Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Best Pal, "Olaf" (nee Paul Hylbom), Suffered A Stroke And Died Yesterday, Or Today

He was not quite 44. He'd had a recent (July 4, et seq) attack of viral meningitis, which had weakened him a lot. Yesterday, at home, a stroke felled him. The docs say it was an aneurysm. His father died of a similar pathology, about 6 months ago.

Olaf was already brain-dead when they got him to the ER. He didn't respond at all when the shoved the ventilator down his throat, a most uncomfortable experience if one is capable of experiencing or reacting to such things. He didn't respond. Olaf's on the ventilator til the family who can come to say good bye do. They're discussing organ donation, which is a good thing. Another friend of mine needs a liver, e.g.

I knew Paul first as "Olaf," a co-commentor on Atrios' blog. He was from and had returned to Baltimore when we first started our colloquys. Later he moved to Albuquerque, and we became fast friends. I always called him Olaf, though later, I added "Pablo," for the local color. He always called me "Woody." He met his "Lil Red," Michelle, at a gathering I arranged here in '06.

The "Olaf" to whom he referred by his 'nym' is cummings' "i sing of olaf, glad and big." I knew from his reference to the poem that we could be friends, and we were. He was nearly as avid an esotericist/trivialist as I, and was widely read, especially since he'd mostly eschewed formal schooling. I think he had a BA, but had a breadth of reading and understanding, interest and complexity of thought that far outreached that level of interest.

He loved to drink beer, and we did so many an afternoon, many, many bottles. We were talking Sunday night about his and Michelle's plans to visit Voodoo-fest in N'Awlins this fall. He wanted to visit the Abita Springs Brewery, in Covington.

He rode a Motoguzzi.


i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelov'd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

Our Olaf was a very special friend and pal, and I shall miss him very greatly.

He was a friend of mine...

Vaya con Dios, amigo!

Addendum: There is now scheduled to be a "visitation" (without the body), with local friends and family at:

The Riverside Mortuary, 225 San Mateo NE (near I-2540 & San Mateo)

Tomorrow (Thursday) between 6 and 8 pm.

Michelle also authorized me to publish her snail mail in case anyone wants to send a more concrete condolence than bytes and bits. She hasn't been home from the hospital in a couple of days, so messages sent there will probably go unanswered for a time. Red asked me to thank any and all of you who have sent her messages of condolence. She said she'd reply when she can.

Ms Michelle Miller

14124 Copper Ave Ne # 10

Abq, NM 87123

Paul bravely agreed in life to share his organs; they are harvesting his organs today.


  1. I miss him too, Woody. 'Talked' to him last week, when he was in hospital.

    And he never did pay me the herring he owed.

    A good man. Brave and true.


  2. Condolences on the loss of your buddy

  3. Sorry to hear of it, Woody. I didn't know him, but I remember that he had interesting things to say.

    My best to those who knew and loved him.

  4. Dr.P...thanks for dropping by. shall we again b e on speaking terms?

    Trish: thanks...perhaps I don't speak for all, but I think our tears for the dead are more for ourselves than for them. They are past all that. That is the wisdom our animal companions, whom we outlive, should teach us about death, imho. It's our own deprivation that we lament.

  5. Condolences to you, Woody, and especially to L'il Red.

    GeorgeM, persistent lurker

  6. Sad to lose his song. Love to all who loved him.

  7. He left too soon. Rest in peace. And condolences to all who knew him well and loved him.

  8. If anyone would care to send condolences to Michelle/LilRed, here's her snail-mail (to the publishing of which, here, she assented. If you want to pass it along, please do:

    Ms. Michelle Miller
    14124 Copper Ave NE, #10
    Abq, NM, 87123

    I do not expect that she'll remain long there; too many memories. I hope she stays here in Abq, though I doubt that too.

  9. PS: I'm leaving this post up on top for the rest of the week...

  10. Thank you for this. Paul was my oldest and dearest friend. We met at work in 1985 and shared a house from 1993 until 2005. He was a better man than he ever let on. I met Michelle two years ago on my way to Nevada with the love of my life, Janet, where we now live. I spoke with her most of Monday night (the day i found out). He was the most well read human being i ever met (he read Moby Dick at least five times and has the copy my mother left me when she passed away in 1994.)

    Without knowing him i would have been much less. I will never be able to separate him from my life. I loved him and always will.

  11. Hey, Michael, if you ever check:

    he was the best pal i ever had...I miss him a lot...we could "match wits." It was fun. I held him as dear as a younger brother or cousin/nephew. Any time you pass through, call me...