Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August 31, 2009

The pouch from the mortuary is empty and my pocket is lighter. Not by much. A few grams maybe; the tiny bit of you that left me for the freedom of the Pacific. A few moments ago, Barry and I stood on the pier and watched as your ashes sparkled and then faded into the waves.

“Be free old buddy,” were the only words I could manage. You deserved something more eloquent; something to capture a bit more of the beauty, wonder and yes – suffering of your life. I was too numb to manage more than a few words. Hope you understand.

Today we start home to Iowa. You came home after all those years. We talked about why, often over the last few months. Your mother needed you, but it was more than that. Were you looking for the safety and comfort of childhood? Perhaps all of us do this as we grow older. Perhaps all of us wonder who will take care of us, love us and put us to bed. I know I do. There are times when the fear of being old and alone gnaws at me with sharp teeth in the night. I feel I am supposed to die like people in the movies die – peaceful, in bed, surrounded by adoring children and grandchildren. This did not happen for you. Your final companions were me – a friend of a year or two, a former fiancĂ© and her husband. We were the ones who watched. Brenda was the one who cried and held your hand. Your son was far away in prison. Some will look at your deathbed scene and say it is God’s fair and just judgment for a life of sin – that if you had been a better person your death would have been more like the movie version. I am not one of those. I was there and watched as you adjusted from living a life high in the hills of West Hollywood to living in assisted housing in Iowa City. I saw you still struggling with drugs. But I also saw you help a young boy learn how to ride his bike. I listened as you shared hours of stories about your life. I heard nothing that would make me want to cause you suffering in your final hours. I heard nothing that would make me want to bring you pain. I heard the voice of a fellow human being.

As Barry and I stood on the pier watching the silvery web of your ashes, you gave me one final gift. Just as the final sparkle faded Barry said, “Dale, I love you for what you did today…”

Barry and I are closer friends because of you Steven. We bowled a game at the bowling alley in Pismo beach. We ate a bowl of the world’s second best clam chowder (the line at the home of the world’s best was too long). So today, like yesterday, I must say thank you Steven. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with me. Thank you for letting me be your friend in the final days. Your death was not like a movie script. I doubt if my end will be like that either. But perhaps, just perhaps, if I’m not too much of an asshole, life will spare me a friend or two at the end. Maybe they will watch my ashes sail over the ocean. They might even bowl a few games in my honor. If they do, I hope they have the patience to wait in line for the world’s best clam chowder. The world’s second best clam chowder tasted suspiciously like Campbell’s.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friendship. Of All Things.

Breath is difficult. Not because I am thousands of feet above the level of the sea. Not because I am getting older. It is because my brain finds it difficult to spare the energy needed to tell my lungs to fill with air. I can feel the computer of my mind going into overdrive as it struggles to process the eternity of beauty before me. Stone upon stone, the wonder builds up into mountains. Mountain upon mountain, the grandeur forms canyons. Above it all, the blue sky unites the shouts of color below, bringing them together into a hymn of joy at wonder of life. Finally my brain can take it no longer and I stare dumbstruck, mouth gaping, drained of thought – a wanderer who can no longer find his way. Above me I hear a raven caw. Perhaps it cackles in anticipation of a meal. Ravens have seen this phenomenon before – a silly creature standing in the full sun as its skin roasts and the air sucks away every bit of moisture – nature’s jerky machine, predating Ron Popeil by several eons. But the ravens and I are not alone.

Before me on the ground Adam paints. Adam Weinstein. Musician. Painter. Schizophrenic. Alcoholic. Drug addict. Many terms have been used to describe Adam just as they have been used to describe me. Today both of us can add a new label – the label of friend.

Adam paints on a board in the dirt. His canvas is taped to the board, his tubes of paint are strewn all around him. He uses the plastic bottom from a recyclable grocery bag for a palette. Colors fly onto the canvas. He groans with frustration as the mountain air and sun dry the acrylic almost before it leaves his brush. He ends up painting with both fingers and brush. The painting reaches a point that many would call beauty.

“There. I probably should leave it. It is good as it is.”

Adam pushes beyond into a place that he finds upsetting.


He waters down a brush and swathes the entire canvas. Brown and beige shades from the water fill the sky, mountain and canyon.

“So you’re going to use the canvas for another painting?”

“No. I have to fix it.”

I watch patiently. Filming him as he works.

Out of the chaos a new form takes shape. More color. More contrast. More passion - until a new image lifts Adam’s heart and mine as I watch his act of beauty and creation. From somewhere beyond us and yet right here within each of us creativity, nature – you chose a name – find a path of rebirth – a reshaping of something in our own image to find harmony.

