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Dusty Hawes

Yesterday another jolt from the universe: the sudden passing of another incredibly special friend: Dusty Haws.

He traveled the world, and was in the Galapagos this week, having a blast with his wife, looking so happy, posting many pictures as he always did. Just Monday I liked his last post saying he was going offline for a few days as they went deeper into the islands. I think he was only in his late 40's.

Dusty and I met in LA when he was college age. I'd put a bookmark in my styling work to write full time for a year or two... and in the land of film dominance, I found I needed to spend time around books and people who read to both fuel my efforts and break the isolation of writing life. I took a pleasant, non-stressful, part time gig at Book Stop in the Beverly Center... and there I met Dusty. We seemed the only two employees who felt if we were going to spend our time at something, we'd do it 110% - regardless of earning only minimum wage. We had book stacking contests, which I won often enough (due to my very long arms where I could line books from my bent palm all the way up to my neck and grab and stow on shelves), though usually by a nose. I can't say how many times I think of that.
We endlessly debated various authors as we busied ourselves in any spare moment, tidying shelves, ordering chaos and seeking out errant tomes/DVD's (or was it VHS's?) slipped in odd places. He was ALL about Faulkner. Faulkner, Faulkner. Difficult to read, and even harder to understand, but not for Dustin. 
We became great pals. We'd chat as we walked to our cars, often standing for 45 minutes before driving off. When I came to his (I think) dorm room I knew I was in for the treat of musical education. He'd turn me on to all kinds of things, but Elvis Costello's works (mostly post-Attractions - i.e.: Elvis's symphonic compositions) was his favorite at the time. He'd come to my apartment to eat and watch movies, and sometimes nap on the couch in front to the TV. 
Dusty turned me on to the silent movie house right near Canters Deli on Fairfax in LA. We went several times, and he told me all about the history, his favorite films, their meaning, the actors. I had gotten a degree in Film on the east coast, but learned so much from those outings. I remember we went specifically to catch a rare appearance of a pianist who was one of the last living guys who had done the live accompaniment back in the day. He played along with a Chaplin classic as we watched, and we got to experience a taste of how it must have been.

He had incredible intellect, humor, energy and wit. I moved to NY and somehow we lost touch. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected in December of 2011, and caught up chatting via IM. I so enjoyed sharing his life now, and he mine. In the fall he IM'd that he might be in Boston in the coming months - and we were talking about a visit, and how great that would be ... It was clear he crammed ten lifetimes in to his, traveling to every corner of the world... and clearly collected friends all along the way. The outpouring on his Wall, the Remembering Dusty page that was instantly created, and the fundraiser page that has already doubled it's intended goal shows just how many people have their own stories with Dusty.
His wife posted that his last moments were spent with her, snorkeling in beautiful waters looking at sea turtles. She posted this picture. It made me wonder if it was in his camera from that day as they were about to jump in. Nice to see what he saw - it is gorgeous and he was happy.

I gather he had a heart attack. I want to say how much better could it be if you have to exit the planet - as we all do - being young and vital, doing something you absolutely loved, with the person you love? At the same time, it's so sudden, so unexpected and such a huge loss to those who knew him... and the world was robbed of 40 more years of the unduplicateable, irreplaceable Dusty. 
So many things like this in the last 6 months have me consistently asking myself: Who and what matters most to me -- and how much of my time is spent with them and doing those things? How often am I happy - and how much is lost to what's really not that important? And since life can't be ALL roses, what can I do about how I handle the rest? Those questions - and doing my part to answer and act on them -- are the great gifts that come from these events that seem without reason or sense, like the untimely loss of those who are so very special. I'd trade it in a minute to have them back again... but at least I can say thank you to Dusty, Adam RothRick KennedyZiv Gidron, and Bowie and Prince for inspiring changes to make my life more USEFUL, richer and happier


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