Sweet indeed, Lacy. Sweet Indeed.
To Mr. Jerome Colonna,
My name is Kent Lacy - the tall guy who spoke
at the end of the memorial service. You gave me your
card and asked if I'd write you. I haven't gotten around to it until now but here are some recollections I
have. You might want to print this out. It turned out to be pretty long. I hope you enjoy some of it and that
you and your family are well. I sincerely wish all of you the best of luck.
One of the first memories I have of Colonna
was walking to the library from Sewall and it's freezing.
So instead of taking the normal path and walking under the overhang that connects the two buildings
between the rec and the library, Justin veers to the right towards the building in front of us and says to
my roommate and I, "Over here's a shortcut." And so we follow him into the building. We take about
five paces forward, turn left, and another 5 paces and once again we are out of the building into the cold.
This might have saved us all of five seconds. "What was that about," I ask. And he's just laughing and
says, "That's my shortcut. Not too many people know about it." He's laughing as if he had just unearthed
some great truth. And yet just as quickly as he starts laughing, he stops and briskly steams ahead of my
rommate and I. We look at each other and then at this little fireball charging along in front of us and really
had no choice but to follow...
That was my introduction. His death has compelled me to analyze various aspects of my life, some in
much greater detail. And of all the people I've met during my time here, I'm convinced that it was Colonna
who I was most impacted by. Our friendship was formed by a mutual disposition for complaining. This
we did well. And I could finally talk sports with someone. I remember I'd be walking across campus
and he'd see me and come running toward me from behind, jump on my back or tap me on the head and
exclaim something like, "You gotta love the Blazers. Six game win streak!" And my response would be,
"You wasting you time, you know that don't you? They're gonna fold in the playoffs just like always."
Never missing an opportunity to drive home some brutally honest truth he'd counter, "I know. It's such
a shame. Every year they come so close. So disheartening!" Then he'd start laughing uncontrollably and
say something like, "Those guys are nothing but a bunch of punks. The NBA has turned into one great
big disgrace. Admit that to me, Lacy. If they could get those guys out of jail they might actually have
He loved to say: "Remember that line from the judge in Caddyshack, who
used to be in that one tv show
with that one guy Monroe, 'You'll get nothing and like it'? Well, you'll get nothing and like it!"
Another quote: "There's no way I'm coming back next year. The footbal
team is going to be so bad!
Just embarrasing. No way I'm going to around for all that."
Another: "Gotta love the Rose Garden. Its got the BEST LOOKING COURT
in the NBA. It's so
simple. Nothing but black lines. You gotta love that. All they have to do is get rid of those red circles
at the top of the key and it would be perfect."
Or another: "Why do the football players walk so SLOW?!? They walk so
slow! I got stuck behind
a wall of those guys today and I couldn't go anywhere! Have you ever seen that? What are those guys
thinking anyway? Don't they have anywhere to be?"
Or: "Can't go wrong with Captain Crunch!"
Or: "Now shut up because the starting is the best part!"
Or: "Poor Salieri. You gotta feel for Salieri."
Or: "AC Milan vs. Manchester United. Champions League. It doesn't get muchbetter than this."
Or: "I adapt myself to my surroundings very quickly. Rarely do I ever need a map."
Or here's one: "Do I have a car? Are you kidding me? Of course I don't have a car. I don't even have
a drivers license. My girlfriend drove me around everwhere. You don't need a car if your girlfriend is
The thing that drew me to him was that he had
the guts to tell me what it was that he thought that
I needed to hear. He'd say stuff like, "Lacy, you're a lunatic. I've never met anyone as crazy as you!
Ever!' Or he'd say, "You have absolutely no appreciation for music whatsoever." Or he'd besitting
across from me and he'd look at all the food I had on my tray, no way I could eat it all, and he'd just
say, "Who do you think you ARE?"
One time we were talking about where we're from and I said that I didn't think that there was a
better place to live than L.A. And he's heard enough. "Have you any idea what you're talking about?
