18 November 2017

and on we go.

two days ago, Peter Buck called to say that our friend & colleague 
Scott McCaughey had a stroke the day before, in san francisco,
while on tour with Alejandro Escovedo.  i had just seen Scott & the team 
four days prior, in Seattle, on nov 12th.  i was invited to come say hi at 
soundcheck (couldn’t make the gig).  i’ve toured with that same team -
minus current drummer Linda Pitmon - and know them all well.  in fact, 
the core team of Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck, and Bill Rieflin has 
formed the nucleus of many a band over the last 17 years.
Scott has been a known local hero for decades, moving eventually to übermench status.  
as much younger local boys, he & i knew who the other was, but were only 
formally introduced in 2000 at Hattie’s Hat, another known local.  he invited me to play 
an upcoming Minus 5 gig at the Crocodile Cafe.  "just show up," he said.  
i proposed perhaps a practice was possibly a profitable plan. 
and there & then something was born.
(there is an oft-told story about our first rehearsal, set for the very 
un-rock-and-roll time of noon, at my practice space downtown.  
both Peter, who i'd only recently met, and i arrived at the same time -
10 minutes early.  much later, we discovered we were thinking
the same thing at the same time: “i can work with this guy.”)
playing with the Minus 5 directly led to me playing with R.E.M.
Scott, Peter, and i eventually became the musical core for Robyn Hitchcock for a good stretch.  
we were also Alejandro’s band for a time.  most recently, we have been 3/5ths of Filthy Friends, 
along with Corin Tucker & Kurt Bloch.  there've been others but i can’t remember offhand.  
needless to say, we've spent a lot of time in each others’ company. as a trio,
we never had a formal name but i always referred to us as The Usual Suspects.
as in, “i’m making another record with The Usual Suspects."
with Scott now temporarily down for the count, people are writing all sorts of nice things 
about him the way they do after one dies.  you know -  what great guy he is, 
easy to work with, an inspiration, all that jazz.  the thing is, with Scott it’s all true.  
he is absolutely one of the nicest guys around.  always positive.  always creative.
very hard working.  supportive.  very good mind.  big hearted.  generous.  and the rest.  
there are no stories about what a bastard he is, cuz he isn’t.
he’s in a good medical facility (i checked with my inside sources) and he has a good
and dedicated circle of friends & family on site to look after him.  so, we wait for
news when it comes and hope for the best.  i'm optimistic that he’ll do just fine.
as if things aren't lousy enough, J the cat was buried in the back garden this afternoon.
he’d been ailing for a while - somewhat senile it seemed, and incontinent.
because of the latter condition, a few months ago he chose to live entirely outdoors.  
there was an interim period when he was back in the house, but for the last week or so,
he stayed out.  his choice.  he’d sleep in a chair against the house, facing the 
back garden.  last night, while giving him water, i knew the end was near;
when i found him this morning i wasn’t totally surprised.  he was at the foot 
of the chair from where he must have slipped after he died. 
yesterday morning i brought him into the house, resting him on my lap 
where we sat together for an hour and a half.  he would have stayed longer, 
but i had to get up and do stuff.  our last substantial quality time together.
i have some measure of relief in his death, knowing he was in some pain.  at least,
great discomfort.  of course, i feel the loss -  a beloved member of my family has died.
i feel the absence of his presence.  or is it the presence of his absence?
a bit of both, i have to say.  either way, a sad day.
and on we go.
18:21.  Pat Mastelotto texts from NYC during intermission to say hello.
a very sweet and uplifting thing for a day that needs it.
and i just remembered: Alejandro was asking about Pat & his wife 
when we met last sunday.  being Austonians, they all know each other.
a nice connection.