I met Stefan a few years ago through two different friends who were both camping out in Washington DC. I was friends with both of them, but neither of them were really that close, and so on my trips to DC I had to choose carefully how I spent my time so that I could hang out with both of them.
One day, while staying with my friend, William, I was invited to an interesting event called INDIE-TEA at Stefan's apartment in the city. INDIE-TEA was a simple event orchestrated by Stefan whereby he served tea, asked others to bring deserts, and one person was chosen to spin new music of one's choosing. Immediately, upon entering his home, I was struck by Stefan's laid-back attitude and his ability to bring lots of people together for a rather "off the beaten path" sort of event. Not that hanging out and drinking tea is all that crazy, but the event wasn't just some ironic DC hipster event, but was a really cool way to start the week. It was like a reading circle and potluck stirred together with a liberal dose of Independent Music being played while people commented, sipped tea, and ate yummy pastries. While still just a bit on the foggy side, this memory constitutes my first meeting with Stefan.
Fast forward a few years and I meet up with Stefan in Austin, Texas at the wedding of our mutual friend William, who was marrying another mutual friend, Stephanie. I am not sure that Stefan remembered me that well, given that we had only had contact once or twice after INDIE-TEA, but I remembered Stefan. The wedding was pretty fucking cool but, well, by its end we all parted ways and I didn't run into Stefan again for a little while.
AND WE CONNECT
Stefan marries Amy, a beautiful and talented cellist, and on a trip to Philadelphia they find their way onto my floor after a show, and that, I believe, constitutes the beginning of our more formal connection. There was most certainly another meeting in there somewhere, and it ended up in a short hang at another club in Philly with me wearing a suit after a formal event, and then everything starts blending together.
Now this is where my memory goes a bit out of control. Somehow we end up FaceBook friends, and realize that we have another mutual friend, Joe McRedmond, and after a BFL-related trip to DC I was invited to Stefan and Amy's house to eat and reconnect with Joe after about 13 years of separation. The event was chill, and I was on a juice fast, so I sat and watched everybody eat and drink and be merry, while i shot pictures with my new camera.
I HAVE A TOUR PARTNER
What is significant about this event is that Stefan, at that point, knew that he was losing his job, and either I asked or he committed, and next thing that I know I have a partner to help me with the Barred For Life tour, and I couldn't have been happier. Somewhere along the way I just didn't think that I would need a partner for this tour so his commitment allowed me to do a bit more advanced planning because it would both lighten all of the things that I would have to do at each event, and I would have capable help driving across the continental United States.
After more and more planning via FaceBook it became clear to me that Stefan was not only an ambitious tour advocate, but was also very good at getting shit done. Now understand that I have a number of people on my crew working on the book (and I will illuminate them in future posts), but for reasons beyond any of our control, none of them could make the tour. In fact, the idea of somebody traveling for 50 days in a car in late Autumn with me was not only remarkable, but was sort of unbelievable. I thought that I was the only one foolish enough to take unpaid leave of my work, open up my wallet to the forces of the tour, and not know what was going to face me upon completion, but Stefan manned up.
While I would be the only one pulling all 50 days, Stefan was on board for about 35 of them, while his stints away for weddings and recitals were covered by a few other capable hands (also illuminated in future posts) by the names of Jorge Brito (did I get the spelling right), Noe Bunnell, and the lovely Ms. Audrey Dwyer, who so amazingly came to Europe with me to take care of BFL business there (and keep me from going absolutely crazy). At any rate, I was just floored by his commitment and, well, I thought him both the most awesome person in the world and, possilbly, the biggest fool in the world for agreeing to go anywhere with ME for 50 days. I am not the easiest person with whom to share a travel. Just ask my former tour partners and they will tell you, I am a bit of a demanding dick. Oh well, I felt that Stefan was capable of kicking my ass if I stepped out of line, and so I agreed 110% to have him as my partner.
THE TOUR MAN COMETH
The kind and organized Mr. Bauschmid sent to me a list of rental car options, with one of the major suppliers as our best price/value for the tour. We laid our dates on the table, booked a car, and went for broke. Stefan in DC and me in Philly, FaceBook chat, email, and text message got us where we needed to go and the decision to rent either a mini-van or a big car seemed to be our sticking point; a sticking point that we would work out the day that we left.
So I quit my job and he lost his, and on our first day of tour we converged on the AMTRAK station in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up our car. An idea of doing a blog was put on the table, and with a title of "GET IN THE MINI VAN," had a nice ring to it as a parody to Rollins' book GET IN THE VAN. However, the minivan weighed in about about 500 dollars more expensive than the full sized care, and since it was just the two of us, I made the call for the full size.
The disagreement over the choice of rental would not be the only argument that would ensue on our tour of the continental US, but if I must say so I think that we pulled it off very well. I won't bore you all with details since there are 40-some-odd posts from the tour you can look at and glean our experiences, but Stefan's participation on the tour changed me a bit. Of all of the things that I have done in my short lifetime I do believe that my trip across the US with Stefan will stick out to me as one of the most ambitious things that I've done, and will safely admit in retrospect that without his help would have fully fallen apart.
NAME THAT ATTRIBUTE
Thank Stefan for this blog. After spending a few days touring it seemed as though with a bit of boredom in Boston, and his asking me for some quick pix of the various shoots, he had the Barred For Life blog up and running in what seemed to be no time. Fighting it out with a prisoner's blog of the same name, Barred4Life found its way onto the list of accomplishments that I will credit to my design-savvy Austrian partner. After a while I grabbed the reins of the blog, but I could not have started it without his git-r-dunn attitude, and so I am humbled.
Beyond everything that would be expected on a photographic and interview tour of people with Black Flag tattoos, Stefan excelled as my gray-card model, my photographic assistant, the man that encouraged me to stop at McDonalds to eat a Filet-o-Fish every now and again, my "get the fuck in the car" guy, and the man that could do just about everything. Stefan was the McGuyver for the Y2K(+), and a DIY mastermind.
At any rate, I could never say enough good things about being on the road with Stefan, and so I will just let the picture speak to you (and the memories speak to me).
Stefan, thank you for signing up for a Ulyssean adventure. Thank you, unfortunately, won't do justice to your contributions to Barred For Life, but they are the best that I have to give for now.