Lost In Translation – For Reals
I just landed in Tokyo. It’s my third time here, and it doesn’t get any less weird. I’ve been all over the world, and all over Asia, and this is the most foreign place I’ve ever visited. Nothing makes sense here. Everywhere else I’ve been there’s some sort of standard of figuring things out. In Japan, and especially Tokyo, that’s all out the window.
So it’s fitting that I ended up here on New Year’s Day. A new day, a new year, a new adventure. And a new milestone. 1,000 words a day. Every day. In 2019.
Writing For Rodney.
It’s been almost 3 years since I lost any best friend. Rodney Speed. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in Holland and got a call in the middle of the night. A text, really. From Erin Ricigliano. As soon as I saw it I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. The man I had come to known as my best friend for the past 18 years was gone.
Rodney Speed was my best friend. My little brother and my big brother last the same time.He was 8 years older than me, black, and autistic, we think. It’s hard to say, really. He was a genius, that’s for sure, A Rock N Roll Warrior. Ive never met anybody who knew more about the history of rock n roll music than Rodney did. And that goes for everybody I know. He was a god damn encyclopedia. You could ask him anything and he works know it. But you never actually needed to ask. If he heard you mention a band he would interject with a dissertation of music history.
Rodney knew it all, but never came cross as a know it all. If you mentioned a Beatles song, for example, he would tell you what album it appeared on, and what position of the track listing it was. And he could tell you the difference in track order between the US and UK releases. And what the temperature was fin the room when they tracked the song. He literally knew it ALL. But never made you feel like you didn’t. His passion and energy was infectious. Rodney lived and breathed Rock N Roll, and anyone who was lucky enough to be in his orbit would get pulled in. He could lecture you on the most obscure trivia about songs, players, and minutia. And do it in a way that would draw you in and make you invested.
If it was Rock-related, then Rodney knew it. He could sit and talk for DAYS, literally, about rock n roll. Everything you could hope to know, he knew. And he could sign. it, and play it. It’s not at all overstatement to say he lived and breathe rock n roll music. He was a Savant, but certainly no idiot. He was never diagnosed with anything, but anyone who knew him knew that he was m most certainly, “on the spectrum”. He didn’t really know how to interact with people, unless it was to talk about music, but once he established a common bond with you, then you were in the high speed lane on the information superhighway of rock n roll, and there was no exit. Rodney would suck you in, and you wouldn’t want to get out.
He seemingly knew every band, but the Beatles were his rock. Though garage bands were his roll. Nuggets? Check! HE knew every single garage rock song, and knew who wrote it and sang it and played on it. Every instrument. When we first started to get to know one another, I commented on how good the solo was on Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock N Roll” and he let me know that was Ricky Byrd. And then we listened to “Maybe Im Amazed” by Paul McCartney and he let me know that the iconic guitar parts were played by Denny Lane. A name I had never even heard before, even though I fancied myself as a rock afficionado. Rodney taught me that I had a lot left to learn. And he became my Dean.
He probably read more magazines than anyone I had ever met. He DEVOURED THEM. Every guitar mag, and every music mag.He would spend entire paychecks at the news stand and would carry them around in his backpack. He would memorize every word, and be able to recall it at any time. Rodney housed the most complete set of knowledge abut music and loved to share it with us. Everyone who ever met him was amazed and intrigued by his insights. He could sit and talk for hours about one particular song or album, and then the next day you might run into him and he would wouldn’t even remember you. He didn’t so much speak WITH you, but AT you… He was a treasure trove of info, but the savant in him made it damn near impossible for him to connect with people, outside of just talking at them about rock. But that was Rodney, and that was part of his magic. He was almost like a cat. In that he would sidle up to you when it fit him, and then be completely indifferent when it didn’t But you never took it personally. It was just Rodney being Rodney, And that was his magic.
Rodney was a magical part of my life. He inspired things in me that I didn’t even know existed. He brought out a paternal aspect in me. And inspired brotherly love. And when he passed away, suddenly, at the tender age of 53, it inspired me to run 3 miles every single day in 2016. And now in 2019 Im going to write 1,000 words a day, every day, as a tribute to my fallen brother. A bunch of it will be about Rodney, but all of it will be inspired by Rodney, because he inspires me every single day. I miss him and love him. #Rodspeed