Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Rainy Night in Soho (The Pogues)

One from Matt, for Bill and Erica-

I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways
We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms
I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys

Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The gingerlady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you talking in my head
I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first times
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Logic (Matt Shorts, v.5)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Matt was home from college. It was a Sunday afternoon and the traffic on Old Route 22 was heavy and heading south to NYC. Matt and I were running at a pace that allowed Matt to talk the entire time. That is to say, I was completely out of breath. A group of late model foreign sedans whizzed by us, going faster than the speed limit. What was worse was that none of them moved over to give us any space. Matt took offense to this, and launched a wad of spit in the cars’ general direction. It was with neither good luck nor bad luck, but purely with Matt’s luck, that the spit landed squarely on the windshield of the only domestic car in the bunch, a gleaming white Corvette. “I think you got the windshield of that Corvette” I said. We kept running. A half-mile later, as we passed my Grandmother’s house, the Corvette pulled up alongside us, window down, arm hanging out, pointing at us. The arm was attached to an irate bearded man who had a lot to say about his now-soiled ride. As we ran, Matt disputed the man’s version of the events, using the impeccable logic that if the guy had been driving slower, none of this would’ve happened. They continued their discourse for another 30 yards, then the guy sped up the road. It has always been a matter of debate as to what happened next: was there a gesture from our party in the receding car’s direction? Did George Washington really chop down the cherry tree? Who can say? Regardless, about 50 yards from us, the Corvette slammed on its brakes, nearly sliding into a ditch, and a six-four version of rage personified jumped out. “Run” was all Matt said. We high-tailed it the other direction and cut up into the woods. I’m not sure our pride was still intact, but we were.

Ruth (Matt Shorts, v.4)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Matt called me at work. “Well, you’re an uncle,” he said. Her name was Bridget and she was “perfect.” In the hospital he was all happiness, and if anyone expressed happiness to him, he reflected it back one-hundred-fold. When she was brought to New York for the first time, the flight attendants cooed over her, and when we exited the plane, one, who happened to be Irish, slipped a bottle of champagne into the diaper bag, “for the little one.” Matt beamed in that way that made you happy but also made you want to crack him across the head. At home, we brought Grandma Meade over for dinner to meet the baby. She was frail in body but not in mind and spirit. Matt couldn’t contain himself, and we had barely situated Grandma on the couch before Matt plopped Bridget on her lap. “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said in her way, but then she held her and Matt put his arm around them both and though Grandma couldn’t really see, her eyes looked out over the room and they were a little misty.

Rust (Matt Shorts, v.3)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Matt called me at work. “Well, you’re an uncle,” he said. I drove up to the hospital in San Francisco when work got out, working my way through Internet-boom rush-hour traffic. Much later, the car I drove that night would be towed by the city from the front of Matt’s house, after we had tried and failed to fix the fuel pump (we got it to start but not run) and then left it for dead in plain view. We didn’t put it in neutral and let it glide down the hill into the Pacific because growing up in Wassaic instilled us with the belief that broken-down cars, prominently displayed and given time, sublimate to their highest and best use. Towing laws are looser back home, and besides, Saabs don’t die so much as rest. Matt attributed the car's breakdown and subsequent towing to the fact that I had just installed a new radio. He believed in a weird car karma, like the time when I arrived late for a dinner in San Francisco with him and his in-laws, and he greeted me at the door, relief plain on his face, saying “I was thinking you had maybe gotten into an accident because you had washed your car.”

