30 October 2009

Beer Criminals

One time Nate and I were going to a party and we wanted to have some beer before hand. Nate had some Newcastle in his trunk, but since it was Spring the beer was really warm. Nate suggested that we put ice in the beer to drink it. "But Nate," I said "Isn't that a beer crime?" "Yup," he said "I won't tell if you won't." So we put ice in our Newcastle and became beer criminals for the evening.

27 October 2009

Wrong Time!

I went to see a concert of one of Nate's bands. The band wanted to “raise the dead” when they played one song about Halloween. I just came to see the show, but they convinced me to paint my face up like a zombie and hang out in the back until I was supposed to come out. I was reluctant, but they talked me into it. When I thought it was the right time I came charging through the crowd acting in a manner I thought to be zombie-like. I jumped on stage and Nate punched me in the shoulder. “What?!?!?!” I said. “Wrong time!” he said. I giggle about it when I think about it now.

25 October 2009

from Alicia, Nate's roomate

I just suggested to Sarah that we go to DQ for Pumpkin Pie blizzards. She looked horrified at the idea, and I said, "Oh, that's right--you don't like pumpkin pie."

She denies this.

I say, "Well it has to be you, someone I know in Georgia doesn't like pumpkin pie, and who else could it possibly be besides you?"

She points at Nate's chair and we discuss for a moment the possibility that it was Nate. Then I remember this:

Two years ago on Thanksgiving, I made a pumpkin pie. I didn't know Nate's dad was also bringing a pumpkin pie. And Nate was ridiculously over-excited at the idea that we would have TWO PUMPKIN PIES AT THANKSGIVING.

It was the little things--Nate fucking loved food.

Swim Team and Birthday Party

When he lived with his parents, he had this picture hung on his wall. Apparently he spent at least one summer on the swim team at Windward, which was the enormous mega-development he lived in. This would be the summer before freshman year in high school.

He showed me this picture and pointed to how his stomach is all pushed out. He said that he and the guy standing next to him were both planning on pushing their stomachs out real big for the picture, but at the last second the other guy sucked in and stood up all straight.

If I remember correctly, Nate actually had this image framed, rather than burying it forever in a box.

Yesterday I spent the morning helping move Nate out of his last house. Boxing things up, hauling his enormous TV and furniture out. Today my fiance and I are beginning to pack up our own things to move into our first for-real house. I can't help but recognize the bizarre parallels. I imagine my friends and family sorting through my things, deciding which goes to goodwill, what stuff people actually want, what goes into storage for future decisions. It's all so strange.

In closing, I'd like to post this picture of one of our 3-way birthday parties - Nate was march 3, bradley march 15, me march 29. This was at Bradley's house, and I really like how we look like we are in some 1990's teen drama, like DeGrassi or something. Down to Katherine's rollerblades.

(from left to right: John Kang, Nate, Lee, Emily, Andre, Christina, Bradley, Adrienne, Robert, Katherine on ground)

23 October 2009


There are so many things I keep remembering about him. Bits and pieces, I keep saying to Mollie, "I saw that movie with Nate." or "He used to drink his orange juice like this."

I once had a dream about Nate. I was at his parent's house and he was outside and something weird happened, I don't remember what it was, but he just keep laughing like it was really funny. I told him about the dream, and his response was, "People always tell me, 'I had a dream about you, and it was really weird.' Nobody has normal dreams about me."

When Nate bought his first motorcycle, he rode it to my mom's house and showed it off to all of us. Andre said, "You've really outdone yourself this time." He looked like a total badass with all his leather and big shiny piece of metal with wheels.

Some years later he had his first wreck. I think he just took a turn wrong and he went tumbling into a ditch, mild concussion. He was with my ex girlfriend Maria, who told me to come to the emergency room where Nate was. I hurried up to Northside Hospital where Nate looked bruised and upset, but otherwise fine. He was annoyed that Maria wouldn't let him sleep, and that the nurses just told him he could. His bike was totaled, but he was okay.

