Monday, August 31, 2009

Thinking A Lot About Not Thinking A Lot

Sitting in the living room. All alone. No one else is home. Thinking a lot about not thinking a lot. Not going so well. Thinking a lot about what could have been. What could be. What should have been happening today. School is starting soon at the Oaks, where Pablo was enrolled for kindergarten. That's on my mind. Of course it is.

The sound of children playing. Detecting the sound of my little boy's voice in the midst of two dozen screaming and squealing kids. Watching through the back window at the Walther School as the kids assembled on the back steps for their end-of-day ritual, always hoping that Pablo wouldn't see me. He never did. He was always excited to see me, or Jo Ann or Polly when we picked him up. He always ran up to me and jumped in my arms or lap, ready to read a few books. We'd usually end up with a couple of Pablo's friends snuggling up with us to read an Elsa Beskow book, or some other fine volume about farts or very bad, no good days. The other day I wondered to myself if I could go to the Walther School one day and sit on the couch and read to the kids. Then I thought that would be too hard, too weird, too much. My heart was in the right place thinking that. But it's too soon.

Thinking a lot about the fires burning in the mountains that my friends and I love so much. On any given day, I can look out the windows on the east face of our house and see the mountains. Our whole field of vision around here is mountains. Nothing but mountains. For the past few days, the field has been filled with thick white smoke. We're in the jet stream exhaust path for these fires. It's our lot in life here in Silverlake. We get the heat, the smog and the smoke.

Every place the news talks about is a well-worn path for us: Big Tujunga Canyon, Mt Wilson Observatory, Clear Creek, Highway 39, Glendora, Acton, La Canada. To many people in LA—even lifelong Angelenos—these locales are just names heard on the TV news. Faraway places where a police chase might happen, a train may have crashed, or a bear may have been sighted in broad daylight. These places are just names. Always somewhere else. Always somebody else's problem.

I'm familiar with both sides of this concept. On one side: we have been living the dream life of somebody else's problem for the past 15 months. Dream life, in this use, means we could wake from our dream at any moment and find it never really happened that we fell into the most feared, rarest column in life. On the other side: a friend and I always joke about all the strange cities in the LA area, places you hear about on the radio where car dealerships exist, or mattress superstores are perpetually going out of business and having the most outrageous sales, but you have no idea where the city actually is. Cerritos is the one that always got us. Sorry if you live in Cerritos. I know where it is now, but back in the day, it was the funniest thing—Cerritos.

The fires and the mountains and all that is and will never be. These things are on my mind today as I wait for the friendly Western Exterminator bugman to show up.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Our bed bug friends are back. We're out of our depth in this business of getting rid of them. Anyone got experience with ridding a home of bed bugs? We're looking for a consultant or a reliable company that can guide us through the entire process. From looking online, we have learned that to truly get rid of these things, we need high temperature steam on the offending bed and ancillary furniture. We're ready for it. We just need some direction from a reliable consultant or exterminator. Looking things up online and calling random places hasn't yielded a whole lot.

If you have any leads, please send them as comments. If you include your personal contact info, I won't post that info as a public comment.

Thank you.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pablove In Australia

I have come to love this Pablove across the world business. It's cool to follow the dots around the globe, and to figure out a theme every time I get enough pictures to weave into a post. Today, I don't have to come up with a theme. Dangerbird's Sydney, Australia band Dappled Cities made it easy. Lead singer Dave Rennick wore his Pablove shirt all over Oz, as the band did promotion for its new album 'Zounds.' The band's manager Troy Barrott was an old friend of Pablo. They spent a lot of time together when Troy lived in LA. Troy and his family sent Pablo a very cool gift last summer—'Never Mind Your P's and Q's Here's The Punk Rock Alphabet.' We loved paging through that book. I remember one time the band came over to our house for dinner or something, and Pablo thought a band of pirates had invaded our crib. Not because they had swords and muskets—because of their gnarly accents.

I'm pretty sure Pablo sprinkled some butterfly dust over his piratical Aussie homies—'Zounds' entered the Australian chart this week as the #1 indie record.

Check out the Pablove Tour Down Under:

Onstage at the Splendour In The Grass festival (above and below)

On MTV News

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Many Faces Of Pablo

Pablo drew faces a lot. This is one of our favorite pages of Pablo artwork. If you look at all the faces, each one is different. Each one shows a different shade of emotion. I've looked at these for long periods of time, and I'm convinced Pablo was onto something with this facial study.

Rory Wilson at Dangerbird—the man who effortlessly designed the Pablove P-Heart logo—made a wallpaper out of Pablo's faces. Then the wallpaper was worked into the cycling kit—ie, the spandex clothing that non-cyclists love to make fun of—for the Pablove Across America ride. Click on this image of the gloves and you'll see what I'm talkin bout.

The clothing is being made in Italy and will be here first week of October. Can't wait to hold this stuff in my hands. For now, I look at the designs every day on my computer. The thing I love looking at the most are Pablo's drawings embedded into the garment designs. The detail on the rest of the kit is kinda hard to see, but the below panel gives you a general idea of how the overall kit looks.

The cap and gloves would have been Pablo's faves. As you know, he loved a comfy cycling cap. And he loved wearing cycling gloves. He and I used to buy size small women's gloves for him. We'd crank the Velcro extra tight on the tops of his wrists. Then we'd pedal like hell as fast as we could and Pablo would scream with joy and squeal with laughter. Which is exactly what I'm gonna do every day as we cross the country in his honor.

Weaving Pablo's faces into the Pablove cycling kit is my way of taking him with me when I ride my bike. I always wanted climb mountains on two wheels with Pablo beside me. Today, I can do it with Pablo in my heart, and covering my skin. Not the first draft of my dream. Today, it's the final—and only—draft, and I'll t a k e it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


'Bugs' is a song by Pearl Jam. Probably their least popular song. I never knew why I liked it until the exterminator and his peppermint scented fogger showed up at our front door. Now this song is the soundtrack to our lives. The pulsating accordion is the sound of Jo Ann's horror when she wonders if she'll ever be able to sleep again in our home. (I think she will.) The questions posed in the lyrics are my confusion over what to do—or if we'll ever know—and a little bit of the humor I find in the sheer absurdity of our mad lives.

