Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pablove Across America 2010 Day 18 Evening Dedication: Josh Brestel & Em...

Pablove Across America 2010 Day 18 Afternoon Dedication: Peyton Larson &...

Pablove Across America Front Page DATEBOOK Section Feature in Today's San Francisco Chronicle

Today's San Francisco Chronicle contains a Pablove Across America feature on the front page of the Datebook section—written by my longtime friend, Aidin Vaziri.


Pablove Across America 2010 Day 18 Morning Dedication: Pearl Avery Holla...

Help Me Help Cancer Kids. I Must Hit 100% For Pablove Across America

Everyone has their motivations. Everyone is, more or less, rolling toward some goal, some place, some eventual end. That's the great promise of human life, isn't it?

My motivation, my goal, my place, my end is a little boy named Pablo. That's him in the photo up there.

Jo Ann carried this little being in her womb for nine months. The creature inside her was named Pablo when he was born into this world, on Saturday June 21 2003. I was excited to be a papa. I had no idea what I was in store for. The boy who was my son, this Pablo character, was so much more than I ever dreamed.

Even before he could speak or walk Pablo shined so much light on us, we'd have trouble going to sleep at night. He was the greatest little brother to Grady. He was the greatest son to me and Jo Ann. He was fun and funny. He spoke Spanish before he spoke English. For a time, we had to speak certain words in Spanish in order to communicate effectively with him. 'Beso. Aqui. Mano. Zapato.' As he got older, Pablo invented a new fashion style for himself every few weeks. You remember:
green frog rain boots, suits, bow ties, pirate style, prison style, and all manner of cycling caps, including, as evidenced in this photo, his Mike and the Bike cap and matching socks.

I could write about Pablo until the Pablove Across America peloton reaches Solvang this afternoon. It really comes down to three words: Pablo was Pablo. That simple. It still is, really. Anyone who ever met Pablo knows this. If you never met Pablo, trust me. I wouldn't mischaracterize facts about my son. Even a year after his passing, the little dude abides.

We love Pablo.

Jo Ann, Grady and I love him so much that sometimes nothing in our
lives makes sense. It gets hard to love someone you can't hold in your arms. There's nothing harder in the human experience than losing your little brother. Nothing that will shatter you more than a being you carried in your womb passing away before you. And after a long, protracted battle in a f***ing hospital. Nothing.

I had many, many dreams for my son. For a start, I never wanted him to be hungry, or to go to bed sad or alone. You always want a better life for your child than you had growing up. If there's any bit of the American dream left, that's it. At least for me it was.

Funny, until I wrote those words, I'd never imagined all this 'dream' stuff. Looking at my words in the paragraph above, I'd add one other item to that list: I never wanted my son to suffer through cancer treatment. I never wanted to navigate my arms through I.V. tubes as I held him in my arms at night. I never wanted to see Jo Ann so sad she could crumble. Never. And the invitation to the cancer family must have gotten lost in the mail. Cos, suddenly, there we were. And we never got to leave. There is no exit for me and Jo Ann. We are here, always. We accept this. We have no choice.

Having no choice is one of the great motivators I've found in life. When it comes to our work with The Pablove Foundation our experience and our loss fuels the whole operation. No matter how hard I push myself on the bike, it's a comedy compared to what Pablo went through and 10,000 other kids go through every day. At least I have words for my suffering. Pablo was only five. He couldn't tell us what he was going though emotionally, psychologically, cosmically. When I focus on this, I could do damage to any wall, anywhere, in any room I am in while contemplating it. I hate that cancer made my son suffer. I do not understand it.

My motivation on the bike is to contribute—greatly—to pediatric cancer research, and to aid children and families who are where Pablo, Jo Ann, Grady and I have been.

It's that simple.

If you want to join this fight, help me bridge the gap between 84% and 110%.

Please click here and make a contribution to my Pablove Across America fundraising page.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pablove Across America Leaves LA!

Our friend Mariska Leyssius lined up an incredible sponsorship for this year's Pablove Across America: a tricked-out, hugemungous cube truck from Quixote Studios here in LA. It has a kitchen, plenty of storage space and a lift gate. A big step up from the RV we rented last year. We are deeply grateful to Mariska and Quixote for making this happen.