It was years before he got another bike. Just a few weeks before he died, the last time I saw him, he had three bikes in his garage and he rode everywhere he went. He owned a fancy blue mustang, but said he never drove it. He also told me he lived walking-distance to the gym where he worked out every day, and I assumed he actually did walk, though Frank told me he never did. The accident happened on his way back from the gym.

When we played in the Vonny Bratchnies together, there would be times when we were learning new songs that Nate and Bradley would work together to figure out the parts and would want me to be quiet on the drums. These times were really boring, and I would inevitably start tapping on something and Bradley would get irritated. After one particularly long session of guitar/bass figuring out, I left the practice room and went to be bored around Braldey's house. Later Nate told me that some day we'd get an electric set for me to play with headphones while they figured things out. I thought that was a great idea, but it never happened.

The last time I saw Nate--the time he showed me his three bikes in his garage--he pointed to where my drum set would go when i brought it up to jam with him. He asked how much a cheap set would cost, I said about $400. He said maybe he would buy a set for his garage so I wouldn't have to worry about packing and unpacking my kit every time I came up to see him. Few people would ever consider doing something so generous with their money, time, and home.

Three quick ones:

The first time I ever saw cable internet was at Nate's house. He explained that you don't have to dial up or anything, you just turn on your computer and you're on the internet. I was blown away.

Nate went with me to buy my first box of condoms.

I have a post it note hanging next to my desk at work, where I am sitting right now. It says Paintball Sun Oct. 11 1PM. Plans with Nate. I then crossed it out because a co-worker's wedding was scheduled for that day. I then crossed out the wedding and wrote Wake. I was sitting by the casket when Ben and Melissa were wed.

22 October 2009

Don't tell the NRA

This one is courtesy of Nate's roommate Sarah.

I suck at telling stories, so I cheated and found a text conversation Nate & I had while he was in Sturgis. He had left Alicia and I a can of powerful mace in case anything happened while he was gone. I read this short convo and it pretty much reminds me of the Nate we knew at home. Most of our jokes and stories were one liners, or one word, or a song, which has been why it's been so hard to come up with "stories." Nate was sharp, witty, and to the point.

Nate: Miss me yet?
Sarah: No, but Alicia almost used the mace the other night.
Nate: Can't wait to hear this one. What happened?
Sarah: I was in bed and she was scared by the kitchen light burning out and crept up the stairs to get the mace and sat in the living room with it in her lap while gaming.
Nate: Just bc a light burnt out?
Sarah: Lol yes.
Nate: Good thing she doesn't like guns.

The Owl

Since Nate's passing, I've been looking for some sign from him, some sort of proof that he isn't completely gone, that he's somewhere. I am not a religious person and don't have any solid beliefs concerning an afterlife, but I wanted something. Friends and family have stories of animals visiting them in the following days after the accident. A tiny snake, a grasshopper, a song, and an owl, all of them sighted with a certainty that it was no regular animal, no random happening.

I wanted one, needed one, and have been waiting or my sign, my visit. Last night I sat on the porch, listening to the crickets, and I asked out loud for Nate to come see me.

I went inside, worked on my tattoo design, and went back outside. It felt spooky in a way that my porch has never felt before. I was a little scared to go throw out the trash, but I did. I'm very brave. I sat on the porch, and after a while I realized I was looking directly at some sort of animal in the tree only ten feet away from me. I couldn't tell if it was a trick of the darkness, so I walked closer.

It was a small brown owl staring motionlessly at me. I'd never seen an owl in our backyard before, and never one this close anywhere. As I walked around, it's head swiveled to follow, so slowly I could hardly tell it was moving. I went inside to get a camera, couldn't find one, came back with a small lantern to get a better look. The owl was gone.

