The first time I ever got a flat tire on my bicycle it happened in front of Jr Seau’s house. It was last autumn on the day of the biggest swell to hit Oceanside in years. Jr’s house had taken a beating the night before; waves pushing sand into his garage door, crumpling it like a piece of tin foil. He and his buddies were busy in his driveway bagging sand to prepare for the next high tide. I’d driven over someone’s house key when my tire farted and squeeked like a balloon, dumbing down to a depressing flat. And I’d met Jr. a few times at music related events, so he welcomed me without a double take into his driveway to contemplate the changing the tube and survey the damage and rescue of his beach house. He and his buddies took a much deserved break for small talk after bagging what looked like 100 bags easy. We joked about paddling out in the giant surf but no one had the balls. It was 10’ closeout after 10’ closeout with a nasty current.
I’d never changed out a tube before. I’d seen it done a few times so I wasn’t going in blind. Still, Jr continually made fun of me trying and kept recommending I go to the bike shop. He and his buddies kept offering me beer and I obliged. It was warm out and the giant swell had attracted people to the beach like it was a holiday. It felt good to be there. Jr busted out his Ukulele and entertained us with strumming and humility. He was well-known in Oceanside for his Aloha nights, family and friend gatherings with food, music and debauchery. I was never able to attend, but hanging out in his driveway that afternoon on that sunny day gave me the experience I sought.
He was a funny and foolish man, and was also very, very kind. Aloha was his style. And Mahalo was his genuine attitude.
The last time I saw him was at Jitter’s, our local coffee shop. I was lucky to be a part of an unofficial ukulele club that spontaneously gathered there to strum over morning coffee and vegan pastries. Andy Powers had met me there to share a new Taylor Ukulele and he and I, along with Pops Gilley and Jr, went round and round improvising songs and reviving a few classics on our big sounding tiny instruments. Jr was a giant man who could pick his big smiley teeth with ukuleles if he wanted, but he held it ever so gently. He himself a big instrument with a tiny sound, hunched over the Uke, focused on his fingering.
He always listened to music and stories in awe; the sign of a curious mystic. I imagine Jr has gone on to a more mystical plane because somewhere in his heart he felt it was a higher calling. And I can’t be mad at him for that.
The reason it hurts so bad when someone passes away is because we lose the ability to tell them we love them.
He was a cool dude, a music lover, and a friend to many. A great sportsman and an all weather surfer who never wore a wetsuit in the winter. He will be missed greatly, and always remembered.
Aloha Buddee! We love you.