Friday, November 11, 2016

Saying Good-bye Sucks

Yes, I know, that's not the most eloquent way of expressing the loss of a friend, but Conrad would get it, so I'm leaving it to stand. Where's that Joni Mitchell song, Conrad? 

I actually met Conrad's brother AJ before I met Conrad, when I was over in Vieques, a long time ago. He was a funny guy with a lot of conflicts, so naturally we hit it off and ended up talking for hours over a few days. Meeting Conrad when he got back to Culebra seemed like I was meeting someone I already knew. Hearing his versions of stories I'd heard from AJ was like watching Bob Ross turn happy little dabs into a painting they created of Culebra. Everyone has their own version of Culebra and I got to share theirs. But that was just the beginning of sharing Culebra with Conrad. Back then, he wasn't drinking, but little did he care if I got roaringly (I called it singing) intoxicated as he played guitar in the gazebo, the gazebo he and Greg had built in the yard for one of Johnny Padron's birthdays. I remember asking them to not build it like two stoned guys and they swore they wouldn't but of course they did. That doesn't mean it wasn't strong and sturdy; it's weathered many a storm without moving an inch, it just meant a 'little sawing here' and 'there'. And a lot of laughter. Who can forget his laugh?

Over the years, I've lost way too many photos of way too much but some survive and I'll post them in a minute. But one that I won't be able to recover was the night the Wall was going to be coming down. I'd heard so many of the old stories about Chuck's and the Wall and the good times, and had spent more than a few nights perched there myself. This night, Conrad sang, Juan cried, we all got pretty ripped and the next day it was mere rubble, carted away to the dump I guess.  

So many gone people and some gone places too...those who knew and loved Conrad have their own stories and I hope I get to hear a whole lot of them in time. While I take a bunch of actual photos, we all take mental photos and sharing them is another way to keep those we love close to us, in different ways, for just a little longer. 

This is an old memory from a blog post in 2010..."And then Conrad showed up, a sighting I'd almost given up hope on, but there he was...guitar soon to be in hand. The people who'd never met Conrad wondered who is this guy that those who do know him were so very happy to see? Answer: Conrad lived here (and Vieques) long before I was ever around, but I got to know him soon after I moved here. He and Greg built my gazebo and I got to know him better, along with having a few sessions of gazebo guitar time...But the one thing Conrad used to do that can never be done again was to hang out on the Wall across from the pizza place (Chuck's Pizza, as he still calls it) and play music - and he can play & sing a lot of music and does both really well - with a lot of happy singing people enjoying the moment" 

Lisa and Conrad, 2010
Conrad and Grady, blusin' the blues
And then, in 2014 - "Last night felt like a combination of New Year's Eve and Memory Lane out on the street. Conrad came over from Vieques (finally!) and Ann is here for awhile too. When we heard that Conrad would be playing guitar in front of The Spot it seemed like a perfect set up for a very good time. And so it was." 

The photos below are from that night. I know I have many more, with some digital digging. And I know his many, many friends have lots too. Conrad drew people in with his funky magic, that's just how that was, and preserving those moments was a big deal and a good thing, no matter how fuzzy the day or night got.

Here's to you, Conrad. You were a part of my earliest Culebra experiences. I'm sorry I didn't get to see you since returning. You left on the long ship before I could get one more Conrad hug and hear your laugh that made me laugh. That sucks for me. Love you, friend. 

Shirley and Conrad

Chiquitine and Conrad

The Crooners
Have a tell your friends you love them Friday. Do something fantastico.


  1. Thanks for this tribute, MJ. May our boats be far far in the distance. Love you!

    1. If I know anything Lori, it's to be ready to say, as Conrad did, I've had a good ride. And that is the way to live our lives, which you know as do so many of us who have gone on the hard road, and luckily end up learning, thankfully, before it's too late, that every day is the only day. I love you too!