If you'd like to sing along with our theme song, here are the lyrics

i got bugs
i got bugs in my room
bugs in my bed
bugs in my ears
their eggs in my head
bugs in my pockets
bugs in my shoes
bugs in the way i feel about you
bugs on my window
trying to get in
they don't go nowhere
waiting, waiting...
bugs on my ceiling
crowded the floor
standing, sitting, kneeling...
a few block the door
and now the question's:
do i kill them?
become their friend?
do i eat them?
raw or well done?
do i trick them?
i don't think they're that dumb
do i join them?
looks like that's the one
i got bugs on my skin
tickle my nausea
i let it happen again
they're always takin' over
i see they surround me, i see...
see them deciding my fate
oh, that which was once...was once up to me...
now it's too late
i got bugs in my on one
that's when i had a chance
i'll just stop now
i'll become naked
and with the...i'll become one

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Remembering Doug 'Pikul' Kratz

Doug 'Pikul' Kratz

Today is the eighth anniversary of the passing of our friend Doug 'Pikul' Kratz. Doug was a video executive at Virgin Records. He was covering an Aliyah video shoot in the Bahamas and died alongside her in a private plane crash on the way home. Doug was part of the path of Jo Ann and I meeting each other—he was the label commissioner on the video we met on. The band was Scapegoat Wax. I was their manager. The song was 'Aisle 10.' The director was Evan Bernard. Jo Ann was his executive producer.

Doug was a serenely gentle man who smiled like a prince and was loved wherever he went. We talk about Doug all the time. We Pablo about him many times, too. Over the past eight years, we have missed him dearly. Eight years we couldn't have known that a little boy would be born in 2003 and his name would be Pablo and that his grave six years later would be a five minute walk from Doug's. But today, all of this is true. And today, we drop a flower on Doug's headstone every time we bring flowers to Pablo.

Looking at photos of Doug today, I am taken aback by something—how young he looks, how far away his hair styles look, how much I enjoyed being in his presence. Whenever I think of Doug, I always go back to one particular meeting with him in his office at Virgin. We were supposed to be talking about the Scapegoat Wax video, but all we talked about was indie bands in Silverlake. It shouldn't surprise me that Doug hasn't aged. Still, it really did stop me in my tracks. I ought to get used to this. Even as we all age and lose our hair and get grey, Pablo's shining face, like Doug's, won't change at all.

Before I go, I have to tell you another thing about Doug—another powerful link between him and us. He was very close friends with Silversun Pickups, long before there was a Dangerbird Records, and at a time when I only casually knew Nikki, the band's bassist, and Joe, the keyboardist. A couple years after Doug's passing, when SSPU had signed with Dangerbird and were coming up with a title for their debut EP, they decided to name it after Doug's nickname, Pikul (pronounced pie-KULL). Like the many Pablo dedications that have sprung up in our community, the 'Pikul' EP carries Doug's spirit...forever.

We miss you, Doug.

Pablove Lego

Remember the week long Lego camp Pablo attended at Eli's house? He had great fun that week. Hours and hours of building Lego stuff with gears and pulleys and motors. Stuff like this:

...and stuff like this:

Look at how HAPPY Pablo is in these pictures! Those Lego objects are wired for action. See the black leads streaming out the back of tank in the top picture? I remember going to pick up Pablo and him making that thing crawl all over the floors, commanding it with a remote control. For a boy who would turn six years old in a few days, nothing could be cooler than a damn Lego vehicle that moved and made moving, geartastic noise without the aid of a boy's fingers and a boy's imaginative vocalizations.

That week, the Legos weren't the only things that made Pablo happy. For the first time in a year he got to play—every day—with friends. That week, he got to play with his oldest homies Eli and Isaac. Their mommies Helen and Dorrie are among Jo Ann's best friends, so these guys have been in Pablo's life from the day he was born. Watching these dudes—and Isaac's little sis Nadya—grow up was something that made me feel a deep satisfaction in the human experience. The deepest I'd ever known. Look at these dudes. Amazing characters, each of them.

In the times I've seen Eli, Isaac and Nadya since Pablo's death, I see a piece of Pablo in them. I also wonder how it feels for them to see us. Nadya is probably too young to fully understand. But Eli's 9 and Isaac's 8. They get it that their little friend Pablo had cancer and fought it hard and had a bunch of needles stuck in his body and his hair fell out and then he died. I wonder how it is for them. I wonder about their concept that although Pablo's body is no longer here, his spirit and energy are still with us. It would be easy enough for me to ask either of them, but I always feel it's not my place to ask my friends' child these things. Like maybe it'd be too intense for them. More than that, I'm scared to talk to them about it right now. Someday. Sometime. Those conversations will happen, and they'll happen at the right time.

It feels good to write today. I've worked through the tears that washed over my eyes earlier in this writing. Now I'm smiling as I remember Pablo's Lego camp week. Jo Ann and I had a great time driving Pablo to Eli's house every day that week. It felt like the old days, before the cancer diagnosis, when Pablo was in preschool at Walther. That week was special. We felt that we had kicked the cancer's ass. Imagine the simple pleasure, the unconstricted breathing, the easy plans, the loosening of facial and respiratory muscles that'd been clinched for months on end. Imagine how happy our cells were that week.

When I sat down to write today, what I wanted to tell you about is the Lego blog Eli and his dad Scott started. The Lego-fied Pablove Foundation logo at the top of this post is the first creation they posted on the blog. We got this right before we left for Europe. We laughed joyfully when it came into our IN boxes.

You can keep a tab on Eli and Scott's growing gallery of Lego creations on ELISLEGO blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Smiles

This photo jumped out at me today. A happy photo of a happy memory of a happy day—the day we shot our Livestrong film. The bike Pablo's gripping belongs to Mr Lance Armstrong. It's the bike he rode in the 2009 Tour of California.

The look Pablo's sporting is his tongue-wagging yuck-face. It was one part clown, one part strangulation. He loved making this face. It drove us nuts! Well, only when we were trying to take Pablo's pic. He invented this face sometime in the past year. About half of our photos of Pablo from the past year feature his out-hung tongue.

