John McCalla
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
Tributes and Condolences
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You / Nicole (more than everything )  Read >>
You / Nicole (more than everything )

I never really realized that you were the one holding this entire family together. When we all thought you were barely holing it together yourself at times, you really had us all. You did so much with your life, and you touched us all in so many ways. You made each and everyone of us feel like WE were the most important in your life. In reality how you mastered this game of life was by simply living. You lived every moment of what you had, and that's why WE felt so special. Even though I know I was your favorite, so does everyone. You were the most real thing to ever walk this earth. And as I am here on a holiday I realize that you did everything right. Everything you had to, that you were every good adjective in the entire damn dictionary. And if I could possibly be, even a bit like you, I would be worth this existence. I always asked you for guidance, and you never really answered me. My mother told me that it was because you felt like you couldn’t possibly offer advice since you were still figuring it all out. Boy you had everyone fooled. I think that I think of you more often during every day than anyone else every could. Maybe that's just the spell you cast on me. But I feel like I know the true you, the Philly you, the U2 you, the Uncle John you.

Alright, dammit  / Beth (lucky friend )  Read >>
Alright, dammit  / Beth (lucky friend )
I get it. You're trying to tell me something. But Scarecrow, could you be any more vague?
First the dream (really John... the Speedo I get, but polar bears???), then the peacock in the road (which, of course, is more like it).
Now, months later, I find you at summer camp, showing me how to "find what people are really good at and bring it out in them." wtf?
Help me make the connection, will ya? My brain's not big enough to do it myself.
You know, sometimes I miss you so much it takes my breath away. And sometimes, when I look at the beautiful photographs you gave to me and my daughter, I realize you left the best of you with us.
I hope you're saving me a good seat up there.
This time last year  / A. Long   Read >>
This time last year  / A. Long

Here's the thing: I've been playing the "this time last year" game my whole life. But the game took on a sharper edge, gained higher stakes, increased its rotation in my lineup of games people play, etc. this year because well, when I played it in 2007, you, my friend, were always one of the main players of 2006. 
I want this god-awful year to be over for so many reasons. (Can I get another job ?! Say that with Chandler-esque inflection, please). But there  is one reason I don't want it to be over: When I play "this time last year" after Jan. 5, I won't be able to include a crazy stolen moment with John in the second half of the sentence. 