LA? Are you kidding me? L.A. is the worst place to live on this planet. My grandma lives there. One
time when I was down visiting her I went into a convenience store and the Chinese lady was sure I was
going to steal something. And I'm like look I'm not going to steal anything from your stupid store. I was
SO mad. There isn't any other place WORSE than L.A. The only good thing about LA, THE ONLY
GOOD THING MIND YOU, is the Fabulous Forum. Some of the best basketball in history has been
played there. There isn't any better place to watch a game than the Fabulous Forum. It will be truly sad
when that goes. End of an era. Everyting else is just pure social chaos. Humanity gone terribly, terribly
awry. Admit that to me Lacy. You HAVE to admit that to me."
"OK, maybe I can sort of see your point from a tree-hugger perspective. How can you like it up
there so much? Just stare in space all day, right?"
"Listen to me. Oregon is the way civilization was meant to be. It's the only natural place left. Mark
my words - if Portland ever got a footbal team I'd never leave. Believe me, anyone who thinks
RATIONALLY would pick Eugene over LA any day. Its got U of O. Its in a natural setting. All you have
is a polluted ocean, stuck up women, and homeboys trying to shoot you down on the 405."
Yet I know that behind his sometimes hardened exterior he genuinely loved people and cared about
them more than anyone ever knew. He'd get so excited every time he'd tell me this story from his freshman
year. "You know what Lacy? There was this guy last year in Hallet. Paul Campbell from Tennessee! I
loved this guy. He'd always say to me in that deep voice of his, he'd say, 'You're nothing but a disgrace,
Colonna. A disgrace!' What a man! He'd call everyone a coward. I'd see him and he'd say, 'You're nothing
but a coward, Colonna.' One time, I'll never forget, I walked into his room and he's lying on his bed
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY with a keg of beer next to him with his jeans and cowboy boots on
and he looks up and says to me in the first person, he says, 'Paul Campbell...in his bed...with a keg...
realization of a lifetime dream!' I loved that guy!"
One of my favorite things to do for a while
there during sophomore year was to see how mad I could
make him. Just to see if he was for real. We were friends so I knew he wouldn't take it personally. But I
would push the line just for fun. I guess I was bored. We'd put together these trades where he'd sell me
CD's and I'd pay him. So one day early on I was sitting in his room looking his stuff over and I decided to
test him to see how far he could go - how passionate was this guy about his music? I had to know, so one
day he turns to me and he goes, "Lacy, I'm going to do you a big favor. A very big favor indeed! I'm going
to let you pick any one of my CD's, within reason, WITHIN REASON mind you! (His index finger sticking
in my face.) But you had better put up."
So I'm looking things over, I go back and forth, and I eventually settle on a Rolling Stones. "How bout
this?" (He only had about 10, 20 of em)
"That?! That?! Are you out of your mind? Who do you think you are, Lacy?"
"What? It's the Rolling Stones, right? Aren't they good" (I'm thinking maybe he'll take pity on me if I
"You're going to have to come up with something very, VERY valuable to make me part with this. Very
valuable. You know what that is? What you're holding right there is a limited edition. You can't just find that
anywhere. I was very lucky to find that myself, mind you. Very lucky."
"And so I too should consider myself lucky to have come across it, right?"
"Do you have any idea the favor I'm doing you by allowing you access to my collection? And to the better
parts of it I might add."
"Yeah, I get it. So what do you want for it?"
He stares me down. "I highly doubt that you have anything that's even remotely close to the value of that
Rolling Stones. I highly, highly doubtthat."
"I'm warning you Lacy. This had better be good. You got that? GOOD!"
"Yeah man, hey, I get it. However, I think you're underestimating the value of some of my possessions."
"We'll see, Lacy. We'll see. All I've seen so far are some decent sandals."
