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Joseph Tobin: A One In A Million Man
My Buddy Joseph
On Sunday night March 6th, 2011, I had my first real cry since hearing the news that my good friend Joseph Tobin had passed away.
Strangely, how I found out I lost my friend was not ideal. I received an invite to his Tribute concert on Facebook. I thought it was some kind of marketing ploy or perhaps he had so much support... I don't know, then I read that all the proceeds go to the family.
So I thought there was some kind of disaster, like a fire burned down the family home or some act of God and Chris Pierce, a friend of Joseph's and fellow musician had organized a fundraiser.
So I sipped my coffee on a Saturday morning in late February trying to "get" the joke. I called my buddy Joseph. There was no answer. In fact there was an automated message telling me he was unavailable. What the hell was going on?
I sent an email via Facebook to his long time girlfriend and another to a few friends that all knew Joseph... the email read simply, "call me"
Joseph Tobin: Green Eyes
Joseph Tobin "Ride WIth Me"
Joseph and I...
First met waiting tables at a restaurant in Studio City, CA. Mexicali Cocina Cantina. We hit it off pretty quick. He was funny, full of life, had a little edge and anger about him and was incredibly humble. Many of which were things we had in common. The full of life part was something I coveted. His energy and spirit was so strong and it was also incredibly contagious. We loved to laugh. Friends that you can laugh with are priceless.
One night in 2001, Joseph told me he was playing at Ghengis Cohen, a Chinese Restaurant and Bar in Hollywood. Joseph was so humble that even after having known him for a few months, this was the first time I had heard he was a musician. I thought he was like the rest of us, all trying to make it in Hollywood.
Joseph was an actor, but it seemed music had ignited his heartstrings
My girl and I went to see him play. From the moment he got started, I knew that I was watching a star. A real talent. A singer with a deep passion. Why isn't this guy on the radio yet??? I was totally blown away. Where did all this come from? Clearly this was not the same dude I waited tables with. This is as I soon found out, a common theme in Los Angeles and other big towns that also act as entertainment meccas. You meet so many talented people waiting tables, tending bar, telemarketing, selling, you name the industry and you'll sooner or later run into someone with a big dream.
Joseph, was not chasing celebrity though. Joseph was doing something he knew he had to do. Fame and fortune was clearly going to be a consequence of the action and certainly not the reason for the action.
I went from feeling pretty good about knowing this guy to completely honored that he even invited me in about 3 cords and the truth.
So, who was Joseph Tobin to me? A friend. Not a "best friend" because the world and the city and life tends to separate people. I get busy, you get busy. We all get busy. But let me tell you this, when you're with Joseph, he has this way of listening to you like you are his best friend and it becomes so easy to reciprocate.
Life goes on. The phone's right there the whole time and you're using it too, but are you calling the right people? The one's who need calling? Probably not and I'll bet you think about them every day and tell yourself you should but you don't. Next time you feel that way, pick up the damn phone.
I'm going to share with you some of my favorite memories about my friend Joseph Tobin.
All The Best Cooks Are Men!
This priceless gangster story has lines that probably still, to this day, hang in the air at Mexicali Cucina Cantina in Studio City. Many a night Joseph and I would break each other up quoting lines from Donny Brasco. Some nights I got to be Al Pacino and other nights Joseph got to be Al Pacino. Either way, Forgetaboutit was uttered multiple times on multiple nights and there was plenty of humor to go around.
Behind this was a deep appreciation for Al Pacino and Johnny Depp's portrayal of these two very real human beings embedded in a life that neither wanted to be in. Joseph and I had dreams that never involved waiting tables. I think deep down we identified with Lefty and Donny.
Then there'd be Joseph's funny usage of Italian slang. When he'd get a bad tip, he'd say something like:
"You know, that guy might as well have just given me a swift kick right in the "stugattz" with a tip like that. I ought to go out side and ask that guy, 'Hey buddy, why don't you come back and kick me right in the STUGOTS!"
Then we'd get really silly with it...
"Make sure to get a running start! Back up! No, no further... yeah, right there man. There you go. Now, c'mon, get a good running start... and let fly... right in the STUGOTS!"
Halloween 2001 or 2002 I'm not sure. I showed up to work in an authentic Southern Gentleman circa 1880's costume, Ala Doc Holliday. I'm kind of a perfectionist that way. I took my Halloween Costume that year a little too seriously. I'm going to look like I just walked off the set of Tombstone II, is what I was hoping for.
As I walked in proudly to work, I saw Joseph in his costume. He too aparentyl took his costume very seriously.
I actually stopped to take it in. There Joseph was, looking like he just stepped off the set of Star Trek in 1967. Perfect costume. Boots with the pants tucked in and then loosely pulled out, like in the series. Black pants. Yellow shirt, tucked in, just like Captain Kirk. He even styled his hair a little bit.
I was amazed by the authenticity. I walked up to Joesph and with excitement in my voice said "Hey, man! Great costume dude! That looks awesome. I didn't know you were a Star Trek fan. Bro, that looks great!"
Joseph turned and said, "Thanks!" With a huge smile and a Southern twang to it... he was also wearing those "Billy Bob Teeth."
This shocking bit of humor had me cracking up, not only for about an hour after, but well into the night. In fact, when I tried to tell my girl (who later became my wife) it took me about 15 minutes because I was laughing so hard...
I laughed so hard my stugots hurt...
A Day At The Races
One night while waiting tables we started coming up will silly names for racehorses. We started with a horse named "Neck-n-Neck" and then added another horse named "Comin-around-the-Corner"
From there it went downhill rather quickly, so if you're squeamish or too proper for a good old fashioned dirty joke, please scroll on down to the next part of the story...
