I trained Justin for at least a year, maybe more. "Time" isn't something
I worry about very
much, and I don't think Justin worried very much about it either.
Anyway, while we were together, he grew up wonderfully. I tried to offer
him what little I
possessed about the way of being and labor in the world, and I know he had many difficult
moments. We forgave each other a lot. A terrible thing to grow up simultaneously in both a
working and social world, but he responded surely. He never lost his magnetic smile, but I'm
sure the world embarrassed him more than I ever did. He was much braver than I'll ever be.
However, after he moved over to the security section, in addition to
a second job and going
to school, he would chase me with his smile, out there in the library, whenever he saw me:
"Brad, you're the only guy who works in this whole building!"
(I believe Justin had a strategic habit of exaggerating for the sake
of "charming" the folks he
wanted to warm. Not such a bad habit; he surely charmed me.)
And, I suppose, although I didn't want to encourage it, he admired me.
That was probably
what that smile meant when he chased me, something about work and being in the world.
Here's a short story, one of several:
When Roger Ebert came to campus for the World Affairs Conference not
so long ago, and
they had some reception out on the quad, Justin actually went out of his way to find me:
"Brad, they've got free food out on the quad, and you deserve it more than they do, c'mon!"
He really did drag me out of the building. No disrespect to his youthful
exuberance, or Roger
Ebert, but I broke the rules and went out to share food and company with your brother, a
genuine spirit who'd worked diligently right next to me. I never break the rules, and I only
share food with people I trust and like very much.
But there we were, under a ridiculous tent, both full of smiles and
an intimacy that only belongs
to those who work together in a common and meaningful endeavor, the stuff of life, despite
a concurrent world that might occasionally forget the importance of such a moment. I know
we both knew that.
So we have a common and meaningful endeavor and Justin is with us. An
It just makes me feel better to type to you. This way I'm not talking to myself, and people
won't look at me quite so funny (so I hope). I wrote a couple of more poems that are about
and, for you. I know that you didn't get to check out all of the other ones, but I guess you
A new birth of sadness,
With a new appreciation for happiness.
That finds the heart
To let it cry,
And to let it sigh.
To help those new,
Hold those lost,
And to love them all.
The infinite few
At any cost.
With out them
We would all be lost.
So what's the dance?
What's the tune?
I hear it,
It's last call.
So many to tell,
They'll find out.
Do we meet you?
We'll meet you there.
Keep the tune,
You can teach the dance.
With out understanding
One does understand
And doesn't know.
Days are passing
And feelings shared.
The heart beats on
And at times lighter with love.
The same love that rests so heavily.
I've got to move from that moment,
We can't be left behind
We have to go with the days,
And not carry the pain
To blind us.
But hold its hand,
And introduce it to love
Our happiness is our sorrow unmasked.
I miss you,
It was so great to be there with you and all of your family this weekend.
I had a wonderful
time. I really needed to be there with you and my friends. I really felt Justin’s presence and
I know the services did him justice! I also wanted to reiterate how deeply you and your
family touched me. It was of great solace to me to have so many other people who cared
and loved Justin there to celebrate together. Good luck in your journey and I hope that coming
days bring you love, joy, and peace.
PS- Also, the Blazers beat the Lakers in LA on Saturday night!!!! :) Coincidence? I think not!!
Dear Colonna family,
I worked with Justin in the Science Discovery program last summer. I can't tell you how
much this news has affected me. Even though I only worked with Justin for a few short
months, he was one of those rare people who immediately became a friend and entered into
your heart before you knew it. He was like a breathe of fresh air. So often, at Science
Discovery when the day was nearly over and we were sitting in the office, tired from the
day's activities and ready to go home, Justin would enter the room and everything would
change. He would light up a room when he entered. As he bounced in, full of energy, we
would all say "Justin!" and the quiet, tired atmosphere would become charged with Justin's
infectious personality. He was always helpful, always happy and always a joy to be around.
I'm sure you know this about him, but you may not have known what a wonderful person
everyone else thought he was. I am truly sorry for your loss. Justin was an amazing person
and although I knew him for only a short time, I feel a tremendous loss knowing that the rest
of the world will not get to know Justin or the man he would have become. My thoughts
and prayers are with you.