Dangerbird intern Suman Chatterjee pulled away from Dangerbird / Pablove HQ at 2pm today, and will arrive in Seattle on Thursday with bikes, supplies, and expendables all ready to roll back on down the highway to LA.

This video shows all the stuff it takes to make PAA happen—literally shows all the stuff.

Rick and Jeff On Their Final PAA 2010 Training Ride In Griffith Park

I'm hittin the road Wednesday. A few days of press and promo in Seattle for Pablove Across America. Minus the Bear are playing a Pablove benefit show at the Croc on Thursday night. Thank you ALL for your contributions. If you haven't made you way yet, please hit www.pablove.org

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pablove + Nikki Sixx On The Airwaves

I spent an hour Wednesday afternoon with Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue. We talked about Pablo, Pablove, Dangerbird, family, life, and how music continues to change and charge our lives. The great thing is, we weren't just chatting—we were taping an interview for his nationally-syndicated radio show 'Sixx Sense.' I'm very proud of the chat Nikki and I had. He's a dad and an advocate, and, like, me, he was inspired to confront his addictions by a beautiful, gentle man named Bob Timmins. A couple minutes into our conversation, I felt like I was talking to an old friend. By the time the interview ended, Nikki pledged his support for The Pablove Foundation. Now we have another member of the Pablove Army. And this one has the attention of people all over the world. Very cool.

Our conversation will air tonight around 9:30 p.m. on 55 stations around the U.S. If it's not airing in your city, you can listen online. If none of that works for you, we'll post it here when the interview goes on the 'Sixx Sense' site.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I just finished watching the documentary film based on the book 'Freakonomics.' Inspiring stuff. The book, if you haven't read it, is essentially about one thing—incentives—and whether baiting has any effect on the outcome of a situation. The book is famous for its reporting on a University Chicago study on whether ninth graders can be incentivized with cash to get better grades.

As the film wore on, I began to think about The Pablove Foundation, and incentive proposition we are putting forth in our messaging to the world. In my head, I coined the term Pablovnomics, and laughed aloud—to myself, since I'm home alone. Creepy, but true. Our dogs Chili and Beans must think I'm nuts.

If the incentive inherent in The Pablove Foundation isn't clear to you, allow me to dust it off:

In the construct of my mind, Pablovnomics is a simplistic paradigm. At one end, there is the confusion, hurt and the mortality mystery that is pediatric cancer. That's the end Pablo, Jo Ann, Grady and I ended up on.

On the other end of the spectrum is the complete eradication of pediatric cancer—no out-of-nowhere diagnoses, no loss of hair, appetite, body mass or school days for your child, and no loss of life at the hands of an invisible opponent. This end is the promised land. When we get to this end of the playing field, 'my daughter has cancer' will be no more cause for alarm than 'my daughter has a cold, we can't make your dinner party.' Cancer parents talk about the dream of a pediatric cancer diagnosis requiring only a trip to the drug store to buy a box of pills off the shelf.

The drug store scenario, and all that comes with it, is the incentive Jo Ann and I have. We want to see an absolute end to cancer. We want children to outlive their parents. We want for other people what we did not get to experience with Pablo. This is the fiery core of emotion that fuels our Pablove Foundation work.

And you know what? One day, we will be there, in the drug store, buying a Vanity Fair and pills to knock out a little girl's Wilms' Tumor, or a little boy's neuroblastoma.

The Pablovnomics incentive for me is manifold. I don't want you or anyone you or I know to go through what my son Pablo went through, or to lose a child to cancer. It's painful and the loss of purpose in one's life and clarity in the world is, so far for me, unending. But still, Jo Ann and I fight on. While working toward that goal, we want to contribute to the world in a way that displays a simple act: one group doing a little bit every day does a lot, and a bunch of groups doing daily has a great deal of power. This is something we've learned from our friends at Livestrong. And it's something we hold true.

When we ask you to spread our message in your social circles and on your social networks, it's not unclear to us what's in it for The Pablove Foundation. When we ask you to show up at an event, and to bring a few friends, the purpose behind the gathering of Pablove tribes is not oblique to us. When we ask you to open you wallet and drop your hard-earned cash into our coffers, it's for something deadly serious: to keep the balloon of hope afloat long enough to make a difference.

