Monday, December 12, 2005

Take this, all of you, and drink it...

In the early half of the nineties, I went through an open mike, philosophy groupie neo-beatnik stage. I was in my 20's; a high-school dropout living in "the city". Grunge was in, and coffee houses didn't have a cover charge, so, hey, what else could I do? When you're a suburban expatriate white boy, it's like a mandatory transitional phase. Maybe even biological, like puberty or "the change". But for me, the whole boho thing never really took. For one, I'm not really a huge fan of "the Beats" as writers. I'm more of a William Gibson, Nick Hornby and X-Men comic book kind of guy.

Among the cats who made the scene for reasons other than cutting a striking profile wearing a turtleneck, the poetry could be pretty dismal. But there were always some colorful characters providing the entertainment, sort of like a support group meeting at the "Star Wars" cantina. I once saw this guy, Cameron Lightbulb, get completely naked on the "stage" at Cafe Euphrates, a table of girls not 2 feet away from him. Another time, Cameron attacked this guy on stage with a full size Safeway shopping cart he had rolled across town, screaming "Death to the Denver Poets!" The host, Henry Alarmclock (who's real name was Zack - there was a lot of name changing going around back then) had to physically throw him out of the establishment. Henry and Cameron were arch-nemesises, sort of like Mexican wrestlers.

I'm the gimp!

No, I'm the gimp!

Even though Henry's work was occasionally derivative of Jack Kerouac, et. al, he knew his influences well and was good at what he did. He was the real writer, and held respect among us posers; Cameron was just Bizzaro to his Superman.

FAST FORWARD a few years... Goatees are as common as Nikes and turtlenecks give me a double chin. I was married and a father, working in a cubicle and going through my pre-30's existential crisis. Real "why am I here" kind of stuff. The Big Questions (TM).

Now, I am a-religious by nature - as philosopher (Groucho) Marx said, "I would never join a club that would have me as a member." But somehow, I found my way to The First Church of Divine Science. Which, for the record, has nothing to do with Scientology, or Christian Science. I know, like they said in Angels in America... "Any religion that isn't at least 2,000 years old is a cult". But it was just a cool place to be around like-minded progressive types. Reverend Karl Kopp was a good natured guy, a playwrite who gave sermons about Jung and the mystical tradition and mythology and psychedelic drug use. At the end of the first Mass I ever went to, the organist played "Summer Lovin'" from Grease, then we all went to a common room for breakfast. Catholics tend to eat pancakes at such functions. Divine Scientists have tacos and spaghetti. And they served coffee, which was generally fresh and tasted good.

The other day I received a mailer from the church. They were having a memorial service for Karl Kopp. I found an obituary on the internet. Cancer. I read some info on his family... he has a son named "Zack".

The detective work I did on Google wasn't necessary. Seeing the two of them in my mind, 6 + feet, Coke bottle glasses... I already knew they were father and son.

Huh. Small world.

I stopped going to the church after only, like, 4 services. I've discovered there's no existential crisis that can't be fixed with the yoga of a good cruiser ride through downtown or a night out dancing. But the stuff that we talked about there, while it didn't form my worldview, certainly reinforced it. Just like those nights at the coffee shop did. And anybody who can get my agnostic ass into a church pew, well, that's certainly saying something.

So, this is my tribute to the Kopp boys. Cheers... I'll think of you whenever I drink my coffee or eat a taco.

Rest in Peace, Reverend.


locomocos said...

Good Tribute Post.
I always feel so humbled around death, i usually forget some of the better memories.....tacos are good!

I like your photos, too!

MrDanger said...

godspeed ...... Mr Kopp, godspeed.

totalvo said...

This is nice.. i guess zack is moving to Vermont.. to work on his masters..

Zack said...

I wonder who you are. I know who totalvo is... Anyway, thanks for the good words, whoever you are.