R.I.P. sweet Pugsly. April 3, 2017

It’s raining right now. Fitting for how I’m feeling.
The heavens cry along with me with the loss of my wonderful companion, Pugsly.

I have few words now. I didn’t know it was possible to love a wee creature so much.
Four years ago, she walked lost down my street and found me.



Almost ten years ago, we cremated my dad’s body. Then buried the boxed and bagged ashes at a cemetery in a woodsy Jewish cemetery in Queens, New York. Our family plot is right next to the gravel road that roams through the cemetery. When we gather for the anniversaries, we stand in the road and have to shuffle closer to the grass when a car drives slowly by, careful not to step on dad or grandpa’s grave marker.

I don’t much like cemeteries. Places to embalm our dead. They take up land so we can hold onto each year in remembrance. These tracts of the dead stretch out for miles upon miles. We have homeless people who sleep in squalor on the street while dead bodies are buried on acres of useable land. It betrays logic. Cemeteries are places of emotion and finance. How much does it cost a family each year to keep the grass trim above their beloved’s body, locked in that tomb? I don’t know what my dad thought of cemeteries, but I don’t think he much cared for them.

He wanted his ashes scattered over Walton Lake in upstate New York near the family summer-house, where as a kid he spent many summers fishing and swimming. That lake was special to him. He felt a freedom when he was at the lake, and a peace of mind that was rare in his life.

Instead, we took his boxed and bagged ashes, dug a hole in the ground at the family plot and buried ‘him’ there. It’s actually fairly impressive what a small container a body fits into once it’s lost itself.

What good is that headstone in that cemetery in Queens for those of us who lives so far away? It is an absent memorial. lf this physical memorial didn’t exist, the focus could be anywhere – perhaps floating free in the weedy waters of Walton Lake.

But now he is now static, fixed, in a far-away location. Embedded there is a concrete symbol. I’m somewhat resentful that there is this specific location stuck in my mind as related to him. We aren’t required to go there to mourn, but kind of like what photographs do to a memory, a headstone does to the grieving.






I’m not sure where all my cassette tapes went when I was 18, but for a while I only had two tapes: Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and the Clash “London Calling”.

I listened to those two tapes while packing to move for years. I still listen to Ziggy Stardust when packing to move. Which means I’ve listened to it /a lot/.

Mary introduced me to David Bowie’s music. She had as full a collection of his albums as anyone in small town southern Illinois in the mid-1980’s. We would turn off the lights in her bedroom, put on an album and just… listen.

She spray-painted “Rebel, Rebel, I love you so!” on the inside of an abandoned railroad car we adopted as our own. Somehow we moved an old sprung-cushion lounge chair into that railroad car.

It is fascinating how music is so evocative and nostalgic. A few notes will conjure up memories long thought forgotten to the quiet space between now and then.

My 16-year-old self couldn’t see this future.
My almost 45-year-old self can look back and see my young self, listening to Hunky Dory in Mary’s bedroom – then a few years later with Ziggy Stardust, in that warehouse in Oakland where Jason slept in the room below, packing a few bags to return to Carbondale to college and an ambiguous future.

I never thought I’d need so many people….