Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Before I quit smoking, I was told by legions of ex-smokers that you never stop wanting cigarettes and that you'll still have the urge to smoke every day.

I quit July 9, 2005.

I never think of cigarettes.

I do still get the urge to ask Jim if he wants to go out later almost every day though...


We truly are all better people for having known him.

We miss you, dude.

Monday, August 27, 2007

No reason why would suffice and my heart won´t mend over the how and when you left. Liza´s birthday last year was to be the last time I´d lay eyes on you. An insubstantial consolation, at least every detail of that night is vividly etched in my memory. It´s both how I want to and will remember you.

Going through the photographs after you died, it´s so clear that you were ill then. In person you seemed absolutely fine. You never realy looked all that healthy to begin with. That night though, you were OK, recovered from the pneumothorax, maybe even a bit upbeat for you, smiling, listening, joking, talking... well mumbling, laughing & going up to the Larry Lawrence fishbowl just to smell the smoke. You were yourself. You were Jim and you were alive.

Out in Brooklyn with some of our closest friends. Celebrating. Immersed in conversation and catching up. We were holding Liza aloft and out gay-ing Crazy Dave and Frost and we were with Meg and she was wearing the hat and there was a parasol toting, tutu freak wearing a sombrero and the guy from Dave´s t-shirt was posing for a photo with Dave´s t-shirt and Frost was leaping for Spongebob for Liza and you were a wallflower while the girls danced to DJ Worst-Ever-In-Brooklyn and I made you dance. I lead, I spun you, I dipped you, I asked if it was hurting your lung, your face cracked from a sheepish expression and stretched into your broad, mischievous Cheshire cat grin and you laughed and laughed (I have a photo of Jim laughing on that night, it´s several thousand miles away at the moment, I´ll try to post it here when I get back).

When you went home we hugged. I told you I loved you, I told you that I missed you and we´d see each other again at Christmas. I didn´t come home for Christmas. We didn´t see each other. We won´t see one another again. We´re all completely crushed whenever we think of you then realize you´re not here with us anymore Jimmy.

It was our first and last dance. I don´t want another dance. I want to see my friend again. I want him back. He was such an uncommon person and he left far too large a hollow behind.

I love you Jimmy Baby and I miss you very much.

* I always preferred Jimmy Baby over Jimmy Honey. In my head, for some reason, it´s always enunciated in Telly Savalas´ voice. I don´t know why that´s fitting, it just is.


The other day, my roommate developed a roll of film off of a mysterious disposable camera. She brought the photos to me, saying, "I think you'd be interested in these!" She produced a relic: a paper envelope from a photo developing place. Inside were pictures from a trip we had taken with a bunch of friends, including Jim, to Coney Island two summers ago. There were several pictures of he and I, looking sunburnt, well-fed, and happy. It was so great to see him.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I have a weird habit of remembering other people’s memories. For example, whenever I hear any song from XTC’s Skylarking, I remember the time three high school friends went to Dewey Beach, despite the fact that I didn’t go on that trip, because afterwards each time that record got played one of them would say “Wow, this totally reminds me of that time we were at the beach,”until it got to the point where when I hear that record or even think about it I remember a place I never was, and for a moment feel a towel under my ass and smell salt under a bright sky.

And so when I am cooking and I reach for the jar of bay leaves, I think of Jim. I never heard him talk of bay leaves myself, but I have heard Clay and Megan tell the story of Jim saying “I love a good bay leaf” so many times that as I type this I can see the particular expression they both make when they tell that story! puzzled and delighted and so very full of love -- the exact same expression despite being on two very different faces. Whenever I am putting bay leaves in the sauce, I think of Jim and wish I could ask him exactly why he was so fond of them, and if it matters if the leaf has a chunk missing from the side or not.

I did not know Jim as intimately as everyone else – most of our interactions were in groups, in bars, most always with other people around. Nevertheless, I can truthfully say that on some kind of limbic level I trusted Jim more than almost anyone I’ve ever met. When I was falling in love with Clay, it was, on some level, the fact that he considered Jim one of his best friends that told my insides that this man is a good man; you may continue to fall.

Jim and Megan came with us to City Hall to the day we semi-secretly got legally married so I could put Clay on my health insurance. After the hitching we proceeded to play drunken hooky at the Odeon, the Tribeca Grand, and all over Williamsburg. It was April 20th, (of course Jim knew that it was Hitler’s birthday.) That night at Bozu, before I passed out on Clay’s lap mid-dinner, I remember babbling something to Jim about “Boy” and “Girl” (referring to our future children, using the actual names Clay and I have chosen but keep secret.) I had never said their names to anyone but Clay before: Jim was the one person it seemed perfectly safe and natural to tell, and of course he knew immediately who I was talking about.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mr. Pelenidis calling...

This can be filed under goofy one-liners, but before Jim cut the cord and got a cel phone, the name on my caller ID would always show up as JAMES PELENIDIS instead of JAMES P ELENIDIS. I guess it was some mistake on the phone company's part, but it was just always so fun to say "Hello Mr. Pelenidis!" when he called.

I always liked his last name personally, but I remember him saying he'd never "saddle" someone with it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

For the Record

What I said at Jim's memorial service ...
Because we are not good at such things, men will fall back on cliché when talking about genuine friendship with other men. For example, when we want to express gratitude for a friend's loyalty and courage, we will say something like, "That's the guy I would want next to me in a foxhole." In all honesty, were I ever to find myself in an actual foxhole, Jim would probably not have been my first choice of companion, nor, I'm certain, would I have been his. But in telling that truth I say nothing about Jim's courage or loyalty or masculinity. Rather, I'm saying something about how inadequate are our ways of talking about courage and loyalty and masculinity.

What is truly courageous and masculine is to love the people and the things you do while expecting nothing in return for that love. And to remain steadfast in those loves, no matter what the consequences, no matter what odd light the world may come to regard you in for such steadfastness, that is what it is to be truly loyal.

Jim pursued nothing in hopes of fame or wealth. He could have. We all of us know that he had more than enough talent and energy to do so. Neither did Jim devote himself to what he did in order to gain adulation or admiration, or to conform to anyone's notion of what was fashionable or worthwhile. Jim, instead, did something genuinely corageous: Jim followed the thread of the particularity of his true Self with the most beautifully objective curiosity and with inspiring faith in where it would lead him.

Jim and I came to be very close friends under the oddest of circumstances. It was one of those necessary contingencies, so few and far between, but the sum of which constitute a life. I read these final words long before I met Jim, but understood them only once we were friends.

"If I were pressed to say why I love him, I feel that my only reply could be: Because it was he, because it was I."