Sincerely, Laura Shapiro
Brad & I attended the very good memorial service for Justin Colonna(he had worked for us
as a shelver in Norlin, Fall 94 - Spring 95)- THANKS to all who put it on and participated.
It was nice to see the pictures on his web site, THANKS Anne & your boy friend. I had met
his mom back then &i was pleased that she remembered me, THANKS Susan. I really
appreciated his dad's points: 1. we can never do a kindness too soon; 2. deep pain & grief
are a statement that you intensely loved someone; 3. great losses lead to growth; 4. pain is a
loving reminder; 5. heart ache opens a window in our hearts; 6. life is waiting to be grasped -
you must notice it; 7.talking to the deceased loved one is of great help; 8. try to live each day
as if it were your last, THANKS Jerome. And THANKS Justin for greeting me with your warm
smile every time I entered Norlin- it made me feel better, and THANKS for the recommendation
to go to the museum when I went to San Francisco to see my grand children 12/29-1/15 -
I went, in memory of you & it was great. & THANKS again to Ann for mentioning that you
spoke to the homeless by name - I'm going to do so too in memory of you (God helping me).
God bless you all!
Hello family of Justin—
Justin was a wonderful asset for all at Norliln library. Every day when I arrived at work he
always had that big beautiful smile to greet me with.
I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and my prayers go with Justin.
I found this on the internet and thought it interesting how Bob Dylan
was writing about
Petrarch as a young man and that Justin too found him intriguing.
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 09:21:00 +0800
From: Matthew Zuckerman (matthew.zuckerman@IAC-ONLINE.COM)
Subject: Italian Poet from the 13th Century On March 12, 1978,
Craig McGregor interviewed Dylan in Australia, and the following exchange occurred:
-Craig; I've always thought 'Tangled Up in Blue' was a great song. I really like it.
Dylan : Yeah, I like that one too.
Craig : Without knowing anything about it, I half assumed that Blue might be Joan Baez.
Dylan : Joni Mitchell had an album out called 'Blue'. And it affected me, I couldn't get it
out of my head. And it just stayed in my head and when I wrote that song I wondered,
what's that mean ? And then I figured that it was just there, and I guess that's what happened,
Craig : It's not the same 'blue' as in 'it's all over now baby blue' ?
Dylan : No, no. That's a different blue. That's a character right off the hay wagon. That
Baby Blue is from right upstairs at the barber shop, y'know off the street..........a different
baby blue, I haven't run into her in a long time, long time.
Craig : You're being serious ?
Dylan : Yeah, I've never looked at Joan Baez as being Baby Blue.
Craig : Do you see much of her these days ?
Dylan : (pause) She was on two tours with me. I haven't seen her since then. She went to Europe.
Craig : You involved in her ?
Dylan : No, No .........
Craig : Listening to 'tangled up in blue', I got the feeling, it's like an autobiography; a sort
of funny, wry, compressed novel......
Dylan : Yeah, that's the first I ever wrote that I felt free enough to change all the ......what
is it, the tenses around, is that what it is?
Craig : the person....
Dylan : The he and the she and the I and the you, and the we and the us-- I figured it was
all the same anyway-- I could throw them all in where they floated right-- and it works on
Craig : Its got those nice lines at the end, about ' there was music in the cafes at night and
revolution in the air' and ' some are mathematicians, some are carpenters wives, I don't
know how it all got started, I don't know what they do with their lives'.
Dylan : I like that song. Yeah that poet from the 13th century....
Craig : Who was that ?
Dylan : Plutarch. Is that his name ?
Craig : Yeah. Are there a lot of dylanologists around still in the states ?
Dylan : I don't pay much attention to that. I get over-enthusiastic fans. But I never did pay
much mind to that.-
Plutarch was a Greek historian (46-c120 A.D.) so this was obviously
a slip on Dylan 's part.
