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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


During the 90s, I used to play guitar in an acoustic band back in Boston. Acoustic Break we were called. Actually, nobody ever called us that because practically no one even knew we existed. We used to play at a handful of bars down by Boston Garden. We played early, around six or seven o'clock, to the after-work crowd on their way to Celtics or Bruins games.

There were three of us in the group. Myself, Jack on guitar and lead vocals, and Al who played bass and sang. I've got the worst singing voice that has ever existed in the history of man so I just shut up and played the hell out of my guitar. In addition to our gigs, we would practice in Jack's basement. Over the years we drank a lot of beer and played a lot of music.

Eventually, Jack moved to the Cape so logistically, keeping the band going became difficult. But we tried. Al would come by my house once a week after work and pick me up in his rusted out Volvo and we'd drive down 495 to Wareham. We'd stop at the liquor store near Jack's house and pick up a couple of six packs. It doesn't sound like much, and what it does sound like is pretty hokey, but these were good times. Really good times. Hanging out with good friends and playing music. Joking and laughing. Alternately needling and defending each other.

A few years back, Al moved to Texas and got married for the second time. I moved to California and lost touch with both him and Jack but tracked them down about two years ago. Jack replied once, maybe twice, but Al and I continued to email each other anecdotes, opinions, memories back and forth. Al's wit was very dry. Arid. A dustbowl of humor. And as easily misinterpreted as email can be, somehow his humor came through to me loud and clear, never muddled or confused by the usual impersonalness of email.

Last week I received the first email ever from Al's wife Carol. She was writing me and "5 others" to let us know that Al was dead. I had known it was coming for a while. It was the typical story of a tumor being eliminated followed by hopeful monitoring followed by the disease's reappearance.

It wasn't long before I thought to myself, "I wonder if Jack knows. I wonder if I should tell him."


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