The success story begins in August of 1997 when Bolger started his fourth year of his history degree. In contrary my own degree was suffering and by December I needed to get the fuck out of dodge. Packing up a small duffel bag and pulling together a care package consisting of twelve-Colorado micro-brewery beers, I boarded a flight for Los Angeles, California (LAX) to see Schmidt.
Schmidt was also thriving in his new environment living at home and taking courses at Orange Coast College. Back in ’97 we were allowed to board airplanes with bottles of beer and rightfully so, my carry-on jingled merrily all the way to LAX where upon entering baggage claim Schmidt was holding a sign “Mister Colorado State.” Walking over, I pushed the sign aside to give him a huge bear hug and said, “this is for you“, handing him the clanging duffel. “What? Fuck this is heavy,” he said unzipping the bag then laughing like a madman.
Standing in the parking lot Schmidt smiled and says, “I’ve got a nice week planned for us and I’ll tell you all about it on the drive back to my place,” we climbed into his 60’s baby blue mustang. We pulled out of the parking lot and down onto the ramp to get onto the highway. Then he slowed to a creeping halt. The car sat idling on the ramp for five minutes then he shut it off. Looking up from the bag in my hands all that was before us was a sea of red taillights, “what the fuck Schmidt? What the fuck is all that,” I waved my hand at the sea of metal. “Rush hour,” he said as I cracked open the first of many beers to come that week.
The week consisted of learning that California sells alcohol in their grocery stores, meeting a ton of Schmidt’s friends, attending a couple of live concerts by his friends band Cognitive Bite, jumping into the Pacific Ocean near Huntington Beach, wandering through a handful of LA museums, showing his public art display of a basket-weaved to-scale Sherman tank and a road trip to the University of Santa Barbara for a street party.
After a week long exploration of Southern California, I headed back to Colorado in January of 1998 then in September of that year I moved to the Pacific Northwest to live in Seattle, Washington. For two and a half years I worked, studied and lived around Seattle growing my skills as a commercial photographer at the Art Institute of Seattle whilst Schmidt attended UCLA School of Arts and Architecture. Both of us graduated respectively in 2001. Schmidt entered into a career working in the film and television industry as a production assistant.
Just before graduating I received notice from Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia that they accepted my portfolio and I was going to attend University to start my international photography career. I spent the next nine-months living in the Colorado rocky mountains and visiting family along the front range.
Standing on the precipice between where my life was at in the Colorado rocky mountains and where my next journey was to begin in Brisbane, Queensland Australia, I made an intentional decision to fly to Los Angeles and meet up with Schmidt. It was late-February 2002 when I landed at LAX and this time Schmidt was driving a PT Cruiser. We headed out to San Bernardino to meet up with our old college friend little Heather. She had been in So-Cal for a few months.
Over the course of the next several-years every time I was departing to the Oceanic or Asian continents and returning from my travels into America, I made the transition through Los Angeles in order to spend a few days with Schmidt. This became our right of passage sharing a couple days laughing over beverages discussing our crazy lives, our dreams and our expectations for our futures.
Earlier this week whilst talking to a friend from Colorado, she informed the words none of us ever wants to hear, that one of our friends has found the finish line earlier than expected. With fondest memories of you, your willingness to take me in for a night or three and to show me what LA meant to you. You my friend will be greatly missed.
Kevin M. Schmidt, circa 2006
July 22, 1975 ~ January 5, 2020 (age 44)
A Tribute to: Kevin M. Schmidt