"What’s Up, College?!": A Dedication

I.  “Woke Up Dreaming”

Sunday, Sarah’s parents stopped by, and her father let me burn Joe Bonamassa’s Blues Deluxe.  I was surprised that I had already had downloaded half of the album.  I didn’t hesitate to rip that album onto my computer.  It got me thinking that I haven’t bought or indulged in much music recently.  My taste isn’t necessarily rounding out, losing it’s patience, but it’s definitely maturing.

As it should.

If I hear a great jazz or blues album, I’m not going to hesitate to go out and get it, or burn it if someone loans it to me.  Professor Frost, poetry professor and demigod (this title wasn’t given to him until now), was a pretty swell fella outside of the classroom; it took a few of us to realize that his attitude in the classroom was justified with our realizing that he actually did know a thing or two.  As crass as “Frosty’s” constructive criticism designed itself to be, I came back with attempts to throw him off, submitting one to four-lined poems which were great in and of itself, but were absolute crap in the realm of poetry.  I remember Frost picked out one of them:

“I miss you like the sun misses the moon, but they remain in the same sky.”

Or something like that.  I thought this was absolute genius, but Frost laughed at me. It wasn’t a belly laugh, nor was it a you’re-an-idiot laugh.  I tried to challenge him, succeeding and failing at the same time (laugh).

Not that this has anything to do with poetry, but Faulkner wrote, “My mother is a fish.”  End of chapter.

If there are any other Frost questions, please ask Zach.

We, a handful of his students, present and past, managed to gather regularly at Oneonta’s wine bar for Tuesday’s Open Jazz Night.  Can you believe Oneonta has a wine bar?  It was (is?) surprisingly sophisticated.  Candles sit upon the dark wooden tables.  Lights on a dimmer glaze the bar, hazy, making up for the prohibited smoking and the effect it would have had. The upright bass in hand, a scotch in the other. There, we would share a table, our minds open and our pens and pads on hand, foreshadowing the downing two to three bottles of wine before heading over to The Silver Bullet for “Post-Jazz” chicken rolls, beer, and pool.

Ryan C. was never around for this though. This was his scene to the point where he still would have been present if he didn’t show.  Ryan may not have shown up, even if he was around.  It wasn’t that he was too cool for it, but it would have been cool not to.

Ya dig?

II.  Digression

It’s not that I dislike the recent musicians, but I’m more open-minded and accepting of what is put out into the world.  When I was 16, working at my first job at the MOST, the access I had to The Soundgarden was greatly more exciting than a child getting locked in F.A.O. Schwarz overnight.  All I ever did was buy movies and music, and that’s what kept me content.  Luckily, that addiction of Music-Movies-More! Spend!-Spend!-Spend! died out, but it took a while to kick the habit.  Now, I have to have a love-at-first-listen moment to really want to go out and buy an album.  If it’s not on sale, I have the patience to get it used. It’s that simple.  However, a good blues or jazz artist puts me in quite the dilemma.

I had my favorite bands/artists growing up, those musicians I could not get enough of, but my parents could.  To top the list off, the first band I was addicted to was…

:::drum roll:::

Air Supply!  Yes! In the first few years of my life, when I wasn’t watching Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, I was listening to Air Supply.  If you ask my parents, their toleration had been met and they had to hide both of these entertainment bits on their toddler son.  However, I would always find them. 

Aside Air Supply, Led Zeppelin, The Doors other favorites chronologically ranged with overlap: R.E.M., Bryan Adams, Dave Matthews Band, Less Than Jake, Deftones, Rx Bandits, Umphrey’s McGee, and Nick Drake amongst others.  My decisiveness to dedicate myself to one genre is that red dot in the middle of an archery target that cannot be hit.  Arrows soar too high.  Arrows nose dive into the ground.  Arrows are scattered across the target.  My archer quits, realizing the objectivity and benefit of being ahead of the game.

The only regret:  looking at an arranged computer database of songs and not cardboard-shelled vinyl in the shelves.

III.  Dogpile (b. 2002 – d. 2002)

Ten pounds gained and five to go, my roommate Bill and I decide to hang around Littell Hall with a handful of other swimmers.  Ryan, although this was not my first time meeting him, was lively as ever.  As the boyishly mature boisterous personality spewed from his eyes, mouth and pores, it was difficult to hold onto whatever anger or anxiety plaguing your thoughts.  You just smile and think, That’s Ryan.  Ryan, as I remember him, was full of piss and vinegar like Holden Caulfield, but incredibly ever so positive and uplifting at the same time. Ryan was the type to let you know that you had shit luck, but reminded you that you were alive and being able to experience feelings–for better or for worse–was a great reminder that you’re alive and that you’ll get through whatever temporary dilemma you are in.

There was initiative to look something up, I do not remember what, but we Dogpile-d it.  As entertaining as the search engine sounded, it elated Ryan exponentially to shout (something along the lines of), “Dogpile, yeah!  That’s a great name.” He then looked over at my person standing in the doorway and said, “That’d be a great nickname.  Chris, I’m going to call you Dogpile from now on.”

It was different, college.  I left high school with everyone calling me Malone; Jim B. calling me Swindler for a Scrabble Tournament scandal which had the same notoriety as Watergate; or the infamous Malone Ranger, started by Brian K. or Matt M. and continued by Brian’s cousin, Mike H., who in AP Bio designated our marshmallow-and-candy-based virus (I think..) model as Malone Ranger.  Why? Because it sounds like “The Lone Ranger.”  However, I digress.  I enter college, and everyone calls me Chris, which is foreign to me.  Ryan then calls me Dogpile for less than a semester.  Eventually, the Malone sunk in again, but that didn’t happen until junior year. 