The weight of what the owl meant hit me, and I sat down, stunned. I realized that the owl was gone, but something was still there. I felt a presence. I've never felt this way before, and possibly was searching for it so hard I made it happen. Either way, I was certain something was just behind me, over my shoulder, no matter which way I turned. It made the skin on my back crawl.

Hoping he could hear me, I talked to Nate. I told him I hoped he was doing well, that he deserved to be doing well, and that I hoped our paths would cross again someday. Seeing the owl gave me an odd certainty that more is possible in this world than I had previously thought.

I went to bed with the feeling that someone else was in the room with Mollie and I. A frightening and comforting feeling at the same time.

Having had my visit brings me some comfort, though I still can't believe that Nate's gone, that those we love WILL step off the face of the earth any minute now. We are temporary, disposable, unable to hold onto anything. Nothing means anything then we die. But maybe there is something afterwards, that life doesn't actually end. Maybe an owl staring at you in the middle of the night means something, and maybe it doesn't. I'm still really sad about thew whole situation, either way.

21 October 2009

Nate and Robert Wrestle

One time I was over at Nate's house with Robert and we were all watching the Simpsons in Nate's basement. During the first commercial break and with absolutely no clue that it was coming, Nate began to wrestle Robert in the middle of the room. As soon as the Simpsons was back on, the wrestling stopped. Every commercial break we would repeat this. At the end of the show I think one of them said, “That was some good wrestling.” It was very bizarre and I was very amused by it all.

20 October 2009

Smell blind!

This is another from Katzi.

Alysia's story reminded me of this one...

Last year in around June, I went to New York to attend the Baptism of my Goddaughter and her sister. When I came back, I was sick. It seems like I always get sick when I come back from New York... Anyway, it was a 2 week long sinus infection that was pretty bad and when I got over it, I hadn't realized that I had some form of Hyposmia or possibly Anosmia . I thought that my sinuses were still blocked but no. My nasal passages were clear, I just couldn't smell a thing! Freaked out, I looked up everything I could on Anosmia and got really, really scared. The dangers were crazy! What if there was a fire? What if there was a gas leak? What if my food was burning? What if I over season my food? What if...???? All these things that I had never really thought about, I was freaking out about!
My boyfriend thought it was funny (at times) and I came to get used to it. Then, we watched "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and if you've seen that movie, you know that Dewey becomes smell blind! It was the most hilarious thing ever, so I started using that when I was describing my condition to my friends. After a while, I was tired of explaining that I got "smell blind" from "Walk Hard" because not everyone had seen it at the time, so I (sadly) dropped it.
Last year, I ran into Nate and I ended up going over to his house after a night of partying with my friends. We started talking and he said something to the effect of "Sorry if it smells" or something like that and I said, "It's okay, I lost my sense of smell". His eyes lit up and he said, "You're smell blind?!" He had seen it! He had seen "Walk Hard"! He knew what I was talking about and I said, "Yes, I'm smell blind!" Then he started laughing like crazy and said, "You mean, I can fart and you can't smell it?!" and I said, "Yeah, I wouldn't be able to smell it at all" and he said, "Good because I just did and it's BAD" and we both laughed pretty hard.
I'll always remember that because Nate was the only other person (at the time) to know what I was talking about when I said I was "smell blind".

19 October 2009

Logan's Story

This one is from my friend Logan.

"Nate used to give me a kind of hard time in middle school. Not like he stuck my head down a toilet or anything, but a shove here and there while joking around. Things kinda settled after he showed me how to cut a deck of cards with one hand. I remember him really being into card tricks in 8th grade. Later on in high school we didn't really hang out. Not really friends, but not foes either. Years later I saw Nate at a bar playing pool with his friends (same thing I was there to do). Nate offered me a handshake and said something to the effect of "Hey! We used to go to school together and I used to give you kind of a hard time. Sorry that happened. How have you been?" This is massively paraphrased, but I think of it now as really awesome. Years later able to own up to a fault and just shoot the shit with me for a few minutes. He wasn't my friend but as far as I know he was a stand-up guy and I do know he was way too young."

