Since unceremoniously coming across, at around 2am last night, the confusingly fucked-up news concerning the passing of a close advisor, mentor and friend, Jody Sherman, my shit’s been busted up in ways I didn’t even think was even possible anymore.
In the hours since then, I’ve been glancing periodically at our last exchange:
From: Matthias Galica
Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Subject: two questions
To: Jody Sherman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM, Jody Sherman <email@example.com> wrote:
BTW, I’m proud of you for persisting and making the pivot. It will be interesting to see how this plays out but know that I am available as always, should you need me.
It’s a stupid goddamn emoticon, but at least in my own crazy-motherfucker-sorta way, that’s me getting to tell him that I loved him. That said, the sentiment alone hasn’t done anything for me, because all I’ve really felt like doing all night is write. Much more stream of consciousness than usual.
Two Points of Reference on Me, Without Commentary
1) Over the last few months I’ve been leaning on this as the hook in my own coming-of-age story (in my head): a few years spent staring death in the face proves to be a blessing in life overall. (Let’s call it: a self-exorcism that liberates you from those demons of triviality that unduly stymie most people with “doubt”, “fear”, or “giving a fuck”.)
2) I’d wager that more than a few of us who get into this startup game can thank some predisposition to “daddy issues” aka “shit, we don’t have Bar Mitzvahs“. Which often manifest outwardly as: built-in chips on shoulders, always having something to prove, trying to make a name for yourself, general sociopathy.
In practice it also means that, among the lost boys, a guy like Jody can pretty quickly end up being more like a father to many of us than whatever chump opted-out of that privilege back in the day.
How Jody Could Teach Dumbass Kids, Without Being Pedantic
It was at Jody’s expense that I committed, for the first (and you-better-believe-it, last) time, the most massively grievous of all email faux pas. Jody had sent a “check out this startup, want intro?” email on my behalf directly to Dave McClure, BCCing me for visibility.
So I immediately reply-all, blissfully introducing myself like an asshole, and making Jody look like one.
HOOLLLEEEYYYY SHEEEYYYYIT. That one still makes me wince in retrospect. What does Jody do? He rings me up immediately, to make absolutely sure I understand the true nature & gravity of what just happened. In the heat of that sort of moment, lesser men would then indulge themselves at least some of the much-deserved whipping I had just earned.
Whereas Jody, as soon as he makes sure I’m not actually functionally illiterate, took one deep breath, two beats, then dispensed three or four grander insights about how first-time startup CEOs are more at risk of disproportionately-huge consequences stemming from moments of sleep-deprived sloppiness. Lesson learned, and never forgotten: measure twice, cut once.
Jody to me: “You’ve said ‘for what it’s worth’ 10 times in the last 15 minutes. Stop it. More importantly, always watch out for repeat ‘filler’ phrases like that in conversation: it’s lazy and it makes smart people stop listening.”
How Jody’s Spark for Mischief = Hilarious Trouble
The first time I officially “socialized” with Jody was Memorial Day 2011, the events of which could be summarized thusly:
- Arrive at Michael Kantor’s house in Venice, get told Kantor’s taste in music is awful, get put in charge of house-wide AirPlay.
- Laptop-rock the standard party-mashup fare stuffs (Girl Talk, Hood Internet, etc) and to my surprise I find roomfuls of beautiful people being exposed to such a thing for first time, I now become House Party Jesus.
- Inebriated Icelandic model makes repeat broken-English passes, with fiance present.
- Jody calls me next morning solely to inform that the fiance was the son of a Beatle.
- I regret not knowing the above fact at the time, but cherish forever that there will never have been a more perfect time in my life to have played this song.
Why I Want to Dress Like Jody When I Grow Up
Not only could Jody rock salmon cords with a freshly surf-tossed jew-fro to a black-tie gala, but the anchors of Jody’s style & personality appeared capable of bending space-time. Jody’s pants & hair would always arrive at a party before he did, only to then create various states of entanglement with bodies previously at rest, without no ability to gain certainty about his position at any specific point in time.
Homeboy was basically a human probability cloud, red & black lumberjack, with the hat to match. Always borderline ridiculous, and yet always hands-down the freshest getup in the room. (Including once, I shit you not, a white dress shirt sporting 8 giant polka dots.)
Like Macklemore at the thrift shop, you might conclude that Jody’s sheer force of swagger could bend the game to his will. Except I don’t think that was it, at all. This was just his effortless way of reminding that man always makes the clothes. You are not your fucking khakis.
Why Jody Winked at Life Absurdity with Kauffman-esque Devotion (I Think)
Jody was incredibly, genuinely passionate in his relentless drive to fulfill the larger social-good mission at the core of ecomom. He was also a guy, with the first name “Jody”, who was the founder of a startup called ecomom.com. All I can do is golf clap with admiration at what (again, I think) was a built-in, systemic reason to crack smiles.
The “I think” part is either evidence of the defining element (unflinching commitment to character) that would classify Jody’s 4th-dimension/12th-Planet sense of humor as being in the proud tradition of Andy Kauffman; or, as something that I’ve imagined entirely in my own head. I’ve never gotten close to figuring out which, and that’s something I’ll always enjoy.
He’d Joke About Blowing $1 Million on His 50th Birthday
For no real reason in particular, nor on anything specific.
With any luck, maybe I can carry out that legacy, in tribute. Maybe Tony Clifton will show up.
I’m Annoyed How The Title is Too ‘On the Nose’
One of the ways I attempt to maintain an ever more-tenuous tether with “reality” is always having a song that defines the moment, and I hate that can’t shake this melody as the dirge that keeps looping my head but the lyrics, by my barometer, do well to define how real this startup life really gets. Especially because “real” is always all in your head, and nobody really knows what’s going on there:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.