Friday, October 17, 2008

A Post For Terrin Durfey

If you check the Casbah listings as frequently as I do, you probably noticed that on Wednesday, October 22, Pinback is playing a benefit for Terrin Durfey. Tickets are $25 and you probably know how amazing it is to see Pinback in such a small setting. Alex from Swim Party asked me to post some background information about Terrin and by the time you're finished reading it, I hope you're inspired to donate to Terrin and his family.

The Terrin Durfey I know.

Life’s a short affair. People’s personal beliefs of life-after-death aside, we tend to talk about people’s time on Earth in terms of their age. So-and-so did such-and-such by the time he/she was X years old, or this person lived to be Y years old, that person was born before the telephone—or in today’s terms, those “crazy” kids think Mark Wahlberg is just an actor who at one time was a musician (sorta), where as us “older” kids think of him still as Marky Mark who happens to act (sorta) too.

The measure of life however, is something altogether different. Terrin Durfey is 34 years old, but the measure of his life and the people he’s inspired are beyond, well, for lack of a better word, measure.

Terrin is battling a really tough fight with cancer. He’s fighting hard, but the reality is, that his cancer is fighting harder. His current doctor has ended treatment, feeling that Terrin is out of options. He’s even suggested that Terrin start looking into hospice care. It’s a crushing blow, most people I know, me included, would throw in the towel and accept it, dwell on it, be victimized by it. But not Terrin.

He’s still fighting and will do so for his life. Whether cancer wins ultimately, or Terrin gets the blessing to see his son grow into a man, there’s no doubt that Terrin has already beat his cancer on the fundamental side. Terrin is still the same, infectious personality that I met back when we were kids and I’d like to share some of that.

Click 'keep on reading' for the full post.

I don’t remember exactly when I met Terrin, but I’m pretty sure it was around 9th grade. I was a reclusive, shy kid, having my own personal and family skeletons in the closet to deal with. I wasn’t a total loner in the sense, but I had plenty of lunches by myself in my high school career.

I instantly got along with Terrin. He was (and is) such a charismatic personality and immensely talented. We met in an after-school screen printing class. I had signed up in hoping to find some sort of creative talent with in me. Terrin was one of the students in the class that instantly caught my eye because he had some of the most stylized illustrations I had ever seen. I couldn’t draw (still can’t) but had really wanted to be involved in art, but was beginning to think that art wasn’t in my future. Terrin (with others in the class who were also inspirational to me) showed me that art could be more than just illustration/painting. He helped put me on a path that has led me to my point today, doing graphic design for a living, for the Museum of Contemporary Art no less, a feat I never would have imagined possible back then.

I grew up in relatively white-bred suburbia in Encinitas, though my school was nearly ½ Hispanic. My dad was an engineer and my mom, well, for the sake of this story, lets just keep it simple and say Mom wasn’t in the picture. My brother, who’s a year yonger than me, was a year ahead of me in most subjects, especially math and science. Not to say I was dumb, I wasn’t, but I was stoned. A lot. I’m not bragging about that. The reality was that I had issues (like 90% of kids) and I didn’t know how to cope, so I got high (at a Mormon church parking lot no less) and skateboarded and just assumed that I’d eventually end up doing some sort of “job” when I finished high school. If it wasn’t for that screen printing class, and a friend named Jason later on who became a graphic designer, I have no doubt that’s where I’d be now.

Terrin and some of his friends (who had become my school time friends) had started playing in bands. I’d been into music at that point, but only half-heartedly. My dad didn’t really listen to much music, we had virtually no records or tapes at the house (CD’s to come later), and when my mom was still in the picture, her favorite radio station was B-100. If you’re from SD, you know it and you probably remember it, and know why it’s not here anymore, and we’re better for it.

One of the first “punk” shows I saw was a band my friends started called “Onceler.” I had heard punk music, seen pictures of it, but I hadn’t seen it live. Onceler had a gig at a house party and told me (and about 300 students from high school) about it. I was a little scared to go to be honest. Though at that point I was already accustomed to buy pot from “dudes” at the d-street steps late at night, I hadn’t hung out in large social settings, especially one where one of the key selling points was the potential of physical injury(ies) in a mosh pit. I think it stands to point out that at this point, I was barely 5’ 8” and on a “heavy” day, maybe 120 lbs. The hot goth girl at Gamma Gamma could kick my ass just trying to help me button a studed bracelet.

The show was fucking amazing. It wasn’t that the music was particularly good, or the lyrics were inspirational, or that they were fighting a righteous cause in the post-Reagan era when George Bush the First was in power, it was that while Onceler was playing, their members were possessed by their instruments and by playing in front of people. I was still a virgin (the only boobs I’d seen were scrambled on Playboy and in the movie Blue Thunder) and I remember thinking, “fuck all my friends trying to get laid, I’m going to get a guitar.”

A few years later Terrin, Rich Sanderson, and Tim Semple started Boilermaker. At this point I had become friends with Rich as well, having a couple of classes together and some mutual friends via skateboarding. They told me about an upcoming show of theirs and I made sure to be there.

Holy Shit.

By this time I had really discovered music. All kinds. From Pixies to Pavement to Primus (yes, primus), Metallica to Madness, Cash to the Clash, Fugazi and everything in between. But Boilermaker was the first band that was really tangible to me. It was not just another friend’s band. It wasn’t another great band from DC or LA or Seattle. It was a good fucking band, that my friends happened to be in and it was from San Diego. Hell, it was from Encinitas for Christ’s sake! They, along with others, helped launch the face of the San Diego local music that I came to know and came to feel a part of.