More stories!

I want to mention we are still hunting for Nate stories. I find the more stories about Nate I get....the more I want. It's not just the super nice guy stories, but Nate seemed to know how to do a lot of cool things. I just heard from an old high school friend that Nate taught him how to cut a deck of cards one handed in 8th grade. Motorcycles, punk rock and awesome movies. That was part of who Nate Niec was. So if you have any stories, pictures or just vague memories...send them along. We want to hear them so we can remember Nate.

memorial at stop sign Sunday oct. 18, 2009

A boy's delight - from Alysia

So many things differ between what makes a female happy as opposed to what brings a smile to a guy’s face. That is a given and an understatement and I won’t even attempt to get into it here. The only major difference between girls and guys I want to touch on in this story is the sheer joy a guy gets out of creating bad smells. A couple years ago when Nate had his Acura, he had to drop it off to get serviced. Since I was living with him at the time it was only natural that he ask me to give him a ride to go pick it up. At like 9 in the morning. On a Saturday. I was hung over. Being a good sister however, I dragged my nauseated body and aching head out of bed to get him to his car. We were in my Durango on Northpoint Dr when it happened. Nate farted. The smell was so unbelievable I gagged. I had my head out the window to try to escape the fumes, but to no avail… I actually threw up…while driving! Nate thought this was HILARIOUS! I remember trying to dig around for a plastic bag I could spit into while maintaining safety on the roads and Nate was sitting there CRYING from laughter! I heard Nate telling this story to his friends with great pride. He told me it was one of his goals in life to be able to do that. It was the simple things that made him happy. Glad I was able to help him cross that off his list…I think.

from Mary Laneve

Alysia said that you guys were doing a blog page for nate, and she saw the message i had left on his page and asked me to share the story i had put up on there with you for the page.
I've known nate since i was about sixteen...i was in the hospital at the time of his accident... i had a major fall the friday before and had spent several days in the ICU for bleeding on my brain and a broken knee and tibia which ultimately ended up needing surgery including a metal plate and five screws. one of our friends called asking what had happed to matt from no holds barred, and i had no clue what he was talking about since i was still loopy from the head trauma. I called about every one i knew, including Nate, to find out what was going on...i finally got ahold of our friend Amos who then told me, it wasn't Matt....it was Nate. It didn't feel real, and in a way even though i've been to the funeral it still doesn't. Nate was such a good person, when ever anyone made fun of me he took up for me....but then he'd tease me to my face haha. he was funny. My favorite memory of nate (and this is what alysia wanted me to share) was when i was pregnant with my son. I was so sick i could barely work...and when i did work i wouldnt make any money. by the time the morning sickness subsided i was so behind on my bills that i couldnt afford to buy food and was about to get evicted...and i caught my sons dad cheating on me so i refused to talk to him...Nate bought me lunch one day, and i remember thinking it was the best burger i had ever eaten because i hadn't eaten in a few days. He did it because he knew i couldn't afford food at the time. I have tons of memories of nate over the years....going out and drinking at lennys and 80s night....beer olympics and promote chaos....but no memory sticks out the way that one does from when i was pregnant, to this day that is still the best burger i have ever eaten.

One of Nate's Favorite Movie Endings

this is from nate's siter, Alysia.

17 October 2009

At Work

Thanks to iwi chu for this one. Great one!

"the last time i saw nate was last year. we went out to dinner, rode around in his mustang, and played flow on his ps3. we started talking about his latest job at the pink pony. i admitted that i was curious about what it was like to work with a small army of naked women. nate looked thoughtful for a second, then said 'you know... it's hard to objectify a woman once you've had an intelligent conversation with her.' it says a lot about his character that he could work in what is basically the sex industry and still see the dancers as something more than eye candy. he had respect for all kinds of people, and i always loved that despite his tough exterior, he was so open, accepting, and intelligent on the inside. nate was, quite simply, a good dude."

