Thanks to the Internet and some folks who put their CD collections up on Amazon, I’m listening to a beloved album I haven’t heard in twenty years. It’s bringing up Some Stuff.
I’m listening to Broomtree by Downy Mildew. It came out in 1986 on the Texas Hotel label, long since gone. The band recorded a few albums for the Windham Hill imprint High Street, and those disks are out of print as well. Downy Mildew’s entire recorded output, 56 songs, takes up less than four hours of listening.
For me, though, their entire recorded output… especially Broomtree and their debut self-titled EP… those songs take up years.
I remember 1989 or so, sitting in the twilight in the apartment I shared with Anne Bray in San Clemente, the room lit only by strings of clear Christmas lights and the glow of the stereo. Sitting in front of the speakers, turning the record over again and again. The deep, jangling reverb, the harmonies of Charlie Baldonado and Jenny Homer, the… purity of this record… it soothed what was at that time a very turbulent soul.
Apparently, there’s a good part of me that is still that way. Listening to it now makes me ache.
I miss the people who were in my life then. I miss the smell of the ocean on the night. I hate this desert where I live, I really do. I’m drying up.
Observation: you only miss the past this strongly when there are things missing from the present. Noted. I miss my friends, then and now. I miss the magic of making music with people, spontaneously, joyously. Taking risks. I miss those people.
I don’t want to go back to that time in a literal, yearning sense — I should be clear. I was in my earliest twenties in those years, a confused, sad, desperate young guy surrounded by drama and sustained by blind passion. It was a painful time, and I’ve learned a thing or two since then. Not everything, but… some things, for sure.
But damn, I miss those people. As I get older, I’m facing the fact that I don’t think I ever fall out of love. I want to give everyone from those days — those hazy days and cloudy nights — a hug that crosses decades.
Of all those people from that time, I’m only in touch with a very small handful, and we’re barely in contact because of life and schedules and maybe the laziness that email encourages. So many others are out there, somewhere… and it disturbs me, not knowing if these loved ones are dead or alive.
Here’s to Theresa Copell (found!) Pat Copell. Tony Vick (found!) Willie Asher. Steve Smith (found!). Gina Bloxham (found, and sadly, lost.) Donovan Spencely (found!) Sean Truitt. Steve Harvey. Holly. Tony Lekas. J.D. Christie (found!) Phil Clevenger (found!) Craig Clevenger (found!) J.J. Minue. Paula Stromberg (found!). Jill and Dave Stewart. Matt Brown (found!). Russell Scott (found!) Ron Russell (found!) Gus Contreras (found!) Andrea Lucas. To name a few. I miss you all, and I hope you’re well.
I’m gonna put this out there, because the Interwebs have innumerable strands and connections can surprise us sometimes: Let’s make this a meme, those names. I want to say hello to those people, and if you have a blog, you can help facilitate that. Write a little post… let the world know Matt Selznick wants to check in on some people from the old San Clemente days, and link back to here so that if… just if… anything comes of it, the thread leads back to me. Thanks for doing that. We’ll see what comes of it.
And thanks for reading. Writing through this, I feel better. We’re on the last song of “Broomtree” now, and the music makes me feel peaceful as opposed to down. That’s good. I think I can go to bed now.
Well nice words…but what the hell? I’m a very private person and thanks to Selznick I’m all over the web. But if you’re looking for some closure….
I’m fantastic, I live in L.A., I work as an actor, director, producer – btw when I started acting I changed my name which is why there is very little info out there for “Theresa Copell”.
I’m currently not working because 2 1/2 years ago I had a baby girl with my husband of 7 years. I studied child development and found my way into a very dedicated way of parenting that takes all my focus and creativity. Attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, gentle discipline concepts and treating my child with respect, rule and rock my world.
When I do have some time I still paint, take photos (those ones I took of you that you posted with your big hair actually were pretty good), write, make music, act, direct, produce and I just took up the art of Parkour. Tony Lekas is still my best friend. I think other people who knew me back then (including you) didn’t really know me very well and would be surprised if they met me now. I’ve done a lot of personal work to heal very deep psycological wounds and I’m now a very solid individual.
Matty, I get your longing for the old days but I do know you are prone to revisionist history and a flair for the dramatic. Try not to forget the truth of that time. BTW we were not together for 3-4 years as you posted on one site, it was 2 1/2 years at best, just one of a few misstatements you’ve made about me.
Anyway, I hope you have done a lot of soul searching and changed your approach to life and relationships. I’m glad you are still writing because that always made you happy. Rock on.
aka Theresa Copell
It’s great to hear from you, truly. Don’t worry — I doubt you’re “all over the web” just because of me. The biggest part of the Internet is the part you’re looking at when you notice how big that part is, if you get my meaning. Anything I’ve put out there is a drop of mist falling on a splash of moisture thrown from a very small tide pool next to a very small pond on the shore of a very wide, deep ocean.