Bamboo (Matt Shorts, v.2)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We were installing a bamboo floor for Dwell Magazine’s offices in North Beach. The floor was quite large and it took at least a day longer than anticipated to finish the installation. We listened to NPR and Nirvana CD’s on Matt’s little boombox as we worked. I would turn it to a local radio station on occasion, for variety, but Matt was the Mamet of flooring and needed to hear, and say, words – lots of them. “Always be nailing” was what he would say, when he wasn’t saying something else that made me strain to understand. A six-hour day was just about right for us. Matt tended to rush things late in the day. He said that on a job site I was good at anticipating what was needed next, but I could never stop him from making these mistakes. I tried. He was quite skilled at this point, much more so than me, but he was also like a fast-moving train with no brakes. Bamboo is a hard and splintery floor material and pulling up a piece of it you just nailed down requires a quick, loud, intense physical effort that makes you rue the mistake you just made. You could fix almost any mistake, it just hurt a little more each time you had to. We made mistakes then went out for coffee, probably our third coffee break of the day. As we passed one of the many strip clubs on Columbus, the hawker tried to lure us in. I asked if they give foot massages. He and Matt chuckled. We were cash-poor, our feet hurt, and not his target audience.

From Bill

Monday, April 27, 2009

Matt Shorts, v.1

He was my oldest brother. The Christmas before he died, he was sick with a neck ailment, and was in constant pain from an operation. As we hugged goodbye that time, I impulsively, reflexively, held his head in my hands and pressed his forehead to mine and told him he’d get through it, that we’d get through it and that I loved him. I had been annoyed with him not five minutes before. It was like that. He was my oldest brother and I adored him.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Scott C said...

I just learned yesterday, Dec 20, of Matt's passing.

I have been busy finishing med school, in Denver; and so, do not regularly check mail.
For the Holiday's, I'm at my parents now, in Portland, where my Reed mail collects. I was catching up on it yesterday; and was saddened to learn of Matt's passing.

I want to extend my condolences to all of Matt's family and friends and loved ones. I recognize the profound tolls (emotional and otherwise) that the sudden loss of a loved one creates. So, my thoughts are with all of Matt's family, friends, and loved ones.

Last night, I had a chance to reflect on my memories of Matt. Here are some of them.

In the first couple of days I was at Reed (during orientation infact), Matt was the first
person I met. For whatever reasons, he sought me out and introduced himself. We quickly established a friendship that lasted from those first days until years after graduation.

I think it's important to say that I was not a social person in my days at Reed. Instead, I was, for the most part, young and scared and isolated, which reflected in my behavior. I'm not proud of this fact, but that's how I was.

Matt's presence in my life however, from that first meeting, chipped away at my isolation. He repeatedly, over and over, year after year, invited me into the social circles he developed and partipated in. For the most part, I struggled against his invitations and floundered in those circles. But, Matt always kept coming back.

I am indebted to Matt for doing this: He allowed me the opportunity to establish friendships I would not have been able to establish myself.

At Reed, and after, Matt and I had many long conversations about many things: Music, movies, art, literature, philosophy, politics. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that those
conversations changed me, as a person, for the better.

When I first came to Reed, Matt was far ahead of me in most subjects. I brought some things
to the table, but most of our conversations amounted to Matt teaching me about things I knew nothing about. He introduced me to writers and thought that changed me. Most importantly, he was gracious about it. For example, in some subjects I was self taught and I did not know the correct pronunciations of many of the words. Matt would carefully and respectfully correct me in these points.

Over the years, there were times when I was dissappointed with his choices. Two long
conversations stand out in my mind. I remember aspects of those conversations and remember struggling to understand him and struggling to dissaude him. I remember leaving those conversations knowing that I had been unsuccessful; that he was set on his course.

In later years, we mostly only swapped events, stories and opinions over the phone;
while I was in Texas and he was in Chicago or California. But periodically, every few years,
we would touch base; at times, for hours. I found great challenge, and pleasure and reward
through all of these conversations.

For example, a couple years ago, prior to chosing to switch from industry to medicine, I consulted Matt, several times, over the phone. I listened carefully to his opinions. I appreciated his input on the matter, which influenced and strengthened me to proceed to a life I am now profoundly rewarded by and grateful for.

I believe I owe Matt many thanks for many things he did for me. Over and again he influenced me positively. So I remember Matt, and my friendship with him, with appreciation for his life and sadness for his loss.

Again, my condolences to all
Scott C