Our life raising JR, our adopted miracle from Kazakhstan.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The Joe D Memorial Tribute Celebration
We're almost 6 months out and Joe D's friends have not forgotten him or us. Saturday I went to a remarkable event - the "Joe D. Memorial Tribute Celebration". Several of Joe's buddies are musicians, some more talented than others. :) Music was a huge part of Joe's life (although being a pianist, his tastes did not always extend to the raucous rock and roll that some of his friends liked to play). Anyway, about 10 years ago, Joe's friends Tom and Jim Z, Lyle and Allen put together a band called Crevice Tool that made up for their musical ability in their willingness to be loud and raunchy. Joe D told them "Most guys like us just sit around and talk about it (forming a rock band). You guys actually went out and did it. You should have just sat around and talked about it." They played in friends' apartments and other spaces where the band was allowed to pay the owner for the privilege of playing. The band struggled to stay together when Tom left Philadelphia to go get his MBA and subsequently settled in NYC. They broke up forever when one of the 4 decided to vote for GWB and one of the others refused to be in a band with someone whom he felt was so clueless regarding politics.
After Joe died, Tom and Jim Z decided they wanted to do something special to honor him. So they convinced Crevice Tool to reunite for a one-night only gig and thus the "Joe D Memorial Tribute Celebration" idea was born. Tom came down from NYC almost weekly since July to rehearse. They recruited another friend, Craig, who is a classically trained guitarist, to sit in with them. They recruited our friends Denis and Cammy who have a alt.country rock band called The Knife and Fork Band that has been successfully playing small local gigs for about 15 years to be the opening act. One of our neighbors, also formerly an attorney for the City, had a connection to a local club called Connie's RicRac Room (a very dark, funky dive bar / performance space that Joe D particularly liked). He managed to book the club for a Saturday night. Crevice Tool (well, Tom) started writing songs about Joe. They gathered up old photos and made a PowerPoint. We publicized the event to our friends and neighbors. Crevice Tool also decided they wanted to donate any profits. I convinced them that the money should go to the Joseph DiGiuseppe Memorial Fund at the Friends of The Free Library, which is where donations went at the time of the funeral.
Saturday night, we had the event. We had somewhere between 80-100 people there. Joe's best friend from high school came up from Maryland. Folks from Joe's office were there. Lots and lots of neighbors. All of the friends Joe hung out with when we first started dating. Many of the parents from Joseph's preschool (Denis and Cammy and Jim also sent their kids there). We raised about $600 for the library fund.
There were the usual last minute problems. Jim's viola broke so he had to borrow Cammy's violin. The owners of the RicRac Room didn't show up to open the place until 8:00 (show was supposed to start at 8), so there wasn't much of a sound check. Denis' sister Meg, who is the lead vocalist for Knife and Fork, almost didn't make it because her son had an appendicitis scare (he's okay). Jim's "dancers" bailed out on him (don't ask me).
The show was a blast. Knife and Fork opened and played a great set. Then Crevice Tool came out to much hooting and hollering. They played some of their old standbys from 10 years ago - tweaked to reference Joe (they have a song called "40 Ounces" but they changed the reference from beer to Diet Coke). They got me up on stage to sing background lyrics to a Husker Du song called "The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill" (some of you may know that in my pre-Joe D., pre-law school youth, I was a bit of a punk rocker and used to house members of Husker Du and a few other punk bands when they had gigs in Phila). They played a song entitled the "Ballad of Joe D and Theresa" which progressed from Joe living with his parents to meeting me on the subway to our traveling to Kazakhstan and adopting Joseph. Jim Z. did his best Ice-T imitation and did a rap about Joe. The absolute highlight of the night, though, was Tom's song "Fanny Pack" which was a litany of most of Joe D's opinionated rants about life in South Philadelphia (if you ever met Joe D on a non-work day, he could be found wearing a t-shirt, zippered hoodie, grey or black sweatpants, with a fanny pack (he called it his "black thing") around his waist - he made quite the fashion statement). I laughed so hard I was in tears.
The obituary, funeral and the outpouring of love we were shown in May was one thing - but this, this was a send-off! We are so lucky. Everyone should have such friends.