Unexpected #2 : The Ultimate Fab Soy Bomb

I gave a reflection at church on Sunday about unexpectedness.  I had not expected to speak on Sunday.  And I found a parallel in the teachings of Christ.  (To see what I said see:  https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2021/03/unexpected.html)  I was still at the church (though now working in the thrift shop) when I saw that I had missed a call from my husband.  He didn't leave a message, so I called him back.  And he gave me some more unexpected news; news that nearly made me drop to the ground.  Our good friend Ed had died.

Despite the fact that Ed had been battling cancer for more years than I can remember, the news was shocking; like being punched in the gut.  As the news traveled around our social circle, everyone was stunned.  Ed was larger than life...he was outgoing in the best of ways.  He was everybody's friend; the uncle that you wished you had.  As far as I can recall he was always upbeat and positive; even when waking up with no voice and a hangover from the night before.

Everyone who knew him has their own stories...I can only share mine...

I *think* I knew Ed before I knew my husband.  I'm pretty sure I'd seen him perform on the sound-a-like stage and/or Battle of the Bands in the convention that was then known as "Beatlefest."  (Funnily enough a friend reminded me that I met her 30 years ago Sunday night at the first 'fest that I attended.  That also would have been where I first got to know Ed.) But I guess I didn't really "know" him until after my husband I became a couple.  He was part of our circle of friends who we would say annually at the convention.  He might try to keep in voice in shape for the competitions, but he would end up shredding his vocal cords on Saturday nights during the unofficial after hour jams that would run late (early) into Sunday morning and were (in my opinion) wackier and more fun than any of the official events.  It is not unfair to assume that most of Ed's friends came through the 'fest.  He was a fixture (unofficial as that may have been), as much as a part of the "show" as the guests that most came to see, but more on that later...

Ed came to our wedding; which was at the NJ shore two weekends after Labor Day.  He shared a room at a motel not too far from the venue with 2 friends.  From what I remember hearing, he snored so loudly that at least one of the friends ended up sleeping in the bathroom.  But that was Ed.

I have really serious food allergies.  Having someone cook for me is a scary proposition, but I trusted Ed.  I remember a meal that my husband and I had at his house.  Not only was it delicious (I can still remember the mushroom caps and this was at least 20 years ago), but Ed was fastidious about cleaning all the dishes that I would eat from.  He scrubbed down the grill so there wasn't a trace of anything that would send me into anaphylactic shock.

Ed was involved in local theater for a long time.  He was proud of that.  My husband and I went to see him in "Pippin."  It was a pretty bad production.  Ed had a small part.  Yes, we were biased; and we thought he was the best the show had to offer.  

Ed and I went to the last (as of now) McCartney concert I attended.  It was at Madison Square Garden.  The seats were crappy; as a result the concert was not one of my favorites.  (I'd gotten spoiled with really good seats.)  It was while Paul and his band were promoting the Driving Rain album (the dreaded "Heather" years), which was also not one of my favorite albums.  I bought a bootleg concert t-shirt after the show.  The colors bled when I wore it.  Ed and I took the train in and we missed our stop on the way home. (These people were blocking the exit and by the time we got them out of the way the train was moving again!)  He was working for a car service at the time; I believe one of the drivers came and got us and drove us the maybe 7 miles up the road to the station where his car was parked.  (Oddly enough this was the 2nd time that I've had to have someone from a car service come and get me after a concert at Madison Square Garden.  Perhaps this is some sort of sign?) 

Ed introduced us to satellite radio.  In the spring of 2005 he insisted that we go for a drive in his new car and listen to this "new" radio.  It was XM (which would eventually merge with its competitor Sirius) and we drove for a good hour or so listening to all the amazing stuff that this "XM" had to offer.  He convinced me.  A month or so later (before our son was born), I purchased one for my car.  I've never regretted the subscription (particularly since I purchased a lifetime membership once the two entities merged).  Thanks Ed for introducing me to this "new" (well it was then) medium.  

