Many of you will remember dear, departed Chairman Andy of World Topless Boxing fame. Three years have elapsed since his passing. I think of him often but today felt especially poignant as I poured a fresh cup of ginger-cinnamon tea into a pink Everton football mug, one of Andy’s many gifts to me. Here is the original newsletter I mailed out to commemorate Andy and his sweet, unique contributions to my life:
In Memory of Chairman Andy (July 20, 1972 – May 21, 2011)
Last Saturday I was sitting inside a restaurant as I ate some breakfast and wrote a synopsis for a video that I planned to release in my VOD store within a few days. I chuckled to myself as I scribbled words onto a pad, already anticipating the reaction of Chairman Andy of the WTB when he read them. He had commissioned the filming of a boxing match between Nicole Oring and me and I was attempting to infuse the video description with a bit of humor. The restaurant was beginning to fill up around 10am so I finished my writing, paid my bill, and headed toward the beach. While I was spreading out a towel on the sand I heard my phone ring. Fifteen minutes later I remembered that someone had called me so I checked to see if I had any messages. I was gazing at the ocean when I heard my friend Bob’s voice telling me that Chairman Andy had died. The waves rolled onto the shoreline and then rolled back out. I stared at this force of nature as it repeated itself a few more times. The sun beat down on me and I vaguely noticed the sounds of other beachgoers who were enjoying this beautiful California day. For a few long moments I did nothing, felt nothing. Time seemed to stand still even though that sounds a bit corny. Eventually I replayed Bob’s message. Then I played it again. After hearing it for the third time I disconnected the line and put the phone back in my bag. I felt surprisingly calm. The ocean rolled, the sun shone, and I planted the soles of my feet on the ground so I could sift the sand between my toes. Over the next few hours my thoughts did not stray far from Andy. The beach is a magical place for me and I felt glad that I was visiting the one locale that always reminds me that we humans are simply a part of a greater plan. I found myself clinging to a small ray of hope that perhaps Andy had not really passed on. Bob would never knowingly relay erroneous information, but maybe he had come across some type of twisted Internet rumor that had no basis in truth. I soaked in the sunshine and decided to wait until I got home to call Bob. After returning to my apartment I dialed his number and discovered that Andy had indeed died on May 21, 2011.
Over the past 8 years Andy and I had corresponded via the bulletin board on my website and/or with e-mails on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Now I knew why he had fallen silent for a longer period of time than normal. Like all of Andy’s other friends I wonder why Andy had to depart our world so soon. I will miss his pithy insights and his razor-sharp wit. He just cracked me up. We laughed at a lot of the same things. I remember writing about my experience with The Most Miserable Woman in Los Angeles a few months ago. Andy totally understood my sentiments. That woman was 220 lbs. of malice packed onto a 5’2 frame. She was working inside the Cashier’s Office of Department 141 at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse when I had shown up there to pay a fine. I felt glad that a plexiglass shield separated me from the vitriol that spewed from her mouth as she lit into me for bringing the wrong paperwork. Funny, she did accept my paperwork at the end of her rant. Turns out that she really had no choice. In fact, she could have simply taken both my documents and my check without commentary and then moved right on to the next person who was waiting in the line that literally went out the door and into the hallway. To me that woman represents the small minority of people who purposely pump hatred into routine, everyday encounters. Kind of like the person who leans full-bore on the horn if it takes you a second to notice that a traffic light has turned green. Kind of like the person who goes into a restaurant and looks for reasons to insult the wait staff. I mention all this because Andy represented the polar opposite of all these tortured souls. He did his best to make everyone happy. Andy was one of the kindest, most generous, thoughtful people that I have ever met. He expressed his warmth to anyone who chose to offer a greeting, have a casual conversation, or write a message to him. Additionally, he had the ability to make me laugh out loud when I was sitting alone inside my living room. I have pages upon pages of posts on my website bulletin board that reveal both his caring nature and his irreverent sense of humor. Over the past few days I have laughed and cried as I reread many of them. Andy’s death has compelled me to pore over his words and then reflect more upon his character than I had ever done during his life. In the wake of his passing I feel, as always, very connected to the benign power of the universe, to this nearly unimaginable force that creates the ocean tides, presides over countless births and deaths, and governs our actions. From my perspective Andy seemed to lack hubris. He was a sweet, humble soul – albeit an extremely intelligent, sarcastic one – who just hoped that people would return the kindness that he extended to them. That takes a lot of strength and at times it can be a very hard way to live. I do not know where Andy is right now, but I believe that the universe has ushered him forth to a better place.
Andy, I feel the tears in my eyes as I write this. From 2003 – 2011 you and I both experienced the deaths of numerous of our loved ones. We had ample opportunity to discuss our opinions about the so-called “afterlife”. I never thought that you would go there so quickly, my friend. Stacy, Hollywood, and I are just in utter shock. Numerous members of my website have expressed both their sorrow and their desire to help me however possible as I come to terms with your passing. Many have commented on the nature of the special bond that you and I shared. Your blithe spirit and benevolent nature have touched so many people. I will make every effort to carry on your legacy of treating others with compassion and respect. You changed my life, Andy, by filling so many of my days with fun, laughter, and the generosity of your spirit. Thank you. You are in my heart and in my soul.
Andy, Stacy Burke, Hollywood, and I shot the above photos during Andy’s last visit to Los Angeles in November, 2010.