This morning, we went over to Beth + Butch + Bo's house for multiple espressos and bagels. We hadn't seen them in a month, and it was great to reconnect with them. Plus, they live down the block—an easy destination for our travel-weary bodies. Shortly after we returned home (ie, James and Vanessa's home) Carrie turned up with more coffee and tons of light and bright energy. Haven't seen her in a month either. Nice to reconnect with her. She smiles a lot, which is nice to be around. Carrie and Jo Ann are laughing a lot, which is nice to be around.

Grady's home soon. He's been at his dad's house all weekend. He'll be happy to sit down at the table and start a giant pile of homework. Yes, I'm s u r e he'll be happy about that!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seven Weeks WIthout Pablo

Late last night, Fred found this shot of his friend Pablo in his laptop.

This boy, he came into our lives at the end of a nine month long pregnancy. Came flying out into the world. This boy, he ran and ran and ran. He talked and talked and talked. He honed his skill of balance, of running, of holding on, of pirate talk, of swordplay, of never letting on that he was on a sinking ship. Seven Saturdays ago, Pablo's ship did sink. If we can call his physical body his ship, it sank. At the end of one helluva fight with an unspeakably unfair foe, Pablo opened his eyes two final times, screaming 'SAY SOMETHING!' and 'I WANT MOMMY!' and then stopped breathing. Just like that. I wish I had too. Jo Ann wishes she had too.

We spent as many hours with his still body as we thought appropriate. When the white van came to take him away to the cemetery gates, I picked him up in my arms. With his mommy and his brother as my guides, as his guards, we ascended the stairs where Pablo learned to sail + fly + jump + thump his body every which way. We took the 17 steps—counted countless times by Pablo—to the top and made our way outside. Our family, our complete entire family, one last time.

If you were the projectionist in my head, you'd have seen that reel over and over and over and over since Saturday June 27 2009. Over and over and over and over. And over. At the end of each reel, you'd hear my anguished wonder: how could you let him go? How the F*** could you let him go? The white van. Wrapped in his favorite blanket. The gurney. The nice man and his heartfelt condolences. The toe tag. My little boy's sweet, still body. His face. His eyebrows. His hair. Trying to come back, but too late. Sean standing guard in the street. Peter protecting and directing us, specifying our wishes to the man in the van.

If you were the projectionist in my head, you'd have seen that there was a second gurney in the van. It didn't have anyone's name on it. I could have laid down on it. I could have gone too.

¶ Coming home from the coffee shop this morning, I pulled up in front of our temporary residence, the home of our next door neighbors James and Vanessa. Got out of the car. Stopped. Didn't want to. Didn't plan to. There I was, staring at Jo Ann's car in front of our home. 'That's about where the white van was,' I thought to myself. 'That's where we gave Pablo away.' As I turned away and made for J+V's side door a rush of thoughts came over me. One of them: How could I give away my son's body? Another: What if someone had been walking by when we brought him outside? And another: What is life? What is body? What are we? Our laughter? Our footsteps? Our stillness? Our love?

We are definitely our love. We are that most precious emotion which is best experienced when given away.

What Jo Ann and Grady and I miss the most about Pablo—and sometimes what we can't remember the most about him—is his laughter, the way he held us, the way we kissed him, the physical ways in which we expressed our love and to-the-death-devotion. And his love for us.

Love. There it is.

There it is.

To the death.
Til the day you die.

Draw a line to each of those.

Now write the letters P - A - B - L - O.

Connect the three lines with his name.

I do this a hundred times a day with dozens of words, phrases, cliches, gilded emotional mementos.

Words. I ask them what they mean. I demand that they sit up straight and say what they mean. I demand that they do a better job meaning what they say. All these lazy words hanging around in our heads, in our lives, in the air between us. Pablo's absence is becoming a filter that I put everything through. Is it fair? Who knows. Am I going to stop? No. Nobody will ask me to stop. I will not stop if they ask.

A long time ago, I told you I don't want to be in a world that doesn't include Pablo. I was scared when I wrote that. Scared because we'd just learned of the recurrence of Pablo's cancer. It was Tuesday April 21. I was scared. So scared, I titled the post 'Shell Shocked.' The most honest words I could communicate were: I do not want to be in a world that doesn't include Pablo. My best friend was a six-year-old boy. I'd waited my whole life for him. I'd waited 31 years to meet my best friend. I was patient. I was ready to let go of the old and let in the new. I was ready to be a papa on June 21 2003. Scared? Yes, in a different sort of way. When I wrote the 'world' statement, Pablo was in the same home as me. He may have been snuggled next to me. Can't recall. But the thought of Pablo being gone, deceased, dead, was then as far from our reality as his memory is now.

A key motivator for my writing on the Pablog is to share with you my experience. Good, bad, whatever. Let me tell you something that's been eating at me. Something that's been eating at me because I've been swallowing it down, thinking you'll freak out if I share it. The cruel reality—well, one of them—of losing Pablo is this: time is dulling the sharp edges of my Pablo memories. Sometimes, when I search for 'Pablo+laughter' in my mental search engine, I come up blank. Other times, all I can recall is a time I made a mistake with him, spoke to him too sharply, apologized while he was crying under the weight of hurt feelings. The hunger for immediate connection with my son has me drifting and sifting through iPhoto at all hours. In my office on the giant iMac. At home on my laptop, or, for a different collection of pics, Jo Ann's laptop. On the few iPods in our home—all of which have random clusters of photo memories stashed in their caches.

For weeks, a Smiths lyric has been banging around in my mind. It's from the song 'Cemetery Gates.' Have I already written this? Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before. If not here's the lyric in reference: 'All those people, all those lives where are they now? With loves, and hates and passions just like mine. They were born and then they lived and then they died. Seems so unfair. I want to cry.' Morrissey's lyric also takes a stand in favor of Oscar Wilde and kicks Keats and Yeats—here comes one of Pablo's favorite phrases—right in the nuts. I'd always dreamed of instilling this kind of fight-to-the-finish literary snobbery in Pablo. As that song has danced through my mind in Venice, Florence, Paris, Rome and Wolfeboro, that's the part that drops an anchor in my heart, every time. The part I wanted to teach my son. The part about taking a stand, finding passion, kicking against the pricks.