Nate Tattoo

I've talked with several people about getting a Nate tattoo. This one deals with how Nate and I were supposed to get together and jam on a regular basis once again. We were both so excited about that. Maybe start a new band.

so something like this possibly. maybe simplify to just the bass and bass drum? i also don't know where i want it yet. maybe my chest? I want it somewhere I can look at it without having to take off too many clothes or looking in a mirror, and where it won't look stupid when i get old and fat.

Online Guest Book for Nate

Legacy.com Guestbook

People are saying some really nice things here.

From Fireball

nate, i've known you for almost ten years now, when i found out what happened i was in the hospital...it still hasn't fully sunk in... i still halfway expect to see you around even though i know i won't. i will always appreciate the things you did for me, like when i was pregnant and poor, and couldn't even afford to feed myself... you bought me lunch, i remember eating that burger and thinking it was the best thing i ever ate because i hadn't eaten in two days. You were without a doubt one of the most geniune, and over all good people i ever knew, and i'm thankful that i had the opportunity to know you and be friends with you.

16 October 2009

Nate and Bass

This is a picture of Nate playing bass.

I wanted to mention this because Nate liked playing bass and was really really good at it. I auditioned with No Holds Barred on guitar once (wasn't good enough though...which was true) and I remember I had asked Nate if he had ever had any other bass. He said in a normal voice, "Nope" and then a really silly voice he half shouted, "She's my one and only!"

Robert told me about how Nate liked that Sting only had one bass ever and that the only other bass he would play was an exact replica of his first bass. This is kind of comforting to me now because I don't ever have to wonder which bass Nate would use. That same old Ibanez with a couple of stickers and a rubber thumb with a purple fingernail for a knob.

I can also remember Nate's ability on bass. He never ever bragged about it, but he was one of the best bassists I knew. He would've been well within his rights to brag about it. But the only people who talked about how great Nate was on bass were other people. I never thought about it before but I guess that shows how modest he was. His ability is more than just technical skill.

See...I started playing bass for other bands in college and I discovered two things. First off, what Nate had wasn't a practiced skill one could acquire. It was talent. He was good at playing fast and accurate and putting a bit of himself into it. Now what made this amazing is that he didn't mind having his talent and ability take a backseat. A lot of the songs I have of Nate playing he is just being a bassist. Doing a very simple something in the background. And when I think about these songs....that's what they needed. Some people I've played with wanted their talent to be the spotlight even if it would've damaged the song. I can tell that wasn't the way Nate approached things.

It's weird listening to those records because I always focus on the bass and if there are background vocals I struggle to hear his voice. I just thank God we have the records. A little piece of Nate for us all.

15 October 2009

from Robert

I've been having an incredibly hard time dealing with Nate's death. At times I feel like I'm falling totally apart. I can't concentrate on what I'm doing, co-workers come into my office to talk to me and I'm staring at my computer crying.

I was leaving the Target parking lot tonight when I heard a man yelling for help. I run towards the yelling as fast as I can, it sounds like he's stuck under a car and dying. I find them suddenly, a black man with short dreadlocks has his knees on a white man's neck. I grab the guy and do the best I can to pull him off the guy, but he's strong and fights me. He yells, "He stole my money!" Pointing at the guy on the ground, shirtless, his torso covered in scratches. He wrestles against me and his black polo shirt tears in my hand. He has crazy eyes. Another man is next to me, trying to get the guy off, too. Suddenly the crazy guy stands up and looks around. We are surrounded by people standing at a safe distance.

The man spins around and looks at me, sees the man standing next to me. The white guy on the ground jumps up and runs away. I'm ready to start punching this one guy in the face, but when the other guy runs away it confused me. I don't want to hit the wrong guy. Then they are both running away, opposite directions. The black guy throws a wad of cash on the ground, the guy who had my back picks it up.

