I got a phone call from Adam Pfahler today. He told me that his old bandmate/our mutual friend Lance Hahn had died, and that he was calling everyone he could think of, to tell them the news right away so they wouldn't find out later through some Web post or something. I guess this is one of those Web posts.
Before I was a friend of Lance, I was a fan of Lance. I saw his band Cringer open for Citizen Fish only once, but I had all of the band's vinyl. I saw his next band J Church a few times (once with Monsula and again with the Delta 5) before I met him. Immediately, the band joined The Clash as my co-favorite band. Catchy yet smart, political but fun, and completely DIY--the perfect soundtrack to my everyday toiling.
I think it was aftter a show at The Coop at UCLA when he introduced himself to me. He was a fan of Giant Robot, compliemented me on my Hello Kitty article from our second issue, and even used some GR art for a T-shirt. As a result, I felt less like an obsessed fan than a peer.
J Church began to stay at my house when the band would play L.A., and he and I became pretty good friends. He could write a killer song about anyone from Jean Beaudrilliard to Eric Dolphy, but he could also obsess over Wong Kar-Wai movies, old robot toys, vegetarian Chinese food, and just about everything else that matters.
When Wendy and I were planning our wedding last year, I asked Lance if J Church could play our Chinese banquet. Unfortunately they planned to be in L.A. a week too late, but that was a perfect J Church moment, since (1) they always had tour snafus, (2) Adam's band proved to be perfect, and (3) I got to spend more time hanging out with Lance since I wasn't so busy with the business of getting hitched.
Right after that tour, Lance had some serious health problems. Being in and out of the hospital for various ailments kept him off the road and away from L.A., but I had talked to his girlfriend Liberty a bit last month and had a few long conversations with Lance as well. He was feeling good and confident about regaining his health and writing new songs. Last week, he suddenly entered a coma during dialysis.
In a Cringer song, he song: "I used to sing about death before, but I don't sing that song no more / There are some things in life like watching West Side Story / There are some things in life like eating at Pancho Villa's."
When Adam called, I wasn't eating a burrito in the Mission, his old neighborhood in San Francisco, but having shave ice at Waiola in his hometown of Honolulu, and that was pretty close. Even so, it's horrible not to miss a good friend like Lance. It's even more terrible for the world to lose such a talent, and truly incomprehensible what Liberty must be suffering.
Think of Liberty, think of Lance, and be grateful for people you care about. Listen to J Church, too.