I did not write anything here yesterday, as I do most workdays. I was, by my standards, a little late. For me being an hour early is being late. I was late enough that my equilibrium tipped.

The day before yesterday I made it to Manhattan Beach. I’d come close to that beach before but never quite made it. It was very hazy and quiet, after what was almost certainly a packed crowd the day before, on July 4. I had no reason to be there, no reason to make the hour+ long trip, except that a conversation with someone the day before included mention of Manhattan Beach. I have no connection whatsoever with the woman who mentioned that she lived there but it was enough to make me think I should get there once and for all. So I did.

I had been through Brighton Beach, so getting there was familiar. The B bullet train runs express much of the way but it is still a long 45 minutes from 42nd Street to the Brighton Beach station.

Maybe it was a bit of escapism for the task I’d been unexpectedly charged with the previous 3 or 4 evenings. I’ve been helping to write the obituary for a friend who died June 30. His passing was not unexpected, although doctors had given him 6 months to live. He didn’t even get 2. It was glioblastoma, a most common and virtually unstoppable form of brain tumor. He was 68, which is a few years younger than I thought. I never asked but somehow had the impression he would have been past 70 by now. His mother lived past 100 and I used to joke with him that with his gene pool he was going to outlive all us drunks and scalliwags.

This was not an unaccomplished individual, but the lead author of the obit and I were hard pressed to find anywhere to publish it save for his college alumni magazine and a newspaper in the small Montana town where he lived.

I first met Joe Gioia in 1995. He was among the first people I ever met in person having connected online, via the nascent world of online communities and dialup BBSes. Social media, as it would come to be known, was a much quiter place back then, though participants of the day would likely never have described it as such. Joe was easily a standout. Always erudite, well-educated, articulate, and informed of a broad range of literary and arcane knowledge. There was always something new from him. Every conversation we had from those first days to just a few months ago he would direct me to some new book, some interesting cultural development. He was, in my estimate, a FAN. I heard another commenter describe him as an ENTHUSIAST. I concur. He had so many interests and so much to say.

I’ll have more to say on this. No doubt. I still am reckoning the fact that he is gone. He sounded off the last time we spoke, but I didn’t ask or say anything. Soon after, in a mercurial moment of social media kismet, I happened to check Instagram where I saw that his ex was visiting Montana. There could only be one reason for her to travel from Brooklyn to Billings, and I had to know. She said it’s a voracious tumor. They gave him 6 months. To iterate, he didn’t even get 2. Suddenly he was gone.

I’d been keeping up appearances, being as upbeat as one can. We try to focus on the positive and get laughs out of the memories. But he’s gone, and never coming back.

Meanwhile my benzo refill finally got prescribed. I read a bit recently about how dangerous banzos really are. Withdrawal from them is not easy, and even impossible for some. But the discussion I read left out key elements. What dosages were people taking that made their lives a living hell when they quit? Did they quit abruptly or did they slowly wind down dosages? It was also in the form of a press release from someone seeking to establish a new entity that targets benzo overprescriptions.

My path to Manhattan Beach started with another walk over the Ed Koch/Queensboro Bridge. I was craving the impending 90 degree day. The sweat, the sun, my body gorging on the vitamin D. I love a good sweat. It’s like my body weeps. It is July already and we have had precious few days like that. It remains hazy with the wildfire detritus but I feel no ill effects and consider myself not vulnerable to AQI of 100.

I wanted to end my day’s journeys at a bar, not for reasons of booziness but because there’s a woman I’ve seen time and again who seems to look me over every single time. We made brief conversation and she was clearly very smart, talented, and interesting. But maybe crazy. She’s my age, too, which would be a bit of a novelty. I did not make it to the bar because the fucking bartender didn’t open the doors on time. I waited 7 or 8 minutes past the official opening time before going home. Some people don’t understand the impact of opening a place of business even 1 minute late. I was not the only person who lost patience. I saw 4 other dudes waiting for the damn door to open