The incentive proposition of The Pablove Foundation is that simple—people helping kids to live, survive and prosper. And it's that complicated—all of us, running as fast as we can, until the Jonas Salk of the Cancer Generation stands up and hands over the goods.

When we ask you to give us some of your time and some of your money, and we shovel it into the Pablove furnace.

A snapshot of the Pablove capacity we're building toward: The Pablove Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee has been built, with the best forward-thinking researchers and clinicians—led by Dr. Leo Mascarenhas—from Harvard, Duke, USC, U of Michigan, Texas Children's, CHLA, City of Hope and other hubs of medical science wealth. The Pablove Foundation science crew will recommend to our board what research programs will make best use of our funds—which have been fueled by you. We will begin giving out research grants in the first quarter of 2011.

So, that's my speech about Pablovnomics and why everything you do to support us matters—a lot.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mountain Training For Pablove Across America

Pablove Across America 2010

In the name of Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz, and cancer kids and their families everywhere, Pablove Across America will roll again in 2010. This year, we will start on October 2 at the Space Needle in Seattle and roll straight down the west coast to Los Angeles. We will end at Pablo's grave at Forest Lawn.

This event is The Pablove Foundation's biggest fundraising and heart gathering event. If you ride a bike, we'd love for you to sign up and join us. 20 cyclists have already signed up. This year, there's a weekly fundraising minimum for riders. If you are not a cyclist, please drop a donation into the bucket on the site. We have a serious goal this year: $500,000. We need our ranks to swell in order to meet this goal, so we're hoping you will help promote the ride via our social networking sites.
The good news is that we're already 24% of the way to that goal.

While I have your attention on this topic, I wanna tell you something about Pablove Across America:

Last year, I was a man possessed. Possessed of a broken heart. Filled with 13 months of ingrown energy, sleepless nights, watching my son's spirit grow beyond description—so much so that it eventually left his body behind while it went on to the next place. I'm not sure what that next place is called. But I know Pablo is having a hell of a lot of fun there.

Some days on the bike, it was as if I were chasing after Pablo's spirit, trying to keep pace with it. Other days, I felt pain and longing and cosmic muck ripping through my abdomen and out my tear ducts. Every day, no matter what, I tried to commune with Pablo's spirit. My quest for connection to him carried me through the wet and wild humidity of the southeast,
the stout hills around Austin and west Texas, the canyons of Arizona, and through the the rugged, Mars-like mountains of east California.

When we pedal away from the Space Needle on October 2, I do not know how I will feel, or what we'll experience. I do know that Pablo will be with me, with us, and we'll bring his incredible six-year-old energy with us to every hospital visit, and on every pedal stroke.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pablove Across America Kick Off Concert In Seattle

Seattle-based Dangerbird band Minus the Bear will headline a special show to kick off Pablove Across America on Thursday September 30 at legendary Seattle club The Croc.

Tickets are $20, and on sale Friday at 10am. Buy here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pablove In Nike / Livestrong's Tour de France Commercial

For the second year in a row, Nike and Livestrong have included Pablove in their Tour de France commercial. This year, the spot features a chorus of cancer voices talking over a beautiful video of Lance Armstrong climbing a mountain in France. In fact, the climb you see here was in the final bit of today's TdF stage. Midway through the clip, you'll hear my voice speaking about The Pablove Foundation.

It's a real honor to be included. I have spoken a lot how important it is for my writing and Pablove's thrust to be included in the cancer conversation. This spot is a literal tribute to what I have spoken about figuratively in many interviews during Pablove Across America. So cool.

Our gratitude goes out to Lance and our friends at Livestrong—Doug, Renee, Alison, Chris, Colin, and many others. They have treated us like family from the day we met them. And they continue to support us—as friends, fellow warriors on the front lines of cancer, and in the growth of The Pablove Foundation.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Geronimo! (New Mexico)

Rick Babington and me, Geronimo-jumping, at Geronimo, New Mexico

Here's Rick, Fred Gillich, me and Stan Barrett

We're preparing the launch of Pablove Across America 2010. So, tonight, I'm looking through a stack of DVDs filled with amazing pics from last year's ride, taken by our mechanic, Chad Contreras. There are so many photos that capture fun and funny moments, breathtaking landscapes, and roadside oddities of all kinds. Then, I came across these great photos from Geronimo, New Mexico, taken on November 12, 2009. Do you recall seeing these during the ride? I'm not sure that we ever posted these pics. Even if we did, they're so cool, I have to share them again....