I had finally gotten a guitar and a bass, but sucked at both, badly. I was still really shy and maybe a handful of people knew I was learning to play. My great friends David and Chris really helped push me to learn and stick to it, even though my typical defeatist self wanted to quit. But it was Terrin who, years later, would eventually convince me to really get involved and play music in a band.

Since this is about Terrin and not necessarily me, I wont regale you with my life from 20-26ish, but long story short, I moved away, didn’t play much if any music and was distracted with being a ski bum. Though I did smoke a whole lot less pot. Probably because I discovered Vodka and good beer, well and backpacking/hiking/etc...

When I moved back to San Diego for good, my friend Chris had been playing in a band called Serahtonic. Chris and I had been roommates in the summers when I’d come home to make money and he’d always have me “jam” with him. Chris is one of those guys that can play damn near any instrument he picks up because he just gets it. It was inspiring, but also intimidating. I was by no means good, but I was past totally sucking. Still, Chris didn’t care, he just liked playing music and liked playing music with me.

He’s the first person I really played music with and definitely the first I started to write music with. Eventually life would pull him into other pursuits and I found myself with no close friend(s) to play music with and I was still too shy to try and join a band. I had reconnected with Terrin due to him dating his future wife, Adrienne. She and I had become great friends and roommates in Mammoth. When I would see her and Terrin, I wound up always talking to him about his life and experience in bands.

He was always happy to recant stories, but he’d always say, you “gotta just do it and join a band.”

I’d just say “yeah, maybe one day,” but for me, it was always a pipe dream. I was never going to be good enough, talented enough, etc… Terrin didn’t press the point, but he also would tell me about the feelings and emotions and bonds he’d experience by playing in bands and basically one day said something along the lines of “man, who cares if you’re really good or really bad, just get on stage once and play, you’ll never be the same afterwards.”

He didn’t mean it in the sense of wanting to be adored by fans or any of that, but rather the powerful emotion of letting yourself go and be absorbed in playing music and being vulnerable. I could see it in his eyes, I could see his experiences, his hard work and hard times and it was the final call-to-action.

It would be years later before I would meet Petro and Eric and truly experience what Terrin was talking about, but along the way, when I’d see Terrin, he’d always ask how it was going musically for me. (An aside to my shyness, Terrin didn’t even know I played bass till after I started up in Swim Party. He had no idea that it was my preferred and main instrument, much like himself. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I didn’t want him to know I was stalking him.)

I never asked to play music with Terrin or his circle, because they were on a level I thought beyond me, but if I had, Terrin would have said “fuck yeah” with out even thinking twice. He was just into playing music with people and connecting. He inspired me (along with others) to keep searching, keep playing, keep writing, and keep positive, as much as a guy like me can.

I just saw Terrin a few weeks ago at a birthday dinner for Adrienne. He’d lost a lot of weight, was constantly fatigued from all the chemo and radiation he’d just been through, and yet, he still was genuinely interested in what was going on in my life and in my music. We talked about show experiences, basses and amps, being electrocuted from crap wiring, and talked about nothing in particular at the same time. He made jokes the same way he’s made them his whole life, he watched lovingly as his son Dakota ran around the house redecorating at least 3 times, and held Adrienne’s hand the way anyone would instinctively hold their partner’s hand that they’ve held for the past 7 some odd years.

Despite the physical appearance, you would never know that Terrin’s fighting for his life. He’s fighting for his physical life, but his mental life, well that’s a fight cancer never had a chance to beat, and frankly, never will.

If you’d like to help the Durfeys out, there are 2 fundraisers this coming week:

Monday, Oct 20: The Belly Up, with Jon Foreman (switchfoot), Joanie Mendenhall, Years Around the Sun, Alex Woodward and Ryan Ferguson (ex Noknife).

Wednesday, Oct 22: the Casbah, with Pinback and Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects.

Both shows are $25.00 and 21+

A while back a group of us held a fundraiser for Terrin and made some “I moustache Terrin” shirts (if you see his Moustache, you’ll get the joke). The remainder of those shirts will be on sale at the Casbah for sure (and hopefully the Belly Up but I’m waiting to hear back from them) and all the proceeds go directly to Terrin and his Family. If you'd like to make an outright donation, click here.

On a side note, I want to say thank you to Pinback, who on their tour have been donating a proceed of their merch sales to Terrin, to Rosey for letting me write this blog post, and you, for reading all 2010 words of it.

~ Alex


mia said...

If you can't make it to the Wed 10/22 Pinback benefit at the Casbah, or if you want to show your support at another show, please join us on Monday 10/20 at the Belly Up:

Confirmed bands have since grown to include:

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Sean O'Donnell of Reeve Oliver, Rob Machado, Joanie Mendenhall, Alex Woodard, Years Around The Sun, Ryan Ferguson, Dawn Mitschele, Molly Jenson, and more.

After a very small fee to the Belly Up, 100% of door proceeds will go directly to Terrin Durfey and his family.

It's a musical night for a great cause not to be missed!! XOXO

JME said...

You are a great writer. It's one a.m., I couldn't sleep and my attention span can't usually last that long. Terrin sounds like a beautiful person and I wish him a steady, healthy recovery.