My final stop on my west coast trip is Seattle. One of my favorite cities next to Chicago. In fact, if I didn't love Chicago in the way I did, Seattle would be my choice. I saw Independence Day the day it came out at a theater in Seattle. But more awesome than that will be seeing my friend Alan Hawkins.
I don't know what year Alan and I met. It was during a particularly fuzzy part of my life. I had stage fright, but I could still tell stories. My friend Chris Biddle had gotten the go ahead to remount a Chicago show called "The Sickest Fucking Stories I Ever Heard" and asked me to co-produce it. It was the perfect show for me because I could tell terrible stories from my experiences and not feel that dread of having to make something up on the spot. And we got to play poker while doing it. Our shows never brought in that large of an audience, but one night after a show Biddle introduces me to this bald giant who'd just moved to town from Los Angeles, Alan Hawkins.
He looked like he had come straight off of good behavior at the Cook County lock up. In fact, I think I made it a point to avoid him that first night. I didn't know what to make of him. He said he might have some good stories and after talking to Biddle we scheduled him for our next months show.
Well good stories he had. I can't divulge any of them on this blog, suffice to say you should get to know Alan better. Because that boys seen some shit.
Along with being a good story teller, Alan is an incredibly creative graphic designer. Ninety percent of the graphic design you see on my web site, or my farms website, is from Alan. He did most of our show posters, and if I posted a cool photo of something, Alan would always jump in and throw something creative on it.
Over the years we became close friends. I ended up moving into his neighborhood which gave us more opportunities to hang out. Every once in awhile I'd get to watch his dog, a tiny pekingese. Perfect foil to a bald giant.
One day Biddle, a longtime fan of the movie Ghostbusters, said he wanted to have a proton pack. Alan immediately said "I can build that". Alan had a background in prop building while living out in Fresno and LA. He doesn't see things as impossible. He immediately sees opportunity. So we decided that the three of us would go as the Ghostbusters for Halloween (at that time still a few months away). We would set up build days at his house or in my garage and work together. Laughing, telling stories. All while wiring Christmas lights into pink housing insulation.
Our first packs were admittedly a little ramshackle. But we did it. We went to Deja Sue's Halloween party (an annual affair that she went all out for). We partied, said a couple lines from the movie, and then went home triumphant.
But for Alan that was just the beginning. He started joining online Ghostbuster communities and saw just what was possible with pack building. He got in to pepakura (folding paper and then putting a strong bonding agent on top to seal it and make it hard like plastic) and made his next GB pack entirely out of paper. Then he found other techniques and slowly started building a new pack for me and new props for Biddle (who had bought a pack from another GB by that time). Alan is really good about sharing and posted the entire build process for my pack online for other Ghostbusters to follow. And consequently, when walking around conventions sometimes people will recognize my pack as a "Hawkins".
Almost a year ago, Alan and his family picked up and moved to Seattle. His wife got an awesome job out there and they've got room to grow out there. But every day I miss having Alan around. He's been a great. Alan I love you. I'm so excited to see you again.