So we walk across the dorm to my room and my roommate sees us come in, sits up and just shakes his
head. He knows this is going to be entertaining. I walk acroos the room to get my wallet and Jarrett looks at
Justin and goes, "So you're negotiating with Lacy, huh?"
He's unfazed. "Remember Lacy, this is the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones." He holds it up again for
further inspection. "I would advise that you take that into careful consideration while contemplating your offer.
Think very carefully as to what this CD could do for your collection. This could very realistically, VERY
REALISTICALLY be a solid cornerstone for a potentially excellent collection."
"Exactly. That's what I'm trying to do. Add some classics. Enhance the portfolio, so to speak. Hey you
think I don't know that? I know what we're talking about here. The essence of rock and roll. The very
essence. I know that, ok, I get it. Plus...those guys got chicks, right?"
(Slowly) "They got all the chicks."
And so I walk over to my bed and I'm really not sure that I should go through with it. He's far more
heated up over this than I suspected. Should I really do this? One of his eyes could pop out and I really
don't know if I want that on my conscience. We stare at each other - it's the shootout at the OK Corral.
This is fun. I look over at Jarrett and he can't help himself and lets out a little smile. Can't turn back...
I look at Justin once again (his eyes haven't left me) and then as I slowly look down at my wallet and I
initiate the dialogue once again. But delicately. "OK, here's what I got and I think you'll be pleased. Let's see,
I'e got five, six, eight, uh, eleven, wait no, twelve." I pull the money out of my wallet, stare him in the eye,
look at my fistful of cash and then right back at him. Who's he's messing with? "Twelve dollars!" I exclaim,
punching the air, cash in hand. "And, AND that's not all! That is NOT all! Not only am I offering you this
twelve dollars, but, BUT I have made the decision to part with something else that could potentially mean
a lot to me. And I say that with all sincerity. You might have to give it time to let these grow on you. They
were a gift. Maybe they won't mean much to you but, for some reason, they have come to mean alot to me."
I walk over to my closet and pull out this bag of unopened socks. I look down and I take a very long look
at it. After a deep breath I continue, "OK, my tweleve dollars plus this bag of very, VERY comfortable,
very cushy cotton socks. Slightly grey. And - what do you think Jarrett? - they're light-grey and they really
would look great on you. They'd look great on anyone. But aside from that, they FEEL great. And that's really
whats most important, right? Believe me, if there's one thing that my mom knows how to do, it's buy socks.
She can't cook worth a damn but somehow she just has the knack of finding the best footwear. Don't ask
me how how she does it. But take my word for it. This is a great bag of socks and its yours. Yours for the
taking." I slowly extend out my hand and offer the bag for his inspection.
He doesn't even look at it. He just looks at me, looks down, and allows himself a deep breath.
"I'm sensing that somehow you're not satisfied." Here comes the eruption. And I wasn't let down. He
starts in, "I come over here because I want to do you a favor. Because God knows, you NEED a favor
to be done for you. I don't think you understand. I don't just give my CD's out to anybody. Sometimes I
don't even feel worthy to be in their presence myself. And I'm their owner! Yet what am doing? I'm offering
you the Rolling Stones- limited edition, LIMITED EDITION! - and the best you can come up with is twelve
"And a bag of socks."
"This is not funny! Do you think I CARE about your stupid socks? You can't buy me out with socks.
I'm not even going to try to understand what you're thinking. I'm not even going to try, Lacy. I'm not even
going to try."
"What about Madden football over here?"
"YOU CAN'T BUT ME OUT WITH VIDEO GAMES EITHER, LACY! At the very least I might
consider $30, that way at least I'm more than half way to buying this limited edition Police set up on the hill.
And do you think I equate the Police with socks? This is the Police I'm talking about, Lacy! Are you listening?
