It's been a couple of years since I've met a member of my "online entourage" (people who I read/people who read me) in person, so I was a little nervous (in a good way) about the opportunity for face time with the benevolent Dave Herrera.
Sometime 2001-ish, in one of those "isn't the Internet something" moments, Dave was doing an online search for the lyrics to the beautiful Rosie Thomas song called "Wedding Day." I had happened to post the lyrics in one of my journal entries, since I loved the sentiment of the song. Dave clicked on a link to my journal that the search engine served up, started reading, and, sometime later, wrote me a really cool e-mail telling me that he enjoyed my writing and that I cracked him up. I remember his e-mail came at a perfect time, because I'd been feeling down and uninspired. Then this generous compliment shows up in my in-box serendipitously. Dude! Sweet.
Then Dave turned into a kind of mentor for me, first giving me a chance to write a monthly column for the online magazine he founded. Months later, he kindly guided me through scribing the occasional music review for his hometown fishwrap. All along, he's been so supportive and just g'damn nice--not to mention the fact he gives me insider tips on new music. By chance this month, a story on a breaking band brought him to L.A. It just seemed silly not to break bread together.
We'd decided on Barney's Beanery, since Dave appreciates the basics. It's dive-y, plus has the street cred of having been the old pool-shooting spot of none other than Johnny Depp (circa 21 Jump Street). I beat Dave there and accidently struck up a conversation with an odd woman in a straw hat and almost-straw-looking faux cornrows. She spoke with an accent that sounded vaguely Parisian, although she said she was Persian. I asked if she was an artist. She told me she was an alcoholic. Fortunately, Dave's cab dropped him off shortly after. He'd described what he looked like to help me spot him: shaved head and a black Dickies jacket, but, knowing how easy-going he is from his conversational e-mail style, I was surprised at how bad-ass he looked.
Since it had been awhile since I'd met a journal peep, I'd forgotten what an odd feeling it is to have someone who I've never met know so much about me. (I do go on online.) There's a very entertaining aspect to bringing up an incident that's happened to me and having someone say, "Oh, yeah. I read about that in your journal." It's a real conversational time-saver, let me tell you.
Since time was short on his trip, it worked out that he already knew my back story. That gave me a chance to find out about how he became a self-made journalist with impressive career prescience, an encyclopedic knowledge of music (as well as an unquenchable thirst for undiscovered artists) and all kinds of common sense. The common sense helped him pick the perfect partner in his wife and helps him keep the good advice flowing on tap to his two kids. I especially enjoyed the dating advice he recently gave to his daughter: "No guy is worth your tears. But the rare guys who are worth your tears won't make you cry." I've since shared that advice with a couple of single girlfriends of mine and they nod, wide-eyed at the wisdom.
Bad-ass exterior. Good guy interior. Solid citizen. Creative denizen. The world needs more Dave Herrera's. That's for damn sure.