¶ How many times did Pablo climb into a vehicle at the curb in front of our house? How many times, at first, did we carry the baby Pablo, ever carefully, and place him in his car seat? How many times did Pablo look up at a car and wish for the day he'd have the skill + strength + parental nod to climb alone? How many times did Pablo dream of making his next big step, to the front seat? Or to the driver's seat? I have wondered over and over in the past seven weeks, do your foreshadowing dreams begin to end as you near death?

Did he get a message? Did he get a sign? Is there a feeling 24 hours before you die—an indication so clear it smacks calm into the recipient? Not a secret the recipient wants to hide away, but a stillness, a self respect higher than any other. 'I'm getting off at the next stop,' you might say to yourself as you narrate the fleeting ticks and falling tocks of your final day. 'I'm getting off at the next stop,' you might say to yourself. 'Funny how everything falls away. Funny how it feels OK.'

We have been living since Wednesday at the home of our next door neighbors, James and Vanessa. I wake up six, seven times a night and look at our house from their bed. In my sleepy state, I have a gauzy thought, 'There's our house. I wonder if Pablo will come back today.' We went across the globe to get a far perspective. In most respects it worked. Coming home was treacherous. Walking back into our home, our hearts eked out pains we'd never known.

On Tuesday, when the exterminator informed us we had to move out of our home, the place where we lived with Pablo, we felt violated. A few days on, I am of a different mind about it. To see our home from 30 yards, to hear the noises of the neighborhood from a slightly different locale, to see the sights of our hood from our neighbor's windows is invigorating. To see the non-Pablo-ness of it all the way James and Vanessa might. Hard to explain. I'm hardly explaining it. Just feels different. Like it had to be. Like it is part of our path.

The week seven update boils down to this: We imagine that Pablo is around us, watching over us, observing us. In our week next door, we're sort of doing the same thing: outside looking in. Getting an unexpected perspective. Painful and odd. But part of the path.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I kinda sorta know a few names from baseball. One name I definitely know is Tommy Lasorda.

I went to Dodger Stadium this morning to speak about Pablo and the Pablove Foundation on Fox Sports Network. They are broadcasting coverage of the Dodgers ThinkCure cancer foundation's radiothon and telethon. Before the red light on the camera lit up, I leaned over to the host and said something into his ear. 'Don't get into sports talk,' I said. 'The only sport I know anything about is cycling, and that'd only confuse your viewers.' He laughed a hearty TV presenter laugh. And then the red light on top of the cameras went on.

The only topic discussed was one I know a lot about: Pablo, his struggle with cancer, how much we miss him, how much help kids with cancer need, and how badly we need to make progress in treatments and cures. About halfway through the interview, the director cut to b-roll footage. I took the opportunity to turn around and look out over the lush green field. We were up high in a luxury box. The view from up there is expansive. I could almost see our house. There's a hill line or two in the way. The same hills that keep us from seeing into the stadium from our house. Looking toward home brought the longing and the aching rushing up into my heart and throat and mind. The wave almost knocked me over. All of this happened in about two seconds. In the following second, I turned back toward the camera just as the director was calling out to me to face the camera.

The first thing the presenter told me is that he went through cancer treatment within the past two years. I wanted to hug him. His job today is more than a job. He's lived through the war. He's seen his wife and his kids looking at him with fear and hope vacillating in their hearts and eyes. I didn't hug him. I was already out of my depth being on a sports network, wearing striped Paul Smith socks. To make me feel at home, the host had the camera pan down to my feet to show the socks. Sweet of him. Made me feel at home, even so close to a locker room.

On the way out, I bumped into baseball legend Tommy Lasorda. I told him that Grady grew up playing at the ballfield in Silverlake that bears his name. He said that was cool. I mean, he's an old guy, so he didn't say, 'That's cool.' But he said something to that effect. Whatever he said, it made me happy. And the story will make Grady and Jimmy and my dad happy.

With the help of a couple other people, we're still cleaning every inch of our house and washing every item of clothing in our house. It's an endless job. We'll be doing it for the next week. I bought tickets to '500 Days of Summer' so we can take a break tonight in the American style: sit in the dark, eat popcorn, drink Coke. Coke with ice. That will be nice.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pablove In South Korea

It's not everyday that Pablo has a friend in South Korea. Last week, our friend Justin Meldal-Johnsen was there to perform at the ETP Festival with his band Nine Inch Nails. During the daylight hours before the show, JMJ found a great place to honor Pablo's soul in Seoul. With Pablove stickers in hand—and on forehead—he snapped the above pics at the Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple. I've gotten heavily into featuring 'Pablove In...' photos on the blog. It's been a great way to show the support (and faces) of Pablo's friends who live or travel all round the world in the summer of his passing. It makes the world feel smaller. From another point of view, it shows the vastness and the reach of the Pablove community. I always think of each photo as a ray of light shooting into the heavens.

Justin's photos are a bit different: he's had no choice but to be away, to snap a photo in the coolest spot in his remote locale of the day, and email it to me with his best wishes. Justin has been on tour since before Pablo passed away and hasn't been home since. If you're the bassist in a rock band that's headlining summer festivals in Europe, there's no opportunity to, like, fly home for a couple days. Imagine the tickets sold, the massive road crew and all that. It's not as simple as it may seem to pop out for five days to fly halfway across the globe. So we've adapted.

Justin and I kept in close touch in the couple weeks following Pablo's death. Many phone conversations and emails back and forth between our house and JMJ's ever-moving location on the globe. It's kind of like communicating with a spy: every day a new hotel in a new city in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific. The day after Pablo's passing, JMJ posted a memorial tribute to him on the Nine Inch Nails blog. He honored Pablo and mourned his passing in his own way, from his laptop, from the road. This is the way it goes in the kooky world of rock and roll showbiz. In a way, Justin being away was helpful. One night, I couldn't sleep. I called JMJ at his hotel in, like, Stockholm or Oslo—Copenhagen!—and we talked til the sun came up in LA. If he were at home with his wife Corinne and daughter Zelly down the block from us, I wouldn't have been blowin up his phone at 2 a.m. I'm not that crazy. Even if I was, he wouldn't have talked to me for hours. He's definitely not that crazy.

