Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Years After: Kyle Van Horne (and Happy Tết)

Note for my next life:
Meet Kyle sooner, and keep a closer eye on him. Keep him close.
My very dear friend and soul brother, Kyle Van Horne, died ten years ago at... 32? Way too young. Leaving behind a giant hole that hasn't gotten smaller, but has stopped hurting.
Mallard and Kyle - no doubt singing "Southern Cross"  ; )
I want to write about him, but my thoughts and memories of him could fill a book, and if I don't just post this rough draft of thoughts now, it will turn into weeks and probably never, so I'm letting 'er rip. This is going to be long and rambling and very stream of consciousness, and very much from my own perspective. I don't have the photos I'd like to include, but I'll add the ones I can find just now.

Michael (Zamboni, my boyfriend) has written a script loosely based on what might have been Kyle's life, had he not passed away when he did. It's pretty awesome and I love picturing Kyle in the world Michael created for him. With any luck, we'll be producing it sometime soon and bring him back to life, in a way.
I can't include everything or everyone in this small space, and a lot of the things I bring up will also apply to Chicken or Jen Stills or someone else, and I love all of you, but for tonight I'm focusing on Kyle. I'll make a Facebook page for Kyle we can all share in a few days.
Chicken, me and Kyle
I think Jay Ostrowski took this pic at Fareholm
Jen and I first met Kyle when we knocked on his door introducing ourselves when I'd just moved into Fareholm (a rare and wonderful apartment building in Laurel Canyon) upstairs from him. A couple days later, Jen and I were singing on my porch and he came barreling up the stairs shouting, 'THAT ISN'T YOU!!!??' Jen has a gorgeous voice. (See my previous post.) The love/hate Jen/Kyle relationship was born. They were either going to get married or kill each other. We were never sure which.
My little porch where Kyle first heard Jen sing
I've created a Grooveshark playlist of 20+ songs I could find that remind me of Kyle. Songs he used to sing, or that we'd sing together. Music that was such a huge part of that time and place. Play it while and after you read this post, and it might help you get Kyle and our special little world a little bit.
The last song is Iris DeMent singing "Our Town." Kyle used to call me after he moved from Hollywood back to OC and ask me to sing him that song over the phone. It would make him tear up. It was also the song that played over the final montage of our favorite TV series at the time, Northern Exposure. Oh, hell, I'll just put the video here if you want to watch it. If someone how missed the whole series, it's worth watching on Hula or something.
The first time I sang with Kyle, he taught me "The Burning Down" by Kings X to sing in four part harmony with him, Gertner and Chicken. We sounded wonderful. I was so happy. I can only find it on youTube - the song with a photo of the album, and the quality isn't great - but damn, did we sound good when we sang it. Here's a link to the Kings X version:
Dave Gertner at home in Costa Rica
Formerly Kyle's roommate & my downstairs neighbor
Then he taught me what we ended up calling "Foot Trouble," a combination of Pearl Jam's "Footsteps" and Temple of the Dog's "Times of Trouble," and that, "Sullivan Street" and "Comes A Time" were the songs people asked Kyle and I to sing together the most.

I'm including Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Funny story about that... I loved that song, before Jeff recorded it, and had written the lyrics down on a piece of paper so I could learn it. The next time I saw Kyle and Chicken they were in awe of me. They'd found the paper, in my writing, and thought that it was a song or poem that *I'd* written! For 24 hours, I'd inadvertently completely blown their minds. I sang them the song and they still loved it, but not quite as much as if I'd written it.  ; )
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
as much as I'd like to have written it
Kyle made his own music, but he also made all those great 90's songs his own when he played and sang them. Soulfully. Beautifully. I loved that he always wanted me to sing with him, and afterwards would say things like, "Wow.... Good goodness..."
From the top: Mike Benton aka Chicken Boy, Jen Stills,
Kyle Van Horne and me at Fareholm in Laurel Canyon
Chicken moved in when Dave moved out.
Here is some of Kyle's music, and one of his "Mother Nature Jams," which I recorded in his living room on Fareholm - Me (just at the beginning - I was too shy, having just met them, to fully participate in this kind of jam), Kyle, Dave Gertner and Chicken. I had my tape recorder going all the time in those days. I need to find all those old tapes. And something to play them on...

