On Sunday I drove up near Modesto to attend the memorial service for my friend Dave Stevens. I brought my long time friend Mark Evanier with me, so between the two of us there was no shortage of comics or show biz related stories. It made the four hour drive pass very quickly. It was a clear, beautiful drive up, through snow-covered mounts in the Grapevine, past the green rolling hills and flatlands of America’s bread basket and farmland fields filled with thousands of cows.
We met Richard and Alice Hescox in Modesto for lunch, prior to the services. It was Richard (a talented paperback cover painter) who brought Dave into our studio on La Brea Avenue. Those of you who know me well know that I have a deep, critical and obsessive passion for good BBQ and Mexican food. I had previously sleuthed out a potentially great BBQ place on Trip Advisor, Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop (Trip Advisor’s #1 restaurant in Modesto: 421 Maze Blvd.; look for the big smoker in the parking lot). The sides were OK (my black-eyed peas arrived cold, actually; the buttery corn bread and desserts were terrific, though), but the meat was phenomenal. Mark said it was the best BBQ he’d ever had in his life. We had a great time with Rich and Alice. Although I hadn’t seen them in decades, it seemed like we’d just seen each other yesterday — except for the addition of many pounds (probably due to the BBQ and Mexican food) to my once skinny frame.
I won’t go into the details of Dave’s service, who attended, etc. — I’d like to protect his family’s privacy — except to say that it was sweetly beautiful, tasteful and respectful. It all performed a really nice job of honoring our Dave. Jim Silke spoke especially eloquently about how Dave became his best friend and Dave’s love of people.
The pain of losing Dave hasn’t subsided for me one bit. I’m doing what I usually do to cope with an event like this; I’m burying myself in my work. This time it’s just not helping very much. I’m still just sad, sad, sad.
Dave would have loved the subject matter of the new painting I’m doing for Ray Harryhausen, a poster for the old Willis O’Brien project, War Eagles. It’s got the 1930s New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, a giant white eagle perched on her shoulder with a 30s pilot on its back holding Old Glory, and a Nazi zeppelin in the sky. Every once in awhile I think, “I can’t wait to show this to Dave!”
And then I remember…