June 27, 2006

The Yankee and the Cracker.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:16 pm

Rob.jpgIt was a most improbable friendship.

I was born in New Jersey and, except for a couple years courtesy of the U.S. Army, I’ve lived in Jersey all my life. Rob was born in Kentucky, but was raised in “Georgia”, and he was “Georgia” down to his bone marrow. I grew up playing in the streets and ate Taylor Ham and Italian hot dogs. Rob played in the woods and ate cornbread and boiled peanuts. We sure as hell didn’t sound the same when we talked. I’m a lawyer, and I think we all know how Rob felt about lawyers. He would unleash his verbal flamethrower at the mere mention of the word “lawyer”.

Despite all that, we were friends. Go figure.

I, like others, was drawn to his words, and few people used them more effectively and eloquently than did Rob. Even back when he was working, every day he would manage to produce writing of a quality and in quantities that anyone would envy. I became a fan shortly after embarking on my blogadventure in late 2002. I don’t remember exactly when I received my first “Acid Bath” and ultimately ended up on Rob’s Blogroll, but I was honored and even more surprised to be there.

Ultimately, though, I think it was the music.

I always particularly liked Rob’s posts about music in general and playing music in particular. Rob spent a few years making a living with his guitar, his voice, and his gift of gab. I’ve spent a good portion of my life playing everywhere from grimy saloons and American Legion Halls to a slew of wedding mills and places like the Waldorf Astoria and the Sands Hotel. As such, I recognized him immediately, not just as a guy who played guitar and sang, but rather as a PLAYER.

I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to know many musicians but only a handful of PLAYERS. The difference is that lots of people can make an instrument produce music, but PLAYERS are much more. PLAYERS don’t necessarily have to be technical masters – indeed many, perhaps most, are not. But they do have music buried deep inside their DNA. It just shows.

I knew in my gut that Rob was a PLAYER, and I wanted a chance to meet him and play with him. I never thought it would happen. Hell, I had never met a blogger – any blogger – in person. Then in 2004 the Blogtoberfest in Helen came along.

By this time I had gotten to the point to where Eric and I would occasionally shoot the breeze on the phone. He asked me if I was going to Helen, and told me he was bringing his guitar, and asked if I might like to go and bring my guitar. I knew that Rob was going to be there, and it was something that I didn’t want to miss. Of course, it wasn’t easy trying to explain to non-bloggers why I was planning to fly to Atlanta and rent a car to drive to Helen just to meet a bunch of people I had never met before. My friend and “bodyguard” Ken, always one to enjoy a good party, agreed to accompany me on the trip.

It wasn’t too long after our arrival in Helen before we dragged out the guitars and began to play. (It came as a complete surprise to me that Denny also plays, and he plays very well indeed). It didn’t take but a minute or two for me to confirm my hunch that Rob was indeed a PLAYER. Playing with Rob and Denny was more fun than any person ought to be allowed to have.

At one point, we all moved to a local bar, and Rob asked, “Jim, what the hell ever possessed a guy from New Jersey to come all the way down here for a day and a half?” I felt more than a little silly when I confessed that the reason I had come to Helen was to meet him and play a duet. He waited a beat or two, then smiled his trademark grin and said, “Damn, Jim. I’m flattered. Glad you came.” I too was glad I came. It was in Helen that I “made my bones” as an honorary “Jawja Blogger” an appellation of which I remain exceedingly proud.

I met Rob again at the Blogmeet in Jekyll (The Wreckl in Jekyll), and I got a chance to play with Rob and his brother Dave who, not surprisingly, is also a PLAYER. We played, sang and laughed our asses off for hours. Denny joined in for some tunes, and all of us damned near died laughing when he whipped out the kazoo and played the instrumental part to “Runaway” and later to “Rocky Racoon.” We ended up sitting around taking turns telling stories and generally shootin’ the shit and howling with laughter until damned near six in the morning.

