Paul's New Phone Number
For those of you who don't know, Jimmie died in Santa Monica CA when his motorcycle collided with a van on the morning of 4 July 1984.
The driver of the van, Bruce Burnside, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and felony vehicular manslaughter. It happened at the corner of Third Street and Ashland Avenue, about four blocks from Jimmie's apartment.
There's no reason to go into the details about the next few weeks. It was an awful time for everyone who was close to Jimmie. For me, walking past that intersection was more than difficult. Little broken bits of metal and plastic taillight reflectors glittered in the dreamy light you get at the beach. Those broken bits were there for months, but the skid marks were quickly worn away by LA traffic... as if nothing had ever happened.
It was particularly hard on Paul Delph. The final album - which Paul produced - was completed on the night Jimmie died. There's an irony here that still haunts me. Jimmie left us on Independence Day, after completing a stunning example of artistic freedom.
Paul and his partner, Tony, moved into Jimmie's apartment. That might seem weird, but it wasn't. If you'd been there, you'd understand. Nice view of the sea, big fireplace, Jimmie's piano, and the special, giving, creative energy Jimmie broadcast everywhere he went had soaked into the plaster of those rented walls. It was an oasis of peace in the brutality that defines modern life.
Besides, Jimmie's cats - Rodney and Miss Hattie - were disoriented enough by everything that was going on. Somebody they knew had to move in and provide some sense of continuity.
I didn't see Paul much during the next few weeks. When everybody could breathe again, Paul called me with his new phone number. The number he gave me nearly stopped my heart.
I thought he must be kidding and said so. Paul didn't know this at the time, but it was the same phone number Jimmie sent me in his first letter... back when he was living in a house on Westminster Avenue in Venice... 1976.
I still have that letter and just pulled it out to look at it again. The phone company gave that number to Paul out of the blue. How can one calculate the mathematical odds of this coincidence?
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