IV.  Sophomore Year (b. August 2002 – d. May 2003)

Bill received X-Box from Mary in December 2002, so he could utilize it over the semester break.  It may have been a Wednesday.  We were watching an episode of South Park, and we had a craving to get something to much on.  Luckily, the on-campus market was a stone’s throw away; on commercial break we booked it to the market for either Little Debbie/Hostess snacks, or Goldfish. We hoped to make it to the room before the commercial break was over. This may have been a separate occasion, but while we were in line, there was a debate about the cookies with the chocolate and white frosting.  I know, upstaters (and downstaters…don’t want to leave you out), I’m getting to it!  The downstater in line referred to this as a “Black and White Cookie.”  Representing upstate, I staked my claim with: “Half Moon Cookies.”  Being from Albany, I asked Bill for his take to which he replied, “Half and Half Cookies.”  As I stated, the South Park night and cookie debate may have been separate occasions, but they happened without a doubt.

Anyway, Bill was so excited about the gift that he drooled upon the cardboard package, displaying the big black box with lime green lights (Tommyknockers). It was a small stream, but it was obvious as you looked directly at him.

Months down the road Bill and I with Ryan C. and/or Ryan H. (our beloved RA and quad mate) would partake in Halo activities.  Ryan C., our adopted fourth roommate, brought over his Gamecube which added more distraction.  Along with playing video games came the Ryan-adopted snack of open-faced (Wegmans!) peanut butter sandwiches.  With this snack, we adopted playing Phase10, and Ryan introducing me to BoySetsFire. All the comfort for a cold, snowy afternoon.

V.  “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”

Jack Kerouac (b. March 12, 1922 – d. October 21, 1969)

The only people for me are the mad ones…

Miles Davis (b. 1926 – d. 1991)
John Coltrane (b. 1926 – d. 1967)
Paul Butterfield (b. 1942 – d. 1987)

Everything’s gonna be alright.

I knew the names. I was wasn’t as familiar with their work.  This was when I indulged in them. I was ashamed of previously not, but

Everything’s gonna be alright.

The competition, dueling electrics, pitted Brian a.k.a. Scuddz playing GNR’s “Sweet Child o’ Mine” against my playing The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.”  I used to love giving him hell about playing that riff, practicing it to perfection, and annoying him with the opening riff of The Darkness’ tune as soon as he took a momentary break.  Scuddz did the same to me, but we knew

Everything’s gonna be alright.

It was junior year and we snagged a quad in Blodgett Hall, entitling us to our own bathroom.  It was absolute convenience.  We, also, had Brad, our RA who was louder than us. 

But Ryan was there, quiet and confidant,

the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing…

A Halloween scare brought and sat me down metaphorically, making me question actions, asking myself, “What are you doing?” Confusing reality rationality set in, and Ryan met me halfway,

but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh…

And it clicked. 

Everything’s gonna be alright.

Everything was alright.  Ryan, amongst many of the other cast of characters featured in theatrical college productions within the three plus years, helped celebrate the 21st birthday.  As awkward as it was to hitch a ride home with me for spring break when my body and mind in complete and utter disarray, my voice unable to simply utter and my person hunched over, Ryan stuck it out.

…the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing…

The 2004 spring semester where 206 Blodgett was to be established from the ground up, secured by Ryan and Bill and myself, recruiting Mike and Cliff and Ross along for the ride:  the defined cast for our last full year of college, our last hurrah, our Friday nights of forties and fights of Halo tournaments. 

It finally came to

VI.  “Everybody goes ahh…”

August 2004, the beginning of the end:  Ryan’s last semester. We read, we bantered, we Halo-ed. I posed, sitting on the common room’s table, pretending I was a dragon enclosed in a droplet.  Ryan’s drawing became the design on the Oneonta swimmers’ T-shirts:  a red dragon in a water droplet.

Time wisped by in hush-hush whisper, seeming to total the three and a half years of college to a half second, the time in-between a mouth an an ear when the words are exposed to the elements, risking them to be blown away or lost in transition.

December came. Ryan left. Chris R. was adopted. 

Personal experience.  That semester, outside my suite and my family of roommates, I dueled.  It was personal and the contenders were supposedly given a bullet each. Everything was a haze, but an extra bullet found it’s way into the mess, striking me in the back.  The process was long:  Spring 2005, I fell to my knees, and my roommates witnessed it, taking the brunt of the stench of death from my lips. Ryan, my confidant, was not there. Fall 2005, I finally fell face-first to the ground.

(Everybody goes ahh..)

My past roommates, nor Ryan, were present. Zach was left to pick me off my feet. From that point, it was hell on earth, Zach and I fighting the zombies.

Everybody’s gonna be alright.


VII.  Dénouement

Since college, there isn’t much of Ryan out there, and he got rid of Facebook.  Ryan trekked across the United States on his bike.  Some say and think he was crazy to do so.

The only people for me are the mad ones…

That was the address of his website: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=1935&v=1KS

…the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time…

I think the act was pure genius.  Granted, this was a couple years back. However, his words and motives still resonate.  Read his warning.  Read his journal.  I’ve read it numerous times, but then I love Kerouac because of Ryan.

…the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing…

There were rumors of a blues festival and reunion, but that fell through the cracks.

…but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop…

Have I spoken to Ryan recently?  No.  He’s but an enigma, an inspirational notion.  Our paths will cross one day.

 …and everybody goes ahh…

My best wishes, Ryan.  Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing…keep being yourself.

Everything’s gonna be alright.


One thought on “"What’s Up, College?!": A Dedication

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