Most recently, I was with Rob in Austin, where we again dragged out the guitars along with Denny, and traded tunes. Rob hadn’t had a drink in months, and he didn’t drink in Austin, but he sure as hell could still play and sing. Hell, I think I would have traveled anywhere, if I knew when I got there Rob would be there with his guitar. In fact, not too long ago, Rob bought some fancy recording equipment, and I suggested that once he figured it all out, we should get a few bloggers together and make an “album” for shits and giggles. That won’t happen now.

So, here I find myself – a Yankee lawyer devastated by the loss of my Cracker, lawyer-hating friend.

It was indeed a most improbable friendship, but it was one that I shall cherish always.

Just keep pedalin’ on “C” Rob. One of these days, I’ll show up, and we’ll finish the tune.


  1. … beautiful, Jimbo…. you two (and Denny makes three) were always the life of the party.. it just isn’t a meeting of the Jawja crew without you guys… it’s never going to be the same now, I think….

    Comment by Eric — June 27, 2006 @ 9:13 pm

  2. *soft tear*

    Bless you for this Jim. I miss him.

    Comment by imp — June 27, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

  3. See what you did? Now I’m leaking again.

    What an amazing tribute.

    Comment by Jay — June 27, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  4. And you two made beautiful music together! Rob did indeed think very highly of you. He often told me how much he wished he had your, what’s that word? “f-something” hair!

    Comment by livey — June 27, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

  5. Jim – what a beautifully written tribute. Now you’ve made me cry again…

    Comment by Kate — June 27, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

  6. Cool words…from a cool guy

    Comment by marcus — June 27, 2006 @ 11:04 pm

  7. I miss him too and the picking was great sorry I missed

    Comment by ga — June 27, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

  8. Überwältigend…

    Comment by A-Heldin — June 28, 2006 @ 5:54 am

  9. A beautiful and loving tribute. Thanks, Jim. Hearing you, Rob, and Denny play in Austin was one of the highlights of the trip…now it will be an untouchable memory.

    Comment by Elisson — June 28, 2006 @ 6:32 am

  10. That was beautiful Jim.

    Comment by Lisa W. — June 28, 2006 @ 8:38 am

  11. Beautiful Jimbo. Just beautiful. A wonderful tribute to a friend.

    And the memories of hearin’ y’all in Austin are some I’ll treasure always…..

    Comment by Tammi — June 28, 2006 @ 10:17 am

  12. Can’t really add to what everyone’s said, Jim. Just letting you know I liked it. A lot.

    Comment by dogette — June 28, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  13. Thanks Jim. Yep, one of the things that cracker and I agreed on was that lawyers, politicians, and preachers alternated at the top of our all time shit list. But then since he didn’t hold it against you neither will I. Like he said, there are some good yankees, but the percentage is kind of low. The good ones liked acidman.

    Comment by GUYK — June 28, 2006 @ 9:07 pm

  14. I have to stop reading these posts or I’ll never stop crying. Moving tribute Jim. I knew right away he was a player too, and I never heard him play. I just had a gut feeling. That’s what attracted me to his blog in the first place. It sure wasn’t the politics….

    Comment by Libby — June 28, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  15. J, I’d like to extend my condolence on your loss. It was a beautifully written tribute. One which made me wish I had read his blog & known him.

    May the sadness & bitersweet memories pass into the realm of the fond & sweet soon enough.

    Comment by michele — June 29, 2006 @ 10:00 am

  16. damn, I just found out…

    Comment by John Climacus — July 1, 2006 @ 4:48 am

  17. Godspeed, Acidman….

    After a two-week hiatus, I find that Rob Smith has died. Damn. Just damn. The blogosphere will be much less interesting without the Acidman. Wow, that’s an understatement if ever there were one. Gut Rumbles was one of the first…

    Trackback by BLACKFIVE — July 3, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  18. Carnival of the Vanities #200 – Acidman Memorial Edition…

    Jim remembers Rob in the context of their most unlikely friendship, between a Yankee lawyer and a Jawja cracker.

    Later, in one of the funniest posts ever, Jim puts us there when Rob meets up with St. Peter. …

    Trackback by Accidental Verbosity — July 20, 2006 @ 3:16 am

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