It’s not so much closure I’m seeking when I miss old friends. Time provides plenty of closure, especially when it comes to folks like you with whom I haven’t had any meaningful interaction for… what, almost twenty years? It’s more a matter of fondness, and a sense of gratitude. Enough time has passed for me to recognize the impact and influence many people had on my life, and you can count yourself one of them.
I’m very pleased and not at all surprised to see you’re pursuing creativity. I’d love to hear more about it.
Congratulations on becoming a mother and taking the responsibility so seriously — (too few people do) — and on being married seven years! My wife and I are coming up on nine in February.
You mentioned the big-hair “werewolf country” photos… they’ve provided great entertainment for more than a few folks, and I give you the credit. Cheers for that.
Parkour, you say! That phrase keeps popping up. A good friend of mine just had a book come out; the protagonist’s younger brother is a Parkour artist. Rock on; it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to wall-crawling short of getting bit by a genetically modified (new school) / radioactive (old school) spider; much respect.
Also wonderful that you and Tony are still close. He’s finest kind; I’ve always thought so. Tell him I said “heya.”
Regarding how well I knew you, or even myself, back in the day… I knew you had a lot of pain to deal with when we were in our early twenties. Unfortunately, at that age I hadn’t even begun to figure out what issues drove me to be the often arrogant and selfish, agonizingly insecure, jealous, depressed and desperate kid I was. That made me completely inadequate at being much help to you, I’m sure. You might feel like the you of back then is a different person; I know I feel that way about myself.
That’s probably enough about that, out here where anyone can read. I’m a very open person and I try to be very transparent on-line, but we’re not the only people in the room, as it were. If you ever feel like comparing notes, you know how to find me.
Great Scott, you called me “Matty,” something you never did. Ack. I used to hate that nickname, mostly due to the person who did use it… meh; I’ve mellowed, mostly. Call me whatever you want… just don’t call me late for dinner! (Harpo Marx by way of Hawkeye Pierce never, ever gets old. No, really, it doesn’t. Really.) 🙂
Anyway, up above I touched on what drives me to seek out old friends; but there’s one more thing. I was in a band in the early nineties called PIGBAT… power trio; the most creatively and emotionally satisfying musical experience I’ve ever had. You saw us play once, in fact that might have been the last time we saw each other..?
Long story short, we broke up gradually when the drummer took a job far away and his replacement never quite jelled. Eventually the guitarist went off to Austin to finish school and we lost touch for a number of years. We were very close, but distance and life can still get in the way, y’know?
He came back to California and we got back in touch. Met for dinner and drinks to get re-acquainted. It was a great night. A few days later, I couldn’t find his number and figured, no sweat, he’ll call. When weeks and months went by, I chalked it up to him having his own life and there was that; I was happy to have seen him again and know he was okay.
About a year later, his brother contacted me (found me through the Internet, natch) to let me know my friend had died in a car crash less than a week after we’d been reunited. Since so much time had passed since his death, it felt… unreal to me.
I talk about it at length in this episode of Sonitotum, if you want to be bummed out for a half hour or so…
Point is, not only are we all getting older, life is sometimes devastatingly short. I value the roles people have played in making me who I am, and it’s important to me that they know it. Sure, nostalgia jags hit now and then, like the one that triggered this blog post. But really, my desire to reconnect with folks comes down to gratitude and love, and a drive to share that.
A point about revisionist history: that can have a very negative meaning, as in the changing / reinterpreting of history to match one’s own motivations or intentions, so I want to clear that up:
If I get something wrong, it’s because I’m simply not remembering it correctly. Feel free to correct me on stuff, since you mention other misstatements… I’d much rather have the right memories in my head!
I think spending a good deal of my early twenties under stress, sleep deprivation, a poor diet, and lots of alcohol absolutely caused a lot of the details to fuzz. I still have reams of journals I could refer to, but even I’m not up for that much of a slog down the broken, jagged paving stones of memory alley.
How’s that for overly dramatic? 🙂
Try not to project too much of the Matt you knew onto the Matt writing this now. It’s been a long time; we’ve both done plenty of growing. Like you seem to have, I’ve changed a great deal and I have a much clearer understanding of what makes me tick. It’s been a long and often painful road and it never truly ends, but that’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to at least another forty five years; they’re going to be awesome.
Thanks for the kind words about the writing. Music still figures in my creative endeavors too, but fiction has definitely taken priority over the last five years or so. It’s going great.
Again, I’m so pleased you found this post — lookit that, the Interwebs really do work — and I’m gratified that you took the time to reach out. Be well, lady. Don’t be a stranger…. unless you wanna, that is!
We are, all of us, a combination of who we once knew, and how those connections shaped, and continue to shape our lives.
I agree with Phil. Quite moving to see how a random collection of like-minded souls can inspire you to recall with such clarity and emotion across two decades.
Cheers and thank you, Russell. E-mail on the way.
you’re amazing. (^-^)/ Yeah! Love how with a few words, those lost in the ether materialize.
You know where to find me.
Aw, shucks, Annie!
I do indeed know where to find you, thank goodness. When are we gonna have that catch-up lunch? I’ll be free during the week in a couple of weeks..?