He holds up the money to me, a folded up twenty, asks me if I want it. I tell him no.

We talk to the Target cop. We talk to Target associates, who give us some Starbucks coffee. We talk to a for real police officer who tells us that there's no suspect and no victim, and nothing he can do. I go to the supermarket, bewildered and excited.

I had a really good conversation with Mr. Keen tonight on the phone tonight, and he told me that what's happening now is that I'm learning how to be Robert without Nate, like a dog learning to live with only three legs. He says Someday I'll be happy again, but I need to let it take time, to not be so hard on myself. I find that the only good thing to have come from this is the comraderie Nate has left us with, the rediscovery of the friends and family around us.

Though it feels like something has been cut from me, like there's some open wound somewhere on or in my body, but I can't find where it is.

This is a terrible thing that has happened. I spend all day and all night trying to hold onto him, remembering him, trying to listen to his voice in my head, imagining what kind of new music we'd have made up, the funny jokes we'd tell each other. There are so many questions I want answered. Why do you like motorcycles so much? How does none of your stuff ever break or get old? Do you want to play that new Mario game for the Wii all night sometime?

I find myself trying to make him come back, to find a loophole in this desparate situation, but finding none. There is often a screaming noise in my head, and I often feel like throwing up, but don't. This is the part of the movie where we learn all the terrible things that might have happened if the characters had just acted a certain way, done a few small things differently.

This is the part in the movie where a friend invents a time machine and invites me to go back in time. I go back to Monday October 5, have Nate clear his schedule to hang out with me. We jam in his garage, watch some movies. The next day we decide no to work out like we said we would, and have Dominos deliver us some pizzas and chocolate volcano deserts. Nate lives, fame and fortune, etc.

The End.

Big Scary Monster Behind the Scenes

Here is some of the best out-takes and raw footage from the Big Scary Monster shoots. There's a great part where Nate tells a funny story.

Nate Plays a Joke - from Alysia Brogdon (Nate's Sister)

Back in the early to mid 1980’s there was a rash of horrific kidnappings. It seemed like every other day some child was snatched off the street. An innocent would be taken right out from under the watchful eyes of some mother or father and never be seen again. It was during this time that my parents, Al and Marie took in a couple of my cousins to come live with us. They were having some problems at home with my aunt and uncle in another state and my parents offered to give them some stability by having them come to live with us. The cousins were around 10 and 12. I was about 15, Larissa was 19 and Nate was about 7. He was a little darling, (read: hell on wheels) and I was his Great Tormentor, but that is another story. One Easter Sunday after church the group of us went to the mall. We might have also gone to Olan Mills to have the obligatory annual Family Portrait made or maybe that was a different day. However, I remember being at the mall, everyone kind of wandering in their own direction. I had not yet learned the joys of shopping, and having to be in public with my family made me even more unpleasant than usual (I WAS 15 after all). I am most likely the one to have been in charge of keeping an eye on Nate. And I was probably doing so in a most lackadaisical way. Suddenly I realized he was not in sight. I looked around for him in the women’s dress store we were in and could find him no where. I alerted my parents who instantly went into Parent Panic Mode. We spread out…mom, dad, myself, Larissa and Manuel and Roy the 2 cousins. We ran through the mall, we called for him, we checked stores we had just left, we checked toy stores. My dad alerted security. Things were getting serious. The checkout ladies were on the look out. I was starting to hyperventilate. We regrouped inside the store where I had originally lost track of him. Hours went by (in reality in was only about 10 minutes). And then…what do we hear from inside a clothes rack? Is it…? YES! It is a laugh! A giggle, a snort! Rushing to the rack we tore aside the clothes and there, crouched down and trying to smother his glee, is Nate. The relief that washed over us was palpable. I best end the narrative here. Suffice to say back in those days it was still ok to spank your child in public and I am pretty sure my mom gave poor Nate a pretty good whack for his “joke”. Thankfully it was not such a whack as to knock the funny out of him. He may have learned the difference between appropriate practical jokes and the not so hilarious ones, but it certainly did nothing to rein in his spirit, sense of fun and love of silly. And I learned that in an instant a loved one can be gone, perhaps forever. Best not to take anything, anyone or any moment for granted.