Refugees / Franny   Read >>
Refugees / Franny
We got a voluntary evacuation call on Monday so we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly...  Oh that's a different family.  We left for a while but there was really no place to go.  The freeways were jammed and the air quality was bad from here to LA.  Could have gone to Phoenix but the highways to get there were either in the fires or near them.  We figured we could either sit in a hotel room that would be all closed up or we could sit at home all closed up.  We left the truck loaded in case we had to run on short notice.  I decided to stay up for a while Monday night in case we got the evacuation call.  Some people say that the signs are everywhere.  Maybe so.  Maybe life is just a big coincidence.  I was channel surfing and to my delight and surprise at 11:15 p.m. Streets of Fire on Cinemax.  I haven't seen that one in decades.  Well I had to stay up and watch.  I still remember all the words.  I thought of you and hoped that you were sending me a message that things would be okay.  Amanda called yesterday which was also a delight and surprise. When I told her, we laughed at the irony of my county burning down around me and Streets of Fire being on.  She made me laugh when she said, "What came on after that - Armageddon?"  She cracks me up.  I wish we could have all hung out together.  Ta ta for now. Close
shit now what junk?  / Jackie Bee (one of his 3 girls )  Read >>
shit now what junk?  / Jackie Bee (one of his 3 girls )
alright so i thought this page was werid at first, but i don't know now it seems to help a little because i dnt like talking much about this to people that matters it only upsets them. And the people that don't matter im wasting my breathe they dont understand and they really dnt care. Im just sitting here at panera before class and im like , shit now what? I dont know what to do. We needed to talk like you said long ago while i was trailing off but now we really need to talk. Your the only man that was worth while in my life! lol Well of course wapy(my dad) but he doesnt count hes a woman now thanks to all of us! I'm just soo confused and most of all , i'd rather be on the phone with you than going to class. This sucksssss junkkkkkkkkkkkkk <3 Close
Invisible Touch  / Franny   Read >>
Invisible Touch  / Franny
Well thank you very much for the clear skies Saturday night.  The show was amazing.  Although it did suck sitting in LA traffic for 45 minutes to go 10 miles.  We actually missed the first half hour of the show.  The crowd was a little older - lots of eyeglasses.  Everybody seemed wasted.  I don't know if it was the fact that older people have more money to buy great weed or if they were all on meds and shouldn't mix with alcohol.  There were a lot of staggerers.  I even turned to the husband at one point and said, "did everyone leave their walkers home tonight?"  Anyhoo, Phil Collins sounded as good as ever, there were great visuls and lighting, and the show did go on for about 2 and a half hours.  The highlight of the evening was the big screen fanovision showing people in the crowd while the band sang "Throwin it all away."  One woman happened to catch the cameraman's eye.  Maybe cause she had gigantic boobs.  The crowd (mostly the men) let out a big cheer.  She took it a step further when she flashed one of those boobs on the 50 ft. screen.  The crowd let out an even bigger cheer.  A good time was had by all.  Tata for now. Close
Turn it on again  / Franny (Fan)  Read >>
Turn it on again  / Franny (Fan)
I have tickets to see Genesis tonight at the Hollywood Bowl.  I've had a black cloud hanging over my head lately.  I only say this because it's raining this morning.  Can you put in a good word with the man or woman upstairs so I don't have to wear a poncho or even worse have the show cancelled.  It figures.  It never rains in Southern California but the one day I have tickets to an out door show... Close
Connecticut connections  / Amanda Long   Read >>
Connecticut connections  / Amanda Long
So, leaving the Business Journal was supposed to help me stop feeling like a pinball zinging back and forth between memories of you. Maybe if I didn't get on the elevator onto which we crammed our hurried secret conversations, or round that corner outside of CVS where you'd be smoking, or stare at your desk, or sit in meetings and know you were smirking and seething and scribbling behind me as you sat on the managers' table, or do one of the countless little th ings that felt bigger and distinct with you there, then maybe just maybe I won't be that emotionally wracked, stuck in the machine, pinball. 
It kinda worked when I quit. But this summer, sitting at home freelancing with no distractions from me, well, to extend the arcade/fair metaphor, I felt like a balloon some sticky-handed, fussy kid had just let go of. 
So game over.
And now back to school, er, I mean work.
It's a great job. I'll be using my powers for good (line ripped right from my cover letter) and working for the watchdog adovacy group, Public Citizen. 
Here's the kicker -- it's smack dab in the middle of Johnland. I can look out my window and see your Cosi on Connecticut. I could be at your Wrong-Aid in five minutes (although i'll likely frequent the CVS on the circle). I will pass the same preening queens. I exit your same Metro station. In fact, during my first interview, I parked in the very same spot that I did when I picked you up for the gay rodeo. Why do I remember these things?? Because that's what life is all about, holding onto those snippets and quilting them together. Now I'll just have more material. That's how I'll wrap this up, although it's quite a lame ending, theme wise. No longer a pinball, I'm aperson who quilts? What the hell? I need your editing. But for now I'll settle for your environs.
Just another day  / Franny (friend)  Read >>
Just another day  / Franny (friend)
Heard from Louise today.  I was touched, saddened and happy at the same time.  There are so many people out there who are feeling a little bit robbed when they think of you.  I am one.  I wish we had more recent contact.  But I don't have any regrets.  I would rather have had the crazy, fun, pee yourself, laughter-filled times than never to have experienced the amazingness (is that even a word) of John.  Keep on shining your light! Close
"Thank you for a wonderful evening"  / Luis Soto   Read >>
"Thank you for a wonderful evening"  / Luis Soto

Tonight I found a note hidden in a book you gave me, it reads: "Thank your for a wonderful evening".  

Johnny, how can I thank YOU for every wonderful evenings, days, memories, songs, thoughts, lessons, tears, laughters, discoveries, touch, words, companionship, support, happiness and sadness... for every second of every day!!! There are so many and yet, they now seen so few and not ever enough.  I would trade anything to have at least one more.  This time I would make it last forever.

Everywhere I look, everything that sorrounds me reminds me of you. I feel like Prometheus with this void slowly and constantly eating away pieces of my heart and soul, living an eternal death, dieing everyday.

Seven months, my love, seven painful months.  Would I ever forgive myself for not holding your hand for one last time, for thinking that there would be a tomorrow? Why would God bring you to our lifes and then take you away so suddently?  I will never understand why. Like someone once said: "The greatest sin of men is to be born" then... I just want to wake up.

Light turns to darkness, laughter into tears, dreams to regrets, life turns to a waken death but only love remains.

How do you go on when you lose what keeps you together? 

Loveyameanit, every second of every day.