Wow that is the sweetest thing I have read in a long time. Hugs back your way and I too wish I could see everyone again. What a great list of people 🙂
Tardon has been posting some pix on Facebook recently from way back before there were iPods…
Now I’m gonna read your post a third time and savor it. Greets to EVERYONE.
Hey there Phil!
It means a great deal to me that my little musically-inspired nostalgia jag moved you. I saw many of those pictures of Tardon’s, in fact that’s where I discovered that Gina’s in a music-and-puppets duo called Hibbitty Skibbitty. She’s got a page on Facebook, too. I reached out to her, but she may be too busy with the actual real world to have noticed it. If so… good for her!
Speaking of the real world… what has taken you to India? I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to following your exploits.
Finally, here’s another “look back” that might spark some similar memories / feelings for you… my thank you nod to Tower Records.
Cheers, Phil… and if there are any mutual friends you’re in touch with who might want to get in touch with me, you know where to find me.
Anne Marie Bray!?! Where is she now? Girl was half in space.
You can find Tony Vick, Phil Clevenger, and Craig Clevenger on facebook. And Charlie Brand…
Gina Bloxham used to be my roomate in an industrial park in Orange after she got kicked out of Slovenly Manor. In 89 or 88 I kicked her out after she got together with Donavan and I couldn’t stand the guy. That pretty much ended our friendship.
Don’t think I know you… I used to drive Citroens, if that rings a bell.
Hi Mark — thanks for the updates! I’ve already connected with Tony, Phil, Craig and Charlie on Facebook since I originally wrote this post. Anne’s there too; a search finds her pretty quickly.
I’ve learned that Gina’s performing in a band called Hibbitty Skibbitty and goes by the name Gina Violina. I remember that industrial park, vaguely — I think I might have gone by there once. I lived with Theresa Copell right next to Slovenly Manor; when the city decided that whole area was too nasty for residential living, I lived with J.D. Christie at what was called Dark House.
Donovan was a pal, but I can understand that you might not have gotten along.
Can’t remember you from what you drove… were you in any bands? In those days I was playing with Theresa, Steve Harvey and Tony Lekas in psychopathway…
Thanks for chiming in!
I do not know any of you but I’m sort of connected with one of the people you’ve listed, Gina Bloxham. She was my violin teacher all the way back in the early to mid 90s. I’ve always wanted to track her down and see what she was up to. Anybody know her whereabouts? I did remember that she was dating a Donovan, perhaps the Donovan listed in the same list.
Hi Robert — if you knew Gina in the nineties, you’ve been in contact with her more recently than I. I wish I could find her… I’ve even been contacted by a relative of Gina’s, hoping I had some way of finding her. Unfortunately, I don’t.
Where was Gina teaching violin? That may be a lead.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts. We weren’t in the same circle of friends, but I knew many of the people you did/do. I appreciate your nostalgic memories. Thanks for jogging my memory for some of those names! I think Donovan’s made a name for himself in Copenhagen.
All the best,
Yes — I found Donovan Spenceley through MySpace shortly after I made this post. He’s a luthier living in Denmark, as you said. He’s still involved with the death metal / speed metal scene, too!
Craig Clevenger, Ron Russell and by extension a few people not on this list have been uncovered since, too. Craig is in San Francisco, Ron in Pasadena.
How did you know Donovan?
Sorry…the people in your list whose paths I crossed are Donovan Spenceley, J.D. Christie, Sean Truitt, Dave Stewart, and Matt Brown. The last 3 were sort of collateral acquaintances, but nice guys for sure.
I must have met Donovan through J.D. I remember one summer in the late 80’s in particular when I rode with Donovan up to some car show in San Bernadino County, I think, to sell one of his two hearses. In fact, my most vivid mental picture of Donovan is him with green hair racing down El Camino Real in his burgundy-colored hearse blasting some unidentifiable punk rock or speed metal.
J. D.! Man, if you ever get back in touch with him, send him my way. I’d love to hear from him.
I remember Donovan’s hearse very well..!
Ron Russell! What do you know… this Internet thing works after all!
I’ll be e-mailing you, if you want to catch up. You should know I’ve played several Children’s Day songs on my podcasts over the years. I don’t know if they’ve resulted in any sales over a Posh Boy, but if so, I hope you’re seeing a few pennies now and then. You deserve it.
I’d love to touch base with Gina, myself..!
I’m the Ron Russell you mention in this post, which I found through a Google search for Gina Bloxham. Strange to find myself in a search for someone else.
How are you?
Don’t give up your search for missed friends. Being much older than you I understand the yearning for knowing how the lives of your old friends has turned out for them. Amazingly I am enjoying the reunion of almost all my friends from before first grade, through junior high, high school, graduation and more. We email often and it has been a blast to catch up after all these years. I am talking about over 67 years of people who traveled through life with me. It is a blessing although when I find that some have passed on it is very sad but I am thankful that they were in my life. Don’t forget to check classmates.com and do a switchboard.com search and the SSDI records at http://www.rootsweb.com.
Good luck and much love…
Nostalgia can be so bittersweet, can’t it?