This is from Katzi. I liked this one a lot.

"A few months ago, I used to look forward to Monday mornings. I would wake up, check my phone and see at least 2 texts waiting for me. One was usually from around 5:30am and the other from around 6:15am - both saying the same message but it was written differently every time.
I would get 'Wake up, sleepyhead!', 'Good morning', 'What's up?', 'Good morning sunshine', 'Hey!' or just 'WAKE UP!' and that's how I would start my week.
We would text back and forth during my morning routine about random things: What we both did on the weekend, how work was for him the night before, what was on the agenda for the coming week and so on.
These conversations would continue well after I would get to work (at around 8am) and it would really impact my whole week. If I didn't get a morning text, especially during filming (the most stressful time of all for me), it would ruin my whole week!
After a while, the texts started backing off until they just weren't there anymore. I was going to start it back up again but I guess I waited too long. At least the old ones still live on my old phone...
I never got to tell you how much I appreciated that and how much it actually impacted my day. Thank you so much for that. It was a great way to start my week off right."

Bike Safety

So when I had class yesterday one of my students asked why I was gone. I decided to explain it to the whole class. And while I was talking all of the sudden I started talking about bike safety (very much apart of the Colorado curriculum for Health). The importance of wearing a helmet when you ride a bike or motorcycle and how you can wear pads when riding a bike if you want to. One asked for details of the accident....I drew a line there.

But I like to think that maybe Nate was standing somewhere in the Gym influencing what was going on somehow. There aren't any helmet laws for motorcycles out here in Colorado and maybe one of the little kids will say "Daddy...put on your helmet before you ride." It'll make a difference I hope. Thanks Nate.

14 October 2009

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

This story is courtesy of Andre. Thanks buddy!

"When I think of Nate I think of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It was always around his house and we used to eat bowls of it when I was there. When I mentioned this to his roommate she said when he was on a diet and they went to the store they passed some. Nate's response was 'Man. I really want some Cinnamon Toast Crunch.'"

This small memorial sits at the site of the accident. At the corner of Jones Bridge Road and State Bridge Road, next to the telephone pole at the driveway coming out of the old Steinmart shopping center. There are skid marks from the jeep, a large section that looks like burnt ground, an outline of where the bike fell, and the outline of the flipped jeep.

Alysia bought black plastic roses and real white ones. We spraypainted his name on a big white container and placed it on a cinderblock we found. It's a nice looking little memorial we think, and you can read his name from about a hundred yards away. The picture above is dark and you can't really get a sense of it's placement, but it was taken in the moment, just after Frank poured out a beer into the carefully manicured grass of the Valvoline for our dead homie.

If you get a chance or are in the neighborhood, leave some flowers or a memento.

Nate Niec, The Umpire

This is a story Frank told me. It's one of my favorites. Even in baseball.....a nice guy who'll do you a favor.

"I convinced Nate to umpire some kid's baseball games with me. One time while I was plate umpire and he was in the outfield, the catcher threw the ball and it went right past the pitcher and started rolling towards Nate. While the runner was stealing second base, Nate stopped the ball with his foot and threw it to the pitcher. This is not legal in baseball. The coach got in my face and said 'What was that?' I said 'He wasn't going to make it past second anyway.'"

Nate Stories

On the plane back to Denver, all I could do was think about Nate. It feels very odd to me because we hadn't spoken in quite a long time. Not a horrible falling out. I just thought I would catch up with Nate later. Ya know....10 year reunion or something like that. There would be time. It's been kinda hard realizing that there won't be that time. I also started remembering lots of stories I heard over the weekend. Some stories very familiar, some that provoked an "Oh yeah! Now I remember that!" reaction and some that I had never heard before. All of them I adored. They made me laugh or made me remember what a great guy Nate was. Usually both.

