Saturday, January 08, 2011

Remembering a friend at Laurelthirst Public House

Sitting at our favorite booth in the Laurelthirst, remembering our friend Dave Kocka
On Friday night, a gaggle of old friends made our way down to the Laurelthirst Public House to remember our recently-departed friend, Dave Kocka. We shared old stories, acknowledged the tragedy of a life foreshortened, and each wished his spirit a safe journey.

It was very strange to be in a smoke-free Laurelthirst. I enjoyed it more. (And, come on, you damn hippies, you'll live longer because of it!)  The James Low Band played some great music, including a mournful first set that I felt was very mood appropriate. And, boy, they livened it up in a later set, too. If you get a chance, go see them!

James Low graciously allowed me to relate a story to the crowd (so many of whom knew Dave) between sets at the 'Thirst on Friday night and I thought I'd relate it again here as a final adieu to an old friend.

In spring of 1998, Dave and I traveled to Europe to do a short tour of London, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris.  We had arrived in London's Gatwick Airport and were in the midst of the zombie shuffle through British customs when a customs agent seemed hesitant to allow Dave entry into the country.   The agent was really grilling Dave about his visit to the United Kingdom.  What were his plans?  Where would he be staying?  What was the name of the tour company with which he was traveling?

Dave had the look of a vagabond, with his long, curly, disheveled hair and beard, and his patchy, threadbare clothes, and I attributed the agent's inquiries to concern that Dave might be entering the country to take advantage of their social support system.  Eventually, although he seemed reluctant, the agent let Dave pass.

On the train into London I said, "Dave, you know, if you put on some pants without holes in the knees and wore a button-down shirt, you'd get through Customs a lot more easily."

"Maybe," Dave acknowledged.  "But if I did that, there might be someone out there, some needy person, some person living on the edge, that might be fooled by my clothes.  That person might not recognize me as a brother, as one of his family."

As I said before, Dave Kocka was a very kind soul.  Very kind indeed.

Best to all.

Dave's sister, Victoria, whom I met once years ago, called me on Friday afternoon with a special inquiry that I would like to pass on to any Portland hippies (or anyone else) who might know something about a bass guitar that once belonged to Dave. This bass guitar has special memories for Dave's father, and his family would like to find it, if at all possible.

So, if you know anything about it, please contact me at:
cell phone: 503.449.8834

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