(From September 4th of 2011 after a KCRW "moment" on a Sunday morning.)
Yancy Spencer III. July 2, 1950 - February 14, 2011
If I died young, at least i got some chocolate on my tongue.
--The Wood Brothers.
I eat chocolate just about every day. Okay, every day. I love nothing more than a good rich dark chocolate. It exhilarates. It satisfies. It makes me feel good about my antioxidant taste buds and also fulfills this desire I have to eat richly and still wear my certain taste in fancy fashions that are better suited when i'm not having a fat moment. (more on that later... at some point, or not). I'm particularly into salted dark chocolate, which I can't find anywhere in LA. I mean I guess I haven't looked that hard. When I say I can't find it anywhere I actually mean: at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods when I remember to look.
On the set of OZ, our craft service dudes, "Kind Crafty," were awesome, and they would bring me these delush-ious salted dark chocolate bars. Oh my gosh. I'm pretty careful with the craft of it all. If you hover round the table too much, it doesn't stay special. It is a way of life. and I always think the idea of such service and availability to me should stay: well, special. Not a way of life... otherwise you get, dare I say: spoiled. Spoiled! Here I am eating delectable dark chocolate every day. Living my dream of creating and getting hired to act under the direction of one of the most magnanimous, brilliant directors of our time, the great and powerful Sam Raimi. Literally one of the most generously kind minds and masters of organic storytelling at funwonderful and fantastical levels. In a prequel to a story that was one of the most influential of my youth working with the most talented cast: James Franco. Zach Braff. Michelle Williams. Rachel Weisz. Mila Kunis. Joey King. and the production crew. Oh my gosh, don't even get me started on the oscar nominees on said project. I'm surrounded by courage. And kindness. Literally each one of these masters of their craft, all hovering around the "craft." And I would just take a step back and say... thank you. I am grateful.
Now. Gratefulness. Gratefulness is a double-edged sword. Because I think we've poured it into a feeling. And the batter of gratitude gets kind of stuck to the edges of the Williams Sonoma melamine mixing bowl. But gratefulness. The act of being grateful is actually... a verb. It's an activity. Grateful only blossoms with activity through being. What does it mean to be utterly and totally grateful? Some might associate it with weakness. To be grateful you lay yourself down before others for them to trample. Or grateful is a crack in the door to "being taken advantage of." "They're grateful. They'll do it." I don't know. I think it's just serving one another. when you are grateful, you feel called to serve... others. no? Isn't that a powerful move, to feel so grateful that you care not what others think or how you are perceived, you only think about the action of filling another's void?
My father loved chocolate.
I got my separate stomach for sweets from him. i mean he was a pro athlete and surfed every day of of his life so there were calories burning and activity expenditures expending. But he and I, after that lunch or that dinner, you could find us wondering and 'macking' our lips. He loved key lime pie. And cherry pie. And pecan pie. And most pies in general. He didn't like apple pie. No less american. Just didn't care for it. But he ate an apple every day. Funny how the science of transforming food can sometimes not make you care for it in lesser forms. Or coagulated forms with other crusts and encompassing tools trapping the true taste of what it was meant to be.
Something I keep that my father had bought and kept in his "room" here at our house in California. "Duke's room," we call it. The last place he laid his head before he died too young. He had two little plastic containers of dark chocolate-covered caramels from Trader Joe's. i can't bring myself to throw them away. In fact I'm in a tizzy because i don't know where they are, but I can't bring myself to look for them for fear that they've been thrown away by accident. I assume by some such others that roam our hillside of a bungalow. But those sweets. Those treats that he kept tucked away in the bedside table mean... everything. The last treat he had on the eve of his death. A Grammy getaway as we sat watching Lady Gaga in her rubber egg suit of a dance party thingy, partaking of dark chocolate-covered caramels from his stash that he kept. Always have to have a stash.
I'd never heard this song "Chocolate on My Tongue" by the Wood Brothers. i had never heard of the Wood Brothers before today. But driving along listening to KCRW. They knew me. They knew my dad. And I wonder. As my dad sat in the last moment of his life along the PCH, staring out into the sun, watching the waves he had surfed and loved his whole life. A perfect day. If he said to the Lord:
"Well. At least I got some chocolate on my tongue."
Download: "Chocolate on My Tongue" by The Wood Brothers from their album Ways Not to Lose.