Writing this is no help
THE OUTSIDER - Erwin T. Romulo () - December 23, 2005 - 12:00am
(Author’s Note: One of my heroes, the lovely and charming Quark Henares was right when he declared that yours truly didn’t need to create a "blog" because I already got one: it just happened to be published in The Philippine STAR every Friday. Although one day I will learn to make better use of this column and make that wunderkind regret those words, I guess it’s time to play to the crowd and own up to my weaknesses. Bear with me.)

When your life is as uneventful as mine, those poignant moments that are supposed to mean something and change your life arrive at the most unexpected times. I was arranging my compact discs and came across two albums that were lent to me by a dear friend who also happened to die last year. I was away on vacation with my wife when it happened; but I already knew he had fallen into a coma before I left. Apparently, he passed out and hit his head on the table or something as hard. It happened in Davao where he had been staying for some time. I played the two albums – a double CD by Derek and the Dominoes and one by Bad Company.

He was one of the coolest people I ever knew. I met him when he was dating my sister and he was unlike any of my sibling’s suitors. He was scruffy and rough, with an odd, angular quality about him. He always wore jeans and shirts that fit his slim figure perfectly. He smoked, but he always told me that it was a "filthy habit" and that I should never – under any circumstance – even try it. He drank bourbon from a little Astringosol bottle that he tucked away in his pants. In the car, he played music really loud – anything from The Traveling Wilbury’s to Eric Clapton. He had impeccable taste in music and was especially a connoisseur in rock and roll, collecting vinyl copies of Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead and The Smiths. He knew all the places where you could get a good deal, great food (and probably hepatitis); he tipped generously so the waiters liked him. He would punctuate his speeches with curse words but he always got away with it. He also had two of the sweetest and intelligent kids I’ve ever gotten to know. (During one of the coup attempts in the 1980’s, they got stuck in our house for several days and we amused ourselves silly by making faces, playing board games, hide-and-seek and watching James Bond films.) He was – and still is – the quintessential rock n’ roll icon for me.

Anyone who actually knows me can look at the above and actually tick off attributes that I appropriated for my current demeanor.

It didn’t work between my sister and him but I managed to keep in touch. The last time I saw him was at a Jun Lopito gig at the Music Museum. Lopito and his band played Bell-Bottom Blues and I asked him if he could lend me his copy. He said, "No problem", and dropped it the next day at my house along with the Bad Company CD and a Robin Trower vinyl record. No note, but I surmised that probably he thought I’d better listen to the two as well. My record player was broken (and has never been fixed) so I never got the chance to play the Trower. I listened to the two others and decided I liked Derek and the Dominoes more and started listening to it every night for several weeks before going to bed.

Bell Bottom Blues
is a song I always hoped would never mean anything to me. I mean, I never wanted to be in a position to relate to that song, those sentiments. But every great song in time has a way of making itself meaningful to you; even if the words don’t exactly fit, music makes them malleable to fit every manner and shape of broken hearts.

It’s only now that I realize that he’s gone and that makes me sadder than the time I heard Joe Strummer died. Or Kurt Cobain – who like Elvis to Chuck D. – really never meant s**t to me, to be honest. I feel lousy writing this: there’s no catharsis at all. I didn’t really learn anything. I can’t even be bothered to change my opening to fit the mess that I’ve written myself into. (I guess when I’m paid for submitting this babble I might feel better. Probably.) I can’t think of a way to end it and it occurs to me that Clapton didn’t know how to end his song either. So there.
* * *
Kurt Cobain fans can write to: erwin_romulo@hotmail.com

BAD COMPANY BELL BOTTOM BLUES BELL-BOTTOM BLUES BOB DYLAN CHUCK D DEREK AND THE DOMINOES ERIC CLAPTON GRATEFUL DEAD AND THE SMITHS JAMES BOND JOE STRUMMER
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