About twenty years ago Fyl was working in the oncology dept at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and they put on a picnic for all the oncology kids in Travel Town in Griffith Park and I was volunteered as a 6’5” draft animal, hauling and carrying and loading and unloading. I must have set up 500 folding chairs and then folded them up loaded them back on the truck again. Stuff like that. Eats were from In and Out, so that was breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cool thing was meeting all the strange train freaks that collect at Travel Town. They even had a Pullman car converted into an office and library. A zillion books about trains. Reams of locomotive blueprints. They argued a lot about trains, and knew about every train ever. They all had a train or two or three that they’d pull out of the engine house and go around the tracks on. Sometimes they carried the kids. Sometimes they went by themselves. I got to ride three or four different trains, giant me on a little train. It was a ball. Those tracks go much further into the brush than you can tell from driving by, and they’ve put incredible effort into the tracks and decor. Train freaks. Sort of like HO model train freaks, but more intense. And oil stained.

The kids were having a helluva good time, the trains, clowns, the hamburgers and ice cream. You’d almost forget they were cancer patients. Fyl said you see all those kids in the front row? The quiet ones? None of them will be here next year.

That was a lesson in stoicism I’ve never forgotten. I stopped whining much about being sick after that day, after that moment. Stop minding pain so much. I think about those kids all the time. I’d hand one an ice cream and he’d smile and say thank you. I handed a little girl and ice cream and she said she couldn’t eat ice cream and smiled and thanked me.

George Davison, again

Ya know, I spent so much time reminiscing about George Davison in ye olde daze that I completely forgot to mention something I had only discovered about him via Facebook. George was a talented writer. I’m not talking music here, I already talked about that, but language. You can see that almost immediately in someone on Facebook (or in emails or tweets even) because they can spin little stories even if they’re ony a couple sentences long. When he was on the farm you could see the farm, when he was in Santa Barbara could see the streets, and the trees, and feel the sun. You don’t even have to describe it, a reader fills all the background in if you say the right words. Which he did. Towards the end his stuff got very, very dark…he told us some awful things and warned us he was going to tell more. I was glad he didn’t. Maybe he had second thoughts, maybe the drugs kicked in, I dunno, but it spared us an evil side–we all have those, I certainly do–but I don’t recall ever seeing his on display before. Not even in his most punk rock moments in the early days. Those dark stories he forewarned of us were stories that didn’t really need telling, I guess. Cancer was a world we all might face sometime, but no use letting us in on it now. If it happens–and it will, to some of us–it happens. Worry about that when it comes.

I remember how much I admired his skill with language, his flare for words, and I told him so. He was surprised, I think, most natural writers never even think of themselves as such. They just write naturally. I figured as he recovered we would see endless threads of George stories. It would be part of the recovery process. When I heard he’d finally slipped away I felt cheated that he never had the chance to spill like that, to pour it out in that breezy style of his. I didn’t say anything because, well, it was a selfish reaction and would have been just one more thing for you all to be sad about. But it’s been bugging me. So I said it here.

I don’t think there are that many natural writers. It’s a rare thing still. Writing is new, only a couple thousand years old, and it comes far less easy to people than music which is probably a hundred times as old at least. And when I spy someone with talent there’s a bond, like we’re in on a secret most people don’t know anything about. And I always hate to see them go, because when somebody goes they take a zillion stories with them, and we’ll never know what they would have been. And crazy George, like all the rest of us crazies, would have had some stories to tell.



George Davison

George Davison has left the building. We went back a long ways. He knew Fyl and I before we knew each other, ancient history. One of those guys who never saw the point in being regular…a boho freak to the core, and sweet as hell. Stoned, …too. Some very fond memories. Became a fine guitar player. When I first met him he knew two chords, sometimes three. What a night that was. The girls rushed the stage and shredded his tee shirt. It hung off in tatters, his glasses were askew, and they did I fought the law three times because they barely knew any songs. That was 1979, I think. Wild wild times, wonderful times. The future was forever and no one ever died.

I once wrote about the time i ran into George at a party and he told me 315 was dead. Cancer, he said. Now George is dead. Cancer again. What goes around, I guess.

George Davison rocking out.

George Davison rocking out.  (Photo by Peter Aiello.)