in Friends and Family, Music, Personal History, YouTube


One of Paul’s many virtues was that he pushed my comfort zone. Sometimes this was problematic, but mostly it was a good thing. In high school, I was very much a “play by the rules” kind of guy. (Mostly, I still am.) Paul sometimes liked to break the rules.

I did not skip a single class period up until my senior year, for example. But then Paul induced me to skip twice. On the first time, we joined a few other kids to watch music videos at somebody’s house. (Details are very hazy in my old-man brain: Tami and Kim J. perhaps? Amy F.? I’m not sure. All I remember is INXS.)

The second time, I remember clearly.

On the 09 March 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree. When Paul and I entered high school, we were unfamiliar with the band. I heard them during the first week of my freshman year. I’m not sure if I introduced them to Paul, but I believe it’s likely. In any event, by the end of our senior year, he and I were both hooked on them. We owned all their LPs and many of their rare singles.

So when the new album came out, it only seemed natural to skip school to buy it. After lunch, we hopped into my dirty old Datsun 310gx and drove to Tower Records. We each bought a copy of the LP, and I picked up my first “cassingle” — “With or Without You” on cassette tape. We were back to school before the final bell.

I’ve always treasured the memory of that day. It seems to typify the Paul and J.D. relationship.

Here are two songs from my favorite U2 album, The Unforgettable Fire. Both have been in my mind lately. First up, the best U2 song ever: “Bad”. This is the amazing Live Aid performance that I’ve shared here before: “If I could, through myself, set your spirit free, I’d lead your heart away, see you break, break away, into the night and through the day.”

And then there’s this, which is doubly-apt since today is MLK day. I’ve been singing it to myself all morning: “Sleep, sleep tonight, and may your dreams be realized. If the thundercloud passes rain, so let it rain, let it rain, rain on me.”

I’ve held back the tears until now, but watching these videos…so cathartic.

There’s a memorial service for Paul in Eugene this Wednesday afternoon. If you’re interested in attending, please let me or Tom know. Paul’s parents are trying to pull something together for Portland this Saturday, too. I’ll post when I know more information.

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  1. This is all really starting to sink in and now my heart hurts. If the first day you are thinking about is the same one I am, we went to Kim’s house. (My only skip day.) Did your car have a weird stick shift that was backward or something? Didn’t we hide your car too and you got really mad? I think someone got thrown into Kim’s pool. Man I just wish I could give everyone a hug.

  2. I was there on that skip day too! (Not the Tower Records trip)You got in your Datsun with Tami and Kim. I got in my yellow Toyota with Paul. We all went to Dairy Queen and got Blizzards to go and took off racing accross town to Kim J’s house. I am sure the Toyota won. Or, atleast led once since I remember Paul leaning out the window of the car trying to flick spoonfulls of chocolatey goodness onto your windshield at 30 MPH! We intended on studying. I think we actually did start out studying – let’s say we did! Then, we proceeded to have great fun. I’m pretty sure the person Tami remembers being thrown in the pool was Paul. He threw himself in before we all could! That was a blast. We HAD to skip. I know I was scheduled for 6 or 7 tests that day and needed more study time. I was 18 so I could write my own notes for the attendance office. Everyone else NEEDED to skip too! We were good kids having safe fun and not hurting anybody. We were practicing growing up.

  3. It haunts me to know that he will never IM me again. My heart is heavy and I am numb. He was an agent of change in my life and taught me how to break out of familiar patterns and explore life as a way to find myself. I met him on top of a hauntingly beautiful peak. One of our first interactions was sledding down a 50ft snowbank on a borrowed mattress taken from a dorm for seasonal employees. He was Paul E. Wog, Pauly, Paul and my friend who played a significant role in my life. I miss him dearly and will continue to do so. My heart and tears are with you J.D. and Tom, his family and all who knew Paul like I knew him. He is missed and I hope he is at peace and at rest. This is so very sad.

  4. I appreciated the time at Polly and Steve’s house the other night. I miss Paul very much. I didn’t get to see him as often as I would like, but always felt joy when we ended up together. I have to “second” Paul as an agent of change. After traveling to Costa Rica with several friends, I remember coming back and wanting to be more like Paul. I really appreciated his openess and his love for adventure. He definitely liked to bend the rules, i.e., walking a mile back to our room in the buff right down the middle of the main road. We laughed until we cried. I will continue to carry the joy of Paul with me and treasure the memory of arriving in Cahuita and tossing back a cold beer at Coco’s with him.

    U2 has been a comfort and solace for me much of my life and specifically the songs mentioned in your blog. After my brother’s death in 2004, I have to be careful when and where I listen to their songs because they reach directly into my soul and help me access buried emotions. It will be especially hard to listen to them now.

    I had a chance to hug Paul the last time I saw him a few months back. We were playing paintball in a field bordered by forests. Paul kept leaving the group and disappearing into the forest. He kept drawing us into the woods and several of us asked him to stay in the field with us because it was difficult to find him. Paul refused and kept moving off into the woods. Paul has moved off one more time and I only wish we could find him again.

    I love and miss you, Paul, but know you have found peace.