In the days leading up to our arrival in Geronimo, we talked about how cool it would be to get the city sign photo. This single word—Geronimo!—captured Pablo's personality more than just about any other. I forgot that I'd done a jump under the city sign. Looking at the photo as I sit here on the sofa, I'm not sure I could jump that high today.

Unless Pablo himself walked into the living room. That would make me Geronimo jump like a madman!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vote For The Pablove Foundation!

Hello everyone...

If you follow The Pablove Foundation on Facebook and Twitter, you're familiar with our plea for votes in the Chase Community Giving contest. We know so many of you have voted and promoted for over a week. We sincerely, deeply appreciate your support. It's a huge deal. If we get to number one, we'll be awarded $250,000. If we remain in the top 200, we will win $20,000—a huge amount of cash for a fledgling organization. Whatever amount we win, it will help us fund the Pablove mission statement, and the programs and community-building events we have in the works.

If you haven't voted yet, please click here. Take one moment to help us help kids with cancer.

If you've already voted, please email your friends, ask your co-workers, post it on Facebook and Twitter.

Here's the link for you cut 'n pasters: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/263006100-pablove-foundation-inc


Monday, June 28, 2010


I have told many friends how peaceful and still I felt in the week between Pablo's seventh birthday and the one year anniversary of his death. Something inside me shifted. The knot in my gut that accompanies me every day relaxed and, for a brief run of days, there was more room inside me. Having a break from the knot felt good—particularly because it's back again.

What I don't tell anyone is that, mostly, I'm still hiding out. People look at me with question marks in their eyes. Before they even say 'How are you?' The emphasis on that one word—are—is the expression of true compassion. To me, it often feels like an obligation to reveal more than I am able to. Sometimes, I don't know how I am. Or I don't care how I am. Most days, I just want to fuel myself with four shots of espresso, so I don't have to worry about creating my own energy. Foolish, and a very short term game, I know, but I do it every day. I'll know things are changing with me when I avoid uber-doses of caffeine.

Last night in the car, Jo Ann and I were talking about Pablo. She said the phrase 'Pablo's final breath.' My chest tightened. My eyes filled with tears. Tears streamed down my face. My brain wondered, 'Will it always be this way? What is the point of anything anymore?' My intellect has gotten good at positing such questions. Lately, my intellect has been good for landing I've begun to resonate peacefully on a thin piece of intellectual real estate: I think of Pablo, and I think of peace, and calm and serenity. And for a brief moment it all feels OK.

The thought of Pablo, the physical Pablo, is now so far away that I have to watch videos of him to refuel the little bits of him. Of course, I remember the many giant swaths of personality that he exuded every day. The mind tends to focus on the 'greatest hits' of someone's personality. The memories gather around the sweetest, cutest, funnest moments. Harder to remember is the feeling of my son's hand on my chest; how he held me when we'd fall asleep in his bed, and how he'd reach out for me when I'd attempt to slip out and go on with my night; the way he'd push my eyelids up in the morning, asking 'Papa, are you awake?' Every day, I try to remember some of those deeper memories. I've found that they're stored in a second compartment that is easy to access, but could also easy to lose touch with.

On the topic of memories:

Today, Jo Ann and I got an email from the mother of an old playmate of Pablo's. The family moved to another neighborhood a while back, and the mother had heard of Pablo's cancer from a mutual friend. Her note is sweet, referencing fun times Pablo had with her son at Silver Lake Park. In the note, our old friend noted that while she has vivid memories of Pablo, her son doesn't remember Pablo and his days at the park very well anymore.

On first reading, I felt like someone had thrown another gallon of kerosene on the fire of anguish that's been burning in my gut for a year and a day. Those tears from last night came flooding back. That one word—anymore—softened the focus on Pablo even more. But then I read the sentence again. And again. None of the words hurt as much on the fourth read. Pablo is gone, I thought to myself. This is OK. This is the way it is. Then I remembered: Pablo had friends he didn't remember from his early years. We would have to describe an old playmate of his, and sometimes he'd feign a memory of a kid. I could tell.