All this talk about Pablove around the world has me thinking: at some point, we have to develop a map that pinpoints all the places in the world we've received photos from. Would be cool. Pablo would love that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Live And Die In LA

Is Mercury in retrograde at the moment? I hope so. If it isn't, then I have to consider whether our luck is askew. No biggie if our luck is outta wack. The more I think about it, the more I am sure the alignment of our luck isn't something we can worry about today. Luck won't help us piece our family back together. Luck won't help us rebuild ourselves as individuals. Luck doesn't fill the echoing emptiness when we look into Pablo's bedroom at the end of a 3.4 week trip. So who needs luck? Who cares if Mercury is in retro- or prograde.

Why is any of this on my mind? Because we are sitting in a room on the seventh floor of the Pasadena Westin—our temp address for the next couple days. Not quite the same as our room on the second floor of the Hotel Eden in Rome. For a start, the espresso here isn't as good. And they don't say 'Prego!' at the concierge desk. But we're not here on holiday. We're sitting in this hotel room because our house is being fumigated. We didn't plan this trip. It came up suddenly, urgently. Bugs don't give advance notice. I guess we ought to be used to this sort of urgent movement after so many months of no-notice emerg-e-runs to CHLA.

It's kind of fun being here. Kind of like being in Europe, in terms of being able to walk to more than two consecutive locations for goods, services or edibles. Not like Los Angeles at all. Pasadena is good for the not-like-LA-at-all stuff. Grady's finishing his homework. We're going to walk down the block to the Paseo mall for dinner. Grady's gonna get a haircut. Then we're gonna try to catch '500 Days of Summer' at the Leammle down the block.

Speaking of movies and the Westin: there used to be a row of Craftsman homes where the hotel now stands. A pivotal scene in 'To Live And Die In LA' was filmed in one of those houses. If you know the movie, it's the scene where the guys are surveilling people in the church across the street. If you don't know the movie, check it out. Pretty amazing shots of mid-'80s LA. And a forehead-slappingly incredible score by Wang Chung. Robert Downey Sr. Willem Dafoe. Cops. Robbers. And a hot chick or two.

Grady's geometry is done. Time to find food.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pablo's Garden Homecoming

Sophie putting the finishing touches on her hand-made sign. So sweet!

When we got home Sunday, we were fried and it was dark. Our frazzled state only heightened the surprise that was waiting for us across the road from our home. When the sun came up Monday morning—jet lagged, we were up that early—a festive homecoming vibe emanated from Pablo's Garden.

Check out the yellow ticker tape and butterflies hangin all over the place! The site brought huge smiles to the faces of Pablo's Mommy and Papa—and huge happy/sad, bitter/sweet tears—as we drove past PG on our way to Pablo's grave at Forest Lawn.

I don't know all the people responsible for this sweet gesture, so I'll just say THANK YOU to everyone involved.

The Official Dodger Photos: Pablo At The Stadium

Pablo and Dodgers catcher Russell Martin on Saturday June 28 2008

Pablo looking a bit shy and super cute with the other on-field kids

In our continued effort to fly the flag of The Pablove Foundation and carry the message about CHLA and pediatric cancer, I did a video interview yesterday for the Dodgers' cancer charity ThinkCure. The clip will be included in the the ThinkCure radiothon fundraiser this weekend on KABC 790 AM, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, KCAL 9, KLOS FM (my personal fave) and While we were shooting the clip, Laura Levinson from The Dodgers offered to find the Pablo shots from the team's official photographer from the game P attended with us on Saturday June 28 2008. The two shots she found are above.

Laura also invited us to participate in the radiothon on Saturday morning at Dodger Stadium. I'll post the details when Acacia relays them to me. Any chance I have to talk about our dear boy and our family foundation which carries on his legacy of love + compassion + action—I'm there! On a goofy level, I hope I get to talk on LA's legendary classic rock radio station KLOS. It'd be really cool to front announce Blue Oyster Cult 'Godzilla' or Styx 'Grand Illusion' or a Michael Schenker Group song. Pablo would like 'Godzilla' the most since it's about a giant dinosaur lizard that attacks Tokyo. If I get a chance, I'll talk about my recently deceased Milwaukee buddy Les Paul, the inventor of the electric guitar. The classic rawk world loves Les Paul. Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin plays one of his namesake guitars.

Painted Pablo

Check out this time-elapsed video of LA artist and
Dangerbird compatriot Timothy Teruo Watters
painting a portrait of Pablo. The song in the video
is one of Pablo's favorites from Jo Ann's car—
Silversun Pickups 'There's No Secrets This Year.'

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pablo's Friends

Pablo with Opal, Henry and Natalia in New Orleans

In these tender times, the sight of a child in the store, or an interaction between a parent and kid in public, or a baby crying over the standard things that babies cry over can bring Jo Ann and I to a state where we yearn for an emotional rescue. In Paris, we sat in a sidewalk cafe and observed an American family at the table in front of us. The son, around eight or nine, begged the father to hold him in his lap. The dad pushed him away and coldly ignored him. The boy cried and screamed and the more he did it the more intently his father pushed him away.

I don't know the circumstance that that family was in, and my purpose in recounting this scene is not to judge. For all I know, they were rehearsing a scene for their church play. What I do know is what I saw brought tears to my eyes and made me miss Pablo in a very specific way. I wanted to run over and hug that little boy and let him sit in my lap. What I'd do to lavish affection on my own little boy. We never withheld from Pablo. Ever. If anything, he'd get sick of me hugging him and holding his hand and doting on him. We were all that way with Pablo. It was kind of impossible not to be. Pablo was a love magnet. People expressed their love to him constantly. He was a powerful little dude.

