Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

For Bob Berry’s memorial, delivered 6-10-2011

I would like to read a quote from one of Bob’s favorite books, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut, in the role of a spiritual leader named Bokonon, wrote “ Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

My travels with Bob started with a conversation about bicycles. When I met Bob at a party in San Diego we shared our bicycle commute stories. My story was of an 19 mile uphill ride from the beach community of Ocean Beach where I then lived to Kearny Mesa in order to start work at 6:00 am. Bob, a former Ocean Beach resident countered with his own Berkeley to San Francisco commute. Bob was then working as a loader for a small, overnight, freight airline called Zoom Zoom. Bob referred to Zoom Zoom as a hippy Marxist airline, though he wasn’t sure which Marxist faction described the operation, Groucho or Harpo. Each afternoon, Bob rode on BART with his bike from Berkeley to Daly City Station, the terminus of the BART system in San Francisco at the time. Then he rode to SFO to start his job on the graveyard shift. All night, Bob would load and unload Zoom Zoom’s fleet of DC3s that connected to various parts of the west coast. At dawn, he would catch the final flight, with his bicycle on board, from SFO to Oakland Airport. From there, he would ride to BART’s Coliseum Station. If he made it there before 6:30 am, he would take the train back to Berkeley. If he arrived after that time, he would not be able to bring his bike on board, since bicycle access was restricted during commute hours. That meant he had to pedal back home from East Oakland, almost 11 miles. This daily routine continued until the Marxist airline was, at least according to Bob, put out of business by the CIA. But that’s another story.

The dance continued when my then wife Melissa, our pre-school age daughter Dharma, and I relocated from Southern California to live with Bob in Berkeley. It stretched on for three decades. It included buying and sharing a house in West Berkeley, raising Bob and Melissa’s daughter Avila, numerous bicycle rides, weekend long Grateful Dead concerts, anti-war demonstrations, and flea market excursions to find books on obscure history and conspiracy theories. It has been a long, strange trip.

I would like to finish with one of my favorite recent quotes. It is from Joan Rivers who said, “Just laugh at everything. If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.” That describes how Bob dealt with all the insanity of the world. He laughed at it all, taking nothing or anyone seriously, including himself. After reading all those books on conspiracy theories, he finally had the answer. “It is all one big conspiracy,” Bob said, “to keep me entertained.”

Bob, the laughter we shared will live in my heart until I die. So thanks for the dancing lessons. You were a good dancing partner.

Blessed be.

June 11, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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