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Fierce in Seattle: Dancing with Spyder

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the death of my friend, John Altieri.

I really shouldn’t even be writing about this as we are all supposed to die of old age and not at 38 years from pneumonia. Especially when you are referring to someone as healthy, active and happy-go-lucky as John. When people say this shit ain’t fair, this is what they’re talkin’ about. John was a friend that I knew for most of my years in Los Angeles. And while we spent most of our friendship seeing each other at parties, plays and other get-togethers, it wasn’t until he stayed with me for a spell in Seattle that I really got to know him.

Christmas Eve at the Space Needle, 2007

Christmas Eve at the Space Needle, 2007

He was on the national Broadway tour of “Jersey Boys,” playing the part of Bob Crewe, the affable manager character. It could not have been better cast. Goofy, light-hearted, and undeniably talented — very much like John (okay, but a little extra gay). It was during that month in December of 2007 that we cooked together, spent Christmas together, and best of all, laughed together. John was someone who could always make you laugh, but best of all, he would laugh at your stupid shit, even if it wasn’t funny. And he had the best laugh when he did find something funny. It was the kind of laugh that made you laugh. It was that infectious. And so was he.

John’s dear friend Laura said at his L.A. memorial that “he was here to teach us lessons.” He had a great ease about him as well as a joie de vivre that made you kinda wanna copycat him. He was philanthropic, had a great love of his family and was adored by his cat Goose and dog Spyder, not to mention just about every human in his life. I think the lesson that I got from John is kindness. I was among the lucky to experience it and try to always pass that on. I wish I would have known him even better, but what I did know holds a very special place for me. He came into my life for a reason, but if only I knew the reason he had to leave it…