Just got off the phone with the wife of my old neighbor, personal chiropractor, home improvement mentor, beer buddy, and big brother from another mother, Eric Melzer. If you’re from San Pedro, you may know Eric through his Halloween parties, his legendary tiki room upstairs, his sports bar downstairs, or his chiropractic office down on 7th Street.
We lost Eric yesterday to a heart attack. He was born March 21, 1961, putting him at 55. He went quickly and painlessly at 3PM, doing what he loves to do most: working on the front yard. I’m confident he wouldn’t have wanted to go any other way.
Every so often — once in a lifetime if we’re lucky — we’ll meet a person who marches to the beat of their own drum. Time stands still as they do their thing. They exist like a comet on the horizon, with only a select few being lucky enough to witness it. It’s not until the person’s gone that we can begin to digest what we just saw, and how rare it was. That person was Eric. Part Clark Griswold, part Frank the Tank, all Melzer.
Eric lived life hard and on full-blast. The most extroverted guy I’ve ever met, with an irresistibly obnoxious presence that hijacked any room. I loved him. Even enough to honor his request to be Captain Jack Sparrow for his kid’s birthday party one year. I’ll never get used to the idea of Eric not being on this planet. His passion made him seem invincible.
When Eric loved something, he loved it all the way and then some. Among his targets were his family, Halloween, horror, Kauai, sushi, Zeppelin, Disneyland, tiki mugs, and anything remotely related to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. One of his many aspirations was to have an entire room devoted to that movie. With blacklights.
A favorite Melzer memory I’ll always carry with me is when he’d drag me out of bed at like 6AM on a Sunday to go with him down to the flea market at Veteran’s Stadium in Long Beach. Early bird gets the worm was the theory. After pounding a few sunrise MGD’s, he’d run off to snatch up any tiki item he could find, while I’d stock up on vintage aloha shirts and forgotten board games. We’d be done by 10AM.
Eric called me out of the blue a few weeks ago, May 28. No real reason, he said. He just wanted to say he loved me. Although my voicemail’s at 95% capacity these days, for some reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete that voicemail. How thankful I am for that right now. That voicemail can be heard at the top of this post.
Love and condolences to Eric’s wife Rebecca, his daughter Carlie, and his sons Gavin and Talan. I hurt with you. I’ve lost a brother. <3