January 31, 2015

On Reading

Amir worked at an upscale health club/tennis center in Portland for more than 5 years. He was able to swim and work out there, which he enjoyed, and though he'd sometimes gripe about certain club members, he was well regarded and liked by the majority of people he came into contact with. Being an introvert is not easy, particularly when having to deal with people all day--Amir and I related extremely well to each other about this aspect of both our personalities. Introverted people are often misunderstood as being anti-social or even misanthropic, a struggle that Amir and I shared and about which we often commiserated and empathized with each other. 

I recently finished reading a book (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking) that I so wish I could have shared and discussed with Amir, as it helped me better understand my own introverted nature. As the loss of my brother and dear friend has begun to sink in more deeply, I find myself so desperately sad about all the things I won't be able to discuss with him--books and music, most importantly.

A few weeks ago, I received a box of Amir's books kindly shipped to me by his girlfriend, Joleen. It jostled me a bit to see among them Less Than Zero, A Million Little Pieces and Dry. Amir was a voracious reader and addiction was a topic he was well versed in, not just as a product of his own struggles (and those of people close to him), but as someone interested in the inner workings of our brains. We used to talk at great length about addiction and its foundations--why it took hold of some, including himself, but not others under similar circumstances. Why Amir but not me or Yael? (That's an entire other blog post I'll have to get to one of these days.)

Knowing our similar tastes in reading material, Amir had been encouraging me to read Chuck Klosterman for years. I just never got around to it. Now, with three Klosterman books in my possession from Amir's personal collection, I will begin tackling this writer who resonated so deeply with Amir. But I hesitate, knowing the empty feeling that will accompany my finishing these books without being able to call Amir to discuss them.

Everything I see, read or do now is tinged with a sense of loss and the harsh realization of Amir's absence. I have no choice but to accept it, though it will never feel right.

January 22, 2015

"I Like Toast" - by Ian Levy

Amir has been one of my best friends since the summer before 8th grade. He made fun of my use of my middle initial, which I am quite sure he found stupid and pretentious. He adopted the first initial Q. so as to not be left out of the initial club. We had a "band" (that created no actual music) called QAP and IEL. (Pronounced: Kwap and Eel). To me, he will always be Q. Amir Prizant.

He was the inventor of a game called Vashad Varoom, which we played almost every day in his backyard the summer before 9th grade. The game only had two rules. It had to be played in a pool and it had to involve a ball. All other rules were to be made up on the spot and varied day to day. It was one of the all time great games, and I'm glad I remember it.

Ian, Jeff, Amir - 1994
There were four of us that we called the Four Amigos--Amir, Y. Mike Kelly, Ryan G. Sierra and myself. Three of us went to one Jr. High. Amir went to a different one. Which meant he was frequently bored to tears when we would talk at length about people he had never met and didn't care about. One evening, when such discussions had been going on at some length, Amir suddenly interjected "Personally, I prefer Cookies and Cream." It broke the whole room up. It was his way of telling us to stop boring him and get back to discussing important things like drama girls and the nuances of prog rock. "Personally, I prefer Cookies and Cream" is something I still say to people when they are going on interminably about something I have no knowledge of or interest in.

He had the sharpest, most biting wit of anyone I have ever known. I'm just glad that most of the time I wasn't on the receiving end of it. That smirk of his is permanently laser etched into my brain. He could also be as banal as humanly possible. I have a school photo he gave me in 10th grade. I used to carry it in my wallet. On the back he wrote:

"Ian, I like toast. - Amir"

I don't think any person had more impact on my musical tastes than Amir. If I think about my favorite bands, I can trace at least half of them directly to him. Special thanks to whoever bought Amir that stereo for his bar mitzvah. You changed my life.

I remember how much he admired and adored each member of his family. I slept in their house dozens of times. I saw it up close.

I remember how proud he was when we went to see "House of Blue Leaves." We were just TADW kids looking forward to joining the Chatsworth High drama program. It was the big time for us. But what I remember most was how Amir was pointedly--visibly--proud of his sister Yael. He put up a cynical front sometimes, but that night he could not contain his pride. He was showing her off to us. It was a moment of real sweetness when it felt like we were standing at the gateway to the rest of our lives, and I will always treasure the memory.

Ayelet, you were his best friend. I don't think he looked up to anyone in the world as much as you. He truly adored you. He talked about you all the time. I remember him planning trips from Arcata based on when he would get to see you. He tried to play it cool, but I could always tell when he was really excited about something and getting to see you was always one of those somethings.

Many of my best memories of Amir are in your house, playing Mille Bornes (which we intentionally mispronounced Mill Borns) at the kitchen table, staying up all night on New Years and Halloween and 4th of July. Watching the same movies over and over again in the den. Relentlessly mocking anything that moved or didn't move. Turning your house into a hurricane we were probably barely aware of.

Amir [was] a man of integrity, who cared about others, looked out for those in need and wanted to make the world a better place. [He] cared about children and animals and always had a work ethic from the first time I met him. He was an honorable person, and he was my friend. He made my life much better.

Goodbye, my dear friend, Q. Amir Prizant. I miss you. I will play some Trane for you. And Revolver. And Christmas in Hollis. And ELP. And Stairway to Heaven, even though it's the most overplayed song of all time. Not because that's exactly where you are if there is such a place. But because it was voted #1 in the top 1000 greatest rock songs of all time by the listeners of KLSX in 1988. And 89. And 90. As we knew it would be.

Shalom, my friend.

January 20, 2015

California Road Trip, 1994 - by Jeff Spector

Amir, Vitto, Gregory, (possibly Larry too) and I all hopped in Vitto's dad's RV and took a road trip to Santa Cruz ostensibly to visit Ryan and Abe (the memories are slightly, to no one's surprise, a bit hazy). Amir was in top-form, dryly cracking wise the whole way there and matching me bit for bit with the music trivia. He was erudite and had a true sense of who he was then, a fully formed adult in many ways at just 17. I was 22 and felt younger than him in many ways.

That trip in the Carmona RV was in every way about the journey and not the destination. Much like our lives. I think about that time often and the others I was privileged to be in his company.

Whenever I hear Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys' "Check Your Head," The Beach Boys' "Friends" album or early Pink Floyd, I know Amir's somewhere on his own journey critiquing the music, dryly musing over the moment, and flashing his wry "seen it all" smile.

January 18, 2015

Remembering Amir

Amir at 5
Hello, dear friends and family. I've started this blog as a place for us to share our memories of Amir as a tribute to his life and his special place in all of our lives.

Yael and I invite you to share your stories of time spent with Amir, your photos of Amir, your letters/notes from Amir or any special musical memories. (Please email any content to Ayelet.) We have decided not to share this website with our parents so that we all can express our feelings and truths honestly, without hesitation.

We miss Amir terribly and we hope this site is a healing place for all of us who loved him.