Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jay (John F.) Bonfatti: A Friend to All

When Buffalo News reporter Jay Bonfatti (bylined John F. Bonfatti) died last week, the outpouring of people who worked with, drank and ate with, enjoyed music, jammed and shared life with him was and remains immense, just like Jay's life and indeed, his being.
I won't go as in-depth as those who knew Jay better than me have, especially here at the Buffalo News' blog on Bonfatti, have because they tell such rich and vibrant stories that mine would pale against, so I will confine things to some small appreciations of the man. I met Jay more than 20 years ago through several friends, writers and sports types at shows at the New Pink Flamingo, Nietzsche's, the Sportsmen's Tavern and other places, as well as on the softball diamonds of Houghton Park in the Western New York Media Softball League.
Sharing some musical tastes, when we met Jay said that he had read and enjoyed some of my music writing (Buffalo Night-Life Magazine, Artvoice, Sacred Cow, etc. at that point). As I wondered if he was just being nice, he then said back to me, verbatim, things I had written about two bands he enjoyed. Damn.
Jay lived less than two blocks from me, and we would frequently see each other when I was walking our dog, Walker Evans, whose name Jay appreciated, as well as when he sometimes bemusedly watched me campaigning as part of my duties as a Democratic committeeman in the district in which he lived (campaigning Jay never entered my mind, because I could only imagine the jokes he would rightfully subject me to). He particularly enjoyed watching me run door-to-door in some cold late-October or Novmeber rain. But we would talk when I was walking my dog about music, sports, journalism and other topics, with Walker Evnas frequently sitting and then laying down as we talked.
Friday, I walked Walker Evans on our route down Norwood Avenue and other streets, passing the house Jay's apartment was in; I had to look and slow down, and I felt I don't even know what, probably the fact that an amazing life force was no longer just in this neighborhood, but was now spread around for everybody.
Walker Evans and I continued our walk, including on Lexington Avenue; as we passed the home of Mark Wisz, a very, very good friend of Jay's, I looked to see Mark sitting on his side stoop, looking about as blah as me. We both waved, but I kept walking, becuase words were still escaping me and we both knew that Jay had died and that this was a great loss, nothing I could have made better. You can read Mark's musings on Jay here.
Walker and I also passed The Place, which has reopened at the corner of Norwood and Lexington; how many of us wish we could just have one more night to spend with Jay and listen to him talk about ... anything. I'd say rest in peace, Jay, but we know he still has many things he wants to do.
You can read former Buffalo News reporter and great friend of Jay's Elmer Ploetz's comments on Jay here.


Blogger Mister E said...

Nicely put.

BTW, I get a kick out of it every time I see Walker Evans' name. What a great name for a pooch!


10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice note. but remember grammar and run on sentences.

6:01 PM  

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