Someone in the Korea Bloggers group suggested a meet up at this new pub restaurant, Little Cuba, last Friday. I haven’t had a Cuban sandwich in a decade, and I wanted to meet some new people, so I decided to show up.
We all met at Sinchon Station and walked the long walk to the bar. On the way, someone said that his friend Lex was nearby and suggested he join us. I asked him, “Lex? Are we talking about the same guy?”
“Yes, the one who named his kids after–”
“YES! Great! I know him too.”
I first met Lex in the business class Seoul city organized for expat entrepreneurs. We hung out a lot after class. We had a lot of interests in common. On top of that, his life was defined by comics. His wife’s English name was based on a comic book character, as was his daughter’s. Last year, he had a son, and he named him after Superman. He and his wife showed up at our Mardi Gras party in February, and he was wearing his own superhero mask. It was the first time he and his wife had gone out since his son was born.
Whenever I’ve gone to a showing of Rocky Horror in Seoul, he was always there, hair dyed green. We talked of going into business together selling Korean pop culture trinkets overseas. He was also one of my inside sources for Samsung’s copycat practices and had great stories of finding himself in board meetings with one of Korea’s most feared chaebol bosses. The work he did as a proofreader led him into those situations. He was also my inside source to a lot of what the government was doing badly in promoting Korean food. It was safe to say that whenever we hung out, I could always expect a lively intellectually stimulating conversation.
We settled down at Little Cuba. Lex walked in and sat across from me and a little to the right. I got my Cuban sandwich with black beans. I also had to try the Habanero Burger, so I ordered one. Lex got a Habanero Burger as well. Most of the table was drinking colorful high octane cocktails. Lex and I stuck to beer. He was having some Russian Baltika #6 porters. They were being sold at a good price.
Every time we got together, we talked about our daughters. He’s given me much advice on how to steer my daughter into the world of geekdom. He again gave me a new plan–to find superhero or sci-fi shows that have strong female characters to pull her in. Next it will be Star Wars and Dr. Who. He had also been working on a comic book series with a partner overseas, and he was explaining a deep, deeply rich world they had worked out, with character backgrounds reaching back to the 1930s. I asked to be involved in any way–really, I just wanted to read the comics as a test market. I shared with him a series of novels I’d been into, Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. It’s basically superheroes vs. zombies, but it’s very well written. We had to cut our conversation short. It was getting towards “pumpkin hour,” and I had to catch my subway train back home before they shut down. I said goodbye to Lex and everyone and left.
Today I found out that Lex died a few hours later in a traffic accident. Damn.
One of the greats, truly. He’ll be missed.
I can also testify that Lex was a geek’s geek. For those who were perhaps a little shy of letting their inner geek shine, he brought it out quite heartily out of most people. I feel priveleged to have known him through a good part of his sojourn on the Pen; and to say that he introduced me to more amazing ideas than I could count, would be understatement; the man was a walking boing boing (though with his own style). This weekend, Seoul got quite a bit smaller, and emptier at the same time. I know he probably would have wanted to go this way, suddenly and without protracted goodbyes, but as you say, so much was left undone. We are now discussing some sort of charity event for the aid of his family. I’m sure that with the help of the blogosphere, and the experience of we old-timers, the enthusiasm, skills and ideas of the newbies, we can make it a success. What say ye?
Thinking the same thing.
A dear friend and roomie from the Way-Back. Please let any of us on this side of the ocean know what we can do to help his family.
I was provided a password by a friend who thought I should know but it isn’t working for me. If a fundraiser is in the works please let me know and I will get the information out to as many as I know and donate myself. All of my love and compassion to his family.
Thank you for posting such a great story. Ne/lex and I were friends back in Toronto in the 90s, and it was really nice to hear that he has not changed much in his pursuits, conversations and the great guy I’ve always known him to be. Our last conversation was about Man of Steel. I will miss him!