Still Dreamy II  / Franny   Read >>
Still Dreamy II  / Franny
I remember being at Spectacles once and running to the dance floor when we heard "Only in my dreams" playing.  Drunk friends dancing.  How delightful!  Then I let you come into the ladies room with me while I peed since you convinced me that you and Louise had the best talks while sharing the bathroom.  I had never done that with anyone else before - at least not any male friends and I suspect I will never do that again.  It's my tribute to you.  Sweet, sweet memories. Close
Still dreamy ...  / Amanda (note-taker)  Read >>
Still dreamy ...  / Amanda (note-taker)

I know I'm not the only one staring into the big blue ones or hearing a snippet of a raspy exhale in the middle of the night. And I know I'm not the only one waking up with a ker-plunk of the heart when, in the words of Debi Gibson, we realize "you were only in our dreams."
So John, just so you know, you're still good in bed and, for the rest of us, dreaming about you is actually helping us put our emotional humpty dumpties back together again. See it says so, right here in the New York Times:
(if the log-in trolls get you: read on)
July 3, 2007
Winding Through ‘Big Dreams’ Are the Threads of Our Lives
I was in the fluorescent pallor of a windowless office, staring at the dense grid of an unfilled spreadsheet, when my mother called to say my father had died.

It wasn’t a surprise. He had been given a diagnosis of terminal cancer the year before. But it was a jolt to my system — one switch, pulled down with a thump, the power fading and the conveyor belt coming to a stop.

My memories from that week are a jumble of misfiled pieces. But at the end of the second week, I had a dream that remains crisp and vivid in my mind.

I sat up in bed and saw my father across the room. His figure was full and healthy and framed by the yellow light that glowed in the stairwell outside my door. He was grinning, green eyes on me, and listening to sounds from the dining room below, the clinking of plates and the voices of my extended family laughing and sharing memories of him. He raised his dark eyebrows and laughed with them.

“Back to life” or “visitation” dreams, as they are known among dream specialists and psychologists, are vivid and memorable dreams of the dead. They are a particularly potent form of what Carl Jung called “big dreams,” the emotionally vibrant ones we remember for the rest of our lives.

Big dreams are once again on the minds of psychologists as part of a larger trend toward studying dreams as meaningful representations of our concerns and emotions. “Big dreams are transformative,” Roger Knudson, director of the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Miami University of Ohio, said in a telephone interview. The dreaming imagination does not just harvest images from remembered experience, he said. It has a “poetic creativity” that connects the dots and “deforms the given,” turning scattered memories and emotions into vivid, experiential vignettes that can help us to reflect on our lives.

Grief itself is transformative. It is a process of disassembly. The bereaved must let go of the selves they were, as well as the loved ones they have lost. The dreams we have while grieving are an important part of that process.

“Our dreams have to do with how we internalize the people we love,” said Pamela McCarthy, director of counseling services at Smith College. “You learn to look within for the loved one and the particular function that person played in your life, such as caretaking or guidance in the case of a parent. This becomes part of a function that you can provide for yourself.”

Cultural narratives in regions like Vietnam and North and South America assign special importance to such dreams and consider them actual encounters with the spirits of lost loved ones.

“This notion is so widely shared by traditions all across the globe that some scholars have gone so far as to argue that religion itself actually originated in dream experience,” Kelly Bulkeley, past president of the Association for the Study of Dreams, wrote in his book “Transforming Dreams: Learning Spiritual Lessons From the Dreams You Never Forget” (2000).

Current dream study has its epic narrative in the life and dreams of the pseudonymous Ed, a widower who recorded 22 years of dreams about Mary, his deceased wife. Ed made his journal available to G. William Domhoff, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a leading dream theorist.

Dr. Domhoff and Adam Schneider, his research assistant, categorized the 143 dreams and cross-referenced them with Ed’s waking reflections on his wife, their marriage and her death from ovarian cancer on June 15, 1980. In a path-breaking study in 2004, Dr. Domhoff asserted that Ed’s dreams could not be the nonsensical noise of a restless brain stem. They represented the currents of loss, love and confusion in Ed’s waking life.

Ed and Mary’s love began on a seaside boardwalk in 1947. They wed a year later, when Ed was 25 and Mary 22. In his more comforting dreams, Mary appears young and radiant as she did that day, with dark hair and bewitching eyes.

In Ed’s dreams, his companionship with Mary and her withdrawal during an arduous illness are recurrent themes. Sometimes, his mind weaves these threads together to poignant effect, as when Ed finds himself standing across the street from where Mary sits in a car, unable to cross over.

Other times, they form jumbled, comic events. Ed and Mary are lost in a city. They see Jerry Seinfeld and ask him for directions. Soon, Ed realizes that Mary has left with Mr. Seinfeld. He broods behind a building and begins to sink in quicksand.

