I had a brief exchange with a friend on facebook about how she would use his full name and I tell her how he used to be annoyed when I used the full middle name (“Armando”), and she says she always thought it was sexy. So there you go, Mo, one last time to be a sexy beast.
Here’s a song where I sampled his voice from a voicemail he left me — at 2’58”, that’s Mo saying “I’m a sick boy, I need my medicine”: https://soundcloud.com/yukbon/someone-has-my-key
vignettes, featuring mo:
- I had a car before he did, so I’d usually be the one to drive us around; it only had an FM radio so we were sort of stuck with whatever was on air. He would usually sing the lead because I sang poorly, although I did get better by singing along to weezer and toadies. For entertainment we’d translate the songs into spanish as we went, along to the radio (that’s a lot harder than it sounds, try it). One time, I think it was because Guitar Center had just opened and they had an opening day 10-drumsticks-for-ten-bucks deal, I had drumsticks in the car. So we both started pounding on the dash along to whatever was playing. Remember, POS car, so no A/C, so he’s slapping his hand on the roof for the bass drum. The couple in the lane next to us on the way to Westland mall just stared at us like we were insane.
- When he got his first piece-of-shit car — I forget what it was, but he nicknamed it “Sharky”, I think inspired at least in part because I’d nicknamed my car “Frankenstein” (because it was mostly a white Ford Escort, except for the baby blue driver’s door and fender) — but it had those headlights that flip up, except one would not flip so it sort of looked like one of those puppies with the floppy ear and he was driving with both feet and he’d go straight from foot-on-the-gas to foot-on-the-brake, which was jarring as fuck. I think when I showed him to use one foot and to let the car coast a bit before braking, we both had a little regretful reflective moment that he didn’t have some family member to teach him. Which is not a knock on his family; he was the youngest — a fact his father told him was because he was an unwanted accident — and his older siblings had left the house way earlier.
- When I was 19 or 20, I’d gotten into a huge blow up with my dad and I called Mo, just crying, a fucking wreck, I couldn’t even tell him the whole fucking thing because it was too long, I just asked him if he’d play Daniel Johnston’s “happy time” over the phone for me. He did it without asking and I said thank you and hung up and we talked about it later. We talked seriously about moving out, getting the fuck out of Miami. He was pushing for Dallas, but I was thinking Panama City where a mutual friend had moved and recommended to us. In the end, I was too scared to go and our plans fizzled.
- We had a running joke, that any dream’s hidden meaning was that you were gay. (“I dreamt I was driving my old car” “You know what that means?” “No” “That means you’re gay”). No homophobia meant; one of his brothers was gay and I know that he had many gay friends that he loved and respected (even in high school; I was such a naif that when he told me there were lots of gay or bi kids in our friends group, my reaction was an incredulous “really?!”). I say “our friends group,” but the reality is that most were friends with Mo, although he’d probably deny it, he was certainly charming and charismatic and inspired a sincere confidence in friendships.
- Mo’d had long hair in Jr high and high school, a sort of mushroom cut kind of thing, but he had a harsh receding hairline and after highschool when he started to work he started shaving his head. I had long hair, like, down to my nipples long. Capt. and I were over at Mo’s place on Sunset and Capt went out to get a drink or gas or something and while he was gone I got a wild hair up my ass and asked Mo to shave my head. Mike left and I had long hair and when he got back, poof, gone. Mo’s first words when he did it were “You know, I think you should dye it blond.”
- Eden was art director at this gallery downtown, the wallflower gallery, and Mo was tending bar as a favor (and for tips) and Ron his roommate thought someone was starting some shit with him and he came running down the stairs, “Nobody lays a hand on my roommate!” It was sweet but hilarious.
- He tried not to curse, he’d call you a jerkmuffin pretty easily though. Maybe that was just me, though. He was definitely an Elvis man, and his two favorite football teams were the Cowboys (because he’d romanticized the city he was born in, Dallas,) and whoever was playing the Dolphins.
I’m sad he’s gone, and I sort of can’t believe it. Like….really? He actually did it? That’s not supposed to happen. He’s supposed to have a close call and then get better. It still feels like a shitty joke. It really feels like any second he’s going to go naaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh and say “I was just joshin’ you, I’m a josher”.
I’m not grieving his loss — I lost my best friend Mo years and years ago and I did my grieving then. I remember Eden laughing at me when all that shit went down, “You still believe in best friends?” Mo was the last one of that ilk for me. About 2009 or 2010, Eden called me — he’d been living in the same city as Mo and had spent time with him — and asked if I’d still be willing or interested in talking with Mo or being his friend again. I said no, I didn’t think we had anything to talk about. I’d stopped hating him and moved on, and I can only assume that he did as well. Our time as best friends had come to it’s end and we’d gone our separate ways and had had lives and experiences apart. I only briefly met his wife once while they were married (and a few times before they were married). He was, if not devout all the time, certainly a committed Christian, and largely responsible for my own interest in Christianity when we were playing music together. I was around when he moved from administration to bartending, but I don’t know anything about his transition from bartender to the hotel business. I don’t know anything about his divorce or his move to California and likewise he knew little or nothing of my life after we parted ways. But even now at this far remove, he’s part of my life. That spark you get when you recognize something of yourself in another person and you instant know This Person Is One Of Mine. He had that, for a lot of people.
I had that fleeting thought: what if I’d said yes? What if we were friends? Would he have called me up? Would I have known to stop him? Could I have talked him down? He always did have his depressive episodes, and honestly it was something that we bonded over — not just he and I but certainly that too. There’s something about meeting someone who knows, if not your own pain, what that type of pain is like. His last note alluded to a triggering event, and I know I’m not alone in wishing he’d just fucking found a different way to deal with it, whatever it was. It’s tempting to be angry, to vent that anger and frustration, that feeling of impotence and perhaps blame the victim. To call them selfish. To call them cowardly. It’s unjust and it’s a painful reflex reaction. He could get low, really low. And not having been in his shoes and felt his pain directly, to judge his exit harshly is — while understandable — unkind.
The truly terrible thing about that type of mental anguish is how alone you feel and, from the outside, how difficult it is to reach someone who is feeling like that. Even if every single one of the people mourning him now had told him how much he meant to them, how much joy he’d added to their lives and how much they appreciated him and his presence in their lives, would it have gotten through? I hope so. But now all we have is his admonition to reach out to people who suffer from depression and share our love with them and not let them feel alone.