I'm also emotional when we're simply hanging with Pablo's friends and their parents. Seeing Pablo's friends in the midst of summer fun and tans and ice creams and growth spurts is incredibly powerful for us. Normally, I'd use the word 'hard,' but I'm sick of using that word and words like it. Hard doesn't aptly describe it. There's a rush of energy in these instances. That's power. Hard, to me, relates to something inert. If I'm going to be of any use to anybody, I have to describe things accurately. I feel like I'm being boiled alive. That's not 'hard.'

Seeing Anne and Neal's kids Henry and Natalia, and their little boy Owen, who Pablo never met, this weekend in New Hampshire was wonderful. Pablo grew up Playing with Henry and Natalia. Every Christmas in New Orleans, every spring break at the beach in Florida, and when they'd come to LA to visit. Every time we've ever seen them we've seen Pablo. Every time they've ever seen us, they've seen Pablo. I was shocked when they walked in the door Friday and ran right past us. Shocked because Pablo's friends always give me a hug, or at least say Hi. How foolish of me—shortsighted—to not remember that Pablo was not standing next to me when they came to the door. As he always had been. So why would two little kids, six and nine, stop to say hello to an unattached adult?

Being a parent, I know how that works. Henry and Natalia were just being kids. That's the only thing they are supposed to be. Neal and I talked about this on our ride Saturday. I told him how jarring it was for me. He understood. We volleyed back and forth about this as we spun our way up hill after hill. As we pecked our way through this fine grain of post-Pablo experience, I knew I'd make a better effort when we all parted ways on Sunday. As the adult in the situation, that's my end of the deal.

When we parted ways earlier today, I made a point to kneel down and give Natalia and Owen goodbye hugs. I couldn't just hug Henry. Being a boy Pablo's age, he and Pablo had a special bond. I grabbed Henry and held him in my arms and held him. He is the exact size of Pablo. I wished him a good time on his year in Cambridge, where Neal is starting a fellowship next month. I hugged him. I plopped him down on his feet, the way I always did with my own son, his twice-a-year playmate. Henry smiled as his feet touched the ground.

There are many new things, many firsts, in our lives today. Our experience of seeing Henry and Natalia for the first time since Pablo's death is now behind us. This stuff takes practice, and mindfulness. That was the key to this episode.

As we pulled out of the driveway, I remembered a killer photo I'd taken of Pablo, Henry, Natalia and our niece Opal. It was a magical shot taken December 17 2007 in Uptown New Orleans, on the St Charles Avenue street car tracks. We'd taken a street car ride, and as the kids got off at our stop, they started jumping up and down. It was a game they'd made up. Pablo was always well into simple games like that. I was quick with the camera and got my shot—two actually—of this activity in action. For a long time, this picture was the desktop photo on my Blackberry. Back then, I never imagined the fun with Pablo would ever end.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Letters From Pablo's Grave+Pablo's Garden+Pablove Wall

Shirley cut roses out of her garden Saturday morning and brought them to Pablo's grave.

Pablo would love this. We're flying home on Virgin America, and for $12.95 we're surfing the net on the on-board wi-fi. Of course, if Pablo were here, we'd be watching 'SpongeBob' snippets on YouTube, and I wouldn't be writing a post about people who've visited his grave this week.

As I write this, Clint, Rachel and Jonah are having a picnic at Pablo's grave. I know that from Clint's Facebook status. Our friend Thais from New Orleans went up to see Pablo's grave at breakfast time last week. Gigi and her mom went up, too, after visiting Gigi's father nearby. You can see in the photos above that Shirley clipped gorgeous roses from her garden and brought them to Pablo. We're happy she sent the pics. They make us happy, and make us feel like we're there, sitting in the grass with her. We've received notes from others, but I can't access them on my laptop, cramped in this airplane seat.

Earlier this week, Carrie, our friend who arranged many meditation circles in support of Pablo, brought her sons Miles and Dexter to Pablo's Garden, across the street from our house. Miles was one of Pablo's best friends. They met as tiny tots in Music Together class in Silverlake, and always had a great time playing. Carrie and Miles' dad Dan have told us many times how Miles' experience around Pablo's illness and passing have deeply affected him. Carrie describes one remarkable statement from Miles in the note below:

From: Carrie
To: Jeff and Jo Ann

We went to see 'Pablo's Patch' (that's what Miles calls it) today. It was so amazing. Miles, Dex and I sat there...we left a little toy and Miles said, 'Pablo you're the best.' He did a couple of Geronimo jumps off the wall, too.

Miles told me that Pablo visits him every night and leaves Pirate Treasure for him under his pillow.

We really miss you guys and hope you are enjoying every minute.

Love you!

The last letter I want to share with you is from Mike Hickey. His wife Penelope is a nurse at CHLA day hospital, and became one of Pablo's guardian angels on his innumerable hours and days there. She also performed a very special duty for Pablo: she came over week after week, for months on end, to give Pablo Neupogen and Neulasta white blood cell booster shots in his thighs. She also taught Jo Ann how to do it. Penelope did this to be of service to Pablo and us, not as part of her job. It still blows me away.

I know how far I have to go in the trenches of grieving cos when I type these words, my eyes fill with tears and the center of my body tingles with anger and fear and longing for Pablo and guilt over why my little boy had to go through all that pain. Guilt asking why it wasn't—why it couldn't be—me who went through the pain. Pablo's shots were pain on top of the pain. The shots never came at an opportune time for Pablo, despite the fact that their function was highly opportune for the inner workings of his body.

When Penelope would ring our doorbell—often accompanied by her little girl Helen—Pablo would be knee-deep in an episode ('ep' in our jargon) of 'SpongeBob' or one of his movies. Sometimes without protest, he'd tap the PAUSE button on his touch-screen remote, and step into the living room where Jo Ann and Penelope would be readying the alcohol pads, syringe and a huge selection of Band-Aids. Pablo's trepidation about getting stuck was always diverted by his ability to choose a Band-Aid with a cool character on it. When all that was over, Pablo and Helen would play while their mommies chatted.

That's the background on the note you're about to read from Penelope's husband Mike.

PS—the photo Mike refers to didn't come through on the email. I'll post it soon!