This is my life we're talking about here. Its bad enough that I'm incarcerated in this place and force prision
food down myself on a daily basis and you can't even come up with a halfway decent offer for the Rolling
Stones! This is the Rolling Stones. Its not Snoop Dog! You're from LA - that explains it. LA is the worst
place to live on this earth. Everyone there is so deranged. And obviously I'm coming to think that you're no
exception. It must be the water. How else could any rational thinking person think $12 and a bag of socks
comes anywhere close to being the equivalent of the Rolling Stones?"
"Limited edition," we both say in unison. "Well how bout this bag of pens too man? Dude, they're sweet.
Trust me. These really are good pens. Excellent control."
Without looking at anyone in particular he starts up again. "I'm going to take a walk down this hall and
when I get back you had better have significantly changed your offer. SIGNIFICANTLY."
So he walks briskly down the hall in that short, choppy steped walk of his and he returns, sits down on
the desk and folds his arms saying nothing. Jarrett is dying over on his bed.
The tension is too much so I say something like, "So did you see that fight in Wembly the other day? How
crazy was that?" No response. I look over at Jarrett and he offers nothing. And so after a deep breath I
continue. "Ok. Ok fine. You win. You win, alright? You win. You want value? Huh? An item, OR ITEMS,
of equal or lesser value. Is that what you want? That's what you're after, right?"
He's exasperated and all he can do is look down and shake his head. He's starting to smile but he does
his best to suppress it. "Unbelievable."
"Fine. Like I said, you win. Alright? You win. Gonna up the ante. Sweeten the deal. 'Cause you're
obviously not somebody to be messed with and this fact is beginning to come across loud and clear. Loud
and clear." And so I walk over to the glass on my desk where I kept change. "Alright, here's one, two,
three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two...three...four. Cool. OK. I'm heatin' up. I'm heatin' up baby!"
I turn back around and continue, "You know, as I'm coming up with additional items to sweeten our deal
with, I really do find myself torn between what I'm willing to allow myself to part with and what I just can't
do without. Have you ever felt that way? I know I sure have. Actually, I'm kind of feeling that way right
about now, to be quite honest with you. So what I have, what I'm willing to part with is, IS this twelve
dollars cash plus, PLUS these three dollars in quarters - and I hope you know that this means I'm going to
have to postpone my laundry even further - plus these socks, and just take my word for it in terms of the
quality, as well as this scarf. Also, of extremely high quality. But that goes without saying. It was given to
me two months ago and it hasn't even been worn. OK? Brand new. And I'd say, ballpark, it has to be
worth about fifteen, if not not twenty, dollars. And that's probably a pretty conservative estimate if I were
to guess. But you probably shouldn't take my word for it because, I'll admit, I really don't know too much
about clothes, especially winter clothing such as scarves." He takes the scarf and looks it over. "Its kind of
stylish, one might even consider it a little flashy, so I don't know if it would fit your style necessarily. On the
other hand, from my vantage point, it really does look like a solid scarf."
He lets it unravel and then stops dead in his tracks and closes his eyes. Something else is bothering him
but this time I don't know quite what. His eyes are closed for a good fifteen seconds and then he starts up,
"Equal or lesser value. I thought, THOUGHT we had an agreement. I have never seen a more pathetic
spectacle in my life. Just so that we haven't forgotten. Here's what I'm offering you. The Rolling Stones.
THE ROLLING STONES. And the best you can do is come up with fifteen dollars, a bag of ugly socks,
and this scarf - and I don't even wear scarfs - FROM THE GAP!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! THE
GAP? If there's one thing in this world that I absolutely despise it's THE GAP!! Tell me you didn't know
this scarf was from the Gap. At least tell me that much." I didn't, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
"Tell me that much, Lacy." All I could do was just stare speechless. The tension was just too huge and as
I looked down I saw him slowly clenching his fist. I didn't think he was really going to take a swing, but
then again I'm not too sure at this point. He picks up the CD, slowly walks to the door, pauses for a second,
exhales, and then leaves. My roommate and I just look at each other in disbelief. We have no idea what will
happen next. Ten seconds later, the most angst-ridden scream comes from around the corner.
