DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Thirty-Nine.
Sunday 2006.12.24, 12:33 AM CST.

A Bizarre Set of Christmastime Reflections.

Hello, friends and fans, and Merry almost-Christmas to you.

Well, this has been a very interesting year for me.  If you had walked up to me at the beginning of this year, and told me what would happen over the course of the following twelve months, I would have said that you were crazy.

After my department was essentially betrayed by the company for which I had worked my "day job" for almost seven years, I walked away from a very high-paying and excruciatingly stressful position in search of some sort of freedom.  Nine days after I left, my fianceé and I found out that we were expecting a child next year.  Wow.  So, I took a bit of time to calm down and depressurize, then got another (better, but not as profitable) job.  Artistically, I managed to do a few good remixes and worked on a few original pieces, then hooked up (artistically) with a beautiful and talented local vocalist for some great collaborative work.  I made a lot of new friends, and I had a few friends turn into my enemies.  Finally, this month, I found out that my dad (diabetic cancer survivor) had been diagnosed with glaucoma.

Now, Lanna and I are ending the year in a fairly stable emotional state, getting ready to (hopefully) marry next month and wondering where the next year is going to take us.

So, I'm sit here after an evening of eating Indian food and checking out the Christmas lights at Spunky Creek, currently listening to Gwen Stefani's "Wonderful Life" (amazing song, with Martin Gore of Depeche Mode on guitar) and thinking about the past.

I am often fascinated by anniversaries of events, and this December is one that has a quite intriguing 5-10-15-20-25 year memory chain going back.

Five years ago, my then-girlfriend Katy broke up with me the night before Thanksgiving, and stayed in Oklahoma for about another month.  I actually helped her pack her stuff into her car the night before she drove off, just a few days before Christmas.  I spent a good deal of the Christmas season trying to piece myself together and playing way too much Return To Castle Wolfenstein.  Following that breakup, in early 2002, I started my obsession with neckties, which was followed soon afterward by my obsession with colognes, and I drastically changed my image.

Ten years ago, I was still in college, with no girlfriend at the time, spending most of my spare time hanging out at Critic's Choice Video with my good friend Tim (aka DJ TMJ).  If I'm not mistaken, that was the Christmas season that I brought a VHS pressing of Jorg Buttgereit's Nekromantik (an extremely gruesome and disturbing film) to the video store and we watched it there after-hours.  It was also around the time that I started eating vegetarian hot dogs (though I didn't become a complete vegetarian for three more years).  Critic's Choice would close down under a year later, and its spot is now occupied by a Blockbuster Video.  What a testament to Tulsa's support of independent businesses!

Fifteen years ago, I was kind of weary from a year full of changes.  I had a decent new girlfriend, a new college, and many new friends.  That was the only Christmas season during which I was a member of the Rogers State College "Edge of Insanity" radio crew, and I helped them out with a couple of charity-based events.  I remember DJing at a Rogers State College charity dance, and being dreadfully ill with stomach problems while doing it - but the show had to go on, especially since it was benefitting underprivileged children.  There was a gorgeous goth-ish young lady at the event who asked me to play the Bauhaus classic "Bela Lugosi's Dead," and even though I didn't think it would go over well, I happened to have a 12" picture disc of the song with me, so I played it.  The requestor was the only person who danced to it... but she put on the most sensual and erotic (yet fully-clothed) dance that I ever saw at any of my EKG DJ events.

Twenty years ago, I was obsessed with gaming on my Apple IIe, absolutely loved The Cosby Show and Moonlighting, and I ate Wendy's Big Classic burgers almost every chance I could get.  I was also close friends with an eccentric elderly gentleman named Tom Hayes.  Mr. Hayes had been a family friend for years, and since I didn't have many friends in school, I saw him almost like a sort of "grandfather figure."  Unfortunately, approximately one year before, he had been diagnosed with cancer of the blood vessels.  Yes, cancer of the blood vessels.  The cancer spread like proverbial wildfire, and by this point, he couldn't take proper care of himself, so his children were coming in from around the country, taking "shifts" every few weeks to look after him.  On Christmas Eve morning, 1986, my mum woke me up at about 10:00 AM, and told me tearfully that Mr. Hayes had passed away.

Mr. Hayes had died in his sleep, and his son - whose "turn" it had been to take care of him - had to break the news to his three sisters when they arrived from a cross-country trip to visit their dad for Christmas.  It was a terrible, terrible time.  Per his own request, Mr. Hayes was buried in a very plain, simple wooden box following a very plain, simple funeral ceremony three days later.

Ironic trivia:  The day before, my mum and I had gone to the video store and rented three films, two of which were The Survivors and Better Off DeadBetter Off Dead immediately became one of my favourite movies of all time, as it actually helped break me out of the dismal feelings caused by Mr. Hayes' death.

Then, within a week, I received an extremely hateful and insulting letter from a young lady that I knew in another nearby city.  While I won't go into details right now, the letter itself was so hurtful that it sent me into about a year's worth of absolutely horrible self-loathing and depression.  That's a whole other story, though...

Twenty-five years ago, I received my first Atari 2600 ("Atari VCS") from my parents for Christmas, along with the games "Combat," "Space Invaders," "Asteroids," and "Superman."  I was absolutely elated.  Of course, the 2600 would change my life... and even now, I still collect games for it.

Still, even though that was an incredibly significant moment in my life - receiving the console that would essentially spark a massive obsession with early home video games - that hasn't been on my mind a lot lately.

Of all the above, the one event that has been on my mind more than any other - by a long shot - has been the death of Mr. Hayes in 1986.  It is extremely difficult to believe that twenty whole years have gone by since he passed away.  I hope he has been doing well up in Heaven, and that he has been with me in spirit during my few proud moments since his demise.

Here's to you, Tom...  Thanks for everything.