Tuesday, May 15, 2018


When Tommy moved to California, one of the last things he said to me was "Keep an eye on my little brother for me."

Tommy and I had been friends since we were 15, and he's the one who taught me about veganism and straight edge. He introduced me to Coalesce and Earth Crisis. He invited me to join Cherem even though all I had was a knock-off Stratocaster and had never played anything heavier than Blink 182 covers. I felt like owed it to him. It also felt like a pretty simple task.

It was not.

Conor didn't do anything unless he could fully commit to it. He was always up for anything—whether it was a great idea or a terrible one. And he had a lot of terrible ideas.

At one point in the mid-2000's, almost all of my friends lived in an apartment building downtown with a vegan coffee shop and a tattoo shop on the bottom floor, and music venue just down the street. It was across from the Gateway Mall, and right next to the homeless shelter. We called it "The Block" and hung out there all the time. If you were ever bored, you just showed up at The Block, and you'd find someone to have lunch with, a game of 31 to kill time with, or a game of Cee-lo to lose real money on. Every week, we did Sunday movie night at the theater across the street, and everyone went. As long as there was something playing, we saw a movie.

One Sunday night, Conor and I walked over to the mall to check what movies were playing, and what time they started (pre-smart phones was a weird time). There was something playing that he really wanted to see, lobbied hard for it, and convinced me. We checked the time, and started walking back to round up everyone else. I don't remember what we chose, but that wasn't the important part. As we crossed the street, a guy walked past us going the opposite direction. He made eye contact with Conor, said "Nice jacket, man." and kept walking.

I looked over, and Conor had this look like someone had just spit right in his face. We got to the other side of the street, and he stopped walking, looked at me, and pointed back across the street to the guy we'd passed. He was a ways away from us by then, cutting through the vacant lot, on his way to wherever he was going.

"What did that guy say?" asked Conor. I was a few steps ahead, and Conor was standing on the corner, staring back at him. He was at least 500 feet away, still walking, not looking back, and just continuing on with his life. I was so confused.

"The guy we passed crossing the street?" I asked.
"Yeah," said Conor. "He said something."
"He liked your jacket," I said. "I think 'Nice jacket, man' were his exact words. Even I heard that."
"Yeah, but what did he mean?" he asked.
"Probably meant that he likes the jacket you're wearing," I said. "It's a nice jacket."
There was a long pause.
"I think he was talking shit," said Conor.
"He absolutely was not," I replied.
"No he was," said Conor. "I don't like the way he said it, dude."
"Conor, he just said he liked your jacket. That's it. That's all it was."
"He was talking shit."
"I promise you that he was not."
There was another long, silent pause, like we were in the dumbest standoff of all time. Suddenly, Conor took his hands out of his (what truly was a nice jacket) pockets, pulled up his pants, threw his hood up over his head, and started to cross the street.
"Fuck that," he said. "He was talking shit."
I grabbed his arm and pulled him back. Even then he was taller and bigger than I was. If he really wanted to, he could have kept going, but he turned back around.
"Nope!" I said. "We're not doing this."
"Oh I'm doing it!"
"Conor, I'm not going to let you fight a guy for telling you he likes your jacket."
"He was—"
"No. He wasn't. He just wasn't. Let's go inside."

Conor took a few deep breaths, and stormed off towards the back door of The Block that was always broken. We walked inside, and headed up the stairs. I opened the door to the second floor, where most of our friend's apartments were, but Conor kept going. "I'm going up to Sias's," he said. He started skipping steps to get up to the fourth floor. I yelled the movie time after him, so he wouldn't forget. He didn't respond, and I went to find everyone else.

An hour later, we were in the lobby of the movie theater, and Sias walked in. Alone. Conor wasn't with him, so I asked where he was.

"Oh he went home," said Sias.
"Went home?" I said. "He chose the movie."
"Said he didn't feel like seeing it anymore and left."
"Was he still mad that I wouldn't let him fight that guy?"
Sias chuckled a little bit, "He mentioned something about that. He said the guy was talking shit."
I opened my mouth to say something, but just took a deep breath and went into the theater, Sias laughing behind me.

I didn't see Conor for almost a week. When I finally ran into him later that weekend, he walked straight up to me, with his huge goofy smile that you could always see from across the room. He shook my hand and led off with his signature, "Oh hey."
"You missed the movie," I said.
"Yeah..." he said. "Hey, I'm really glad you didn't let me fight that guy."
"Just trying to keep you out of trouble," I said, sort of laughing.
"I was so mad at you though. For like three days. I didn't even go to The Block. I was just at home being like, 'man, fuck Trevor.' I was so mad."
"I know."
"Then someone else said they liked my jacket. And I was like 'wait maybe that guy really did just like my jacket!' And then I felt way bad."
"God damn it, Conor."
Then we both started laughing.

That wasn't an isolated incident. It happened more times than I can count, and I don't think it was an experience unique to me (everyone was really good at getting into trouble back then) because everyone else treated him like a little brother, too. Every one of us was almost more invested in Conor's well being than our own, so we all tried to keep him close.

Conor was always passionate about anything and everything. He made up his mind in a split second, and there was almost no way to get him to change it. Sometimes it got him into trouble, but other times—especially when he got older—it turned into a story that made everyone laugh because of how ridiculous it was. That was one of the things I loved about him. If he wanted to, he could turn any situation into a positive one, and he often did. It was one of his best qualities, and one that made everyone become his best friend in an instant.


The last few years, I never saw you on purpose, but I always saw you. I never knew where you were or what you were doing, but I always knew I might see you at any given moment. It was kind of a running joke that if we just started talking about you, your ears would start burning, and you'd show up. It was always about fifteen minutes after everything had ended and we were all trying to go home, but you would always just show up, two-stepping across the street trying to make us laugh, and extend the party for a little bit longer.

Every single time I saw you it made me happy. Even if it had been six months, we picked up right where we left off. Sometimes you'd just appear, crouched next to me on the side of the stage at a show, waiting for the perfect opportunity for a stage dive, promising me that you wouldn't hit any pedals, but always hitting at least one of them. Other times, I'd see you at a random restaurant, or walking through the streets on a summer night. You were always traveling, always saving money for the next thing. I was always a little jealous of your adventures, but I loved hearing about them, and always told you that I was coming along on the next one. I knew I was always in for a good story whenever we crossed paths, and I looked forward to seeing you every time.

I still look forward to seeing you again. Rest in power, Conor. Every adventure I go on from here on out is in your honor, and I promise to go on a lot of them. Just for you.