Monday, May 15, 2006

Ghost II

No. This is not the announcement of a sequel to the Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze/Whoopi Goldberg blockbuster. If that's what you were hoping for, sorry.

This is Part II of my Michael Bloomfield ghost story - read the post before last for Part I.

While I was waiting to hear back from Jeff Johnson, I began making a few notes for my Michael Bloomfield story and googling to see what else was on the internet. That's when I came across a posting of where Michael Bloomfield is buried. Shock. He's here. In Los Angeles. Where I live. Michael was from Chicago and lived in Mill Valley (San Francisco) so I assumed he was buried in one of those places. I was wrong. What is he doing here? 17 miles from my house. Less than 10 miles from my old house. At a cemetary that I have driven by countless times. And every time I drove by it I would look at the looming mausoleum on the hill and think about the dead. Wonder who they were and what their lives were like.

Within days (it took me awhile to mentally prepare myself), I was driving down the 405, a couple of roses on the passenger seat, Michael Bloomfield blasting on my iPod, on my way to see him. I don't remember the last time I visited someone at a cemetary. Actually, I don't think I ever have. I've spent a lot of time in cemetaries - mostly old ones - because I like taking pictures of old gravestones. The graveyard where my profile picture was taken is at Lake Windermere in British Columbia.
Windermere District Cemetary

I spent my summers there (well, not in the graveyard) when I was a kid. We used to sneak into the graveyard when it got dark and look for bones, tell ghost stories and generally try to scare the shit out of each other.
Two days old. Sad.

Nice view if you can get it.

In the profile pic I'm sitting behind Joe Young's grave.
I love how they told a whole story in a few words on the old headstones. They didn't say Joe died. They said he was killed. Big difference. And how about "HORSES.RAN.AWAY." That conjures up lots of images for me. The graveyard isn't full, but for some reason they stopped burying people there in the mid-fifties.

Oops. That was a tangent. Back to the MB story.

I pulled into the cemetary not knowing if Michael was really on message boards aren't always reliable. I went into the reception office and asked the woman behind the desk if Michael Bloomfield was buried here. His name meant nothing to her. But she was still very nice to me. She asked me to write his name and date of death on a piece of paper. It took her a few minutes on the computer before she came up with a Michael Bloomfeld (or something like that) - yup, they had spelled his name wrong on the computer listing - and I think they only had the year of death listed. We finally decided that it was probably Michael and she pulled out a cemetary map and highlighted the directions to his grave. She was visibly impressed. She said, "He's in the Mausoleum," as if he had won six oscars for the honor. Yes, the Mausoleum. The big building on the hill that stared back at me every time I drove to LAX or Newport or Huntington Beach or San Diego. Wondering who might be in there.

Close-up, the place is huge. I knew there had to be a lot of Hollywood types entombed in its walls because of the giant slab with Mark Goodson's name beveled into the marble perched to the left side of the entrance. Inside the building is clean and cold. I finally found Michael's 'grave' in the Sanctuary of Meditation room. I was the only person around. The place was dead quiet. I stared at his metal plaque. It was weird to imagine his body in there. The last time I saw him he was so full of life. I didn't want him to be there. I wanted him to be standing next to me laughing at the thought of ever being inside that wall.

Someone had left a business card tucked behind the left corner of Michael's plaque. A guy who taught guitar in the Netherlands or Germany. There was also a guitar pick and a couple of coins sitting on the ledge. And empty flower holders mounted on each side of the plaque, as if they were waiting for the two roses I brought. I played a couple of his songs through my iPod headphones, wishing I had speakers to entertain his neighbors. Before I left I tucked a small print of the photo of Michael and me behind the right corner of the plaque, wondering if it would be there the next time I visit. Maybe on his birthday in a couple of months.

After trading a couple of emails with Jeff, I asked if he could put me in touch with Michael Bloomfield's brother, Allen. He had been quoted several times in Jeff's article and I wanted to let him know about the book and show him some of the photos I had taken of Michael. Jeff kindly forwarded my email to Allen and I heard back from him the next day. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the email in my the "from" column it said "mikebloomfield" - if only...

Allen kindly gave me his number with a "feel free to call" message. Of course, I took him up on that offer. We had a great conversation. Talked about Michael and everything else under the sun. Allen is responsible for launching the Michael Bloomfield Official Website and he oversees his estate as well as running a farm with his wife, Valerie, and dabbling in a little writing of his own on the side. He asked me lots of questions about my life and I had the feeling he was genuinely interested (very un-L.A.). I mean, jeez, he even asked if he could read one of my screenplays.

February 14th, the day before the anniversary of Michael's death and four days before I scanned his photos and read Jeff's article, I booked a trip to New York for the second week of March. I was looking for a little peace and quiet. Me, alone in a hotel room. Yes, that's right, alone. No responsibilities, nobody to bother me. A chance to think and write for a whole week, uninterrupted. By the end of the Allen Bloomfield call, I had mentioned I was going to be in New York the following week and we discussed getting together. In the meantime, he asked if I could send him a copy of the fire eating pic of Michael for his website. Absolutely.

Damn. This post got really long, really fast. Where does the time go? And I didn't even get to the ghost part. I should have outlined. But I guess that means there will have to be a Ghost III.

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