By Nicholas Allanach
Yesterday, one of my closest and dearest friend’s, James “Bugle” Bradbury, died in a car accident. Although initially saddened by the news, I was at least thankful to have had the chance to recently speak with him over the phone while standing outside Yankee’s Stadium. During our conversation, Bugle was eager to recount—in his always energetic, quick-witted, and charismatic way—his recent trip to Australia, where he explored the outback by day and reveled with the local Aussies by night (both fitting places, for a wild man like James “Bugle” Bradbury to find himself at the end of his life). Accordingly, now that Bugle has moved on, I can only blast the “30 Dirty Shits” Zeke CD he burned for me while raising this Pabst Blue Ribbon in his honor and the many memories and adventures we shared.
I first met James seven years ago while he was living in Portland, Maine with his wife Jill. My first impressions were that he was “too honest” and “too nice” to be for real. I remember thinking, “why is this guy smiling so much? …He must have some kind of an agenda?” Of course, much to my surprise, Bugle was “for real”; in fact, Bugle was more honest, genuine, and “for real” than a lot of the miserable bastards taking each and every day of their lives for granted. Furthermore, James also didn’t have any agendas; unless, of course, you consider someone who treated every person he met with the same warming smile and confident handshake someone with an agenda?
No, James was made of a different metal. A few of the most striking things about him was the way he looked you right in the eyes when he talked to you. But James wasn’t only a good listener he was also a great storyteller (of which he had many). I recall the way James treated every person (rich, poor, young, old, goth, punk, intellectual, idiot -whatever) the same. James never gossiped or talked bad behind people’s backs. He was one of the most honest people I ever met. I also remember the many dinners I ate with him and can recall that he was always the last one to clear his plate; sometimes, because he’d have a second (and possibly even third) helping of food, but mostly because James took his time to savor the flavor of each bite while relaxing in the company of friends.
I believe James was well aware of his own mortality and respected each and every moment for what it was meant for –to live it and embrace it to the fullest. He also valued the significance of his friends and family. James always made other people feel welcomed and accepted into his circle. Nobody was ever turned away at any of his many parties. He was also always one who brought out the best in people; instead of focusing on someone’s faults, James managed to glean something beautiful from everyone (alright…well, maybe not George Bush!).
Speaking of “faults”, James did not have many. Sure, some may scoff at his well-worn army boots or raise an eye to his audacious sense of humor and, admittedly, the more prudish may have found his constant farting less amusing than he did! But all of this didn’t matter to Bugle; you either accepted him for what he was or piss off. James never concerned himself with fashion because he was already comfortable in whatever situation he found himself in and woe to those who were not comfortable around him; in fact, James had a knack for sniffing out shallowness and avoiding it at all cost.
Although James was never concerned with fashion or about what people thought about him, is not to say Bugle didn’t influence his environment and community. In fact, Bugle was funny, creative, and more-often than not the life of the party. There were never any dull moments hanging with Bugle. Whether he was tearing it up at a punk show, snowboarding, hiking, throwing gasoline on a bonfire in his backyard, or sneaking an inflatable sheep into a strip club -there was just no stopping him- Bugle’s energy was tireless. Even after the party was over, he soldiered on.
Bugle was one of the most outrageous, hilarious, and insane fuckers I’ll ever have the honor to stand beside and be proud to call a friend. But he wasn’t just a partier; he was also responsible and reliable. James may have been a punk but he was also an Army veteran. He may have always worn the same clothes, but you never knew what strange and out of the ordinary adventure you could expect to go on with him. While in Maine, he’d wake up at 5am to work long days as an engineer but still managed to muster-up the energy to shoot strange skits for our “N2” TV show while then entertaining guests for dinner and drinks late into nights speckled with heady discussions and strong laughter.
The last time I saw Bugle in person was in Portland, Oregon where he had recently purchased a farm and was training for his pilot’s license. I was planning on visiting him there again this August. Although I will not be able to do this now since Bugle’s life has come to an unfortunate end, I can at least find solace in knowing he not only lived his life to its fullest, but that he gave me hope in knowing not everyone is shallow, boring, and lazy. The legacy James left us is one of embracing life as the great and ambitious adventure it can be.
Salut'! …This Pabst Blue Ribbon is for James “Bugle” Bradbury!
I would like to say I’ll see ya’ on the other side. But I don’t believe in that sort of thing. I will however say thank you for your inspiration and that although I will miss you terribly my friend, I still feel a part of you will be hiking beside me as we blaze those Canadian trails “together” next month.
“Kick it hard, then kick it again!” – James “Bugle” Bradbury