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RIP: Joel Brockmyre -- Strappin Dude, Fighter

May 06, 2013

Here's a memoriam for Joel Brockmyre, a longtime pal who has gone to Valhalla ahead of us. He had a rough last while but got to leave in his prime. No fading for him, or years of walkers.

Now, before I tell a bit about the fun times we had, I'd like to lay a couple practical things on you. Joel died of cancer. However, he beat it back a few times and lasted longer than expected with the type he got. I asked him what he credited for his remissions: He said "Eat living foods and remember yourself always."

So apparently he benefited during his cancer from a very healthy diet and would suggest it to everyone all the time.

And he hinted at self-awareness and making efforts to see oneself. This in turn usually implies "see yourself as others do without taking their responses personally." Don't get lost or submerged in assumptions but work to keep your eyes open about yourself.

Now, living foods seems extreme to some. But its ideas, such as with sprouting, aren't too hard to include at least as an aspect of a diet. The famously long-lived Caucasus Mountain people relied on sprouted foods, uncooked foods and fermenting. The Causasians didn't have much firewood so they dried a lot and mashed a lot. In short there are other ways to improve digestibility than with heat. They also happened to not believe in direct cooking over a fire. Cooking meat over its own burning juices has recently been shown to be a troublesome source of cancer risk. Those people benefited from practices developed over thousands of years that gave longevity.

What reformers sometimes note is that modern life developed from the idea that people are expendable and exploitable. "3rd World" cultures could at least occasionally come across approaches that improved both quality of life and longevity.

(I don't think Joel would mind me getting on the high horse on his behalf.)

So... Joel and I were housemates in Breckenridge, CO, in the mid-80's then we went and adopted a sailboat out in LA in '87 -- with me just out of a thigh-cast! No stopping us! Unstoppables. We were the 3 Musketeers. Joel, Mike and I lit up LA as best we could, which wasn't too badly. (That's Joel in the back in the pic and Mike in front.) We bought fancy thriftstore suits and hit the nightclubs after days of working on the sailboat. I remember the first time we sailed 'er out of the breakwater of Marina Del Rey. It was a spankin' breeze and she got the bone in 'er teeth. We were grinning to no end. We ALMOST didn't turn back. Mexico, here we come! It was like an apartment afloat. We had all we needed! Well, we had a great summer on that boat.

An older friend owned a big building in downtown LA that didn't have a tenant. He told us we should open an afterhours club -- just invite him. I did open an office there in the fall. But we never did the club. The Brat Pack literary stars were making their mark. We thought we'd make ours. That's when I decided to do OYB.

I remember we wore our suits to the LA County Art Museum once. We hung out there all day. At one point we decided we'd be part of the art. We started standing and sitting in various places in poses. Then we'd change 'em up. Somehow we thought that was clever and funny.

Joel was a natural leader. He was a caretaker, a manager. He could orchestrate. Even when I last saw him in California his house was still clearly a hub for a wide range of social life. And he was a construction GC. After our sailboat time he went back to Breck and built a mountain house from scratch (and from largely salvaged materials) and generated a massive nest-egg after selling it a few years later. As his sister said recently: a "scalawag." ...Always game!

Joel and Mike were the original Strappin' Dudes. (Or Straplins. Or just Strap.) I was adopted in. We hosted Renaissance Dinners at our downtown condo in Breck that didn't stop rockin' for years.

The pics show the dudes in our heyday. And quite a heyday it was. Worth the price of admission, I'd say.

When I settled in at Breck I started looking for funnier, more thoughtful folks to hang with. That's when I met Joel and Mike through my other pal Randy. They took me in. We kept the meter pegged quite nicely.

Joel packed more into his half century, with more style... Yeah, it's not quantity that matters but the quality. He wasn't fancy but he did what he thought was important and that was fresh air and good living with his friends.

Family was also high on his list. He came from a big, tight Irish clan. He went back to them, too. They did great.

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