He had so many friends. He'd have people over every day, until he was spent, then his alter-ego "Lyle" would put a "GO AWAY AND THAT MEANS YOU" note on his front door. But that never meant me. He would always let me in.
Kyle holding court at El Compadre on Sunset Blvd.
Michael Zamboni, me, Kyle, Claude, Chicken and..
Sorry, I can't remember the last guy's name
He made me feel special, and smart. He called me "Knowledger," because I always had an answer for everything. (Either I knew, just because I was older than everyone there, or I'd make an educated guess.) He and Chicken also called me "Mother Superior" and "School Girl Legs," or just "Legs." I wish I still had a copy of the School Girl Legs song they recorded for me for my birthday (I think it was my 35th). I was sort of the den mother of our clan, and I had great legs (at the time) and spent a lot of time in a short hippie skirt. (One of those long gauzy Indian fabric panel skirts, ripped off at the second panel - it just ripped, so  I tore it all the way and kept wearing it. I loved that skirt.)
My 37 yr old school girl legs ; )
Couldn't find one with the skirt 
Every year I remember the Christmas Kyle and I were alone together in our respective (haunted, but that's for another post) apartments and he asked me - through the heating unit - to come down and open presents with him, and share the coffee cake his mother had sent him - which turned out to be exactly like what Danish grandmother used to make, and the taste of it made me cry.
Kyle, me & my brother Mike at Fareholm  12/26/93
We were 23, 35 and 40, respectively
I have so many memories of Kyle - I can only write a few of them here. The rest will go on the Facebook page.
~The magical red tide phosphorescent hieroglyphics we saw in the ocean from the dock with Michael.
~His philosophy that we were all a reincarnated native American tribe coming back together.  ; ) Kyle, Dave, Chicken, Mallard, Jen, Jamie, Jay, Tom, Red Jeff and his Jesus mural made out of Bible pages, Kurt, Cliff, Zane... We hung out every day, every night. It spread out in rings from there. Like that gigantic ring around the moon the night of his wake at that bar in OC. That will always be Kyle's moon to me.
~Making the peace sign and "We Buy Used Ducks" sign we put the window that all the Laurel Canyon commuters had to ponder during rush hour (and the occasional anonymous used duck offerings on Kyle's doorstep).
Fareholm Apts., Laurel Canyon
That upper window was my living room.
Kyle's window is now obscured by the bush that's bigger than the bldg.
~BBQing on the sidewalk.
~Drawing pictures in the wet concrete out front (my Kokopelli), once they'd FINALLY finished ripping up the street to fix the storm drains. Twice. They covered over our artwork. It's not there now.
~Meeting Danno and Lisa from Australia at my brother's gig at the Coconut Teaszer, bringing them home, and suggesting that Kyle invite them to stay with him... One of my better ideas. ; )
~Recording Jen Stills' demo at Ocean Way Studios, and Kyle's rock star arm in the air flourish at the end of "The Walk," which I picture each time I hear that song. I don't have a link to The Walk just now, but here's a link to Jen's "Watch Over Me" from that session (also featured in my last post), with Kyle playing acoustic guitar, Rami from The Wallflowers on keys, Ethan Johns producing, and me singing backups.
~Trips with Kyle's pickup full of deadheads to shows in Vegas and Mountain View - and that crazy night what's his name had the crazy bad acid trip in the hotel, that I - and then Chicken helped him get through. And getting pulled over for - I don't even remember what, but the officer let us go - when we were all on mushrooms on the way home from San Francisco.
~Camping on Memorial Day in Big Bear with Kyle, Kirk and twenty Marines. They let me shoot a flare gun several times in the forest (doesn't seem like such a great idea now) and I was nearly wounded or worse when one of the bullets they'd been tossing into the campfire earlier that day finally decided to explode just as I was standing by the fire. Oh, those wacky Marines. One of them sent us postcards from overseas for a while after.
~El Compadre's mariachis, flaming margaritas (and more) and Kyle's Gardner apartment across the parking lot with the view of the Guitar Center and awesome rooftop parties.
~Low budget indie cult film, "Killer Flick." Kyle played a musician in the movie and did the soundtrack with Michael and Kyle's band, The Pits. Here's a short bad trailer with a teeny piece of  Michael's music over it. LOL.
Kyle's not in this poster
~Kyle loved The Lion King and named his cat Mufasa. He loved my cat, Cokie, too.
~The time he dosed Mallard with who knows what and when he woke up they were in Mexico eating lobster.
~Kyle and I dancing in the tunnel under the Rose Bowl because Security wouldn't let us dance in our seats at the Pink Floyd concert.
~Watching OJ in the white Bronco in Kyle's living room wondering if he'd drive by our window.
~The Raiders!
The Raiders sticker Kyle put on my guitar
~Hanging out all day snuggled up together on the couch without Michael getting jealous, because he loved Kyle, too. Smoking. Drinking. Taco Tuesdays. Fort Dix.

We have the big bamboo walking stick in our living room that Kyle gave Michael to use for hiking Runyan Canyon. Every time I see it, or a photo of Kyle (I have a couple on my shelves), or hear any of the music we used play or listen to, or hike Runyan, I feel him next to me. Like when I feel my long gone cat jump on my bed.
The walking stick Kyle gave Michael to hike Runyan Canyon
Thank you making it to the end and sharing in my reminiscing about one of my favorite people in the world. I don't think he had any idea how loved he was. Isn't that always the way it is?

I'll let you know when I get his Facebook page up; Meanwhile, feel free to comment or leave links below, whether you knew Kyle or not.


  1. You certainly have led an interesting life, and I'm so happy you are sharing it with us. No, I didn't know Kyle, but I am enjoying the music you have shared with us.

