We remembered Tom this weekend, almost two months after his Death. The site, appropriately enough, was the Wittenberg Alumni House, which used to be Tom's fraternity house when he was there. it doesn't smell of keg party any more, and some of us who remember those times sort of wished it had.

Tom had a lot of friends, and he kept his friendships active, even when his friends moved away. Jamie and his wife drove up from Tampa. Tom, Debby and their daughter came from Michigan. There were a number of people I used to party with all the time, and a couple former roommates, now moved on to middle aged family life. But once we used to rock, and if our livers don't bounce back so quickly, we haven't forgotten how.

As life pulls people apart, so to do friendships drift, unless someon takes the initiative to maintain contact. Tom Newton did that for many of us, and seeing many of those people again I was reminded of how much I missed them, of the joy in our past. And there was Fun. Tom and Debby are very into pagan activities, and it was great fun to see my late friend's dittohead brother holding hands in a circle and repeating Ommmmmmm with the rest of us. Tom was a musician and there was an acoustic jam session among us. Even the kids joiined in. Debby teaches piano and music so she brought a small army of drums. I got a bit of a charge seeing one eight year old girl struggle to find the rythmn and eventually make it.

Then things got surreal. We ended up at a private home, sipping beer and yakking. We played the stereo this time. And then Debbie suggested that we had to hear a cappella.

I thought this was some new band she'd discovered. Turns out it wasn't. It was a band I had been in with my friend Tom, her Tom, a drummer named Kenny and Mike.

We were a really, really bad band. Kenny the drummer couldn't keep time. Tom Newton could, but preferred to follow.. I was guitarist. I could keep time, but if I ever tried to take a solo the whold band fell apart, because the bass player and drummer were cuing off me. Debby's Tom played keyboards, and he was the one really experienced player in the group.

Like I said, we sucked. One night we were getting frustrated by our inability to play anything the same way twice. So Tom came out from behind our keyboards and told us to put away our instruments and try something different. We would just sing.

So someone started out whe the Yes song {All Good People] and we tried to harmonize it. We butchered it. Remember that scene in This is Spinal Tap when they're standing before Elvis' grave and trying to do Heartbreak Hotel? Only Spinal Tap is a lot better than we were. The end of the first line goes up, but someone went down and we all followed. We were sharp and flat at the same time.

It was hideous.

I had fogotten that day over a decade ago. My late friend Tom Newton said we had to record this and pushed the button. We sang, and the mayhem was recorded on cassette for purposes of blackmail.

That tape had gone to Michigan when Tom moved north to marry Debby, whre it set mercifully unnoticed in a box for over a decade. But when Tom Newton died, and we had planned this event Tom and Debby went scurrying for anything that related to Newt. They came across this tape marked "a capella" and listened to it on the way to Springfield.

Only, some things are hideous, but still entertaining. Sort of like Plan 9 from Outer Space. We revile Ed Wood, but we still watch his movies because beneath the incompetence there was an idea, a center. A center that made us laugh.

What Tom and Debby heard on the way down, was the musical equivalent of Plan 9. Instead of butchery, they heard a piece of dadaist minimalism. They heard something absurd, spontaneous. And so they played it for us all..

And so I heard us butchering Yes, and started breaking up, not at all remembering that I was one of the perpetrators. The "The Connie song' began as we sang the name "Connie" over and over, in fifths. Connie was Ken's wife, and the giver of cookies.

Then Tom Hanson told me that I was one of the singers. I listened intently, and heard my nasal drone. In an instant the whole thing came crashing back to me.

So, we have recorded one potential anthem of the Subgenius. Tom is a video producer, and plans to go home and ad video tracks, for it seems that J.R. "Bob" Dobbs is married to one Connie. I see 1950's advertisements for refrigerators. I see Pleasantville. We are ready for Dr. Demento.

We have plans. And plans to travel, for while friends may pass on, friendships are to precious to let go.