The rest of the line-up was added throughout the course of the night.
The next horse was named "Your-Sisters-Ass" and that was quickly followed by "Look-At-The-Cock-On-That-One."
One of those resulted in missing a drink order and a pissed off customer due to uncontrolled laughter.
So that's 4 ponies so far. An average horse race can have 8-14 horses in it. We never got that high and somewhere in my files I wrote them all down. If I find it and have the exact roster of all the ponies, I will come back an update this...
Joseph Tobin "In Love"
Joseph Singing At My Wedding
- Antique Jewelry: How I Found My Wife Her Engagement and Wedding Ring
Ready to tie the not? Don't want to get the rings at the mall? Want something unique, classic and full of style and character? Here's the deal...
My Wife's Engagement Ring and Our Wedding
Next time you think to yourself, "man, I wish I never worked there" or I wish I never... fill in the blank with any negative experience, Anytime you think about something and wish it never happened, consider this (because Mexicali wasn't necessarily a "positive" work environment) but if I hadn't have chosen to work there, I never would have met Joseph Tobin and I would have missed knowing such an amazing human being.
I've always said that within the hour of kissing my wife for the first time I knew. I knew the search was over and I was done shopping. That being said, I didn't want to rush anything and I also wanted to make sure I got it right, so I kept that info to myself.
Now, don't ask me for a specific date, but, at some point, early in my time spent working at Mexicali, I started trying to figure out how I was going to pay for an engagement ring.
Shortly there after, Joseph reaches into his pocket and shows me a wad of one dollar bills. He then proceeds to tell me that he puts all his ones in a shoe box at the end of the day. Sometimes it's a lot, other times, not so much, but after a while, he tells me, you can save a good chunk of change and hardly notice it.
Hmmmm.... I wonder... Do you ever have those moments where someone tells you something and you can't help but wonder if, even though, the words are coming from their mouth, if this might be God talking to you?
That's what happened there. I started saving my ones and that's how I paid for my wife's engagement ring.
In February of 2004, the 21st to be exact, I was honored and blessed to marry the love of my life. A few things that day were very important to my wife and I. One of which was to make sure that somehow, someway, Joseph sang for us and everyone there.
My wife picked the song, it was by Savage Garden. The title, "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" It was funny too because Joseph busted my chops a bit for asking him to sing something so "poppy." Later on he told me that as he looked at the lyrics and started making the song his own that he understood why my wife picked it.
Thinking back and trying to remember your wedding day fully can be rather difficult. It's like the busiest most emotional day you can imagine. Thank God for video! One thing's for sure though, having Joseph sing at my wedding was an honor, treat and definitely a blessing.
Sometimes living in Los Angeles can make friends that are so close, yet so far. After we both moved on from Mexicali, I got in the car business and invested more time into writing than acting. Joseph cut an album, went on tour and continued pushing for his dream which was now more a goal than a dream. For me, a dream is motivation and inspiration whereas a goal is more tangible. When a person converts a dream to a goal, they are that closer to attaining it.
The life of a struggling artist is always hard. It's trying, stressful and can take it's tool on the spirit. What a challenge it is to stay positive while nursing and pursuing "the dream."
On January 8th, 2011, Joseph Tobin passed away quietly in the evening. Ultimately, I would like to think that Joseph's passion for life, his music, his love for the world and everyone he encountered was more than his mortal body could handle.
Medically speaking, that's also known as an Aortic dissection. Your aorta is the largest artery in your body. It connects directly to the heart. The left ventricle to be exact. An aortic dissection occurs when there is a tear in the inner lining of the aorta, which can cause the other layers to compromise as well. If all the layers of the aorta rupture, massive and rapid blood loss occur. Statistically speaking, once when this happens, there's an 80% mortality rate.
I prefer my diagnosis better, but it's always good to understand the science. This is also how John Ritter passed. Aortic dissection is incredibly rare. Especially in someone as young as Joseph. Outside of trauma, there are a few causes. Hypertension is one and another would be a congenital defect in the aorta.
The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health is dedicated to increasing awareness in the areas of aortic dissection. There are links below if you'd like to do further research or make a donation. If you choose to do so, please do so in Joseph Tobin's name.
Aortic Disection Links
Last But Not Least...
My buddy Joseph touched many lives with his music. I don't know about you the reader but I tend to believe that death is more of a transition than an end to things. I will not be so arrogant as to say I understand the inner workings of God and why certain things happen because so much of life AND death is a mystery.
Were we robbed of Joseph too soon? Who's to say? My thoughts on that is he can do far more good in an omnipresent environment then he ever could in this limited human body that is required to function under the laws of physics.
About 5 years ago, my friend Doug Brown passed away. He too was a musician and I had the privilege to speak at his funeral. I actually quoted Yoda. You know a film has had an impact on society when the wisdom of a Muppet gets quoted at a grown man's funeral... but here's the quote and I only say this because not only is it severely true for Doug, it is also incredibly true for Joseph and fortunately, I believe it is true for us all.
"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
Think about it.
Joseph wrote a song called "One In A Million Man." The song was about his wanting to be that guy... a "one in a million man"
All I can say is; he was, he is, and he will always be.
You can get his album "Ride With Me" over on CD Baby. There's a link below. I not only recommend it, but I tripple-dog-dare you to buy this CD and not love it.
This is the work of a man who loved what he did so much that his body could not contain his spirit any longer. Owning this CD will lift your spirit and if you close your eyes at a stop light, just for second, you will feel the luminescence of a one in a million man.
Thank you Joseph for being my friend, for cracking me up so many times, for playing at my wedding and for enriching the lives of so many. You will continue to enrich the lives of many others from a much better vantage point.
Fair winds and following seas my friend...
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