  2. We're different, alright, Mary, but I'm so happy you enjoy my blog! ; )


  3. Jeez Mother Superior!!!! This is incredible, moving me to tears. You have done amazing, and i love it and i love you, and i love all those mentioned here in your rolling tribute. I miss the friendships and warm feelings between all of us, and we laughed...ohhh how we luaghed. like nothing else. I was there with the marines, remember everybody pissing at one spot the marines staked out, only to find out early morning light that
    they unknowingly staked out a rattlesnake den with about 50 snakes coiled !!! Koil!!! In that El Compadre pic the guy at the end is Peter Michelena, who was doing our Pits photos. a very talented dude, who you can catch on melrose all the time in front of his lightspace photo shop. The guy having significant issues from the Dead show in Vegas that time was Tony Rodgers, now one of the most successful voice-over guys in the biz. And it was your battery-powered tape player running out of power, stuck on "truckin" that did him in!! we laughed so hard he snapped a nueron.
    so many stories. Thank you Kristin for this, i have already laughed so hard...digging the tunes too- love Mike/Chicken Boy!

  4. Kristin this post hit me sideways. i haven't heard kyle's voice in 10 years and it brought me to sobbing. this was really a beautiful way to share and i'm so stoked that you did. even though i was in oc i recall these stories from kyle. and i think i was on that mushroom trip coming home from san fran? that counting crows album, wow i remember that like it was the soundtrack of that time. i'd love to get posts on my FB page, wouldn't wanna miss out on any of this. thanks. i remember......................

  5. Thanks for sharing - I'm so glad you decided to do it as a stream of conscience instead of waiting until you had a manuscript - it's what I needed to read today. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to meet Kyle but I got to know him through his brother Bret. Kyle was bigger than life. I met Bret one year after Kyle passed away and we have since married. One of our first dates was at the San Clemente Pier - a place Bret and Kyle went often. Family and friends still meet there to celebrate and remember him. I've heard so many stories over the last nine years but I have to say you put it all so beautifully together in this post. And along with the music I almost feel as if I was there.
    Thank you, thank you,
    Terry Van Horne

  6. Holy cow... beautiful words... I wished I had stayed in L.A. a little longer and hung out with all of you.... I know you don´t remember me, Kristin, but Dave and Mike do - and Kyle would. And Mike and I knocked on your door 5 years ago but you weren´t there - unfortunately.
    All my love,

  7. I just came across this site today after posting the 4 songs Kyle helped, my brother, Scott Mathews and I produce and engineer back in 1998. Hello, I'm Tim Mathews, I met all of you when I was 16 at the laurel canyon apartments and having Halloween parties over at Fort Dix in Hollywood! I came by a handful of times and then hung out with Kyle later in life in random locations throughout southern California. Even had the privilege of seeing Chicken n Kyle rock with Steven Stills in the band the Pitts, what a great night that was since we all hung out at stills house with the gigantic window after the show! Anyway I could go on about all the unique and interesting things I learned while hanging out with this wonderful group of people but then we'd be here all night long! So I thank you for having this site and letting us, who were lucky enough to know the man or not know him,be able to stroll down amnesia lane with you!
    here is a link to 3 of the songs he helped us make on my sound cloud. He was a great talent and I miss him!
    Tim Mathews.
    ( Kyle at this point would of told me to shut my pie hole and turn up the music)
    songs are Exit wound, Deviation, and Reduction of the Sympathies
    all engineered and mixed by Kyle Van Horne plus some sweet drum programming and bass by him as well!

  8. So, I just spent the day posting pics of Allen Wetzel, Kyle and I on Facebook from 20 + years ago. They shared an apt. on Whitley and Yucca in Hollywood and my roommate knew him and I met him. We spent the next year partying our asses off w/ Kim and Mishta and Darby and jamming. I'm the one who took Kyle to Big Bear for the first time and he and I found said campsite(old logging roads out in the middle of nowhere) We used to get super baked and turn off the light in the apt. He would play Peter Frampton's "Do you feel Like we do" and do the voice box/guitar parts with the tip of a burning incense stick. Or do hand puppet spiels on the wall with "Chardart Knardart" (King of the Pardardts) . We used to watch shows from the hills above the Greek Amphitheatre and then have all night parties in their apt. The place would be packed and his room was like the VIP lounge:) Is there a Facebook page? I'll post pics. He would have mentioned me as Roach.

  9. I was Kyle's first Hollywood room mate at the Hollywood Terrace Apts. on Yucca and Whitley Back in the early days. Kyle and I met while working at Rip Curl in Oceanside. He was an amazingly talented and incredibly kind human being. I moved to LA to act and Kyle was at MIT. Many years have passed and I miss him dearly. He was larger than life was a magnet for bringing good people together. Mike Benton, Allen, Kim, Misha, Roach and so many others. I moved to Micronesia and Hawaii in 91 and the last time I saw him was on a visit in 95 to Fareholm. I moved to New York in late 96. Kyle was one of the first people to call me after 9/11. That was the last time we spoke . I often wondered where he was and was devastated when I found out about his passing years later . I remember my times with him fondly and quote him to my kids to this day...."Labios Pescados con queso por favor". It always makes them laugh. Fish lips with cheese please! Miss you brother.