Photo by Jaquine Hudson Milivojevic
Dance into the fire
Enhance a higher power
Oh spirits callin me
They wanna set me free
Take a chance in an hour
Stop and smell the flowers
It's all so plain to see
You are the self to be
Living alone, it ain't so easy to do
You need your friends there to see you through
The devil and death, they wanna
Take my soul
They'll suck my last breath,
And burn the rock-n-roll
Much to my surprise, like fire and hell
Don't need no lies, no need for Jezebels
You grow so old and tired
Let's just go get wired
Kid yourself and live in fear
A space case within a year
So now do you understand?
You've got the upper hand!
Simplistic focused harmony
Linguistic lovin specialty
It happens all the time, yeah
Every single day
You can pick the rhyme,
Just let me hear you say, yeah! - Paul Littell
|Paul Littell grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, where
he studied music and cartooning. He was in a few punk bands here, playing
out occasionally but usually just jamming for fun. He played drums and bass,
but preferred the guitar, which he played left-handed. Iggy (Johnny Cox)
and Paul became close friends and Johnny convinced Paul to move to San Francisco
in 1990. We all lived together first illegally in a semi-trailer at Pier
70 and then in Oakland. In the Oakland house, Paul's room became the music
studio with regular jam sessions.Paul and his friend Scott Burnett discovered
that Elvis Presley and David Bowie both shared the same birthday of January
8th, so they developed an act as David Presley and Elvis Bowie, which they
worked on nightly. To this day I still can't stand to hear Ziggy Stardust!
Paul worked for Pete's, riding a 60-pound gold one-speed. He was so thin that his ribs were visible threw his back -- even so he could kick ass on that tank, eventually working longboard at Speedway. His aunt sent him some golden-yellow sweats, which he habitually wore under his Speedway uniform, earning his the nickname "Mustard Man." One time I died laughing when I walked into the elevator at 121 - 2nd to see the inscription "Mustard Man is Elvis" scratched onto the wall.
He moved to the infamous messenger house 51 Moss and kept jamming and drawing. He briefly played with a messenger blues band, the Lowdown Flyboys, who played the first benefit concert I ever threw, back in 1991. He occasionally printed comics in Mercury Rising, and drew an elaborate one of Bettie Page and Batman, that his roommates jokingly decided revealed his true birth parents
Paul spent some time back in Oklahoma, then returned to San Francisco to ride for SFDS. One day he had complained all morning of stomach pains and wanted to take the day off, but Mike Russo kept giving him Nob Hill tags. When he finally was able to take a break, he rested on the wall at 555 Market. Several couriers witnessed him suddenly drop off the wall. He died suddenly.
Paul's mom scattered his ashes on her family farm. He was survived by
his parents, step-father, sisters, and little brother. -- America.
<comic by Paul
am Paul Littell's mother. Someone I know found your website and I have just
seen it today for the first time. I am writing to tell you thanks for your sensitive
comments about our Paul, and to suggest some small factual corrections to your
... I figured out after his death that he was born with Marfan Syndrome, a freak genetic package most closely identified with a failure in the body's connective tissue, and I believe that repeated blows to the iliac artery in the groin area (common, if you're a bike rider, right?) caused it to blow out, just like a tire does. ... I think it is fair to say that he died on the job; it just wasn't aneurysm.
I am surprised that the essay about Paul does not mention the parade of messengers through town and out to the pier, where his flower-laden bike was thrown into the bay. Every moment of that event is burned into my memory--do you remember that I was there, clutching his guitar?
By the way, you might be interested to know that Paul's little brother (six years younger) rides a bicycle, has never owned a car, and is still carrying Paul's old Zo messenger bag. It's pretty ratty now, as you can imagine. I wish I could find him a new one exactly like it. He is a professional musician, highly respected here in Norman, Oklahoma.
And we have a new Paul, born two years after my old Paul died; he is my sister's grandson. He has Paul's spirit--he is smart and funny.
Boyd Gee Littell, my nephew, told me about the memorial site. Thank you for doing it. Losing Paul was a horrible experience for our family. ... I made a remembrance book for Paul, pictures, writings, etc. He was so talented. We visited him in San Francisco two or three times, and he introduced me to Pier 39 and Golden Gate Park and also to a good book store. I think I am probably the aunt who gave him the yellow sweats. I thought he looked cold when we were there. Thank you for the story.
Best wishes to you.
I am Paul Littell's older sister, Susan. ... I loved my brother the most. I try to talk about him when I can because I am not afraid of the fact that he is dead. I miss him still every day. I wonder every day what kind of person he would be now. The memorial service the messenger community gave him when my mother, aunt and I came out to collect him was the most incredible experience I have ever had. It was beautiful, poetic and hair-raising. I have never experienced such energy, love, keening and respect for another human being. I am sorry that it happens enough that there is a ritual but it was incredible. I will never forget it. So much for speechless.
I know that we will never forget him but having his picture, art, and stories about him there kind of keeps him alive in the real world. Paul was my cousin, two years younger than I am. Since I am an only child, I grew up spending a lot of time with my cousins. With my two older cousins, Susan and Morgan, being gone to New York for summers or school every year and Gee so much younger (eight years), I spent the most time with Paul. I have wonderful memories of playing around the OU Campus with him: making lego guns, he playing James Bond and me playing Triple X, we would follow people across campus pretending that we were super spies; playing with all of his Star Wars toys; going to the OU Pool, the Arcade on Campus Corner, and riding bikes all over the place. One time, when I was around twenty-one, we were riding bikes with some of his friends and he showed me this game that they played riding around and through the Library Clock Tower. The winner was the one the hit someone else's tire. I remember getting the back of his tire and all of his friends being so impressed because Paul, was of course, the best. I probably just got lucky!
I loved to watch him draw and play music. I was always so proud of him. Some of my favorite memories are watching him play music. We used to sit on the piano bench and play our version of name that tune. He would play a song and I would have to guess what it was. His long, slender fingers were beautiful to watch on the piano. We also used to sit around and talk about what we were going to do when we grew up and a lot of those planning sessions included doing something together. I miss him very much and I get angry sometimes that we didn't get to ever achieve any of those dreams.
When I got pregnant with my son, I knew it was going to be a boy and there was never any doubt about what his name was going to be, Paul. I have been telling him about "big Paul" since he was old enough to understand. A few years ago on Paul's birthday (May 9, 1971), I took my son to a comic book store and bought him his first comic book figurine. He now has quite a collection and knows almost every Marvel hero and villain and all of their powers, as well as, a lot of DC Comic and various other characters. He was given a large comic book collection from a friend of the family and I got the first one out for him the other day (he's nine) and told him how to handle it, which I learned from Paul. I told him about Paul's collection and I hope it can be another connection between them.
I'd like to end with what most impressed me about Paul: it wasn't his silliness or his talents (which I dearly loved), it was that he made an effort to not do anyone else wrong. He took care of his business and didn't step on anyone in the process. You don't see a lot of that in this world. It is important to me to try to live up to that. Again, thank you for all of the work that you have done on the website. Seeing it made me cry but it also made me remember a lot of wonderful things.
I am also attaching a picture of Paul in Paris, after graduating high school, one of Paul and I outside of his place in the Tenderloin (SF), and one with him and my Aunt Patti.