Friday, October 10, 2008

A Poet and a Patriot

Chris Matthews 1946 - 2008

A Poet and A Patriot - Chris Matthews

I borrowed this picture, hope that's alright, I love it because it so captures Chris' beautiful smile and his eyes - the window to the soul of someone who loved life even as crazy as it can get sometimes.

Chris was a quintessential friend, someone you'd want to have in your corner in the good times and especially in the bad. He always had time to listen to people, a great trait for an owner of an Irish pub! But even before that, when I first met Chris in 1978 and he reminded me of a lot of those "bad boys" I'd grown up with on the south side of Chicago - who had a veneer of toughness but inside were big-hearted like their ancestors who as tribal peoples knew the importance of family, and like their dedicated steel mill working fathers, or factory working moms - he impressed me with his ability to be kind and to listen.

Chris understood about allies, not only about how the poor and people of color needed to unite but all people in the United States who believe in the struggle for equality and social justice. When we met I had just left the United Farm Workers Union and was working in the library of a K-3 Bi-lingual/Multicultural School in Watsonville. I was also active in Santa Cruz County politics, especially in south county, which is where I lived at the time and because it was wrought with the same problems all farmworker communities face and I wanted to continue to make a difference.

Chris lived in Watsonville too, in a home that he and TECHO, a group designed to help low-income people build their own homes in a collective setting, built. In January 1979, then-Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the County Board of Supervisors to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Supervisor Cecil Smith Jr. that is when Chris asked me to serve in an advisory capacity to him and his aides. In 1986 I moved to the Bay Area and we only saw each other on my occasional trips to Santa Cruz. The few times I did drop in to see him we never tired of talking about the "good old days" and of current events.

I am linking several other articles to this blog that tell more of Chris' life, but the most important thing I can tell you about Chris Matthews is that he was a person who counted, who made a difference in his 61 years on the planet. He was definitely a Poet and a Patriot but he was also much more: a loving father, husband, playwright, actor, activist and an ally and friend to all those who cared to dig beyond what they saw with their eyes to see the fiercely shining spirit that was Chris.

You will be sorely missed hermano.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre!


The Poet and the Patriot Irish Pub

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