Almost 20 years after Mary’s death, Ed dreams he is walking down a hallway in their old apartment. It leads to Mary’s hospital room, where she lies, gaunt and still. Her head, according to Ed’s journal, is “hanging over the top edge of the bed.” Her hair is sparse, as it was after chemotherapy. “I sit on the bed,” he writes, “and cradle her in my arms.”

Such composite images and sudden scene changes, Dr. Domhoff conceded, may be the brain’s effort to make sense of random neuron fire. But they are more likely to be symbolic of Ed’s emotional struggle. Dreams, Dr. Domhoff wrote, are the “embodiment of thoughts” from our waking lives.

Deirdre Barrett, assistant professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School and editor in chief of the journal Dreaming, wrote the first significant study on dreams of the dead. She collected dream reports from two sample groups totaling 245 people at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and found 77 such dreams. Her findings were published in the 1992 issue of Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying.

The type and intensity of these dreams, Dr. Barrett wrote, corresponded to phases of her subjects’ waking grief. She arranged the dreams in four categories based not only on common content, but also on concurrent stages of grieving.

The most common was “back to life” dreams, which made up 39 percent of the dreams of the dead in Dr. Barrett’s sample. In such dreams, subjects were surprised or frightened by the appearance of a deceased loved one. Dr. Barrett theorized that these early dreams corresponded to the confusion and denial of early stages of grief.

Dr. Domhoff is not willing to link dreams so closely to stages of waking grief. But, he said in an e-mail message, Ed’s dreams did dissipate in intensity and frequency over time.

Dreams that occur during rapid eye movement, or REM, cycles are the most memorable and emotionally powerful, said John Antrobus, a retired professor of psychology and sleep research at the City College of New York who founded the sleep laboratory there in 1965. The dreams have power because brain activity during REM is most similar to that of a waking state. The emotional responses to REM dream content, therefore, are most like the responses during waking cognition.

In REM, the amygdala, the lima-bean-size gland at the base of the skull responsible for emotions, and the hippocampus, the tissue curled up under the temples that enables memory, are active. The two organs, along with areas in the frontal and prefrontal lobes near the forehead that enable attention and coordination, work simultaneously in producing dreams.

“You have an image of a lost loved one, and along come all kinds of emotions you’ve tied up with them,” Dr. Antrobus said. “Their image comes up, and all parts of the brain associated with the loss get activated, as well in REM sleep, because they’re part of our survival system.”

In a study last year, Dr. Antrobus and City College graduate students linked the body’s circadian cycle and the singular level of brain activity in REM to the high emotionality of REM dreams.

Core body temperature rises gradually from its nadir in the middle of the night during slow-wave sleep, the least active brain state. As morning nears, subcortical brain activity tied to the circadian cycle increases. When these cycles coincide in the last and longest REM phase, the study found, the mind produces its most dramatic dreams.

“The brain is waking up,” Dr. Antrobus said in an interview. “It starts waking up long before you are fully awake.”

Dreams during this active period are more likely to be highly memorable, vivid, and experiential, what Dr. Antrobus calls “superdreams.”

“That’s what people talk about,” he said. “That’s what they’re usually remembering. That’s what these ‘big dreams’ are.”

He added that the four or five phases of REM in a normal night’s sleep might include similar dream content. Just as the image of a lost loved one stimulates parts of the brain associated with loss, the content of dreams early in the sleep cycle could set the tone for that night’s dream experiences. Our memories upon waking, therefore, may be our recollection of a night’s cumulative dream content.

Apart from an effort to understand the physiology behind the content of dreams, what do we do with big dreams? If we ignore them, said Dr. Knudson of Miami University of Ohio, “we discount our most valuable resource in understanding ourselves.”

America is not a country with a ritualistic approach to grief. Many employers offer as few as three days off after a family member’s death. Dreams of the dead keep alive our connections to lost loved ones.

“Big dreams, those dreams that stop you dead in your tracks, are for precisely that purpose,” said Dr. Knudson, whose father died three years ago. “They pull us out of our headlong rush forward. They yank us back down from our schedule books and our jobs.

He continued, “I don’t want to get over my father. That’s not to say that I want to suffer on a daily basis or that I don’t want to understand that he is dead. But I look forward to dreams in which my father will come again. What does it mean to ‘get over’ it? I think that is crazy.”