The transcription of the interview is correct according to - Dylan presumably meant to say
Petrarch, an Italian poet who was born in 1304, just four years out of the 13th century. The
following account ("Reader's Companion to World Literature" by Hornstein, Percy, Brown
Mentor/Penguin Group ISBN: 0-451-62816-0) of Petrach's verse (dedicated to Laura,
the love of his life) could quite easily be describing Blood On The Tracks. - "... his primary
poetic theme is hopeless love, a spiritualized passion for the unattainable. Through most of
his life, Petrarch kept writing and rearranging the verses for Laura in Life and Laura in Death,
a total of 366 poems. They are in varied forms. The sonnets, which form the majority, have
been described as the most polished verses in western European literature. There can be no
doubt that their form is perfect, but their lasting appeal comes from the combination of form
and content. Petrarch is permanently in the center of the stage, exploring indefatigably all the
delicate phenomena of his emotions. His sentiments come from the discord between the
senses and the soul, the flesh and the spirit, the sensuality of his love and a mystic acceptance
of its spirituality. His inner struggle between the sensuous and the asceticis reflected in subtleties
and antitheses of expression. He does not fight or rebel against the conflict, but records it with
tender melancholy, in plaintive tones -- clear, sweet, with the elegance of technical perfection.
The musical qualities are developed with the greatest sensitivity. – No wonder the poems
swept Europe and immortalized their author. Their mood, imagery, and rhyme scheme dominated
literary circles for centuries, and the names of Petrarch and Laura became symbols of passionate
love constrained by spirituality." - Petrarch lived from 1304 to 1374. To my mind, the fact that
he was born just out of the 13th century is the kind of slip that one can readily accept. Tangled
Up in Blue was written with inspiration, but not necessarily with a biographical dictionary.
(Reading over the above statement, I should underline that the slip was Dylan's for having said
that Petrach was born in the 13th century, not Petrach's for having been born too late --
blame in on a...)- Matthew
I wanted to tell you how touched I was, and still am, by the beauty
and dignity - and the
outpouring of affection - at the Memorial service for Justin at Old Main. I don't think I will
ever be able to look next door and not think of Justin.
I felt I learned something from Justin, as his father mentioned at the
service. So many of us
middle-aged people forget the idealism of our youths, and the stories about Justin, particularly
his concern for the homeless, helped to rekindle that spirit a little for me.
I hope you will call on me if there is anything I can do for you here in Boulder.
Hello to Justin's family! I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the
service in Boulder this
weekend, I'm so glad that I was able to be a part of it. I gained so much insight as to who
Justin was, and feel closer to him through the memories you all shared, and I wanted to say thanks.
Sincerely, Erica Krisztal
I was so excited to see more pictures of our good friend Justin Colonna.
Unfortunately I don’t
have time for that much of an e-mail, but I would like to say that I feel very honored to have
had the opportunity to spend some time with all of you. Much like my time with Justin, brief
but intense. I now understand why he is the way he will always be.
With so much love, Trevor Gainer
First let me say the memorial service in Boulder was Wonderful! I was
very touched by it all.
I wasn't able to get up and share on Saturday night. There was so much I wanted to say but I
thought it best just to share with you in a card or an email....( the web site is great!) My name
is Shauna Atkins and I was Justin's night supervisor over at the Library... I had a lot of fun
working with Justin. When you work on the University students come in and out your life, but
some never leave and that was Justin for me! We use to talk the nights away about all sorts
of stuff.... I remember one winter night during finals we where closing up the library, he was
off locking the fire doors (he considered that "HIS" job) anyway I was waiting for him to finish
up...Here he came with that sheepish grin riding his Skate Board through the hall way. (I
thought to myself only Justin!! with a chuckle) he said here Shauna let me see you ride it!
Needless to say I sent him into a roar of laughter when I slipped off it and sent it shooting
backwards!!!!!!( a humorous little memory at my expense).. I moved on to the Parking transit
division while Justin took his> short break from College (he agreed to look me up when he
returned), While walking into an orientation room full of new students (where they greeted
and welcomed everyone and had FREE FOOD! HA,HA) I hear "Shauna," much to my
surprise there is Justin walking up to me! With a big hug and a how are you doing?..... I have
many memories of Justin here in Boulder... The campus is different with out him but if you
listen really hard to you can still hear that skate board coming, that laugh, see the smile, or
here the Wohoo!!!! Thank you for letting us have the opportunity to know Justin and share
with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you the family today and always.
Thanks for letting me share, Shauna Atkins
Send us your thoughts and memories of Justin. Even the smallest thing means a lot.