Something in our old friend's letter turned my heart toward acceptance. Can't put my finger on it, but I know acceptance when it's flowing in my veins. So I'm grateful for the note.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Celebrate Pablo's Birthday With Us On Sunday

Pablo's seventh birthday is this Monday, June 21.

Many of you have sent emails and text messages this week, voicing your support. Telling me that you love me, you love Jo Ann and Grady, and you miss Pablo. And that you are there. 'There' is a place, and I know where it is. So, if you're one of the people who has sent a communique our way, thank you. We appreciate your presence. And we need it. So you know: all we need to know is that you're there. The power in that statement is immense.

As you can imagine, it's no surprise that my son's birthday is approaching. I've known the date of his birth since the sunny Saturday in 2003 when he came dancing out of the womb. We were smiling that day, holding our tiny little ball of humanity who immediately became known as Pablo. We are still smiling, remembering him. Today there is a lot of pain mixed into the sweetness of those memories. How could this not be the case? Our boy has gone away, to a place we don't understand, a place we only imagine.

For weeks, Jo Ann has been asking me to write a post inviting our friends—you!—to celebrate Pablo's birthday with us. Such a simple thing, yet I have not been able to do it. I knew a time would come where I had to do it. And now's the time.


Please join Jo Ann, Grady and me this Sunday, June 20 at 11 a.m.

Bring a blanket, lunch, lemonade, whatever makes you happy.

We'll be at Pablo's grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery (directions and details are in the side bar to your right).

We'll have cupcakes.

And we'll be there for an hour or so.

Most of all, we're looking forward to sharing our morning with you.

Please spread the word.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Fairness To Grief

To be fair to the grief process, I have to say that today was a better day than Monday. And Monday was easier than all of last week. When I'm in it, my mind does not believe there's a way out. Songs that make me feel lose their power. Books that inspire my mind sit unread. My insatiable quest for activity turns inside-out, and I want to disconnect from everyone and everything. It just doesn't feel good.

But days like today are proof that there is relief from grief. I can look at a photo of Pablo beaming a grin over a plate of pancakes and remember how happy we were the moment it was taken. I can look at a mom and her child at the gelato shop next door to our office and appreciate their playful joy. My eyes meet other people's eyes in conversation. Good things feel good.

This morning, as I climbed the treacherous Vermont Canyon and passed the Greek Theater, I became excited just thinking that in a few minutes I'd be looking over Forest Lawn Cemetery. I started talking to Pablo, which I often do on deserted roads. An entire conversation carried on as the road rose in front of us at 12%. I could hear Pablo pedaling behind me, saying, 'Papa—all I can see is your big BUTT!' I laughed pretty damn loud, like I did every time he ever said that to me. The kid had a way with thrusting statements out into the world. If you've ever hung out with me or Jo Ann, you'd never wonder where he gleaned that skill from. The fact is, Pablo took language to a really cool place. I've never heard a kid say some of the stuff he used to say.

When the road carried me to the vista above Forest Lawn, I pulled off and stood on my feet. It was the exact spot where Grady, Peter, Dean, Fred and I stood a little under a year ago, looking for the perfect grave site for Pablo. It's pretty high up. Seeing Pablo's grave is impossible. You can barely make out the giant Abraham Lincoln statue near down there. It's about the adventure and the solitude up there. One of these days, I want to hang a Pablove flag up off the fence that divides Griffith Park and Forest Lawn.

Maybe we'll do that on Pablo's birthday.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hello, Again

In many ways, I have forgotten how to feel. Or maybe it's that feeling has left my body. My abdomen in particular.

I've certainly lost my ability to write on this blog. Part of me feels that we've taken up too much or your time. Part of me hates that I've ever written on this blog. The non-existence of the Pablog would mean that Pablo is still here. He is everywhere, I know, but not in the way that Jo Ann and Grady and I would like him to be. We have photos of Pablo everywhere—in our offices, all over our house, on our computers and phones.

Jo Ann and I think about Pablo constantly. Our loss is a shared loss, our grief is a shared grief. Sometimes we need to rely on friends to put their arms around us, because we're both going through the same thing at the same time with the same intensity. At any given moment, Jo Ann may wake up feeling OK after a rough few days, and I may wake up on that same day unable to face the world. We know that it's a huge deal if one of us is having an OK day after a rough patch.

