It's never good to send a note to your buddy to arrange a date to get together only to have his girlfriend write back with this:
It is with great sadness that I tell you that Karl
died Monday September 24th. He went peacefully in his sleep after a year
long struggle with age related ailments.
Talk about a wind knocker-outer, a teeth kicker, a gut puncher, a jaw dropper. I was sitting on my back steps at our new hillside beach home in Coon Hollow (known as Stinson Beach "on the hill" or "up past the market" to most folks) when I got the news earlier today, and now I must write to simply provide my heart, soul and tortured brain some sort of release, else I may burst with grief. What better way to honor my friend and keep my wits about me at the same time than to senselessly blab away in Limboland? Karl was old - 78 - so I suppose you're
kinda in the red zone when your get up there. As Susie says, he died of
some "age-related" ailments (he couldn't get it up anymore so he just
cashed it in), but I had no idea that he was sick when I talked to him
in August. Hence the teeth gut jaw experience.
Karl has been in and out of my life since I was about 25, after he accosted me in the dressing room of the Last Day Saloon on Clement St. during a break. There was something about the way I played the bass that got him all worked up. Like a lot of the fans of the various bands I have been in, Karl might have believed that the involuntary spasmodic movements I make when I play signified some heightened spiritual relationship with the music and he was curious about how that worked, when what I'm actually doing with the scrunched up facial expressions - the one's that look like I'm either coming all over the stage or have a bad case of barking spiders - is trying to distract listeners from all the wrong notes I generally play. As it turned out Karl was way way beyond all that. Karl knew that there was something else, something out there, that only a few musicians are allowed to touch, and even then only for a very short time: pure feel.
(Frank Anderson, fimmaker/historian/writer/MUSICIAN and one of the players and leaders of the Emperors of Wyoming, founding member of Call Me Bwana and creative co-conspirator for 30+ years now, summed up our mutual friend and soundman Karl: "I know one thing, he wanted pure feel and nothing short of that.")
Pure feel. Come on! How can such a thing be? Turn off the brain completely and simply channel the music, just let it flow through you like shit through a goose with eyes closed and that ear to ear nirvana grin glowing. Underneath that do we have...pure feel? Fortunately we don't have to define to know what it is and I'll bet all five of you Limbolanders that actually read this thing have some idea what it is, even though you may not know how to go 'bout gettin' it. I certainly don't though I think I've been there. Doesn't every art, every sport, every roll in the hay aspire toward this thing we only know as pure feel? Certainly Karl did.
When the band started hittin' on all cylinders so did Karl. My most vivid memories are from a 5-night a week gig we played in a bar on the corner of Valley View and Imperial Highway in La Mirada, California. If you don't know where that is you don't want to find out and if you do you don't want to tell anybody because the corner of Valley View and Imperial was, in 1981, the anus of Orange County. The barmaids at The Valley Imp (yes a little Irish gnome-like creature was their logo/mascot - an Imp, I guess) worked there because they were coyotes and couldn't get a job at Denny's a half mile down the road, and the drinks were free for employees. Being employees, the band drank. Doubles. From 8:30 to 2AM 5 nights a week. But we were young and pure feel was always close by, and when we locked onto it Karl would start making love to his mixing board, thrusting and parrying like Elvis on Ed Sullivan, his More ciglet dangling unlit off his lower lip, tickling the knobs, fingering the EQ, throwing his head back like a lover in the throes of a half hour orgasm. Pure feel.
When you get your fair share of pure feel, or even more than your fair share, it gets harder to come by as time goes on. You know what the pure feels like and you want it that way every time. When you hit a perfect golf shot, or string together a perfect line through the bumps, or throw a strike from center field...you know there is a pure feeling, as if you weren't doing it at all but rather it was doing you.
That's when it's pure feel.
You can feel it, but you can't name it. Nor can you control it, start it, stop it, speed it up, slow it down because [my hypothesis is] YOU are not in charge. Karl is!
As Frank also quoted in a note tonight from Johnny Cash who sang
"there is a sadness in the season
when you watch a good one go".
Thanks Karl. Oh by the way, since nobody seems to know for certain what happens when we die, I won't say "goodbye". Will "see ya later" work?