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Topic: A Little More About Simon Brand

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Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 5736

A Little More About Simon Brand

Years ago I said that I would write a bit more about my friend Simon Brand. Even people who have been reading [tw] for that long probably don't remember anything about it, but I know some will.

In fact, an old fan of Simon and his music recently found those words and called me on it. He's trying to put more of the story together, and hoped I'd finally say a little more.

I don't have time to write the whole story: this was a friendship with a very deep, very (VERY) troubled (tormented!) and intense person. Still, I can at least provide some hints in the form of a list of "highlights," which perhaps I can return to later to add more detail.

  • His arrival in Vermont

  • Woodworking

  • Carving

    This is a "self-therapeutic" statue that Simon carved out of a piece of firewood. It really does say a lot about his state of mind. (Note the fist, and the face.)

    Simon's Statue   Simon's statue

    It sits on a shelf in my office. Although the years have dulled the edges of Simon's suicide, and then Dave's and (especially) Shane's deaths eclipsed it, this angry figure glaring at me from my wall has always been able to bring the memories back for a few minutes.

    If you click on the first picture, you'll see that (in the larger version) there are three items under the carving:

    • At the back is a really bad picture of Simon taken on the trip to Florida. Darren and I agreed that although it's a bad picture, it's also a very "real" picture. Unfortunately, I can't find it at the moment, or I'd post that, too.
    • In the middle is an airmail envelope. It's a letter from Simon's wife, and it contains a cassette. He was terrified of it, and refused to open it: he was pretty sure it was his kid(s?) being prompted by "Mommy" to tell Daddy how much they missed him. (Simon and his wife were having serious problems, and were already divorced.) Again, when he left he told me to keep it... he even told me to listen to it, though I never have. The envelope remains unopened.
    • At the front is a letter he sent from England after he went home. This was shortly after Nirvana's Kurt Cobain died (which broke another piece of Simon's heart): the letter is written in the language of Bevis and Butthead, and talks about Cobain's death (along with lots of other stuff).
  • The guitar

    Simon came to the U.S. with his "favorite guitar." When he left, he told me to keep it (in the meantime, he'd spent some time trying to teach me to play it). His only instructions were to "only use steel guitar strings for an electric guitar." (The guitar is not electric.)

    The boy could play, but of course anybody who knows Simon already knows that. A professional Jazz musician in the area would sometimes come to the house to visit with Trevor and Jenny Tebbs (the family with which we were living). The first time he came over while Simon was there was amazing: everyone in the house was musical (with myself at the bottom of the scale), but those two quickly fell into music-speak. That is, the mouths closed, the guitars came out, and they jammed for over an hour. Simon played circles around the other guy (who was quite good), but what I remember best was the way these two just fell into the music, and took the rest of us in with them.

  • The guitar is still here. :-)

  • Tae Kwan Do

  • Chess

  • Pool (Billiards)

  • Driving to Florida in a Blizzard, with Darren

  • Humor (Ping Pong!)

  • His family

  • Return to England

  • The letter

  • Suicide

That's not a complete list. Perhaps more will come to me if/when I write more.


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