Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stephen Schochet (1962-2015)

For the second time in the last two months I am writing a tribute for a friend who is no longer here.

It sucks.

What can I say about my friend Stephen?

I met Stephen when we were co-workers at a tourism company based next to Los Angeles International Airport back in 1996. We worked together for eight years.

Strangely enough, we didn't become good friends while I worked at the tour company. We were more just acquaintances and co-workers.

Years later, after I left to work at a different company -- and my political ideology started to swing harder to the right -- was when Stephen and I became great buddies.

We had so many great times and great memories together. Part of the pain of losing friends is that you know that there won't be any more of those shared experiences that mean so much.

We went to so many Dodgers games. Trojan games. Bruin games.

Stephen took me to my first ever Lakers game -- event though I was not a big basketball fan.

Even though Stephen wasn't really a "group" activity kind of person, I persuaded him to get involved with Westside Republicans and also with the McCain campaign in 2008.

One of Stephens favorite moments with me was when we went to a Bruin game in fall of 2008. I saw the crowd around the game as a good time to campaign, so I walked around the stadium holding up yard signs and shouting "John McCain! John McCain!" and getting some odd looks from people. Eventually a few others joined us and we had this tiny crowd of about 12 people chanting and waving signs. But being that it was Southern California, we also faced some scorn and abuse. Stephen was really exhilarated by the experience and told me how much it amazed him.

"I can't believe you did that, Philly! That was awesome!"

Good times.

Stephen was an amazing human being, with many admirable qualities.

I admired his sense of fairness. He would call out his fellow Conservatives when they made wisecracks about Michelle Obamas appearance or weight. He considered it beneath our dignity to make those type of comments.

He was all about Conservative ideology. He prided himself on getting de-friended repeatedly on Facebook by people who could not deal with his logical and well-reasoned political arguments that shot their own philosophies full of holes. When confronted by the facts, they would quietly click the defriend button.

He was an author. He sold tens of thousands of copies of his books about Hollywood history and the backstories involved. He did hundreds of radio interviews to promote his books.

He was a great thinker, a great writer and a great public speaker.

One of Stephens favorite photos (above) was the one of him I took at a Dodgers game in 2009. He got to talk to Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles and get his photo taken with her.

That photo is how I want to remember Stephen. In happier times.

Losing Stephen sucks. There is no way around that fact.

He was a great friend, and I will miss him terribly.