We put him to rest


A day spent celebrating the life of Darius. It was a very hard day for me. The reality of Darius’ loss was impossible to deny– up to this point I could still write things off as some kind of huge clerical error or misunderstanding. But there at the Comet Tavern, where Darius used to work, with his friends, his mom, his sisters/cousins, his girlfriend of several years Danielle…denial had no more room to run. Darius was known to be a massive fan of Rush (and other things Canadian– I always said that while he was born in the US, and held US & British passports, he was certainly *ethnically* Canadian). One of his brainstorms was to open a Rush-themed, uh, RUSHtaurant in Toronto, called ‘Spaghetti Lee’s’ with Rush-named dishes: ‘YYZiti’, ‘New World Manicotti’ and the like. So, for this gathering, the Comet was transformed into Spaghetti Lee’s for the afternoon. Friends delivered tearful tributes to Darius. I just couldn’t. Jon did a great job. I was just deflated. Awful. I was beyond speech.

In the evening, Neumo’s, the club across the street, was open for a musical public gathering. Darius used to manage the attached bar, Moe Bar. The Posies, with Darius on drums, was the first band to ever play Neumo’s when it opened in 2004; we did our 20th anniversary shows here in 2008. And now we said goodbye to Darius here. I admit, I drank quite a bit of wine, and a margarita, that afternoon. I’d been picked up at the airport by my good buddy Brian, and we had our traditional Seattle visit to the Red Mill burger place (the tradition extends to calling Dominique from there to tease her in her absence — we both agree it’s the best burger on earth).

Darius played short stints in several Seattle bands over the years including the Long Winters and Harvey Danger, and was close with Spiral Stairs from Pavement, who lived in Seattle for several years; together they formed his solo project ‘Preston School of Industry’. The Posies would be his longest and best known musical project. Spiral (well, Scott is his name) did some songs; Sean Nelson did some songs. Jon & I did two Posies songs — “Conversations” with Matt on bass; and “You’re the Beautiful One” with Joe on bass. I was…somewhere else. It was too soon, the music was not healing me, it was just opening the wound. People seemed to get something from it; hopefully, it was healing for them. I know it would have been bizarre if we didn’t play, but to be honest…it was excruciating. It had to be done. When that was done, Jon led a band with Matt or Joe, Mike from the local music store‘s drum department, Mike Squires, and Joe’s daughter Brette, doing Rush songs. It was pretty amazing. I was still just weighed down with grief. I hugged many friends. And then, at 10, Brian took me to the airport. Not such a crowded flight back to New York, so I managed to get upgraded to first, so I had a pretty comfortable chair and could sleep the whole way.

Incredibly, it’s already a month since Darius passed.

It was 8 when we landed in New York, and I claimed my bag and took the Airtrain, then the Long Island Railroad, then the subway to the house in Brooklyn. I was back to work on the Max Bouratoglou project. We spent two amazing days in Grand Street Recording cutting drums (Max & I) bass (me), vocals (Max of course), tambourine (that’s my department) piano and organ (me again) and upright bass (Max’s schoolmate Gus). It was good to be productive and despite flying in on a red eye, I felt pretty good. The studio is my home. Jake, the house engineer made my job easy, being available to patch stuff in, then disappearing discretely so I could run things myself. Ken, the owner came by, great guy. Then we went back to Max’s place for the next two days. The wonderful home designed and built by his parents, John & Jill. My connection to them is that Jill and I were friends all the way back in my college years at the University of Washington. Jill took the photos on the cover and back cover of Failure. We’ve always been friends, and Max has always been in to music; I can remember Jill being in town and bringing him by the sessions for “Soft Commands” for example. Now he writes his own songs, and is immersed in music at his school, too. So, last year we cut an EP in the same fashion — I recorded stuff at his home on my mobile set up, and then we did drums at Grand Street. We did more songs this time, so I had us book two days at Grand Street — in the end, Max did all the drums in a day. Neither of us are great drummers, yet — Max is primarily a guitarist & singer– but he’s definitely improved since last year. I’m not great, but I have more experience — sometimes, it was easier for me to play a part than teach it to Max, so I’d jump on the kit and play a few bars–about as much as I can do without succumbing to cascading errors. So in the end, each song has Max with some of me. Max’s lyrics and singing are much improved too — he got to where he needed to be more quickly, and, being 14, he’s over the voice-breaking stage which did make things more challenging for him last year. I found a depth to his writing that, even tho it’s clearly in a teenager’s voice, implies what could be ahead for him as a writer if he keeps at it. He’s got a great head start.

Back at the house, it’s a wonderful atmosphere. Jill & John made huge dinners each night (there are two boys to feed, Max’s brother Julian is 11). Just a nice, mellow, healthy family atmosphere. The last two days we had some guests come by as well: Lorenza Ponce who is an A-list violin player (I saw her play with Sheryl Crow, e.g.) came by for a song. Two more of Max’s classmates came by: Bal, who did background vocals, and Zach, who did trumpet. Even Friday before I heded uptown I was throwing down some last percussion ideas and keyboards. I’ll mix everything this summer.

So, I said my goodbyes; Max & Jill walked me to the subway, and I learned how to navigate with my big suitcase and other stuff; made it to my business manager’s office uptown for a powwow; then got the train to Stamford to hang with my dad. Uh, and Jill ended up coming to Grand Central as I forgot to hand her the *%#$@ key to the house. D’oh!

I took the train to Stamford, getting into some vocal editing on the way for the Popincourt album I’m mixing. My dad grabbed me there and we rolled to New Canaan, where I’ve been hanging ever since. I’ve met some great people thru my dad, so I have some good friends here, plus good food & wine (yep, I hit up Walter Stewart’s, the main grocery store in town, for a stash of Nutty Bunny vegan dessert, a favorite of mine). And of course, my dad, who is hilarious. Love him a lot. I fly back home tonite, having spent Father’s Day with dad, that’s doing it right, yeah?

New Canaan