|Popster: In high school Jeremy (Jos) introduced us to his friend Abdullah Akhmed. They were very good friends and were often here together at our house. One day Abdullah acquired a new name, "Carlos Andres Perez". It then came out that his friend's real name was actually Larry Flechner. Larry didn't remember this story very well so it seems that Larry was named Abdullah only while he was visiting our house.|
Larry Flechner (G-CAP):
Jeremy and I were high school pals. (That was before he became Jos.) He and I often jogged together in the middle of the night. This was the first activity we did together as friends. Track-and-field was a springtime sport such that our off-season nighttime training took place during the fall and winter months. Temperatures would drop to what felt like near freezing. Not surprisingly, night jogging was entirely his idea. Was he concerned with over heating, or steering clear of traffic, or did the cold air help to dull the pain of running? Would night jogging help increase our distance and improve our times? Frankly, I don't recall his rationale. Yet night jogs fit perfectly with his character. The practice was adventurous, unconventional, and therefore entirely worthwhile -- vive la difference.
The night Jeremy received his driver's license, we took out the Tercel to discover the world of cruising. In Palo Alto, this meant driving up and down University Avenue or venturing off to the other side of town, to Tower Records and Bay City Cafe. We chose the route to Tower as our first driving expedition. The departure from home and arrival at the parking lot were nearly flawless. Yet on our return home, Jeremy managed to make a left turn directly into the rightward flowing oncoming traffic on San Antonio Road. Thankfully, he was quick to act and avoid disaster on that kick-off eve of his driving career.
He loved the Comedy Channel program "Mystery Science Theater 3000." For those who weren't fans and have never heard of the show, it is a bizarre futuristic tale of a flight crew that is lost in space and passes time by watching history's worst cinematic productions and commenting on them. It was his brand of humor: absurd, yet clever and spontaneous. As the customary snack, Jeremy would make nachos smothered in chedder cheese and salsa.
Jeremy loved music. Not surprisingly, his musical predilections were more eclectic than anyone I've known since. Certainly, much of his musical insight stemmed from his older brother, Andrew. His early favorites were your typical classic bands: The Beatles and Led Zeppelin (we both listened quite often to the latter). His taste then evolved to some less mainstream bands such as Trout Mask Replica ("fast and bulbous" was a favorite phrase that he borrowed from one of their songs), the ska band Skankin' Pickle and the all-girl band L7. He even listened to a totally random Russian punk group whose lyrics were far beyond our comprehension. I'll never forget the cover photo of that album in which the musicians were likened to a Slavic Duran Duran.
Jeremy developed a teenaged crush on one of L7 band members (perhaps it was the bass player, which is not surprising given Jeremy's full appreciation of that instrument). He went so far as to write her a few letters. I think she responded once thanking her adoring fan but, to Jeremy's dismay, I think the correspondence ended there.
As I mentioned above, Jeremy was a huge Led Zeppelin fan. For a drama class assignment, he recited from memory the Zep song "Gallow's pole." Rehearsing in front of me, I thought he performed quite well. It's a great song and I always hear Jeremy reciting the words when its played on the radio.
Jeremy loved the chaos and hysteria of mosh pits. He nearly worshipped his steel-toed Doc Marten boots that saved his big toes from being trampled on many moshing occasions. He even persuaded me to buy a pair of "rugged shit-kickers" as he called them. We would emerge from the crowds with limbs bruised and faces nearly bloodied, but our feet were fine, save a blister or two. Mind you, these events did not take place at the most popular music venues for Gunn and Paly high school students. When I was with Jeremy, it was sure to be an adventure.
He was an avid cyclist. But his passion went beyond riding. It extended to maintenance and upkeep of bicycles. We spent countless hours in his garage fine-tuning, wheel-truing, and generally overhauling our bicycles before and after we went riding along the Arastradero Reserve, Skyline, and other paths. In fact, Jeremy essentially converted his garage to a bike-shop at one point. He invested in much of the necessary equipment and went about fixing the bikes of friends and neighbors. I wasn't surprised to hear that he worked part-time at a bike shop while in Alaska.
Jeremy had a talent for creating hilariously peculiar names. We had a lot of fun with this in our high school Spanish class. With reference to the former South American Secretary General of the UN, Jeremy called me Garionsarillo Carlos Andres Perez de Cuellar, or G-CAP for short. I vaguely remember that his name was Peculdo. My recollection of his name is vague because he would change it so frequently. These names were utterly ridiculous and earned us many bizarre looks from the Senora Stroessner and students, but we used them nonetheless. For a Spanish project, Jeremy and I worked together on a short film that created a Spanish language version of the popular Geraldo talk show. Our headline was "Geraldito: el hijo de Geraldo." While I played the main character, Jeremy was the obvious mastermind behind the production (as well as being the owner of the video camera). We labored to translate Jeremy's sophisticated humor into Spanish, and the results were semi-coherent at best. Yet somehow, the humor was easily grasped. To our surprise, the film was praised by the class and kept for future years to view as a prime for the assignment (and of comic relief). Indeed, it was our best work together.
Click on the picture below; it's a movie.
After a summer of Spanish language immersion in Mexico, Jeremy took it upon himself to shake up the less than adequate Spanish curriculum of our high school. Using his power of the pen, he wrote a scathing condemnation of the Spanish Language Department in the Gunn High School newspaper. Armed with a new mastery of Spanish acquired in just one summer, Jeremy asserted that students were allowed to coast through years of language courses with barely any comprehension. Certainly, his strong views stemmed from his passion for learning about the Latin world. It hurt him to see learning opportunities squandered.
Upon returning from a family trip to Venezuela, Jeremy brought with him as souvenirs a set of wooden-stick statues of Simon Bolivar. These purchases were "classic Jeremy" because the figures looked odd and hilarious yet were supposed to depict South America's greatest hero and liberator. Jeremy had an eye for such things.
He enjoyed the Utne reader.
His unconditional good will has forever impacted my life.