writing songs now

I wrote two songs yesterday and one already this morning.

Today, December 5th, is my brother Bradley John Dundon's birthday.

He would have been sixty-one.

He died in October.

I sang all my shows about him in November.

Now I am ready to write new songs, and so far they have something to do with him.

The thing about my brother is he was more of an artist than a person.

And he went all in on things.

He was an ascetic and an aesthete.

The first word means he had drastic self-disciplines and adopted severe or austere habits, like a monk or like a crazed artist.

The second word means he had or affected to have an unusually high ability to discern beauty or artistry in all things.

His personhood was characterized by these two words.

And this all drove him mad, or he was mad from the start, but whatever he did he went all in on it in a drastic and bizarre way.

He spoke German well enough to stay after school in Junior High and converse with the beautiful young German teacher. He was so in love with her that he learned the German language she taught. He went on the high school German Language trip to Germany.

He loved football and became the youngest starting quarterback of the football team at a very large and competitive high school in Chicago. He yelled out the plays in his sleep on the nights before the big games.

He "choked under pressure" and lost his team a big game and was so humiliated that he quit, he didn't go back to school. He graduated early doing independent study.

He became a bodybuilder. He drank raw eggs in front of me, his little sister, and I would scream in horror.

Then he became a black belt in Karate.

Then he left at seventeen with a one way ticket to France. He had studied French in High School and liked it as much as German. He had ideas about reading all great texts in their original languages. He had ideas about American literary heroes like Ernest Hemingway and about European literary heroes like Proust, Rilke, Kafka, Emile Zola, Jean Genet.

I understood it all to be something very deeply dark and romantic. When I got to high school his legend was all around me. Teachers and fellow students, older than me, would stare, eyes widened, and say, "You're Brad Dundon's sister?" with a tone of strange reverence. I got called "Little Dundon" all through high school. People told me stories even then, stories of an eccentric madman who captivated their imaginations.

So many stories, so many severe habits. So much accomplishment and ability. So much strange behavior. So many piles of typed sheets of paper, reams and reams of typed sheets of paper. Some in French, some in English. He sat for hours and hours, day and night, in his black beret from Paris, black leather lace up boots, jeans and always a very good wool sweater our mother would have bought him, fingers stained from the tobacco of rolled cigarettes, a pot of hot coffee, always the cigarettes and the coffee, an old black heavy iron typewriter, always with fresh paper, piles and piles of books and papers everywhere around him, no matter where, whenever I visited him, no matter where.

Later, unable to type, very drugged on anti psychotic drugs, wearing paper slippers, shuffling, barely able to speak, but lucid, in the Chicago Read Mental Hospital. "I'm not a ward of the state. I can leave whenever I want. This is no life at all." He said this to me, drooling, barely able to form the words.

And then he was gone and twenty years went by.

And then they called my mother from California saying he had died in a hospice center for indigent people.

....going where the weather suits my clothes....

I will write the stories and the songs as best I can to give us all a glimpse of the feeling he embodied because its a feeling we don't want to miss out on.

What he had was special, but the world doesn't have any of it from him. I don't think there is anything publishable in the few examples of his writing that I have in my possession. The rest is scattered, I don't know where, lost I think, to the world.

But I can tell the stories of a guy who burned bright and hard and burned out fiercely and in total madness.

Today is his birthday and I love my brother.


And now he is free, and I am so grateful for that. I feel his spirit. I sense his freedom.

I don't have a picture of my brother but this picture of Monsieur Dylan reminds me a lot of my brother.


kjwburkett December 05, 2018 @05:16 pm
Beautiful Courtney...Beautiful.
Sally Heinz December 05, 2018 @04:28 pm
Your love spills out like gentle rain. So glad for you that his spirit and remembrance bring you creativity - what better way to honor him...
Rick Bishop December 05, 2018 @01:22 pm
Wonderful tribute. Thank you. I returned from my Aunt Alice's celebration of life yesterday reflecting on life's well lived. She was ahead of her time; a matriarch for her married family, raised her family, had a large garden, did crafts, wonderful cook, oh, and a legal Secretary for 4 generations of a law firm. I admired her assertiveness and energy. May you retain energy and love in your brother's peace.
Josephine Lane December 05, 2018 @12:57 pm
Bradley sounds like such an intelligent, creative person and I am sorry for your loss. I love your song The Broken. Can't wait to hear the new songs in memory of your brother.
Blake D. December 05, 2018 @10:06 am
This stunning portrait of your brother reminds me a lot of David Foster Wallace. DFW, I believe, ultimately lost faith in his ability to cope with a world which failed to acknowledge it's sorrow, frailty, and brutal beauty. DFW struggled to balance this realization with his obvious polymathic fortitude in just about any arena he resigned himself to prevail. Your brother, like DFW, seems like one of those souls who was too fragile, too omnipotent, too beautiful for such an heedless world. You may want to venture into "The Pale King"—you may glean some insights from it, or you may not...just a thought. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pale_King
Paul Messinger December 05, 2018 @08:45 am
Yes ...
Nelson T. French December 05, 2018 @08:22 am
Thank you so much for sharing the story. My memories are of summer days on Birch Point in the day when we seemed to be care free - the stuff of summer days... Hope to see you again soon - and to schedule a return to Rocky Wall! Sail on dear Courtney. Nelson
Pia Bilting Bearfield December 05, 2018 @07:53 am
Courtney, what a beautiful celebration of your brother! RIP to him. I feel you, because even if I know where my brother is right now, he also "is in a hole" due to his inferiority complex, big heart and love for beautiful women...I tell you his story next time we meet... As a big sister I never stop worry about him, because I love him, for who he is. <3
Cindy December 05, 2018 @07:36 am
a beautiful tribute to a deep soul who is free. You express this so well. Thankyou for his story.
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