It’s just not possible to trace the fractal-chain of cause-and-effect back to a single Prime Mover moment in your life, usually. Trace the branches back, navigate around the random events, the decisions made or just taken, and hope to find any kind of actual reason for the way you are today, the way you think, and you’ll drive yourself f–king mad with might-have-beens.
Decades ago, Rob Beitel introduced me to a few of the chemicals I’ve enjoyed in my long and bumpy history of self-medication, ones of which, along with all the rest, I no longer partake. I haven’t seen him in nearly two decades. He was found dead recently, in the snow, within sight of his home in Northern BC, half a world away from here, a couple hours away from the town we grew up in. I talked about it a bit on my buddyblog with the Bearman, who knew Rob as well, way back when. Mirrored here because I’m drunker than hell, and sentimental, and having a little one-man wake for Rob tonight.

Rob Beitel’s dead.
It’s odd that that should deflate me the way it does. I barely knew the guy, to be honest. He got me mind-crogglingly stoned a few times, provided me with a few stories I could regale people with, and have, at bars in far flung corners of the planet, I think he f–ked an ex-girlfriend of mine before she actually became an ex, he was a shaggy, bearded, small-town Lizard King with mirror shades and a fast motorcycle.
I wonder if he ever realized what an influence he had on my life. In a small town populated with a vast array of losers and wanna-be’s, he was damn near the Real Thing. Meaning, of course, that he wasn’t anything like the Real Thing, but when I was young and unschooled in the ways of the world, he seemed near enough to me, damn it. Dissociated, vague, cool.
I remember an evening when I was still a teenager, the Bearman and I at Rob’s girlfriend’s apartment (she of the Trans-Am, which may or may not have had a large, glam-rock flame appliqué on the hood, but that’s the way I remember it), smoking. More than ever before, and probably more than ever since. It may have been the first time I took more than a toke or two. There was rye whiskey, of course, which was all Bearman and I would drink when we were teenagers, and there was an insanely large, complicated, twisty glass bong. There were hash brownies. We smoked and drank and smoked and nibbled. We sang songs. After what may have been minutes or hours, I had gotten to the point where, when I moved my head, my eyes would track to follow a second or two later. This I found uproariously funny, and Rob seemed to take some pride in this cherry-breaking drug-induced first. I don’t know if Zeppelin IV was playing, but it should have been. The next thing I remember was staggering around, alone and drooling, on the road to the elementary school, which had inexplicably developed a 45 degree list. I think I slept in a ditch for a while. Good thing it was summer, I guess.
Another time, again the Bearman, Rob and I. A cold night in the city of Prince George, at Rob’s aunt’s house I believe. One of those nights where you’re not quite sure where the hell you are, but glad at least to be inside. There was fungal psilocybin, a lot of it. Rob and I sitting up all night, while Bearman tried in vain to sleep, cackling joyfully, tripping. My jaws were sore, and tears streaming from my eyes, and it was one of the most purely enjoyable chemical experiences in my life.
Yet another time, Barry and I driving that Trans-Am for some reason, Rob following us on the bike. (In hindsight, I suspect there was probably a kilo or two in the trunk, and plausable deniability was the order of the day. What the hell did we know?) He pulled a wheelie somewhere just outside Fort Saint James, and as we approached Vanderhoof, nearly 50 kilometres later, he was still up on one wheel. We shook our heads in dude-respect, took a drink, and mumbled ‘crazy bastard’ to one another in admiration.
He was a f–king legend in my mind, at least, was Rob Beitel. I haven’t seen him in half a lifetime, and now I never will. Drugs took him, it would seem, which was probably what was expected. Sad and pitiful to die in the snow, freezing slowly, it might be said, but at least in character, and maybe that’s what Rob would’ve wanted. Burn out, don’t fade away.
Rock on, you crazy motherf–ker, wherever the hell you are. Rock on.

Comments? comments.

Reminiscences, Uncrappy