Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Pannikin in Leucadia was a lovely venue

Well, the day of the fundraiser finally arrived! With much excitement and maybe a little trepidation, Amy and I arrived at the Pannikin in Leucadia for the event organized by my daughter Carmen and my friend and yoga student Elena. It was an amazing experience to see so many people from all parts of my life coming together in one place. I had began calling this event "The Gathering of the Tribes". You see, I consider myself part of many different tribes: the surfing tribe, the yoga tribe, the poet's tribe, (and by extension, artists and musicians), the small business owner's tribe, the foodies get the idea. Many of these folks I hadn't seen since my diagnosis, so it was especially poignant to see them. After a couple of rough days of chemo effects, I was running on love energy all night! I think I hugged everyone in a 3 block radius! I just felt so humbled and honored to be part of such a vibrant community of caring, creative people.
Speaking of tribes, some members of my family were there to kick off the festivities, namely David and Taylor Plenn, my Bro-in-law and nephew, who come from the musical side of the family! David on guitar and Taylor tearing up the sax. Beautiful. Doing their take on some jazz standards and putting up with me for a little spoken word goofiness.

Dave Plenn and son Taylor making me glad we are related

But let's not forget Austin Burns, who filled in the gap between the jazz and the reggae! Austin is a fantastic guitarist; wise beyond his years, who wowed the crowd with my favorite Hendrix song "Little Wing". Austin is playing at the Belly Up next Wednesday, June 15th, which is in fact his 18th Birthday. I'm hoping to be there. In fact, the whole Burns family rocks and donated an O'Neill wetsuit for the silent auction. Many thanks.

But let's talk about the food! This part was spearheaded by the inimitable Dave Murphey, aka "Murph", one of the most generous, positive and energetic individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. Many thanks to all the restaurants that donated (can you hear me, Hunzi?) and also thanks to the Erik Pfeiffer and Cat Light for their help (and others, I am sure) My yoga tribe rocks!!

The Girls of Solo on Cedros brought their smiles

Charlie and Mary Moore, dear friends and newest residents of Pacific Station

Roseanne and Ron Hoffman were a joy to see

My daughter Carmen had reminded me the day before that we were there to celebrate life, not cancer, and after raffling off some prizes, it was time for some reggae music!! And celebrate we did to Simple Green, a precociously talented group of musicians that got the dance fever going with mostly original tunes. These young men are GOOD! Upbeat, positive vibes with tight grooves. I've been dancing to reggae music outdoors in funky Leucadia town for about 35 years or more, so I felt right at home. I warned them that the geezers are going to start showing up at their gigs! Many thanks to these excellent young musicians for bringing their skills and vibes to the evenings festivities. Sorry I don't have more pics, but I was busy dancing! If anyone has any, send them over and I will post.

We be jammin'

It was a wonderful night in so many ways. Truly magical for me. I must thank Michael Brown, Mr. Everything, for his help and for manning the beer tent, also Ashely and Evan and Shelton for helping Carmen so much. And my son Myles has such amazingly sincere and soulful friends that are always so good to see. They were right there pitching in. Muchas Gracias, dudes! Betsy Sieble and Andy Oesterle diligently managed the raffle table and generally made themselves available all night. Many thanks. Jim Babwe added perspective both with pixels and with wisdom (and gets credit for the wide angle first image in this post) My daughter Carmen is just amazing, and we are so proud of her.

The alleged perpetrators of this extravaganza:
Elena Burgeno Berman and Carmen Stephens

The fundraiser was a success on so many levels. It will help us with our debt to the hospital and/or keep the wolf from our door during chemo. Really, I want to thank the people of north coastal San Diego county, the artists, small business people, teachers, caregivers. The restaurants that have been so generous... these are the people that make a community. I have always loved my community, and it turns out, apparently, that my community loves me. Friends, family, the arts and the ocean... it is all a man could want. I am truly grateful.

I'll leave you with these words...

Every Breath a Victory

I submitted to the scalpel

I suckled the milk of human kindness

Every breath a victory

Each day a gift

I have been inside tubes

And had tubes inside me

I have rushed down the highway

I have sat so still, I watched leaves unfurl

Every breath a victory

Each day a gift

I have kept poisons out

And let poison in

I lost some muscle

But gained some fortitude

I abandoned some ego

And rediscovered some lost love

I have found the depth of human connection

And it made me weep

I lost my bearings

But I found my way

Every breath a victory

Each day a gift.

- Bruce Stephens, June 2011


  1. Dear Bruce, it was a spectacular event! I was truly moved at the 'tribal' outpouring and very honored and humbled to help Elena and Carmen on Thursday. It was great to meet you and your beautiful family. Sending healing energies your way! Michele Miller

    Btw, the wetsuit fits my son perfectly!!!

  2. Bruce, it was really good to see you and this post is really special. We have an incredible community and you are an inspiration to this community of many many tribes. Wishing you well my friend

  3. Now we are definitely sorry for not having been there, it was on the calendar, and I think that only work if I look at it from time to time. Great to see it went of like a charm, and soon we will call over for a visit.