When I got home, I didn't want these memories to fade like some of them had before and I was still (still am I guess) grieving the loss of Nate. So I began to write them down. No real idea or purpose behind it. Just wanted to collect them all. It felt good but I had a finite supply. That wasn't good enough. So what I've begun doing is talking to people who I didn't talk to over the weekend or talking to people who couldn't be there for whatever reason.

When I told Robert about this his first e-mail back was to let me know he had set up this blog. I think it's a fantastic idea. So if you have a Nate story you wanna see up here....just let us know....we'll get it up here.

13 October 2009

The Eulogy I Read at the October 12 Funeral

Two days before the accident, Nate sent me this text message. It’s a photograph of a smiling man and he has a yo yo with a photograph of a puppy printed on it. The puppy is tangled in yo yo string. Underneath is written: Yo dawg, I herd yo and yo dawg like yo yos so we put yo dawg in a yo yo so yo can yo yo yo dawg while yo dawg yo yos, dawg.

I replied ‘thanks dawg,’ he replied ‘Yeah dawg.’ The closing words of our long friendship.

Nate was a great reader of books and literature, a man with a large collection of movies and the ability to remember quotes from just about all of them. He was a skilled seeker of facts on his iPhone -- or The Bat Phone. He loved music, and he loved riding his motorcycle. He talked fondly of his bike rides around North GA, through Helen and Dahlonega, and at length about his Sturgis trip, something he was very proud of.

Nate was born March 3, 1982 in Elgin, Illinois. He once told me how the land was so flat in Elgin you could watch lightning storms pass by from miles away. When he was nine the family moved to Alpharetta, where Nate grew up. I often urged him to move to Atlanta, but he felt safe here. Alpharetta was his home. He died October 6, 2009. He was 27 years old when he died not a half a mile from his house.

I met Nate in 8th grade Health class when we were 13. He told me of shockingly illicit pictures that could be found on the internet, and how Green Day used to be punk, but by 1995 wasn’t anymore. In high school we were in the same Homeroom, and I practically moved into his parent’s house. Around the same time that he decided to play bass, I bought a drum set. We took some lessons, and began playing in a band with our friend Bradley.

Nate was a musician who wanted to play songs that people had fun listening to, music that moved people to jump and dance and yell. He once told me that he hated shows where people just stood around watching the band, and wanted every concert he performed to be a party, a good time for everyone. For one show, he bought a bag full of stuffed animals from Goodwill. Before every song he would goad the audience to dance, awarding the best dancer for each song an animal from the bag. At end of the show, the audience was completely exhausted, many of them proud owners of dirty stuffed animals.

Nate was an incredibly funny guy, with a sharp wit and a deep intelligence.

We collaborated on several short films where he played a furry yellow monster. Heavily improvised by Nate, I would give some vague direction and let the camera roll. He was brilliant. His sense of the absurd and his comic timing are amazing. I know he was very proud of these pieces.

Nate worked various jobs in his life, but never found what he was looking for professionally. The last time I saw him, three weeks ago, he said he was thinking about college, but wasn’t sure yet. We talked about getting the band back together, having a 10 year reunion show. He had quit smoking two years earlier, and had been working out every day. He was in the best shape I had ever seen him in, and he talked positively about the future.

Nate was the best kind of person, the best kind of friend, and the best kind of family. A gracious host, a patient listener, a solver of conflict. A gentleman, an artist, an adventurer. A boyscout, a clown, and a musician. Strong, noble, honest.

I know we are all having a hard time imagining a future without Nate. He was always there for us when we needed him. But as unfortunate as we are to have lost him, we are even more fortunate to have had someone of his caliber, of his magnitude, so close to us. I feel so proud to have known him, to have had him in my life.

Goodbye Nate. You will be missed more than these words can express.