February is a month of mourning for me and some of my family. I know people are born in this month, too. But a lot my family chose to drop dead in this month. Who can blame them? They are almost all Northerners with a largely North European ancestry and they know March is a slog and April a long shot.
That has something to do with this list I compiled. This is a list of men I have known and I think about each of them, some more than others, but they all occupy a place in my memory vault. Their common link is their deadness. One of them, Russell Means, I never knew in person, but he speaks to me. All of these men, even though dead, speak to me. It is, in fact, easier to hold a conversation with them now, then it was when they were alive. I don't know why that is, but I have a hunch it's because I'm a better listener to the dead, then to the living. They all know something we do not. I do not have a quote for them all.
Here they are:
My Dad, Albert Clayton Crawford, at his desk with a sextant and a compass: "The magnetic north is shifting."
My Brother, Douglas Jay Crawford, KIA Vietnam, 1971 (laughing): "We're all under a terrible strain, Frankie. Mom, Dad and Sis, the dogs and cats – me and you and the guinea pig too. The neighbors, the president, – all us are under a terrible strain."
Grady Wells, quoting Bukowski: " 'Remember your Bach, your Brahms and Your Beer.' ... You got a good heart, but I think you're gay, Franklin."
Paul Bartishevich. "You're one of the best we got, so when you do shit work, it upsets me."
David M., on his therapeutic sidekick, Chauncey the boxer: "Chauncey always farts when he sees you. It's love. "
Jake Ryan: "You need some socks? C'mon, I'll go buy you some socks for your birthday."
Steve Landesman, "Franklin, some times I want to throw something at you."
Grant Payne: "Shave that dopey thing off your face and get in here on time."
Peter Potenza, after a Holiday Inn fire alarm sent us out into the freezing night and I rode him back inside the lounge on a luggage rack: "That was fun -- but I'm sorry: I don't tip dumb waiters."
Steve Galaida, "Let's get together some time, you know, not here, and play music together."
Carl, the Colonel: Made a "raspberry" noise every time I walked into House of Shalimar to say hello to Katie. He so loved Katie.
Bill the Street Guy: "No thanks."
Thomas Giventer: "Hi"
Steve Gilbert, dying of liver cancer: "I know about pain pretty well now; after they poke you in the liver with a cryogenic tube, you became pretty well acquainted with it."
Tyke Kohm, during Happy Hour at Petes, circa 1980: "Franklin, I gave you that $15 as a joke, now I want it back."
Bill Rosen, walking his dog Ben. First man I knew who had Lyme Disease. Now I've had it, too.
Sammy Nitzios, The Mayor of Cayuga Street: "Franco, you getta wife, you live long time."
The Three Nefaris Brothers -- George: "The girls go crazy for me after they see limbo."
Jerry Shriner, on the longest standing personal resentment I've known: "I'd tell that sonofabitch Joe Joch to lick my asshole but his tongue's too dirty."
Russell Aucoin: "I was shaking like a leaf in my skin."
Maugus McGriff (suicide): "You don't understand Frank, I'm in real trouble."
Michael Popowich, dying of emphysema: "You are looking at me like you think I know something important ... Well I DON'T!!!"
Nathan Threadgill (after he got busted robbing a drive-through bank on a 10-speed bike, Riverhead County Jail): "I saw your pops in jail here, Frank. He's a nice guy."
Jon Christiansen, died with a Wetson straw in his mouth after getting hit by a car on Sunrise Hwy.
Eric Seidler: "You remind me of a 50s lover who lost."
Jeremy Werbin (as I carried him to the toilet while he was dying from advanced diabetes): "I wish life wasn't so hard for you."
Alex Malone (after an all-night party, about noon, playing the sweetest guitar you'd ever wanna hear on a Green Street front porch): "Frank, what was it you think they put in that punch last night cuz I still feel kinda high. (LSD)"
Louis Robbins: "Gimme two dollah frank, I know you got it."
Russell Means: 'You can handle anything life throws at you ... by any means necessary ... find out who you are."
... so many more ...