From: Michael Hickey
To: Jo Ann Thrailkill
Subject: Hello from Helen...

Hi Jo Ann,

I hope this message finds you well, with healing heart and healing soul. I just wanted to drop you a note on behalf of Penelope, Helen and I to say hello, to let you know we are thinking of your family and sending you our best of wishes. I want to share with you a picture of Helen in front of the magnificent Pablo mural outside the Dangerbird building. We were out and about one day strolling the Junction and we wanted to show Helen the mural for Pablo.

She studied it intently, asking what all the words said and what they meant and we explained to her their meaning and that it was a piece of art dedicated to Pablo. She said she wanted to say hello to him so she walked over to the heart, put her hands on it, stood there for a minute and then said some words to Pablo. She brings him up a lot. Together we look at the blog daily to see how you are all doing, at night before bed she asks me for my phone so she can look at Pablo pictures from the blog. In the car we blast Garbage 'Witness To Your Love' and we all scream along. That song is in super heavy Helen rotation, I have a recording of her singing along with it in the that is hilarious.

I just want to let you know that your family has had a profound effect on us. It is very hard for me to explain, I am not a word guy, but it is there, it is beautiful and it is felt by all of us, and we are truly thankful for it. Thanks to you, Jeff and Grady for letting us in by way of the blog, for giving us insight into your world and for sharing with us your pain, your joy, your tears, your courage. You are in our thoughts, in our hearts and we hope you find peace to help you heal.

Mike Hickey

Flat Tires + Wakeboards

We had an eventful and fun Saturday. Neal and I set out for a ride around the lake. Things were going very well for 25 miles. We were chatting like a couple of girlfriends on a pamper-puff Saturday night. We were laughing. We were trudging up and down the countless rolling hills around the lake. Then, while we were riding, a bird pooped on my head. Although some people view that as a sign of good luck, I'm not sure it was in our world.

I stopped to wipe to poo off my head, fearing I'd get, like, Avian Flu or something. When I set out on the road to catch up with Neal, I could not find him. 10 miles down the road, he was nowhere to be found. And his phone wasn't working. After 20 minutes of worried pedaling, I found Neal. He was on the side of the road, pumping his rear tire with the pump of a dude he'd met on the road. Neal, it turned out, has a chronic tire puncture problem with his back wheel. He didn't inform me of this until his second flat in a span of 30 minutes, at which point we were out of tubes and there were no cyclists around to lend us one.

So, while everyone back at the ranch went swimming and wakeboarding and water skiing, Neal and I were marooned at the other end of Lake Winnipesaukee, at a Cumberland Farms Gulf gas station in Weir's Beach. Let me remind you that Weir's is the home of the dude from the excellent and highly disturbing documentary 'King of Kong.' We called back to the house, and Amy jumped out the door to come and pick us up.

This isn't the end of our avian poop-inspired 'good luck.' I left my Blackberry in the restroom. 20 minutes of treacherous waiting later, I realized I'd left the phone in the loo. It was gone. Some Red Sox fan with a 12-pack of Bud Light and a gallon of milk (I'm not making that part up, they went together almost always at that place) must've walked off with it. My bad. I leave my phone everywhere, all the time. Usually, I'm lucky. Yesterday I wasn't. So, the drama was heightened. As our wait neared the one hour mark, we had no phone. And we didn't know the number back at the house. And nobody's phones work at the house. All we could do was wait...and stare at the roller dogs and powdered sugar-coated donuts and Icees...and not give in.

After 90 minutes, Amy arrived. Turned out she had to work her way around a triathlon, and search a few Cumberland Farms gas stations in the Weir's Beach area before finding us. We laughed a laugh of relief and jumped in her SUV and headed home.

Home is where we're headed this morning. At noon, we'll drive down to Boston and walk to the Virgin America gate and get on the plane that will deliver us back to our home lives. Grady starts sophomore year on Wednesday—Wednesday! Jo Ann and I have tons of things to attend to. We all miss Pablo dearly, and can't wait to go to his grave, and to sit in his room and to see his clothes and to just, well, be in our home where we lived with him.

OK, gotta run!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Day In Pictures

Grady has been wakeboarding exactly three times. He's already an expert—skating from one side of the boat's wake to the other, getting air, cutting through waves like nuthin. Check him out!

After dinner, we went to town on the boat. Our mission: Bailey's Bubble ice cream emporium. New Hampshire, being a neighbor of Ben & Jerry's home state of Vermont, knows a bit about ridiculously delicious ice cream.

Sunset over Lake Winnipesaukee on the way home

OK, this caption's gonna take a while.... From left: Peter, me, Anne, Owen, Grady, Neal, Henry, Jo Ann and Natalia

...and in the front of the boat, Grady, Marissa and Jimmy

On The Water

Grady cutting up the waves

Jimmy wake boarding as Grady looks on

We're headed down to the dock for our first water session of the day. Today we're bringing several cameras so we can share the view with you. Here are a coupla shots from yesterday...

Pictures + Books

We talk about Pablo. We feel him with us, and imagine what he might be doing if he were physically still here. Yesterday, a bunch of us were standing somewhere—I can't recall where—and I looked to my right, angled my head to Pablo's height, and saw him standing with us. More than that, I felt him there. There was a space right there beside me—a Pablo-sized space that was not populated by any physical, living person.

You know, we all have energy. That's why we can sense someone walking up behind us. That's why we can sense the movements of others in our midst. I felt that energy yesterday. Didn't say a word about it. I've been swallowing it down a lot lately. Don't like it, but it's happening. This happened when Scott passed away. My mind started to tell me that people didn't want to hear about it anymore. The difference with our grieving of Pablo is that we are all mourning at the same time. I can't say we are all mourning Pablo together. The fact is, the way these things really work is I am my own grief pod, Jo Ann is her own grief pod, as is Grady, Jimmy, Marissa, Peter, Brie, and so on.... It's hard to know when is a good time for the person next to you at the table. At least it is for me. I feel like a burden to everyone when it comes to my grief. I recognize this as false evidence appearing real. Of course I do. But it's Class A false stuff. When I'm under the influence of my own mind, the shades are drawn and nailed to the sills.

