Long ago, when I was in college, less humble — more of a dick — I partied a lot. I ended up getting in with the guys who set up the industrial room at a club in the early-to-mid 90s. This was a few years after the infamous club newsletter, and after I had moved back to SF.
A friend of mine gave this guy, newly immigrated from Florida, a sticker we used to print up before clubs to hand out. He gave it to him thinking we were friends. What he didn’t know was that a few weeks prior when he had seen us talking on the roof, we almost got into a fist fight. So, it is natural to assume from a distance that we were talking as friends. Words were exchanged, over a perceived insult, but we both remained calm, and Rose, a mutual friend who introduced us, felt bad that we didn’t hit it off.
Flash forward a month or so, after said sticker is given to the Floridian, his friend invites my best friend and I, (unbeknownst to him at the time) back to his buddy’s flat after the club. He thought the stickers were really cool. They simply said: “No, I’m Not in a Band.”
The backstory on that was we always got asked if we were in a band due to our presence and style of dress. We looked like musicians. While both of us could play, at least somewhat competently, neither of us were in a band.
So we show up, and when I walk in, it is like accidentally walking into a lion’s den. Luckily, they gave me a chance. It was a bit stand-offish at first. I ended up getting along with the Floridian and his friend, X. In fact, X became one of my best friends for a while. He, the Floridian and I became a sort of 3 Musketeers in the club scene. Where there was 1 of us, there were must likely the other 2 wandering around the club.
We set up the very industrial room of the club where I almost got into the fight with the Floridian, and we each took a Moniker: Chromer (X), Booster (Floridian) & Jammer (yours truly & archaic slang for “Fucker”). We had grand adventures, but the preceding was all a setup for the real story…
The Treadmill of Clueless Women
After a year or so, Chromer had broken up with his girlfriend and ended up dating a new girl every month or so. During this period, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to arrive at his flat and see a new girl that was usually hot, young naive and/or fairly dense, only to be replaced the successive month or week by another “floozie” (or “victim” depending on your point of view). So, after a while, I gave up trying to remember them, and would walk into the flat, ready to dismiss this week’s girl — often by making a snarky comment that went over their heads — because they were too dense to recognize it as an insult (such as once meeting a woman and saying, “nice knowing you.”)
Until one day, I walk into the flat after a club and a new girl is there, and I quip something meant to go right over her head as a dismissal, and she does the unexpected: She catches the quip, and slams it right back at me using the same technique I used to dismiss me. No one else in the room caught it. I literally froze in my tracks, stopping where I was in the room. I smiled a big genuine smirk and bowed my head in a “I tip my hat to you” way, and said “what are you doing with him?” That should have been her cue to run, but this chick also had balls of steel. If some women are pistols then this woman was an Uzi.
sUzi, in turn, became one of my closest friends over the course of a few years. Here was a woman that (1) very well educated, (2) Very quick witted, (3) Smart as all hell and (4) attractive to boot. Later, I found out she had trained to be a ballerina at a prestigious dance or ballet school whose name was lost on me, but apparently the people who were actually cultured knew about. I think I found this out when I saw her do a professional level pirouette down the hallway in a leather jacket, Doc Martens and a skirt shortly after she let out a burp that she tried to make as loud as possible. The act of a woman burping proudly, followed by a delicate ballet move made me laugh at the dissonance of the event and realize she was truly her own person and a mold-breaker. I could tell she had some serious post-collegiate level education as well. She would be able to tell me who said this famous quote or which philosopher she though was full of crap.
The most difficult thing was when Chromer and Uzi broke up, I had to carefully negotiate the break-up waters. Over the course of about 7 years, we traded ideas and insights, and I started calling her Uzi during phone calls and in emails between us. You know how people often put in personals, “Looking for my partner in crime?” but they’re just being cutesy? Well, we were literally partners in misdemeanor crime. To be clear all of these crime are long past the statue of limitations. The bad things we enabled each other to do were mostly completely legal, but that most civilized people would find repugnant. We were both enablers, and would often encourage each other to do something that the angels in us would caution against. “Hey, this person did this to me—I feel like doing this back to them…” instead of “let it go” the advice would be “Let’s go!” or “try this, it will hurt them more, and won’t get you in trouble!” “Excellent!” And we would go off to get whatever was necessary to blow off steam. Of course we were not monsters, and we were also positive influences on each other as well. I sold her an old Mac and taught her the very basics of page layout, typography, word-processing, how to hide directories, and how to handle media, etc. She taught me about art, philosophy and culture — explaining the genesis of certain art movements and their significance to the present better than any teacher ever could. She was a genius, plain and simple, she stood up for herself, and took no bull shit. Thus the “Uzi” moniker. The two former facets alone made her respected by everyone she knew, and a bit feared by those who got on her bad side with lies or trying to bull shit her. Being cut of the same “no BS” cloth, we got along great for the most part.
At one point, we lived about half a mile from each other with a coffee shop and grocery store in-between us. I would often look forward to getting a call from her asking me to meet for coffee, or I would call her and see if she was free. We hung out at that coffee shop a lot, and what I really appreciated about having her as a friend was she was one of the few people I could get another view that I hadn’t thought of. I know this might seem trivial to some, but it is extremely important to a person like me who has conditioned himself to always consider the widest gamut of possibilities, even the extremely unlikely ones and arrive at the higher probability reasons or outcomes. It is how I work, so having a person that takes what you do very well, and still manages to say, “have you considered this…” and have it be something that hadn’t even been in my range of reasons was refreshing, and deeply valued. Even if I had considered an entire range of possibilities, she could add another dimension, and expand my range of possibilities from a linear scale into an area of possibilities.
I do not know what she liked about hanging out with me, but I suppose it might have been nice for her not being vastly more intelligent than anyone in the room. She was quick-witted, and having me around meant many of the more subtle jokes, and plays on words could be appreciated by someone within earshot. I can’t count how many times we would be out with people and she would make a remark only to see that no one but me reacted to it. So, I suppose, at least with me in the room, there was someone close to her mindset. I know she appreciated my non-sequiturs and general willingness to be silly. She too had a tendency to act silly and make the funniest faces. Both of us grew up watching classic Warner Brother’s cartoons and would reference them in our jokes on occasion.
Uzi was so well read, philosophy, literature, classics, etc. That I often came up with an idea about something, described it to her and she would say, “Oh, that’s Nietzsche.” Mind you, I didn’t read any philosophy at the time, but it was nice to know my self-derived philosophies about people and society had some sort of validity if great philosophers talked about them. Her education dwarfed most others around her, including myself. She read at least a few books a month from what I could see in her bookshelf. I remember looking at it each time I stopped by and never seeing the same lineup twice. There were constants that she reread as each read dogeared the book over the years. Thanks to her, I actually started reading out of my comfort zone of Sci-Fi and technical books. While she did not try to change me, being around her helped round out my education, increased my self-confidence and changed me for the better. Basically, sUzi was awesome, and will always be one of my favorite people. It is sad that she passed away a while back. For her birthday, today, I post this as a tribute about her that she deserves. Even in death, I can still feel her presence in the permanent effects she has had on me. And for that I am grateful, and I will always miss her physical presence.