Pablo took his final breath on June 27 2009. I am unable to describe how many nights have been torn open as my sleeping brain focuses on Pablo's final breaths. Sleeping, awake, I am in the midst of a never-ending swarm of memories. I am depressed, hurting in ways that I never knew possible. Each day, I question my role on this earth, in this life. And I wonder, Can Pablo see me now? Especially when I make a mistake, I wonder, Can Pablo see me now?

One of the reasons I haven't written a blog post lately is because I've been depressed. The depression is unrelenting. Many days, as the sun bathes our city, I am completely dark inside. The lights don't come on. Some days, I can't fill my lungs with breath. Even when I'm out on the bike, my lungs are as shallow as my eyelids. My brain unable to concentrate on any detail, save for the quickest way out of any room or situation that involves other people needing me or depending on me or requesting my input. I am uninterested in things that usually excite me—which is a good many things. At my lowest, I am so uninterested in everything that it becomes another huge wave of pain and discomfort.

I am aware that I scare people with my down-turned eyes, half-filled lungs and and my inability to air traffic control 800 things a minute. I am aware that many people depend on me and must wonder what unscripted event may transpire if I go off the rails. Which only pushes me further down, further away....

When I wake up every morning, I feel more tired than the night before. As I look at Sage Vaughan's portrait of Pablo, I can feel him in my arms. My body and my mind say the same thing: If Pablo were in our arms, all of this pain would go away. All of this pain would go away.

My birthday was utterly, unspeakably painful. May 17 was the day I turned 38. It was also the two year anniversary of Pablo's cancer diagnosis. I can tell you one thing about anniversaries: one doesn't have to 'make a big deal' about them. The energy revs up all on its own as the date approaches. If I had eradicated all calendars from my life, my heart would still know that Pablo's birthday was coming soon. And my heart would still know that Pablo's death date was coming soon. Anyone who doubts that we are spiritual beings, I have to assume, has lived an easier life than I.

On Monday May 17, I was in London, by myself, doing business meetings. My friend John emailed me and asked why I would choose to spend my birthday in Blighty. The answer was simple: I was on my way to the wedding of our friends Brian and Tracy in Italy. I had to do a round of meetings in London at some point soon, so it made sense to do them on the way to Italia. Plus, I had to be back in LA 36 hours after the wedding, to pull the trigger on the starting gun at Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California. So, I was hemmed in, as The Smiths song goes, like a bull between arches. Biz meetings on one side, representing The Pablove Foundation on the other. I got on the plane to go to London having never felt more internal strife ever before in my life. Of course, I was looking forward to Brian and Tracy's wedding. Of course I was looking forward to being at Lake Maggiore. And the food, the espresso, the bike ride I'd get to take. But being away from home—that was terrifying.

The birthday pain was assuaged by dear friend and client Jon Fratelli. He flew down from Glasgow to take me out for dinner. He arrived with a gift—the deluxe version of the Rolling Stones classic 'Exile On Main Street.' That was sweet, made my heart open a bit, and increased the weight of my carry-on bag by eight pounds. We had dinner at a fantastic Italian place on Hyde Park. We laughed and talked and soon the night was over. When I got back to my room, I counted down the days and hours until I would be on the plane back to LA.

The following week—last week—was a strange mix of jet lag and depression. I usually don't suffer from either. But nothing is usual anymore, and now that I've walked over those coals I am glad it's over. Last week was a very, very tough one.

This morning, Michael Ward and I rode up in the mountains, and had a great time. We laughed, and we both felt pretty damn good in the leg department. I love riding with the Warden. He makes me laugh. A lot. He has great stories, and is a great listener. He's a dad too, and, like many of my cycling friends, he was with Pablo and Jo Ann and Grady and me all the way through. And he's still here.

If you don't mind, I'm gonna stay here, too. And I think I'm gonna start writing again. It makes me feel good, and keeps me on my toes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Seeing Pablo

I know my son Pablo very well. Do I have to say I knew him? I am not capable of saying that today, so bear with me. I will continue speaking about Pablo in the present tense, because he is with me all the time, everywhere, no matter what.

