actually comes out to take care of the place. I further advised that it would probably be best to just raze the goddamn thing down and sell the land. He didn’t see that as an option, and the call ended on a note of pretend cordiality not long afterward.

UPDATE2: Someone actually came out, i know not from whence, and removed the dead thing.

transmothra: (Default)

Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

My old friend Jason Stafford died Sunday morning from ALS or complications thereof at ~7:45am.

The obituary will run tomorrow in at least one local paper (thanks Tillie and Travis and Kevin and Dani). You can find the obits for the Dayton Daily Nothing and the Springfield News Sucks at the following addresses:

http://www.legacy.com/dayton/Obituaries.asp
http://www.legacy.com/springfield/Obituaries.asp

Viewing Wednesday 6-8pm
Funeral 11am Thursday
Gilbert-Fellers in Brookville
http://www.gilbert-fellers.com/

Will be seeing you there, in blackest black.

I wrote an essay about my friend here:

http://jeremyjarratt.com/2008/11/03/in-memory-of-froot-loop/

transmothra: (Default)

Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

Jason Stafford and his sister Danielle

Jason Stafford and his sister Danielle

Yesterday morning at about 7:45 in the a.m., the world lost one of its most gifted and talented minds. My old high school pal Jason Stafford died from ALS after a 2 1/2 year fight that brought his body to its knees.

I met Jason either through mutual friends or through the band program at our old alma mater, Tecumseh High School. Over the years, we became very tight, and performed a number of questionable but downright hilarious acts together. We used to drive fast down country roads and goof off after school. Notoriously, we got childishly drunk and attended a school dance, where we were all caught and suspended. For me, it was my first real taste of alcohol, and became a stupid end to an already faltering career as a high school student.

Jason earned the nickname “Froot Loop” for his unusually wacky sense of humor. You always knew he was around by his loud but always jolly laughter. I don’t think i have any memories of him where he’s not laughing the whole way through. Some of my memories of those times have degraded over the years, leaving just that sacred sound echoing through the fog. If somewhere in the world, something goofy was happening, you could have bet your very life that Jason was involved.

I also credit Jason with turning me on to Drakkar Noir, which was the scent of the day for bemulletted, Camaro-driving guys across the American heartland, and which was virtually guaranteed to get a teenager laid, which it did not in our cases. Or maybe just mine.

Jason played guitar. He had a beautiful gray Les Paul and an Ovation acoustic. He was so humble. He always downplayed his abilities, but he was an extremely capable musician. He also played trumpet. Along with Bill Davenport, we formed an ad hoc band at band camp my senior year called Homicidal Cat, for the sole purpose of playing “Helter Skelter” and freaking out the grownups. We were lousy, but not because of poor musicianship on anyone’s part. In hindsight, we should have had a drummer.

He and i both always ran around with the bad crowd, and by bad crowd, i mean drummers and saxaphone players. People who, instead of rocking out to Phantom of the Opera, were rocking out to Metallica, the Pink Floyd, and AC/DC.

We were in marching band together. That’s probably all i should say about that. Whenever you hear the phrase “this one time, in band camp,” you should bear in mind that high school students who are shipped far away from parental guidance make a habit out of having an absolutely improper amount of fun, and much of it highly questionable.

I can say with impunity, knowing whatever statute of limitations may have been applied has long gathered dust by now, that he was absolutely instrumental, no pun intended, in the creation and probably the transportation of the World’s Largest Spitball (unconfirmed), which had to be transported via industrial-sized trashcan lid, over to the girls building, where it was promptly dropped by the two or three giggling chicken-shits it took to do so, of whom i was among their number. He also assisted in the removal of an extension cord which was inconveniently supplying a camping site worker with electricity which would have otherwise caused him to wake up on time, and with a weather forecast that would have permitted our band director to make plans for us that day.