Home by the Sea  / Franny (moth to a flame )  Read >>
Home by the Sea  / Franny (moth to a flame )
I was listening yesterday to Genesis, "Images of sorrow - Pictures of delight - Things that go to make up a life."  You gave me Genesis and Streets of Fire and John Hughes and french toast and friendship.

We have a yahoo group of Heartthrob staffers.  This time with photos and memorabelia.  We were all at it heavy a few years back.  We're doing it again.  It's missing your fabulousness and your ginormous wit and wisdom.   I think of you often and I wish and I wish and I wish...
When we were little  / Nicole   Read >>
When we were little  / Nicole
Uncle John,

I will never forget all the memories of you living with us.  Even times you would visit, we would often go to the movies.  We loved that!  We saw a matinee in Towson one afternoon, and when we walked out it was dark and snowing!  It was magical, as Jackie and I danced in the snow with you.  Every time something beautiful falls from the sky I think of you. Close
gotta go  / Jimmy The C.   Read >>
gotta go  / Jimmy The C.
Gotta go to louise's tomorrow you fuck. All the sudden i got to go to all that stuff. Shit. I can't take that place because i have my own, I can,t make up for mom's eye to the left. Fucker See you tomorrow
I miss you & think of you often...  / Michelle Smith (cousin)  Read >>
I miss you & think of you often...  / Michelle Smith (cousin)
You were and always will be Jackie, not John, to me.  I remember often, so much about our years growing up together.  We were so close. We recited and acted out more times than I can count, the movie, Grease.  I was Sandy and you were Danny, it is so clear in my mind and you'll always be my "John Travolta".  How about, the movie, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia".  We went and saw that one 23 times, that's when it was cheap to go to the movies.  And "Halloween", we loved to watch those with "Jason", starring Jamie Lee Curtis.  She was a favorite of yours too.  French fries and cereal, that is all you ever ate, never together of course but I always got on you about eating better.  You were so picky.  Good times cuz, good times.  I love you, see you later, never good bye! Close
Your neighborhood is too quiet  / Amanda Long   Read >>
Your neighborhood is too quiet  / Amanda Long
Your little valley of Kalorama has always been peaceful -- and I know it both comforted and confounded you. Was it too quiet? Too cut off from the buzz of a real city? Or the perfect escape at the end of the day?No escapes are perfect, John. Believe you, me.
Today, I did a walk-by. And did all the emotional equivalents of picking off a scab: Walked the exact route from Alex's we walked to Valley Vista, scrolled through the names on the call box (yes your name still comes up) and just stood there and looked at the awesome parking spot I snagged the last time I drove over. Liz noticed the quiet, she came along. Like me, she can't go through Dupont without wondering just exactly where your place is in relation to wherever she is. I still have my JMc GPS on when I'm over there. It's how I get into Adams Morgan, Dupont and Kalamora. It's where you left.
You'd have been proud, we scolded our suburb-living ways as I pointed out YOUR Connecticut Avenue ( his gym, his too gay candle shop, his Anne Taylor to despise, his Cosi where Edgar gave me the plastic purse picked up in Provincetown- say that three times fast). And before I could break down right in front of the Scientologists, I spotted Silva, your friend, trainer and one-time employee, at your Cosi. Did you send that my way? If so, thanks. And well played, who can cry around Silva?

There's so much to catch up on. We would have walked and talked all the way to my suburb-bound Metro stop had you been along (Along!! har-har). Sedaris-gate. Kathy G's foray into reality TV via lesbian trainer. Bravo's futile bleeping of Brenda. Bike season return. All things mental and dental. But of course, you'd have wondered why I was in your 'hood and that is where we'd have nothing to say to one another. I'd been at Alex's house for a big summit with the new editor. The new editor, the one after you.
So maybe too quiet was OK today.  I needed its comfort today. Close
Still cannot believe you are gone  / Lewis Gautieri (friend)  Read >>
Still cannot believe you are gone  / Lewis Gautieri (friend)
Damn,  it still feels like you were ripped away from us.  Sadness and grief have not diminished one bit.  God love you, John. Close
John I am proud of you  / Jimmy The C. (brother)  Read >>
John I am proud of you  / Jimmy The C. (brother)

John I am proud of you.  I regret you did not finish what you started.
Good Luck in the next chapter.  LIVE AND LET DIE.

I still can not live without you; how am I?  / Nicole Schaffer (best friend )  Read >>
I still can not live without you; how am I?  / Nicole Schaffer (best friend )
Today has been so long since the last time I saw you, and I sill can not come to terms with it.  How will I ever be able to live without you?  I have never missed someone more in my life.  Ever since Streets of Fire came out, my life was for you...."It could never be you..." Close
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