Some time passes and Jarrett just looks at
me, shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders, smiles and says a
great line that I'll never forget. He goes, "It was the Rolling Stones."
I realize now that I met Justin at a critical
time. I had never gone through as muchin one year as I had
as a sophomore and I owe him alot for being a part of all that. Or just being around, I guess. We agreed
on so many things and I think the fact that we were both in the same boat allowed us to relate with each
other on a level that we otherwise probably wouldn't have. What Colonna reminded me of was the value
of the search. Sure, one needs to come to accept his faults - we all do. Yet, the enobled man can transcend
the present by subscribing to a hope that he will be a better, more civilized, more humane person tomorrow,
next week, next year, whatever... indeed as long as life exists. Otherwise, I'm convinced that a man will
inevitably become dead unto himself and merely leech off the world instead of add something of value to it.
I'm driven to say this because recently I attended a screening of Casablanca given by Roger Ebert here
on campus. He gives a week-long analysis of a film in which he stops the movie whenever he wants to offer
an insight or to answer someone's question - that type of format. Hilarious really - one of my favorite weeks
out of the year. Anyway, as the film waswinding down Bogart addresses Bergman by saying, "I'm not fighting for
anything anymore, except myself." And at this point he stops the tape and points out that when earlier in the
movie Bogart had said that he had once killed a man, he was referring to his idealistic younger self. The guy who
had volunteered to fight in Spain during the Spanish resistance. And I thought about how my own idealistic
younger self had been wounded once and retraced some of the main steps that were involved in my recovery.
And Justin was one of the keys in the process. I regret never having acknowledged or thanked him for that.
Perhaps I meant to someday but just hadn't got around to it... and there was always tomorrow, right?
The funny thing about Justin was that it wasn't all of his interests or passions that did it for me, per se.It
was that he could admit that, to some degree, his interests only served to mask his insecurities. And that was
what I was struck by - the brutal honesty of it all. The concept of 'So what what if I'm going through the
same crud as everyone else?' At least I have this armor, however fragile it might be, to protect me along the
way. Most people, while stuck in the very same crud, never seem to free themselves from it because they
constantly yearn for something outside of where they are, never coming to an accpetance of their current
situation. Justin recognized the futility in such an approach. Time just becomes wasted if you approach life
in any other way. Because you can yearn for a better world, a better life for yourself all you want, daydream
all you want to, but if you never come to accept your present condition, how can you honestly ever hope for
to achieve something better? It's like in Chariots of Fire when the guy says to his friend, "That's your secret,
isn't it? Contentment. You're a content man. I'm 24 and I've never known it." I too don't think I fully understood
this concept until I had Justin. And it was from that sort of practical standpoint that I learned the most from him,
although I don't think he ever had any idea.
In some ways, to be honest with you, since our time together was relatively short, it almost doesn't seem
real. I know I was there and lived it, yet I've come to associate that time period with a certain strangeness -
disassociating myself from it so to speak. Like ditching work in the middle of the day to go to a movie and
then returning back later that day. Since it doesn't fit in the normal scheme of things, a separate compartment
is created to deal with stuff that doesn't fit in the normal scheme of things.
In some ways I could apply this concept with Ebert's perspective of Casablanca. To quote: "This is a
fictional movie and yet some people try to analyze fictional characters outside of the context from which they're
presented. Like wondering what courses Hamlet might have taken at Wittenburg or something like that. The
whole point of the movie is that it ends with a permanent separation. And they both go off to their fates. The end.
I have no interest in their lives before or after that point. Why? Because they're fictional characters. That's why!"
