5 years ago today I got the call that my buddy Vin died. An aneurysm. I woulda bet on liver failure, or getting hit by a car. If you’re lucky in life, you get a friend that you can really consider your brother. Well, I got lucky.
I met Vin back in first year college, when I was tripping hard on acid and he came strolling by with an equally acid addled friend. Vin was back from college and with-in a week, we were best buddies. Over the ensuing 80 or 90 years we went to more shows, got tossed out of more clubs and bars, drank more booze, and got into more trouble than either one of us should have ever been able to survive from. We would constantly push each other to do dumber and dumber things… it wasn’t even to out-do the other, it was more of a scientific pursuit to discover how far we could take it.
Every weekend we’d be at a Circle Jerks, or Fleshtones or Slickee Boys, or Dead or Kraut or whoeverthefuck was in NYC that nite show. Often, one of us would wake up the next morning a bit banged up (more often than not it was Vin, since he couldn’t hold his liquor as well as I could and was smaller than me). Oh, the liquor thing… Vin was definitely in a lifelong battle with John Barleycorn, and more often than not, was the loser. For as much as he drank, he would get hammered pretty early on. He had 4 distinct phases: Stages 1-4. Stage 1 would be the simple slurring and stage 4 would be falling down drunk and speaking utter gibberish. And it might only be a three drink journey from 1 to 4! And God help us if he tried to pick up a girl or if we got back stage to hang with a band. I remember one time when Vin tried to tell John Doe from X the lyrics of some of John’s songs. Doe became completely unhinged as Vin tried to tell him he was singing the songs wrong! Or getting thrown out of the old Peppermint Lounge when we started square dancing during some “bull-shit downtown scenester New Wave” show. Rock n roll. I think we did 12 Super Bowl’s in a row… wherever we were, even in different cities, we would get together for the game.
Vin lived in Albany for quite a few years in the 80’s and was pretty involved with the Capital-land punk scene. I spent a lot of time in Albany, as my girlfriend was going to school there and Vin lived there. I usually spent more time with Vin actually! He had a great apartment with aluminum foil as wallpaper on all the walls… it was like living in a giant baked potato.
That’s not to say Vin was a moron. The guy graduated from a top college, worked as an assistant to two different State Assemblymen and eventually ended up in the Wall Street area, working as a systems analyst.
The missus felt equally close to Vin, he was definitely like a brother to her as well. He even lived with us for a few months right after we got married.
On September 11, 2001; Vin was coming out of the subway downtown when the first plane hit… he narrowly avoided getting killed when a piece of the plane landed feet from him. I spoke to him later in the day (I was out of town) and he described how people were jumping out of the towers. I don’t think he was ever the same after that.
Anyway, when I got the call that he died, as clichéd as it sounds, we died a little that day too. I made the requisite calls (my mom was devastated as well); and we did the wake thing for 4 days. On day 5, there was a memorial mass and than a huge party that his parents threw. It was supposed to just be a luncheon, but it ended up being the kind of going away party that I would like when I kick. Everyone drinking and crying and telling stories. That night, I had to play a gig… we made it a memorable one and my buddy Al came on to sing Bloodstains (Agent Orange). At least we sent Vin out on a high note.
I know this post is all self indulgent (as if the other’s aren’t!). I don’t care. My buddy deserves better than this blog post, but it’s the best I can do.
Here's a mixtape of some of the bands and songs that I think of when I think about Vin.
Anyway, wherever you are, hoist up a beverage of your choice and toast someone you care about that's gone.