Tuesday, October 20, 2009

a love supreme

so, my friend brendan mullen died last week, which was a really awful shock to many, many people. me included.

if you don't know who he is, just google him and you'll see. that's him above, in a recent photo i nicked from his facebook profile, taken by the amazing gary leonard of brendan holding a much earlier portrait of himself, also taken by gary. (i hope it's ok to post this photo here; if not, please let me know and i'll take it down.) but as many (including the man himself) have already noted, brendan was a pioneer in the l.a. punk scene, nicknamed the mad scot (and possibly less flattering terms as well). so i, of course, met him through the local music world, when i was music editor at the l.a. reader. but i didn't even arrive in town until eight years after his legendary club, the masque, had closed. i first knew brendan as the booker for club lingerie; he'd leave me detailed voicemail messages with the listings for the week, which is how we did things in the dark time before e-mail.

anyway, brendan was one of the many original punks i got to know through going to shows and being a music critic -- people i loved meeting and talking to, but around whom i also felt kind of intimidated, as i was younger and had not "been there," as it were. but brendan was easy to be around, and he was fun to engage in conversation: so passionate, smart, funny, and wry. over the years i came to really adore him and was always happy to see him and his longtime companion, kateri butler, at a show or anticipate them being at a party -- especially at a party, as i am horribly uncomfortable in groups and they were guaranteed friendlies. but brendan's world was big, and as i struggle to write this, i feel like my own sense of loss is small and remote compared to what his real loved ones, and the communities he was part of, have lost.

still ... i knew brendan for a long time, and i felt comfortable with him. he was easy to talk to: as much as he could TALK, he was a good listener too. but we weren't really close pals, just simpatico people whose paths crossed a lot, especially after i took up with 00soul, who knows everyone from back in the day.

and one of my best memories ever revolves around brendan; indeed, it was set in motion by him. it happened last year -- almost exactly a year ago, in fact -- when i took my UK trip and very spur-of-the-moment met up with brendan in wales, where he was taking a break to visit his friend michael while caring for his sick (now deceased) brother. brendan had seen my facebook status about being in cardiff, and messaged me to come to hay-on-wye for a day. i wrote about that adventure at the time (see link), but it really stayed with me as a rare pleasure -- being welcomed like an old friend in a totally foreign place, spending a whole afternoon and evening just sharing stories and a meal and very fine conversation. i'd been traveling alone for most of a week by then, and, although i loved the independence of that, it was a good change to have friends to talk to.

the experience added a dimension to my friendship with brendan that hadn't existed before and made me feel like there was more to come. which maybe could have been so, but now that possibility is gone. i saw brendan a few more times, under circumstances both tragic and celebratory ... including at the bigfoot lodge in august, when 00soul and phast phreddie DJ'd to a packed house. i teased brendan then that the next time he needs a ride to london from the wilds of wales, he should just come right out and ask me, hahaha.

anyway. someone said that brendan was no saint, and that may well be true. but he was always kind to me, and i really liked him, and i'm very sad that he's gone. my heart kind of breaks when i think of kateri, and i wish i could do something more than write these words. but i have to celebrate that brendan was ever here at all ... because of my own little vignettes of remembrance, sure, but also because, for a lot of people, the world would have been very different without him.

so goodbye, brendan. you were a special person. and i'm really gonna miss you.

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