The other day, sitting in the living room with the phone up to my ear and the laptop in my lap, I was on a conference call with Matt and Acacia at Dangerbird. We were talking about the Pablove Across America (PAA) cross-country ride. As they were telling me things and asking me things, I was looking through iPhoto to find four photos of Pablo and our family. It was D-day for me to find the best pics for the graphic that'll go on the top tube of my bikes for the PAA ride. I've been talking to Bob Thomson, the art director for PAA bike sponsor Felt Bikes, about how nice it'd be to have my family with me on the bike, to keep the purpose of what we are doing close at hand. Bob has created custom-skinned Pablove bikes for Coach Rick and I (will post the graphics when we announce the ride), and these family photos are meant to be the final bit on my bikes. As the conference call ended, I found myself scrolling through Pablo's life in pictures, as I have a million times since Pablo's passing six weeks ago. As we did with Pablo 10 million times during his life. Our family lived the memories in our pics and vids, and we've enjoyed reliving them countless times thanks to iPhoto.

Now that Pablo's gone, scrolling through the images brings smiles and tears. The other day, as I was sitting alone in the living room, it was all tears. A waterfall. Jo Ann saw me crying and came to console me. Peter heard me crying and came out from his bedroom to console me. I felt like a burden and went inside myself. I hate that I did that. But I did. In that moment, it was clear that I am in a deep wilderness with a busted compass, a couple ounces of water and a stitch in my gut. It was also clear that my way out is to stop isolating, stay connected to the people who love me, so they can love me, and so I can love them back. We're all hurting. Not just me.

One way I understand life is by reading. I learn things about life from reading. And, most important for a spazoid like me, I slow down and sit in a chair when doing it.

I am reading an historical book called 'Eiffel's Tower' by Jill Jonnes. Never heard of her or her book until I saw it on the shelf at the little bookshop in town. The cover reminded me of 'The Devil In The White City' by Erik Larsen. That was a fave of Scott and Peter and I. It's about the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition (also known as the Worlds Fair), a serial killer, the advent of Pullman Cars, the Ferris Wheel and the giant egos, guts and mustaches of Victorian architects and businessmen with a heavy focus on the pre-Colgate dental pain of visionary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Jonnes' Eiffel book couldn't have come at a better time. I needed a book to carry me through the balance of August—a literary oar to plunk into the water whenever I need to sit alone and row myself to calm or to some aloneness or to sleep. Reading about the exploits of arrogant Frenchmen in post-Napoleonic Paris is perfect for me: it is not sad, it is not somber; it is an appropriate and pleasant diversion from the thick air I travel in these days.

It's also a gear shift from the other books I've been reading lately. When Pablo passed away, I went to Skylight Books in Los Feliz and sought out every must-read book on grief. Half of them were sold out, and most of the others were not for me. There was one magic book that was in stock—something Shirley recommended—that I've just finished: C.S. Lewis' raw and real '
A Grief Observed.' It's short, and I could have devoured it in a couple sittings. Instead, I rationed the thin book, reading a few pages on train rides in Italy, a couple pages before bed. I didn't know much about Lewis, except that he wrote the Chroni-WHAT?-cles of Narnia.

It wasn't just Narnia that Lewis chronicled. His portrait of the terrain and the terror of the ones left behind when someone dies is the best piece of writing I've found to help me through this time. Partly because he wasn't writing a book when he wrote this stuff—it's his journals from his own grief cycle around his wife's death from cancer—he repeatedly states his position, then contemplates the opposite point of view. He questions everything, then questions the inquisition. He is sad (see above). He is crazy with guilt (see above). He feels like a man alone although he knows he's just avoiding the loving hands of those around him (see above). He comes to a resolve with his sorrow, deciding that a free trade in the currency of memories of his wife—not the stuffing down of his memories—is the way to his harmony with her death, and, indeed, the best way to let her soul be free in its new place. Lewis doesn't beat himself up for his utter confusion about, well, everything. He sits in the mess of it all. He simply holds it in his gaze and spits out what he can't endure, the whole while writing the uppercase and lowercase details without judgement. Not easy stuff. But it's helped me immensely.

Today we are taking our camera out on the boat. I promise you a long series of photos of this heavenly lake.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Miss Pablo

Pablo at home with one of his flattened pennies on Wednesday June 10, 2009.

We miss Pablo.

Jo Ann and I are aching deeply here in New Hampshire. The last time we were here, it was for Peter and Brie's wedding in 2006. Pablo turned three that week. It was a magical time.

The photos of Pablo at the front of the church at his funeral were all taken here. The coffee shop reminds us of Pablo. The little village handmade toy store reminds us of Pablo. The lake, and our assumption that the next time we came here Pablo would be swimming in it, reminds us of Pablo.

Everything, everywhere shines a light on Pablo and the pain in our bodies and hearts over how much we miss him.

On my ride around the lake today, I talked to Pablo. The whole time. For 100 kilometers. Every big hill I climbed I told Pablo what he always told me: we love climbing up a big hill, because we get to go really fast down the other side. I said out loud everything I would say to Pablo if he were cruising behind me on his connect bike.

I can tell you that I talked to Pablo. I can't tell you that it made me feel any better.

When I returned home, I looked through every single Pablo photo on Jo Ann's iPhone. It's as if Pablo was a dream, or a myth. The precise place where we stand in the process of mourning is a confusing, cruel one. I need to look at photos and videos of my son to remember what he was like. And to be sure his life and his presence with us wasn't all just a dream. After all we've been through raising our son, and shepherding him to his death, my mind plays this terrible trick on me, and makes me look at photos to subtitle my own memories.

If Pablo was a dream, he was a great one. But I know he wasn't just a dream. He was the best thing we could ever imagine coming into our lives. A real person. With real energy and love and curiosity and a smile and a laugh and a whisper that woke up the person he was trying to let sleep in the mornings and a sense of humor wider than the lake that makes us miss him furiously.

We miss you Pablo. We love you Pablo. We told you it was OK to go. We told you we'd be OK. Today, I'm not sure what that meant. But we are here, loving you, still....