Sunday, January 23, 2011

Memorial for Preston Gene Brown

This was a layout for MOVIELINE MAGAZINE in front of Coney Island-Hollywood

                                                1973-2006 (He lived a short life)

Preston Brown came into my life when he came to Hollywood as a teenager. He came into my restaurant, Coney Island, on Christmas Eve. I was one of the few places open that night. He was wearing a ball cap, turned backward, like the young kids do. He was very shy and had a lost, puppy dog look in his eye. He ordered a Bar-B-Q Beef sandwich, which he devoured, along with a Pepsi. I never had the opportunity to talk with him. He ate and left, but within minutes he came back for another sandwich. I learned that he was new to Hollywood and was staying at the YMCA a few blocks away. I had been looking for a new employee and after talking with Preston, I learned he only had about $15 in his pocket. The YMCA was around $35 a night.

After talking with him I offered him a job at my restaurant and free room and board living with me in my apartment. He was elated, and so was I. I took him to the Y to pick up his meager belongings. He turned out to be the best worker I ever had. He was young, cute and I guess you could say handsome. And boy did he ever have charisma. Customers would often get into long conversations with him, mostly adult patrons. He knew all the famous composers, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and, well, more than I know of. He knew what age they died and what they had died from. He had studied piano and I bought him a couple keyboards for him to practice on. And he loved movies. We would go two or three times a week.

I introduced him to Dick Clayton, one of Hollywood's most famous agents. He had been James Dean's agent. Dick suggested that Preston do extra work, on TV and films, and said Preston would probably be discovered by someone important. So, I took photos of Preston and sent them to agencies as well as registering him in companies that provided actors for different productions. Preston was on Cloud 9. On the set he would be pulled from the back of a crowd and moved to the front near the cameras. MOVIE LINE MAGAZINE featured him and he was excited when they sent a camera crew to Coney Island, on Hollywood Boulevard, to film him. They had numerous costumes for him to wear and a couple of female models would be shown with him. They used a fog machine and it attracted a lot of tourists to see what was happening? A limousine pulled up with some star who was wondering what all the excitement was? Preston was grinning from ear to ear.

When Preston was 21 we would trek to Las Vegas. He loved that place, not to gamble but just to see all of the bright lights. He would walk the main street back and forth. He was a poor loser and didn't like to gamble. On our first trip there, we were at Circus Circus. It had been my first trip in many years too. I wasn't winning much and he wandered on the carousel where I was playing the slot machine and touched me on the shoulder and I hit a $1,000 jackpot. He was so happy and was grinning from ear to ear. I handed him $100 in the car driving back, for bringing me luck. You would have thought it was the whole $1,000. We would drive there about once a month. Like a little kid, he wanted to go to the amusement centers instead of gambling.

Unfortunately that menace, schizophrenia, got a grip on him. It led to excessive use of drugs. We soon parted. He was gone for over four or five years. I prayed he would be alright. He had become like a son to me. Then he suddenly came back into my life. He had his own apartment, which I quickly fixed up for him. He had learned to operate a computer and could do web pages. He was very smart. I was proud of him. Like James Dean, he was a Rebel. Unfortunately, he got bit by the menace again. I was unaware that he wasn't taking his medication. He had been really good for three years in his apartment. His schizophrenia got the best of him. He gave up his medication and started, like many young persons in Hollywood, to taking drugs. He hallucinated, not knowing right from wrong. He imagined someone was trying to hurt him. In his delusions he actually hurt someone too.

He ended up incarcerated and assigned to the Patton Medical Facility. Due to circumstances there, he was put into a more secure place, where they never gave him his medication. He still had delusions, which they couldn't understand. When I was able to visit him last February he looked good. He hadn't shaved, and was in a disciplinary section. But his skin looked good and he was mentally alert. I inquired if he was taking his medication and he replied "No." I begged him several times and warned him he had to take his medication in order to get out into the free world again.

But, he never responded to my advice. I can't say he had a death wish. He would write to me and wanted to be paroled to Ohio and to live with me and work for me if I had another business. He was tired of California and wanted to get out of the state. I thought I would see him in March at his parole hearing. Then I got word he was dying. Preston dying? I couldn't believe it. He loved life and enjoyed life and he was dying? I phoned the institution, the Governor and whomever I could think of to try to get him back on his feet. The institution would only tell me he was stable. All his friends were praying for him. His prognosis of only surviving for three or four weeks went on for a month or so. We all hoped he would survive. But, he didn't. What a loss.

He could have made so many people happy. He could have had a career in films, if he had wanted. He is gone at the age of 33. Like the books say, he was, "Too Young to Die." I am agnostic but if there is a heaven, I am sure Preston is there. He would be happy there. He would be contented. And someday, hopefully, we may all be together again. I would like that too. "Good Night Sweet Prince." Larkin (Billy) and Rae Brown of Memphis, was Preston's grandparents and legal guardian. Preston was cremated in Corcoran, California as per his mother's request. "Please leave your comments and rememberances about Preston." I will add photographs later. I heard that his memorial service was nothing more than a sermon and nobody was able to talk about him. That's Par for the course. I faxed the Pastor to read a memorial on Preston. He said he would, but he didn't.

Bill Dakota
Lima, Ohio

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At 2:31 PM , Blogger reggie said...

Preston, you are at home now where you are surrounded by those who love you. You are at peace for one who had no peace. Preston was a genuis but noone took the time to love you and help until it was too late. You have Grandpa Brown up there to help you. Preston, you were smart, funny, and independent. You make your own way because you had to with no help from your parents. They were ignorant and didn't any better that you needed medical help and love. The Bible says that faith, hope and love are gifts but love is the greatest. Christians must walk the walk and not talk the talk. I have left Ronnie and Glenda in God's Hands. Vengeance is His. Rest in God, it is long overdue and you have deserved it. I love you, Uncle Reggie

At 2:01 PM , Blogger pam said...

I loved preston very much. he was my favorite nephew. There were people that tried to get Preston to come back home but i guess everything just rollercoasted. Meaning, it was up & down. I know in my heart i would have been there or tried everything that i could before i gave up. Read Psalms 38

rest in peace, dear child.

At 2:10 PM , Blogger pam said...

Preston is a child of GOD now and Papa Brown is taking care of him. I remember when we were all younger and hanging out together, Preston loved taking the girls and me out back by the fishing pond. I can remember him calling me Auntie Pam and I would tease him back.

Everyone that knew Preston loved him.

At 7:00 PM , Blogger Tina said...

Preston was a wonderful cousin and I love him very much. My favorite memory of him was when we were little and me,Preston,Russell,and my sister Mary would go on these long adventures together on his parents farm. Things were so simple then. Somehow as you get older time gets away and things become so complicated. I know now Preston is very happy and is smiling down at us. I wish I had been there more. I love you

At 6:59 AM , Blogger BILL DAKOTA said...

Met you seventeen years ago, Christmas Eve. Wish you were here. Wish things were different. Too late. But, you will always be in my memories. Cannot undo the wrong that had been done to you. You would have been so happy here. Although I lost two other friends this year, it is you I miss the most. Pee Wee died too and now maybe you can be with her. You loved that bird. I remember you used to call her Peckerhead. That bird loved you too. Everyone that knew you loved you, with a couple of exceptions. They should have loved you the most, but didn't. They called it "tough love." You needed just plain "love," and they denied you this. Will drink Lambrusco tonight, in your memory. My tears are flowing again. Loved you!

At 1:10 PM , Blogger reggie said...

This is from Grandma Brown:

I will always love you and cherish the times we had together. You coming to AZ to visit your grandfather and I and laughing and visiting sites around Bullhead City. You are at peace now, grandson and you will never be forgotten. Grandpa Brown is there to guide you. I love you, Grandma Rae Brown

At 8:48 PM , Blogger BILL DAKOTA said...

March 2007, the month Preston could have been paroled to Ohio. And now someone has said (CNN) they may have a cure for AIDS. I hope it's true. Nobody should have to die from any disease. I have had my quad bypass surgery and now recuperating. I wish Preston were here. I guess I will never get over him. He would have wanted to be remembered and I always will.

At 11:20 AM , Blogger Doug said...

Preston was a sweet soul.

He will be missed.

Bill, know that Preston has enough heart for the both of you as you recover from your bypass...

The greatest give is to "See" someone...You saw Preston.

He was never invisible to you.

Preston was my neighbor in LA.
He had a cat named Orenthal that he was crazy about.
Orenthal was a spirited cat, to say the least.
I can still see Preston laughing at that crazy cat...
what a heart::))

In remembrance,


At 11:52 AM , Blogger Doug said...

Preston sweet Preston.

He did love that bratty little cat who got into everything, oh what a funny time.

As a friend Preston had a very Angelic quality and at the same time unapologetic about himself, proud to be GAY, Queer, (we younger people use this term and have politicized it, mad it ours on our terms as did Preston), and always open about his HIV.

I will always remember him walking with his headphones and whenever the city gets loud and gets on my nerves I think of Preston and him bitching about of the location of our building.
(I still live here so think of him daily)

See you in my dreams my friend,

love me,


At 1:01 PM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

When you were doing "extra" work, they pulled you out of the back of the group and put you right in the front. You were really happy and if you wanted, you could have been an actor. You had the charisma and the talent. Those Las Vegas trips were fun too. And driving to Ensanada, Mexico was fun. I let you drive, for your first time, and you got excited whenever a car was going to pass us. I had to tell you to stay in your lane and not get anxious. And those gal prostitutes tried to get to you. You thought it was funny. I said, "He's with me." Over the years, you were so much company to me. You introduced me to many singers and groups that I had never heard of. We bought new records for the Juke-box in the apartment. We traveled to and stayed in some of the fanciest hotels in San Francisco, Las Vegas and even in Los Angeles. When Chuy Castro played at the House of Blues, he reached down to shake your hand, from the stage, and you were grinning from ear to ear. You were liked by everyone.
I still have your letters telling me what DVDs you wanted to see when you came here to stay with me. In addition you mentioned the songs you had wanted to download or to buy on CD. I just phoned your Grandmother Brown. She really misses you too. We talk about once a month. Sure wish you were here.

At 10:45 AM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

Your 34h birthday is here, July 2007. Oh how I miss you.

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

Today is your 34th birthday. Not too much to add to everything else I have said. Just a partial from a song:

"Well,where oh where, can my Baby be?
The Lord took him away from me.
He's gone to Heaven, so I've got to be good.
So, I can see my Baby, when I leave this world."

Happy Birthday wherever you are.

Missing your smile and friendship and your love.

At 8:04 PM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

Tomorrow will be the 5th of December. That's the day you left us. Still thinking of you, everyday. I sure wish you were here with me. It is so lonely and your memories are still in my mind. I think of all the happy times we had. I wish you had moved back with me and gotten away from the drugs. You could be here with me, away from the Los Angeles crowd. You were too young to die, but it's too late. You cannot come back. You were just too stubborn about your medication. A year has past. I don't even know where they put your ashes. You loved the ocean. That would be best for your remains instead of in the ground in Memphis. Maybe somebody, someday, will do that. I hope so. Still got you on my mind remembering the good old days in Hollywood. I hope you are watching over me. I would like that too. So long. Someday we'll be together again.

At 3:56 PM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

We met on Christmas Eve. I was remembering you a few days ago. Well, I always remember you but that date was the most important. My mind is full of our memories together. I wish I could have helped you when you needed me the most. I am bored to death without you.

At 2:31 PM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

Your deathday just passed, on December 5, 2008,and all of my memories of you came back. I sure do miss you. I opened and closed Studio D here. I may move back to Flint in 2009. It seems that there are more people there that I know, than here. Lima, like Flint, has gone downhill over the years. Flint, the downtown section, seems to be coming back. I lost mother last February. I now see more doctors than friends-smile! I dedicated some songs to you on Zimbio but they were removed, the bastards. Wish you were here. I'm glad you came into my life when I needed someone like you. You left too soon. You never wanted to grow old. I don't blame you, it's no fun.

At 3:04 AM , Blogger Bill Dakota said...

Larkin phoned to tell me your grandmother is in a convalescent home. She sure is a nice person to know. I wish I could see her before she goes.

Larkin also said your friend Scott died shortly after you left us. He had a heart attack. He wanted to visit you in prison but they wouldn't let him. I guess he loved you as much as I had.

At 5:24 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

Hi Johnny. I'm a friend of Preston's from Memphis. I would love to talk about him and share stories as I miss him terribly.

At 5:24 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

Hey Bill. I'd love to chat sometime.

At 5:26 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

Hi Reggie. My name is Rebecca. I was a very good friend of Kristen's, and he's been hunting my mind lately. I have a very strong desire to connect with anyone who knew him. If you ever feel like talking to me, please contact me. Thanks

At 5:27 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

Hi Tina. I don't know if you remember me or not, I think I've met you twice. Anyhow, Preston has been on my mind a lot lately, and I'm sort of hoping to connect with people that knew him. If you ever feel like talking,

At 5:28 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

Hi Doug. I'm a friend of Christyn's from Memphis. I'm looking to connect with some people that knew him. He's been on my heart a lot lately. If you ever feel like talking, I would love to listen. Thank you.

At 5:31 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:34 PM , Blogger Rebecca Sherrod said...

A lot of years have gone by. This soul was very special to me, and lately I am haunted by the memories. My mind wants to see him again, hear him again, hug him again, but he is gone. I will never see him again. I think that is why I want to connect so badly with anyone that knew him. Hoping someone will contact me.


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