Can I remake my life as Adam remakes the painting? Perhaps all of us labeled as mentally ill, handicapped, or simply misfit – perhaps all of us period – must occasionally find a way to restore our beauty. Thankfully, this day I need not do it alone. I travel to do a favor for a friend whose body is dead but whose memory lives on within me and in the hearts of his other friends. I travel with a new friend. Today I will call and talk to other friends. And even more. Raven, stone, canyon and sky – these also give me the strength of friendship – they may dry and tear my flesh but I do not fear this. I do not seek it, but I do not fear it. To fear death is to deny that I, the raven, and my friends are united by bonds that extend from the stars to the quantum particles that unite us all. Who am I to deny this unity? Others may call it by other names but I today I will call it the friendship of all things. Today I have enough hope from this friendship to fix my painting a little - to capture just a bit more of the wonder that surrounds me. Thank you my friends. Thank you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Steven's Trip West

Today begins the second full day of our journey west to carry out part of Steven Bock's final wishes. It feels weird to write Steven Bock - I only do it for those who have not read yesterday's post. It looks like Ben and Brenda have set up a MySpace tribut site for Steven at:

Check it out if you want to know more about Steven and listen to some of his music. It is great to see it. When I get back to Iowa City it may be time to look into scheduling some sort of memorial. Maybe Billy, Brenda and Ben will be interested in helping me coordinate it. Hope so.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Miss You Steve

Your name is Steven. I always called you Steve. I never asked if it bothered you. If you minded you were too kind to say. I will call you Steven forever now – now that it doesn’t matter. It is just too hard to call you Steve anymore. Steve is alive forever. Today I start a journey to California and I will be taking Steven Bock with me one last time.

Your life was a full one. You actually were a rock star – not just an imaginary dream or a drunken tale – but an actual, honest to God Rock Star. If times had been different I might have written about your journey to the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and your days in the California sun playing with most of the names people read about in Rolling Stone. But times were what they were and now I write this as you sit in Rock and Roll Heaven.

You made me laugh. We laughed as we shared stories about the 60’s and 70’s and what it was like for me to dream of being a rock star and for you to actually become one. We giggled like young girls as we gossiped about our friends and family - telling tales and exaggerating faults to create humor to hold back the darkness that waited just beyond our laughter.

You dyed your hair red. We were getting ready for one last tour, the Where’s Steve? tour. We spent hours at music stores talking about different types of guitars, amps and something you called heads. I tried to follow, but your decades of experience let you run through the terms too fast for me to keep up. It was okay. Watching your face while you talked was enough. I donated the amp and head we bought to Uptown Bill’s. New musicians will play it there. I will tell them your story, letting them know that the amp they play through once was played by Steven Bock of Truth and Janey, Steven Bock of Nowhere Fast, Steven Bock my friend.

You made a music video. You and Brenda recorded a song for David and me while Joe recorded it. I can watch it whenever I want to see you sing again. But I will have to wait a while. I will have to wait and see how I feel in a few months. Right now it is still too close to when I heard your voice and saw your smile. Your death still is too bitter.

You talked openly of death. I admired your bravery for choosing how your life would end. We weren’t sure of what exactly happens after death. We thought maybe it is just a change in vibration like changing keys on a guitar. I did make a promise. Wherever you go, if it is possible I will look you up. You can count on it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

In order to keep this site focused on David and his dreams I am going to be posting my random thoughts at:

Go there if you want to hear my daily drivel or send me an email at if you want me to add you to a distribution list for the just-dale blog.

As new events occur I will post them here. But the goal is to keep this blog focused on David's Dream and Barry's and Joe's ideas about a documentary of our trip.



Thursday, April 30, 2009

WHOOPS! - Dorothy Crosspost

Without thinking, I posted the picture of Dorothy on the David's Dream blog. Dorothy's picture was supposed to appear on my other blog page: where I post my dot pictures. Dorothy will have to explain how she managed to get herself posted on this blog as well. You can find her any morning at

Dorothy Newmire
c/o Uptown Bill's Small Mall
401 S. Gilbert
Iowa City, Iowa 52333

She likes getting cards and letters.


She sits in Uptown Bill's each morning dispensing words of wisdom.

"I'm here because I'm not all there."

I too am not "all there".

Many times I am not sure I am "here".

I am glad that Dorothy is here.

The warmth of her smile is beyond my knowledge.

Her laughter brushes the spiderwebs from my heart.

Thank you Dorothy.