Wednesday, July 13, 2005

RIP: Jeff Himelfarb

I got a call from Alice Spears, who told me that Jeff had died last Saturday of a heart attack. This hit me in a strange, hard sort of way. I had only seen Jeff once in the last decade, and talked to him on the phone a few years ago, but at one point during college, we were very close friends. We did the normal college stuff of staying up all night, discussing politics, the meaning of life, and poetry, especially T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets.

[photo of Doug Turner, Nancy and Jeff from wedding pix]

Adam Gordon, a mutual friend, responded to the news: "The news was a watershed – the last time a contemporary friend died I could respond “he, she, we are so young for ‘X’ to happen”, but this time we are all of the age where nothing should be surprising. Ah well."

I had no information about a funeral or memorial, nor could I have gone to LA to attend one, but nonetheless, it left me with an empty feeling. I feel Jeff deserved something from me, some mention. He was fabulously flawed, like all of us, but was also extremely sincere. When he sat down, and asked "How are you? How have you been?" and laughed nervously, knowing how clich├ęd it might sound, he really meant it. He really did care.

Gone are the days of staying up late at Jeff and Leon's, listening to "Electric Ladyland," talking politics, or joking about "Less donkeys, more corn."

At his first wedding, where I was involved in the wedding party, I recited some poetry from T. S. Eliot, which had to be slightly edited due to a death in the bride's family, but it seems fitting to close with it here. Goodbye Jeff.

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.


Jack Tipple said...

After staying up all night we decided to drive from SF to the top of Mt. Tam because it would be so great to see the sun come up from up there. The windshield of his decaying Opal was so dirty I began to worry how he could see the road. As I asked him "don't you ever clean this thing,?" I noticed his glasses were pretty grungy too. He said he could see just fine. And he probably could see as well and with as much certainty as any of the folks I called friends in those days.
Jeff was always kind to me. He shared everything he had. He gave me work. He laughed often.
I never heard from him after he went back to LA, but his passing leaves me with a cold feeling in my chest. And I wish I could say more than this to help him on his continuing travels.

MB said...

OK...I'll go...Jeff, Geoff, Nancy, Alice, Leon,Dan,Jackie..MAN! GOD! GODDESS! All of us...we went through a true initiation. We have the dubious honor of being part of the first "Isla Vista

I remember a lot of caring, though, and I feel we all really are connected, and had growth to accomplish together. For that I am grateful.

Nancy, Alice, Jackie, and I are all still friends and I feel so honored. Geoff, we don't have much contact, but there are parallels in our lives that are hard to miss. Music, motorcycles, Spirit...all are there. Blessings to Jeff on his journey, and to all of us, too. :-)

Dale said...

please, if anybody still uses this blog site, and I know it it is late, but is there anything else anyone could say about Jeff, his passion and his life. Is there anybody to message that is willing to contribute ...


Ginny Miller said...

If this is the Jeff I knew, he was a really caring person, and quite insightful.
He had a quirky sense of humor, and I will always remember that smooth, deep resonant voice of his.

To put it sweet and simple,
Jeff was cool.
We lost a great guy.