So it's from this sort of surrealistic orientation that I have come to associate with all of this. (Yet without the
permanent separation part.) It's a movie. A pretty lame movie but a movie nonetheless. And so yeah, you enter
into the context of someone else's life, but it really shouldn't fit. It's like this damn screen saver on my roommate's
computer. Or stopping in Vegas in the middle of the desert on my way out here. Or why do I keep this sport
coat hung in my closet in the middle of all the t-shirts? I don't know but it stays there anyway and never seems
A year ago I came back to Boulder to visit and I made a point to stop by the library. Sure enough he was
still there after all this freakin' time. I walked in and just stood there - he saw me and let out one of his
trademark laughs. It was great. We talked about our time off that we both took, stuff like that. (He told me
some stories of how he killed himself as a logger and couldn't keep up with all the hispanic dudes.) Tentatively,
we talked about meeting each other in Europe for the European Championships in Summer 2000. I think
we also walked to Tra-Lings on the hill and I bought him some noodles. (He was always so proud of how
he could just leave his job for as long he wanted and still get paid.) What I distinctly remember however was
how we both basked in the glow of each others' successes. How far we both had come. To have come
from Sewall to that point at Tra-Ling's was amazing. In many ways we both had made it and it was great to
be able to taste that, especially considering the state we were both in as sophomores. "Sweet indeed, Lacy.
The last time I saw Justin was when I went out to his house out in the fields in May of '99. He cooked
me dinner, showed me his room, and popped in a soccer tape. He picked up a copy of Dostoyevsky's The
Brothers Karamazov on the table next to his bed and said how he had started reading it. I didn't remember
him as being a big reader but then again he seemed different, calmer. He asked me, "Have you read that one?"
I said no. And he said, "There are so many books that I want to read. And that is one of em. Dostoyevsky
was indeed a master."
All of his old posters were there plus some new ones. I remember mentioning how I always dug the Dali
he had. "I like that one too," he said, giving it thought. "That's definitely one of my most prized possessions. I
never get sick of looking at that."
It was a bit strange though, I'll admit, to see each other after all that time. I wasn't stupid enough to think
that we could just pick up where we left off but while I was there I got the vibe that we could be great friends
if we just did more stuff together because the groundwork had already been laid. Most of the time that doesn't
happen and I knew that it was a rare situation. And yet at the same time I kicked myself for all the wasted
opportunities. He asked if I was going to stick around for the summer. I wasn't. "How bout next fall?" No,
probably not. "Well we gotta do something together sometime, Lacy. Gimme a call if you're ever back in town."
I promised I would. And so in January I stopped by the security office figuring he'd still be there reading with his
head down like he always was. And they showed me the piece of paper advertising his memorial. I wouldn't have
known about it otherwise.
And so for all the things we had in common
I think that we both turned a corner together, at the same time,
when we realized just how lucky we were. How even though our situations weren't ideal and we both couldn't
leave Colorado like we both would have liked to, that we still had it pretty good. One night we were sitting
around and he says, "At least you have supportive parents." It caught me off guard but I agreed. He continued,
"You know, I give my parents a hard time sometimes but the bottom line is that they've been nothing but
supportive. Can you believe I've never heard my parents say a single cuss word my whole life? Can you believe
that? I still can't believe that. We'd never get out of this place if it wasn't for our parents." And again he was right.
There was a point, I really don't know when, where we both realized that all of our complaining wasn't
getting us anywhere and that if we were ever going to come close to achieving anything close to the brilliance
of those we admired that certain aspects of our outlooks had to change. And as the year went on I think we
both gained an appreciation for life's struggles and how meaningless everything is unless you tackle the problems
that lay in front of you. And so maybe we stopped watching as much tv and started to do something with
ourselves. That's what it's all about. I think we gained a much stronger fortitude than we had ever had previously
because we didn't take the easy way out and leave in the middle of the night - for better or for worse - when
we easily could have. I think we both knew it.
One day towards the end of the year we were trying to put together another deal and we weren't getting
anywhere. Finally, he looks over at me and comes up with one of his favorite lines from the Godfather. He just
looks me in the eye and says, "My offer is this. I will offer you nothing." And then he comes up with one of
those great big smiles. And it was at that moment that we both knew with absolute certainty that we weren't
kids anymore and that we were becoming men.