12.22.2005 (Thursday), 07:29 AM

The RJB Rock Company

...the Sound Room...

I know I have probably done this before but 12/22 is always etched in my memory. My friend Bob (my BEST friend, Bob) would have been 46 years old today and we probably would have been celebrating at a barbecue restaurant somewhere talking about the follow-on that we needed to write, to the barbecue book that we had written (which was doing great, saleswise).

Bob was THE smartest guy I knew (no one even today can match that either...) and he was also the nicest as well. We grew up (literally) from Mrs. Free's kindergarten class at Benjamin Cory Elementary well into our respective careers years later. We were a constant for most of that time...always looking for new places to eat barbecue, the perfect Scrabble game and the elusive vinyl LP.

It was that thought that inspires this entry: Bob and I used to love our music so much when we were growing up that we wanted to have our own companies simply to listen to the music. He called his "The RJB Rock Company"; mine was "The Sound Room".

We would sit for hours and build stuff for temporary model railroad lines, race our HotWheels™, build huge-ass log cabins made of Lincoln Logs™ and all through it, playing singles and albums on his parent's stereo console. Lots of what we listened to was the Top 40 of the day: The Tempatations, Rare Earth (wow..Get Ready and *that* drum solo), Sweathog, Boz Scaggs...too many others to mention. Both of our families didn't have much money, we both delivered newspapers to have some pocket change and to buy music.

Over time, our interests grew apart but we both had a healthy tolerance for each other's tastes. He grew into classical music and into his family's religion (Lutheran); I went punk and agnostic. We literally were opposites but never let that come between anything that we did.

The last year of Bob's life was very difficult. He had contracted brain cancer and struggled mightily with it. The last time I saw him alive was when we went to eat barbecue at Everett & Jones in Oakland - he was well enough at that point (after a prolonged initial stay in the hospital) to make the trip. We ate, talked about the 'cue, made plans for the future...

The last year of Bob's life was very difficult from another aspect. I had tremendous difficultly seeing him in that condition and did not spend as much time with him as I should have. I was a terrible and crappy friend because of it and it still haunts me today. Every single day I think about him and every single day I apologize for not being the "best" friend that I should have been.

Bob would have been 46 years old if he had lived. Today is his birthday. I miss him terribly.

Posted by wjc