Joseph S. Woods

San Francisco, 25.Oct.1969 - 9.Nov.2000
murdered by gunshot in his home, Lightning Express

Joe Woods rode for Lightning for many years but had been retired for quite some time before his untimely death. He was shot in his house on November 9th. This poem was read at his memorial service:

You don't survive in me
because of memories;
nor are you mine because
of a lovely longing's strength

What does make you present
is the ardent detour
that a slow tenderness
traces in my blood.

I do not need
to see you appear;
being born sufficed for me
to lose you a little less.

- Rainer Maria Rilke,
Interior Portrait from Orchards

I go to Joe's memorial page a lot because I miss him so much. I was also just reading Bones' memorial page and it just left me heartbroken. I remember Bones coming over to my house when Joe and I lived together and how cute the two of them were building soap box cars on our roof, drinking cheap beer and arguing, smoking and laughing. I was also sad that there was nothing else on the memorial page for Joe.

Joe was my best friend for eight years and that was nothing compared to the way we envisioned ourselves living forever and arguing with each other in our eighties! Joe would say, "Even when I'm eighty I'll still say 'exzacharey' instead of 'exactly' and 'cereal' instead of 'serious'." He was so goofy!

I just wanted to write about Joe - you know the things we carry around in our hearts about someone that since he's died seems to reach up and choke me to tears more often then I would think since it has been to years. Maybe when you love someone so much it's actually their voice in your heart trying to get out, trying to tell everyone: "Hey you didn't know these things about me, you didn't know much except that I was an 'unemployed bike messenger. It's not fair. I didn't get to tell you about who I really was............

"I wanted to be an architect when I was little. I could draw really well and write stories for kids, and about 'my dumb ol' girlfriends', and how I loved my bros and motorcycles, I loved animals, especially orange cats named Chuck (I had two Chucks after my buddy who died), and of course Angus who thinks he's my son. I loved to redecorate my house and build things like big queen beds and vanities adorned with silk and peacock feathers for my girl. I loved my moms (I had two), I loved the beach and swimming in the freezing cold ocean and soaking in the sun. I was very loyal to my friends, even if we had a falling out or 20. My place in the Mission was really an oasis for ex-girlfriends' cats!

"I dreamed of going to Mexico and living out my life there with land for flowers, 'herbs and peppers,' I was lonely a lot, I believed in God, and I thought I had ugly teeth. At one time I wanted to be a fireman so I could save children and cats. I loved triple mochas, cherry pie, and chewy Chips Ahoy, and when rolling in dough, I liked expensive restaurants with good martinis (dirty, double olive), steak in gorgonzola butter, and expensive red wine. I had no problem picking up the check for my friend even though towards the end I wondered once aloud if 'they were around just for free food.'

"I wanted to be someone. I was taking Spanish so I could move with my girlfriend to Costa Rica and work on a coffee plantation. I kept journals that read according to police that said, 'Everything that I am doing in my life goes against everything I believe in.' I was in over my head and didn't know how to get out, I too was scared. If I rubbed you the wrong way with my pouty stance and my perfect hair and what I believed to be a finesse with the ladies I'm sorry, I wouldn't want anyone to dislike me, even though I acted like I didn't care. I loved kids, rumor has it that I have a son, I hope he's just like me..........and not. I loved to salsa dance, homemade sangria, and at one time I thought Calla lilies came from the store 'Cala.' My favorite place in the world was Big Sur, and my favorite thing in the world was the sun and my bike.

"It's funny that after all the 'stuff' I accumulated I died with my bike. After all that thing took me everywhere - made me who I was. In fact I used to say that the reason I was the coolest guy in the world was because I had the coolest job in the world (bike messenger) in the coolest city in the world (San Francisco), therefore........ when my crazy girlfriend at the time was too depressed to leave her house or whatever her problem was, me and my bike would ride her over one of my special favorites: a triple mocha to jumpstart her happiness. I went to visit her in the psych ward when she had some crazy breakdown, and I made it there ten minutes 'til end of visiting because of my bike! I outran the police on my bike, picked up my cat in her little cardboard house at the vet and rode her home on that bike. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, I didn't cut my dreadlocks off because I had outrun the police. I cut them off because I was sick with a fever and couldn't sleep on them anymore! But I kind of like the myth. I loved being alive."

I write this on Easter Sunday just thinking about Joe,

photo courtesy of Daniel Barkman.

Joe Woods memorial site created by Ranny: