RIP DJ Shaw (2011), AE
About, maybe, 112: Palm Desert in the middle of July on a good day. I had my bag full of heavy books and pens and folders blended together into a hot, sweaty mess in my bag. It was the summer of 1998 and I was taking some classes hoping to one day make it out of the frustrations that I had become so accustomed to. I remember that day clearly, walking to the Student Center as you walked toward me. You were just walking somewhere, maybe aimlessly or maybe with a purpose. I just remember it was a chance encounter at College of the Desert and I was happy to see you. I was happy because I liked you as a friend. You had a mellow disposition and a quiet way about yourself – not excitable, just very thoughtful. I felt comfortable talking to you: it never mattered how different our backgrounds were. When we saw each other that day, I know exactly what we said. I know because it was practically our greeting: “Did you get any new records?” We loved the same kinds of music and had the same musical group affiliation, “Allied Elements”. It was as if everyone, everything was peripheral – we talked about music and would connect over a song or sound we liked, even though we had not been born when some of that music was first introduced. We would concoct plans to go out shopping for records although that never materialized. I wish I could have been there for you that fateful day when we lost you to a car crash.
We just ended up in front of Home Depot one day in Indio and out of the blue, there you were. I was with Brince and a couple of other friends doing who knows what but I do remember that we saw you. You looked restless and weary and there was talk about you trying to get a job or having a job at Home Depot. It was a whirlwind day. One of those days where we just ended up places, commiserating over one thing or another. The weather was likely warm. We were probably pretty broke. We always had enough for a little bit of beer and a little bit of food. We all hung together, always having somebody to talk to and something to laugh about. We would walk into places and guys were ready to fight. We had that effect on people although we were young and we probably just wanted to eat, or watch a movie, or talk about music and girls. People were ready to take us down although we were pretty relaxed about life as a collective of friends and didn’t pursue fights. We used to take over the park in Rancho Mirage with turntables, loud microphones, and break dancing. We barely received any credit for it unless it was the police shutting us down. We didn’t do it for acclaim: we did it for freedom! I wish I could have been there for you that fateful day when we lost you to a car crash.
There was like thirty people at Brince’s Mom’s house in Bermuda Dunes every time his birthday would come around. I remember seeing you there because you provided us the music that we would listen to. When you had your head phones on, it looked like the music was personally talking to you. It was as if it was telling you profound secrets about the way we all were supposed to feel at that particular moment. I never thought that there was anything special about how we were – we just took over places with music, and beats pounding, people talking and being together. I used to be so shy I kept to myself in a little corner. Most people knew me but I just didn’t feel at ease with all the other strangers coming around. I wanted to be in a quiet place reading books. The social scene made me want to vanish into myself and the couple of beers that I was drinking. I look fondly to this period however and wish it could still be here no matter how much I have progressed in my life. I am sad today because you will never have that chance again: to make progress, or to fall back, or to think excitedly about what could be. I wish I could have been there for you that fateful day when we lost you to a car crash.
It was this big nightclub and Brince, Sean and Eugene were performing for a pretty large crowd. I remember being so excited that day setting up the sound system and doing the mic check. I ran around like a headless chicken spouting out every burning desire I was feeling. I just wanted to be somewhere else in a better place – a place I’ve only reached as I continue to live out my thirties, finally at peace with myself. I remember you walked in and we were hanging out in a group of like 15. You flashed your smile so warm and easy. Your eyes lit up as you saw me and you pulled a cassette from your pocket. “Here you go, Selim. This is the Anti-92.7 tape of some shit I mixed”. That tape was on continuous repeat every time I drove around town in my dad’s Jeep before I owned a car or much of anything. I had just graduated from UCLA in Anthropology in 2002. I was pleased with my accomplishment but deathly afraid of myself: my depression, my desire to find myself, my prospects of making it in this harsh world. I wish I could tell you I made it and ask you how your life was before it came to a tragic end. Did you fall in love? Did you have dreams to have a family of your own? Did you even have a family of your own? Did you like driving really fast with the windows down? Did you like any Football teams? Did you ever travel? Did you want to travel and learn languages and learn how to cook and learn how to play the drums? Who was your favorite comedian? Did you have a favorite song? What were your guilty pleasures? You told me once about your football days, about growing up in Indio, and I am friends with your little brother Larry so we’ve talked a couple times about life, work, and whatever else was on our mind. I understand that your life wasn’t easy until the very end. I wish I could have been there for you that fateful day when we lost you to a car crash.
I’m going to keep looking for you though as I still believe there will be a chance encounter. I’ll start here in Moreno Valley where I’m writing this as the rain pounds outside. You would be impressed by this rain. It would make you think about how California seems always the same like clockwork until out of the blue the skies open up for an hour and drop buckets. I will look for you everywhere I go and in every country I travel. I want to be on an airplane again where I can’t understand a single word that is being said until all I can hear is you, telling me to keep on going, keep believing in good, keep thinking that there will be a time where all of our friends will come together, with two turntables, and a sound system. One day, we will all be talking until it drowns out the absence that you’ve left for us to ponder. I will move quickly down every alley waiting for you to stop me and direct me home. I will walk down the grocery aisle looking for Orange Juice thinking you will be around the corner. Maybe I will turn on the radio and you’ll be doing a set, talking about the weather, and entertaining us with some tunes. Maybe I’ll be walking out of a party and you’ll ask me for a ride. Maybe I will be walking to the store and I’ll have a feeling that you will be there checking out girls or looking for a cigar. Maybe we will meet again by a pristine sunrise outside the new L.A. Fitness on Moreno Beach. But I will sigh every time because there will never be a chance encounter. I can walk every square inch of this earth for every second for one hundred years and I will never find you. I wish I could have been there for you that fateful day when we lost you to a dramatic car crash.
8 Commentsselim9/3/2013 12:24:17 am
I invite my friends whom knew and loved Gary to share a story or a chance encounter of their own. I was perturbed to read about his car crash in the newspaper and reading negative comments by people who never knew this gentle, complex man. I hope and aim to give our friend a proper virtual memorial to give space for healing. Thank you,
SelimReplySean Michael Chiranian9/3/2013 04:09:47 pm
looking back. I remember the very first time i met Gary. I was 15, 16 or so. It was at a mutual friend’s house named Damien in which a group of who have now become mutual friend’s of Gary and I- were hanging out. I was new around and had never met Gary before. When I came across Gary, I had a beer in my hand and of course- was not at legal age to consume alcoholic beverages. Gary, then introduced himself to me as a Sheriff with the Palm Desert Police Department who was off duty. He then instructed me to poor the beer out and assume the position for arrest- in which i did just that. After standing like a jackass with my hands behind my back, Gary and two other guys standing near let off a roar of laughs to which Gary then says, “relax man im just kidding. Im G.Shaw.” I loved him ever since.ReplyCurtis Hinchen9/3/2013 04:47:38 pm
Gary and I went way back, as little kids. I met him when I was around 10 or 11 at the Boys Club, we really didn’t get along as first, but became fast friends. Through the years we had always hung out. I remember when he got his Galant, he could barely drive that thing. He treated it like gold though. One of the funniest moments with him was when he just got his turntables and I was going with him to DJ a party and we had to stop back over the Boone’s crib and I walked in behind Gary and it was dark, he went into the kitchen thru his uncles room which was the garage. Before he walked all the way in the kitchen, he turned in the light and I was just chilling. I turned around and saw his uncles Rottweiler Damien. I damn near shit my pants, I barely out of the room without biting me. When I ran out, Gary was walking out of the front door and saw me running for my life, he damn near fell down laughing… I never seen him laugh so hard. Another funny thing with Gary is when it comes to the ladies. He would use a carribean voice and call himself ” Montego “… That shit was hilarious…ReplySelim9/3/2013 10:15:44 pm
Thanks Sean and Curtis for these stories! They’re hilarious! I hope we can get more of these from others who have been blessed to have known Gary. One love!ReplySelim9/5/2013 12:29:16 am
I’m going to stop posting for a few days to make this piece the focal point of my blog. I’m happy that I was able to share this story with my friends. I miss G-Shaw and was always saddened by the idea that we didn’t chill more often. In this piece, I’m longing for our friendship, and the companionship I had with our crew. I miss all of the boys coming together at White Water park scheming on how we were going to buy keyboards and mics with our measly incomes. I remember working at McDees hoping to make it big. Gary was always at our meetings and we would just gather around talking about Hip Hop.ReplyPATRICIA WATKINS1/28/2014 06:18:05 am
WE LOVE GARY D SHAW VERY MUCH. HE IS MY STEP SON.. LARRY MAL SOLOMON SHAW BROTHER,. NATALIE CHRISSY SHAWS SISTER YOU WILL ALWAYS BE IN OUR HEARTS LOVE YOU .ReplyGeorgianna Hillaire1/28/2014 07:24:56 am
:,( I was Gary’s girlfriend, oh how I miss him so much! Wow hearing all your stories brought tears, and of course a smile to my face… He was for sure a great man… I miss my sweet Gary everyday :,( He loved his turn tables for sure, I miss watching him practice, I miss our walks, I miss our talks, I miss waking up to him, I miss my sweet Gary… I will forever love and miss him!!!ReplySelim Bouhamidi1/30/2014 03:55:27 am
Thank you all again for your comments. I can’t begin to say how sad I feel about Gary’s loss and hearing from his family and loved ones really hits home. I moved to L.A. in 2000 so I was not able to keep up with all of my friends and crew as much as I would have liked. I wrote this piece out of tremendous sadness for the loss of Gary. I heard about his passing when I was living in Hollywood and checking my twitter feed. For months, I told myself that it was another G-Shaw that the person was mentioning. It took actually seeing my friend Brince for the first time in years before it became a reality to me: we lost our partner, only one of a few dj’s associated with our crew of Hip Hop emcees. The Hip Hop scene has grown so much in the desert since I was rep’ing. I have to say that Gary was the most humble and talented DJ that we had in the CV in the late 90s and early-2000s. I welcome others to share in their recollection of Gary. Again, to Gary’s loved ones, I am very sorry. He was so talented and a really cool dude.Reply
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