Friday, January 28, 2005


Bronk is married to Angie.

Bronk and Angie owned a bar called the Family Affair (or "the Fam" as it was known to its habitues). The way they ran the place lived up to its name. It was a mom and pop shop. Bronk was the white hat pop, Angie was everyone's favorite dysfunctional mom. While Angie was mercurial (prompting a friend of mine, who was an ex-employee of theirs, to claim she was constantly having meth flashbacks), Bronk was the one who was laid back. Imagine if Dean Martin came the size of a football player, and you'd have a close approximation of his demeanor.

In the way they interacted, you could tell that they had lived a hell of a life individually. Combined they did enough living for your parents and your grandparents.

The regulars loved them both dearly, but Bronk was the one who'd charm you first. He had a way with the ladies, and he was a man's man, and if he told you a story, it didn't matter what was going on around you, you paid attention.

"Hey, Easy Money, how you doin' today?"


"Can I get you something to drink?"


(big smile)"Excellent choice!"

The fact that Bronk was alive at all, defied logic. Doctors had diagnosed him with a form of debilitating cancer over 12 years ago. At the time he wasn't given long to live.

He was a fighter.

Through untold number of chemo sessions, just as many different forms of alternative treatments--let's put it this way: he had a perscription for medical marijuana, this is how bad it was.

And if he had enough energy to get up, get dressed, get stoned and drive to work, he'd do it. He'd sit at the far end of the bar, playing the boobie touch, catching whatever was on the TV, or kibbitzing the card game the regulars would hold. Sometimes a combination of a couple of those.

You'd know his health was bad if Angie was working the bar.

(Angie was a former meth head. It did screw her up. But she had been clean and sober for going on 17 years by the time I'd met them. She loved life, and when she was happy, she was fucking happy. One of the warmest smiles around. She also loved to pull shit on people, loved the pranks. She was extremely protective of her "kids" (the regulars), especially the women. And if she thought a girl was skeezy, she would turn cold in a heartbeat.

I also ended up working at the Fam for a few months. Angie helped me out when I truly needed it. I love this woman. She is also the only person in the world who could yell at me and wave a meat cleaver in my face while doing so, without my killing her. )

Bronk loved to tell stories, such as the one where he is smoking his perscription in his car while driving home. The cops pull alongside as he's taking the green hit. They admonish him by wagging their finger and shaking their head. He'd nod his head, take another hit, and then drive off as the light turned green.

(You knew you were welcomed by him if he ever told you he smoked. You knew you were in select company if he told you why he needed it.)

Or the one where he's closing the bar, and he had dropped some candle wax onto his hand, got in his car, when the police pull up (something of a theme), and he holds his hands up, looking for all the world like he was jerking off and came on his hand.

My favorite stories were the ones that he'd tell when the place was slow, and you were one of three people sitting close by. These usually took place in Reno, where he and Angie had five digit lines of credit, and would sometimes come home coked to the gills and $50,000 up.

If I had to pick one story...

"So, my friend just came up from Reno, you know, and we hadn't seen him for a while. He only came to town when he had a major delivery to make. Columbian marching powder.

"He pulls out a wad of cash from his pockets, and says 'let's go out.'

"So, we go out, start drinking, we pick up a friend of Angie's, and come back to our place.

"Now, I go to bed, because I had to work the next morning, but they went on.

"Next thing I know, Larry's shaking me. 'Bronk, get up, we gotta find your wife.'


"'We gotta find your wife, man, wake up!'

"Where is she?

"'That's the thing: I don't know!'

"What do you mean you don't know?

"'Well, after you went to sleep, I brought out some coke, and we did a bunch of lines, and then I left Angie and her friend to keep going, and went to lay down. I got up about ten minutes ago to get something out of my car, and couldn't find the keys I left on the table.'

"What do you me--

"'So I started looking for your wife, couldn't find her and her friend, and then I couldn't find the coke.'

"Oh, shit...Is your car out front?


"Oh, shit.

"'You don't know the half of it.'

"And that's when he told me that what he was smuggling was hidden between the panel and the frame of his car.

"So, I got up, we got in my car, and start driving. We don't even know where to start looking. It's about four in the morning.

"Finally, about 45 minutes later, we were going down Denny, right next to the Science Center, when we see the car about five blocks ahead running a red light.

"I gun it, and we start catching up to her right around where Denny turns into Elliott and then 15th, on the way to Ballard. Well, she catches a red light and we pull up beside them and she's not looking at us. So, I honk my horn, and she looks over and decides we want to race and she guns it and runs the red. I catch up to her again, honking my horn, and she's doing a slalom between lightposts, doing about 65-70 miles an hour, and laughing the entire time.

"Well, I forget what happens, but we finally get her to stop the car just before the bridge.

(What did you do?)

"Well, they were so high, and my friend was so freaked out, Angie, her friend and I waited in my car, while my friend removed the license plate and other stuff from his car. Then he came back and we drove off.

(Was the truck still full of coke?)

"Yeah. I never found out what happened to it. That was $500,000 worth of coke we left behind. Probably went right up the cop's nose."

(General laughter.)

I was at a different bar in the same neighborhood tonight, with a couple of friends who also knew Bronk and Ang. Jim got a phone call, left to talk, and came back to tell us the news: Bronk had passed away earlier in the morning. Word was that Angie was inconsolable.

We smoked in his honor.


At 4:43 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Sorry to hear about Bronk, Jose.

I know how much the place meant to you.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

thanks, Joe.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger PJoyLynn said...

Great account of great people. We could hear Bronk's voice. Loves to you, my Puerto Rican friend. -Tricia

At 7:04 AM, Blogger Deni said...

Sad news Jose'. I really loved it the couple times I went there with you.


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