I only have a single memory of him where we didn’t get along for a few minutes. After school one day, he jumped into my blue 1977 Chevy Nova, started it, and proceeded to repeatedly test out the transmission by shifting it back and forth, back and forth, from Drive to Reverse, with myself on top, pounding vigorously on the hood and demanding angrily that he let go of my precious toy. Within about ten minutes (probably less), he was hugging me and calling me a teddy bear.

I’ve never in all my life, either before or since, met a more good-hearted or sweet-natured guy, and i probably never will again. And whatever happened between high school and now, i will forever be saddened that i wasn’t right there with him, because if there was ever a guy who you could count on to cheer you up no matter what the circumstances were, it was Jason Stafford.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a degenerative nervous system disorder that is always fatal. Treatments are available but there is no cure. Famous sufferers include Stephen Hawking, who has had it since 1963, and guitarist/composer Jason Becker. It is terrible, but with advances in stem cell technology, there may yet be hope for the future.

transmothra: (Default)

Originally published at jeremyjarratt.com. You can comment here or there.

When i am dead, i wish to be burned to a crisp, and have my dirty ashes scattered by close friends wherever they please.

It is my wish that whatever organs are desperately, vitally needed by someone else in their direst hour be given to them, free of charge, with the condition that such license to use and/or modify shall be taken up by them also, and that no derivative works shall result in profit. After all, i am an open source, Creative Commons person.

My stuff shall be dispersed however my few close friends see fit, with the understanding that of course my dear love Holly should have pretty well everything to start with, shared mainly with anything my dad & uncle ¬†might want (so you better ask them all real nice if you want my Cure CDs). However, Tony D. is not to have anything until he sobers the hell up. There’s no point in giving anything to a man who’s only going to exchange it for crappy booze or some other escapist bullshit. On the other hand, his wonderful daughter Abby is welcome to just about anything she chooses.

I want my unfinished work to be wrapped up somehow. I don’t care how, so long as i become extremely famous and fabulously wealthy after death. Just don’t screw it up like you do everything else. This is Important Shit.

A grave marker will be permitted if anyone wants to bury my ashes, as long as the epitaph is funny as hell. My suggestions:

  • “I probably shouldn’t have done that.”
  • “Whew! Good thing that’s over.”
  • “Oops!”
  • “Not here, and not there either.”
  • “Thankfully gone, decidedly forgotten.”

If you have something better, go for it.

No serious religion shall stake a claim on any part of my death, including but not limited to any services performed to mark my exit. No rites or stupid ceremonies are to be performed, with the lone exception being that my homies will be permitted to spill some on the curb for me. No spiritual messages are to be given, and no priest of any faith shall officiate. It is to be wholly remembered that i was a devout agnostic, who leaned heavily toward atheism. Anyone caught claiming that i somehow had a soul that lived on after death shall be haunted by my fictitious ghost forever, or until they come to the conclusion that i am not haunting them at all, whichever comes first. I lived through enough horse shit; i don’t need to deal with more of it once i am dead and gone forever. My passing should be viewed as permanent. There is to be no prayer of any kind, except in jest. Silent meditation is permitted, but please: no god shit, and no afterlife crap.

Two religions which are permitted practices and/or short rites are the Church of the SubGenius and the P.O.E.E. (disciples of Eris, goddess of confusion - i think), and they should mock the whole goddamn thing, if they even bother to show up. I also do not mind Buddhism all that much.

No flowers, please. Take your money and donate it to a non-religious charity that does work with AIDS patients or research, breast cancer (again, patients or research), homelessness, runaways, asthma, the environment, civil and/or human rights, putting an end to consumerism, humanitarian efforts, nuclear disarmament, or anything related to promoting atheism or agnosticism or the like.

On the other hand, any services performed to mark my escape from this terrible veil of lies should have a darkly humorous bent, and anyone eulogizing me must include at least one tasteless joke at my expense, or (more preferably) the expense of others. Weirdness should be encouraged at any cost. Attempts should be made at gallows humor. Thou shalt have joy, and laughter, damn it. Death is nothing serious. Be wholly glad i am gone!

transmothra: (cartoon prayer)
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March 2011

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