Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Col' Lampin' with King Weep

Sunday the 27th brought the terrible news that Chris "King Weep" Blank had died in a car accident in Idaho earlier that day. Rocky's call came minutes after I had loaded some photos of him & Weep onto my iPod while thinking to myself, "It's the holidays, I really need to call these guys & catch up." I was on my way out to the truck, packing for a trip to Portland when the phone rang. I answered, "I was just thinking about you!" The response I got was much less enthusiastic. The news settled-in the way that kind of news always does with me. I usually don't really believe or grasp or understand it & my own reaction never seems appropriate to me .. or at least how I define "appropriate" anyway. It usually takes a day or two of thinking about it for it to really sink in, but only a second or two of actually talking to someone about it to really break me down.

I met Weep early in my tenure at my last job. In fact, he, along with his business partner Rocky with whom he owned/operated the DJ/Production team FOUR4 out of Jackson, Wyo, was my first real business relationship with Red Bull. I noticed right away that Weep would always wipe his hand on his jeans before offering his hand for a shake or a shake-bro-hug combo. It was almost like a dance move -- smooth & rhythmic. I said something to him about it & he just smiled & said something witty about respect & not wanting to spread too many germs. Not sure about germs, but I have caught myself doing the hand wipe prior to shaking hands with other people -- a funny little habit I definitely picked up from my first couple interactions with Weep.

Over the next 2 yrs, Weep, Rocky & I would collaborate on quite a few memorable events & parties. I was in awe of the lifestyle & sense of community that these guys, & many others in Jackson, had developed, & so I committed a lot of my own & my company's time & resources visiting there. I wanted to support this community & scene in any way I could. We created a symbiosis whereby they would get paid by my employer to play at parties & events that we would all dream up, and, no doubt through some grossly negligent oversight on my various managers' parts, actually get approval to execute. I gained some level of trust & was invited into the inner circle of Jackson's thriving & somewhat exclusive cultural & sports communities first via Rocky & Weep. Of course, I wasn't ignorant to the fact that having a seemingly limitless expense account & connections to other, more worldly & influential Red Bull people greased the wheels. But regardless of all that, we developed a friendship that transcended any business relationship, in spite of the fact that I lived a solid 6 hours away.

Weep was perhaps the most positive & supportive person I've ever met -- never falsely optimistic, but always genuine, & always with the ability to listen before prescribing some perfect analysis of whatever fucked-up situation you may have brought to him. And when it came to the "limitless expense account", he was always the first to push back or to try to grab the bill before I could get my hands on it. He was always so appreciative of the support that I was able to offer. Beyond this, he was just a great guy to be around, always able to pull a smile out of you.

When I was in town, which I was a lot over the last couple years, I would often get a call from Weep at about noon. "Whassup G-y-illman?" he would ask in that slippery way that he spoke.
"Whatcha doin'?" I would ask him.
"Ahh, ch-y-illin' .. Col' lampin' at The Office. Lookin' up at the King, drinkin' a coffee, & gettin' ready for a hike. Wanna come? It's a beautiful day!"
"Nah, I got stuff to do..."
"Whaddaya got, meetings & stuff? You're such a big wig!"
"No I'm not. I have to write reports for my boss, stupid stuff. Otherwise the guy'll freak out. But later we'll grab dinner & I'll help you set up at the 'Coach ..."

And so it went. Weep's "office" was the bench on Pearl St. just down from the bagel shop. That was his spot, where he'd sit, coffee in hand, for long periods of time with his cruiser parked nearby. He'd sit forever & think about god-knows-what watching the clouds gather at the top of Snow King until something internal sparked him to action. I vistited him at his office on several occasions & clearly he owned that spot. Every third person passing by would shout or wave at him from cars, bikes, the other side of the street .. & then he would fill me in on all the details about that person's story; details compiled from years of observing/interacting while conducting the late night grind from behind the decks 3 or 4 nights a week. "Hey, can you play some Usher???", one of the summer girls at the 'Coach would ask. And with a charming smile, Weep could flatly deny them & offer, "Um, no, but how 'bout some of this instead?" .. and the dancefloor was packed.

I guess it could be argued that his real office was in fact behind the decks, that's where he ruled. He lived for making people smile & move to music. A handful of weekly residencies, the occasional wedding or out of town gig, couple days retailin' at the BoardRoom, & he was able to finance a great lifestyle, living on his own terms, doing the things he loved, surrounded by the friends he loved, in the place he loved to call home.

The last time I saw Weep I was passing through Jackson on my move to Seattle. He stopped by Full Circle on his new motorcycle. He encouraged me to take a spin around the block on it, which, stupidly, I did. Apart from that minor detail, the visit was no different from any other time hanging with Weep, starting with the smooth wipe of his hand before shaking my hand, the perfectly timed & executed bro-hug, the jokes, smiles & laughs. That's how it always was hanging with King Weep -- a good time, easy.

I'm sad that I didn't get to see him one last time before he went, & that I didn't think to call him to wish him Happy Holidays sooner. But I'm totally appreciative of the little time that I did get to spend with him, because like other friends who've been short to grace us with their presence, Weep showed by example that life is not to be taken too seriously & that it should be spent enjoying yourself in the company of your friends & fam. "Don't let it pass you by ..."

In costume at the JH Film Festival party

Hilarious night in cowtown/dustbowl Cheyenne, Wyo.

Setting up for the DJ Swamp show at the Mangy Moose

Work-In-Progress Art Show in Jackson

Work-In-Progress ...

Rocky, Weep & me in Fort Collins.

The King says "Don't let it pass you by"

No comments: