Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three years ago today, John took the train for the coast...

John Paul Verhulst was my friend and he has been dead and gone now for three years. He was only forty-five when he passed. Some of us know that it was some kind of miracle he made it as far as he did as John had a special talent for stepping on the Devil's tail. John was a rock star in search of an audience (and band for that matter). He loved his rock'n'roll music and listened to nearly everything, but above all others, there was his beloved Rolling Stones and The Doors. Whenever I randomly hear either of those bands on the radio now, I always have to nod and say, "Hello John". He listened to nearly everything, searching out the new stuff before anyone else. John was the first punk rocker in our group, inflicting the Sex Pistols on our virgin ears. Blasting The Cramps and Nina Hagen and after a viewing "The Hunger", Bauhaus, he was always on a quest to find new sounds. His intellectual curiosities were not limited to music, John was a student of history, particularly World War II, but could speak on nearly any time or place in history. He was always reading at any time of the day or night. I recall coming home at 2 am (we were roommates for a time) finding him standing in the kitchen stirring a pot of chili, punk rock shaking the walls (you did not want to be his neighbor) while reading a dog-eared copy of William L. Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". He'd look up and flash what we all called his "Shit-Eating Grin" and he was King of the World at the moment and it was good. John was the smartest, most handsome and most worldly among us misfits. When he walked into the room, people damn well knew it. He would take lemons and make a rocket launcher out of them. He had a tendency to behave badly when confronted by authority figures. And the whole time flashing that smile.  John had the air of someone that would fall into it one day. He had too many advantages to fail. While the rest of us mortals scrambled to get through the days, John floated above it all. When gravity finally did take hold, it was vindictive and cruel and John came to Earth hard. "The Lifestyle" took it's toll in a hundred ways and left John savaged and weak. The doctors gave him six months and his "Fuck You" was to go on another three years. By the time all this terrible shit had come down, John and I had long since drifted apart. Years before, I knew that I had to let that life go and there was no room for a half measure. You were either on the train or you weren't. I had other places to go. Before the shadow came, a mutual friend called me out-of-the-blue one day and arranged for us all to get together. We had a few beers and some lunch and sat together one last time, though we didn't know it at the time and snapped a few photos to remember the moment. After that, John and I talked on the phone from time-to-time and made plans to get together again, but something always broke those plans and I never saw him again. Now, it's hard to believe that he's gone. John was a wild, complicated mutant of a man and I am proud to have known him. We were close as brothers for a time and he tattooed my soul and for that I will always remember him. I am listening to The Rolling Stones, "Exile on Main Street" and the Keith Richards' song "Happy" just came on. Hello John. Richards was his a role model and spiritual uncle for John, so quite fitting to hear that now. So, on this third, sad anniversary of my friend's departure from this world, I ask you to raise a glass for John. He was an original human being and left his mark on this old swinging sphere and he will be missed....

Miss you brother,



  1. What a lay it on the line sentiment for John. Your remembrance and dedicated words paint the picture of a real individual and a sincere love. Beautiful. Cheers brother, well done.

  2. Man, that was some great writing, no surprise seeing as how it cuts so deep -- wish I would have known John, but doesn't sound like I could have road on that train for very long -- we could have definitely talked some WWII long and hard, though -- hope it isn't hitting you too hard, old son -- Cheers

  3. As always, you say it exactly right. And then some.

    Thank you.

    1. That means a lot coming from you Tom. Thanks' my friend.

      OK HW