I saw Pablo every day of his life, unless I was out of town, which was sometimes.

I saw Pablo.

Pablo saw me.

Pablo saw all of us.

He was the kind of person who looked you in the eye. In the eyes. Both of them. At the same time.

Today, I looked at the IN box in my email program, and saw a note from Scott Henriksen, a dear friend of ours, and the dad of Pablo's friend Eli. Scott is a cinematographer, and therefore has a camera with him at all times. He's just that kind of guy. Scott has documented the lives of our circle of friends since before I was in our circle of friends. Scott has photographed and video'd the children of all of us. I love beautiful photos, and so having Scott's photos of Grady and Pablo has been a real gift.

What I saw in Scott's email was completely unexpected: he'd found photos of Pablo that no one has ever seen. And, for all my love of Scott's photos and how they've become the memories of our world of friends and kids and holidays and stuff, three of the photos (the best ones) were not taken by Scott. The photos were taken by Scott's nine-year-old son Eli.

Here's the note Scott sent:

Hey you guys. I got some film back from the lab yesterday and I found some Pablo pics that Eli shot when he grabbed my camera at Tracy's birthday party at Mexico City. At least I think it was Tracy's birthday. We were all together anyway. There's some pics from Pablo's bday that were on another roll too. I love them. I hope you do too.
I clicked the link, typed in the password, and sat, stunned and in tears. Tears of joy. Tears of sadness. Lots of tears. Weeping wall.

Clicking on the first image, I saw Pablo looking at me—straight into me.

But then I realized, he wasn't looking at me at all. This is a photo of my son looking at his friend Eli. I'd been around Pablo and Eli a million times, running, screaming, going mental. I'd been around Pablo in many ZIP codes, many cities, many states, doing this very class of behavior—kid stuff. But I'd never seen Pablo looking at one of his friends.

So, nearly nine months after Pablo's death, I am seeing him in a way I'd never before seen.

Remarkable. Simply remarkable.

This photo was taken at the restaurant Mexico City in Los Feliz. Pablo and I had just gone to the Steven Alan store down the street and bought that shirt and bowtie. I have the exact same shirt, in Papa size. I almost wore that bowtie today—it's Friday Tie Day here at Dangerbird.

Here's another great shot, clearly framed by a kid shooting a kid doing kid stuff:

And this one, I recall, was Pablo hitting the wall, wanting to go home. You can see in his eyes how tired he is. Knowing what we now know, we can only imagine what was going on inside his little body. This was only a couple weeks before he passed away. I can see the tumors taking away his smile and his energy, and it makes me angry.

Here are two photos that Scott took at Pablo's sixth birthday party at Silverlake Park. It was Sunday June 21 2009.

That's Eli on the blanket.

Another birthday party shot: Pablo's on the far left

Thank you Scott.

Thank you Eli.

You are great friends and we love you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Driving In Stereo

The photo of Pablo that's been on the front page of Pablog for months was taken in our friend Michael Ross' golf cart in Palm Springs. Pablo loved going to Michael's sprawling house in PS. It was a giant play land to him. We loved waking up early and driving the golf cart down the road to the Ace Hotel or Koffi. The thing goes, like, 8 m.p.h. max, and Pablo loved every sub-speed limit bit of it. And he loved to drive in stereo. We left a CD in it back in the 0-6: Silversun Pickups 'Lazy Eye' acoustic. A totally random disc to shove into the Craig stereo in a maroon golf cart. And it apparently stood the test of time. Nobody ever took it out. So every time we were in PS, we cranked it.

Jo Ann shot the golf cart pic. It's a mother's view of her son in full bloom of boyish beauty and vibrancy. Nobody else could have captured Pablo's energy the way she did. No one else could have created it either. While Pablo was alive, I liked to change the Pablog cover image every couple months. It was a fun thing to do. Now, I don't think we'll ever change out Jo Ann's golf cart photo. Pablo's smile in that shot will fuel all the days I have left on this earth. That one smile. So much energy.

Michael loves the photo as much as we do. And he did something amazing with it. He had it turned into a memorial plaque which is now affixed to the golf cart. That's the story of the photo of the photo above. Can't wait to run into a Pablove friend at the Ace or Koffi. Then we can show it off....