The clouds, like a herd of mute behemoths
Dancing to an invisibly intructed rhythm,
Burnish the horizon’s azure sombrero
With images of determined impermanence,
Leaving readers of the sky who
Look for more than signs of weather,
An atlas only of the imagination. (The Capt.)
One of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs of all time is “Heroes Are Hard To Find.” It’s from the period where they were less critically acclaimed than the early, psych/blues of Peter Green’s leadership of “The Mac” and certainly far less commercially successful than the Buckingham/Nicks version, but the repertoire is fascinating and in my estimation, more compelling. Bob Welch was the lead songwriter during that phase and penned jazzy odes to UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, and Future Games. In “Heroes” Christine McVie’s voice is a thing to behold. It’s the top of song that gets lost in the pop cannon of later tunes and the mythology of the older ones. Occasionally this happens to people as well–getting lost in the cathode burn of our current celebrity obsessed culture, and faux giants of other times. The life of the common man is rarely recognized or celebrated as being heroic.
Just as the calendar flipped from 1999 to 2010, I lost a friend who had been DJ’ing at a gig in Los Angeles. His name was “Jim” and he was mad about music. I would see him almost everywhere Stephen Kent played. He was a single dad with a young teen daughter. He lived/worked in a home with troubled youth and was their shrink, guardian and surrogate father. He was the avuncular sort that you never minded having around, always in good humor, always re-framing in positive shapes and language. When I was in exile in San Geronimo, I used to hang at The Flatiron with him and watch football on the big screen.
I last saw him at a Christmas bash in Santa Rosa in 1999, where of course Stephen Kent was playing. He was leaving his state funded gig at the home due to declining dollars and wanted to get a reading for the new year and the next phase of his life, just right after he got back from DJ’ing in LA. I never saw him again. He passed on 1/1/00.
When I went to his memorial, I was stunned by how many people were there, how many friends he had, how much of an impact he had had on so many lives and it dawned on me that outside of his circle Jim was a phantom, a ghost trapped in time, but inside, he was a true hero, someone that changed lives . . . for the better.
At his memorial, I was shown a black and white photo that was taken just moments before he had a massive heart attack. He had mixed tracks from one century to the next, the early morning light of a new era bathed him. His eyes were closed. He was like a silver haired hybrid of Buddha and Santa Claus, with heavy curls and wire rims. And then he was gone.
Earlier this week, my friend, “The Captain” set sail for other realms. Much like Jim, he was heroic in his own way. He was a self-made-man, in the Studs Terkel sense of the phrase. He was in the service and used his GI Bill, to go to college when he got out. He studied English Lit. Got his degree. Was immensely interested in Jung and Terrence McKenna. The last time I saw him, he had Jung’s famed “Red Book” opened on his lap, The Pats game on in the background.
When he was younger, both he and his wife contracted Hep C. His immune system was more robust and he managed it far better than she. I never met his wife while she was alive, but The Captain always spoke highly and in great admiration of her intellect and ability to write. She could not however take care of herself. This he did for over thirty years until she passed, quietly and patiently setting his needs aside for her, though not without the attendant frustration that comes with the territory of such commitments. When she passed, a channel of light broke wide open in his life. He reconnected with a daughter that had been given up for adoption long ago. He welcomed his sister back into his life and he found Kate, an obvious soul mate, the woman who stayed by him up until his final breath.
To understand Kate’s devotion, Captain found out he had liver cancer in early June. A week later, he and Kate were exchanging vows. Two months later, he left his body. An avid tennis player, he passed with his tennis warm ups on. Kate, curled up next to him.
The Captain didn’t invent dynamite, write the great American novel or erect a paradigm shattering, social networking site, but he lived his life with a level of dignity and coherence that would be the envy of many. He was no Hamlet in search of himself–he was deeply engaged in the art of living–even when he was doing it for someone else.
One of my favorite memories of him is sitting in the parking lot, just outside the Baskin Robbins in Scotts Valley. Me, him and my son were licking our cones, while Mike Ladd rhapsodized about flying cars and Mars utopias. Captain was lost in Ladd’s layered lexicon, pounding beats and chocolate chip on a sugar cone.
When I found out that he passed and had the time, I decided to cast a chart for his passing. I combined Captain’s birth chart the chart for the time of his passing, using the mid-points for the chart. What I got was pretty interesting.
The first thing that jumps right out is The Grand Cross, with stations at Pluto, Mars, Saturn, Uranus and The Moon. I sent this chart to Molly Hall and she asked me if his passing was violent based on all the Mars squares. It was not on the surface. But with the squares, especially Pluto with Saturn, it was most certainly final. There was no painful lingering, just a rocket to the moon, fueled by Plutonian forces in the fifth, exiting right out into the vast brotherhood of the eleventh, sling-shotting outwards, towards Uranus and points beyond. The Neptune/Jupiter Trine augurs a deeply spiritual trajectory–once The Captain clears the gravity of the lower Bardos.
In a synchronistically lived life, it would make total sense that on another board, a good friend, Chris, who had been with The Captain almost up until the time of his leaving posted this from The Upanishads.
“”When people depart from this world, it is to the moon that they all go. By means of their life breaths the moon swells up in the fortnight of waxing, and through the fortnight of waning it propels them to new birth. Now, the moon is the door to the heavenly world. It allows those who answer its question to pass. As to those who do not answer its question, after they have become rain, it rains them down here on earth, where they are born again in these various conditions — as a worm, an insect, a fish, a bird, a lion, a boar, a rhinoceros, a tiger, a man, or some other creature — each in accordance with his actions and his knowledge.” — Kausitaki Upanishad