Ed was also an invited guest to the 40th birthday party I threw for my husband.  It also turned out to be somewhat of a male baby shower.  (Our son would be born 2 weeks later.)  It was one of the most memorable parties I've ever thrown or been to.  It wouldn't have been that way if it weren't for Ed.

Ed was a friend to all who met him.  He was a DEVOTED friend to those who he was close to.  There was a time when, due to an urgent situation a friend needed Ed to drive him from New Jersey to his family home in Queens.  Ed was due to participate in a band competition within a couple of hours and the timing was tight.  Ed might not have been thrilled, but he was there for his friend.  My husband and I were also there for the ride.  Ed made it work.  He got back in time (barely.) We were all (justifiably) angry for our friend putting us in the situation, but we (mostly Ed since he was the driver) did what had to be done because that's what friends do.  Even when you're angry with a friend, you still help them out.

While Ed did not have a lot of money, he was generous.  Hence the photo of the travel cup you see here.  .  
What is so special about this not very attractive plastic mug that "showcases" the lighthouses of New Jersey?  Ed bought it for me in the (overpriced) gift shop at the (now defunct and total sh*thold) Empire Meadowlands Hotel (once known as the Meadowlands Hilton and then Crowne Plaza). 

It was an atrocious price, but I needed a travel mug.  Ed never traveled light to conventions.  He brought his keyboard, amps, and a host of other instrumental needs.  Then there was clothing.  AND then there was his portable bar.  (I guess it's safe to say now since the hotel is closed...yes, we were ALL mixing our own drinks; although we still did head to the bar at times.)  He had a new concoction that he was eager to share (and not just with me).  I believe it included pineapple soda and coconut rum.  (If anyone reading this can recall better than I, PLEASE let me know.  I would love to recreate it in honor of Ed.  As a matter of fact I think we need to figure this one out and make it and call it the Tropical Ed.  Who's with me on this?  We need to drink HIS drink and toast to him.)  I had no cup to drink from, so Ed got me this.  This is my Ed mug...and I will treasure it.

Now Ed was far from perfect.  (Aren't we all?)  He had his issues.  He had his flaws.  But he was so big hearted and so fun that I think most of us overlooked them all.  He battled cancer for a long time; I don't think any of us completely realized what a big deal it really was because...he was Ed.  When they took a chunk out of his leg, leaving a big hole/indentation, Ed joked that he used it as a cup holder.  That was Ed.

I spoke to Ed about a month ago.  I hadn't spoken to him in a long time, but I've started a Lenten practice of reaching out to one person a day to tell them how much I love and appreciate them.  (https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2021/02/ash-wednesday-2021.html).  For the most part I've emailed or actually handwritten a note.  But I called Ed.  I was driving from my parents' back home so I had time to kill.  He didn't answer, so I left him a LONG voicemail.  He called me back a few minutes later.  I assumed he hadn't listened to my message.  He said he had.  We talked for about twenty minutes.  We reminisced about much of what I wrote about above.  As always, he sounded upbeat.  He had plans to move out of NJ (which I chided him for) and in with his longtime girlfriend (although that term doesn't even begin to cover it) in NY with eventual plans to go sunny Florida. I never thought for one second that it wouldn't happen...because it was Ed.

To say Ed will be missed is an understatement.  He may have had a hole in his leg, but those of us who knew him and loved him, have holes in our hearts that will most likely never completely heal.  We love you Ed.

Oh...and as to the title of this post...I direct you to a video on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n_avhys0yI&t=44s.  It was created by a good friend (perhaps one of Ed's best friends) in 1998.  It was a celebration of 20 years of friendship and "festering".  You don't have to search out part 1; you don't even have to watch all of part 2. (Although you might want to do both.)  Just start from approximately 11 minutes in, which features the song "Strawberry Fields Forever" by the group Liverpool.  Before you watch, especially if you are young and/or didn't see or remember the 1998 Grammys, Google Bob Dylan 1998 Grammy Awards and then watch.  Only Ed had the confidence, the nerve and the sense of humor to pull this off.  (And kudos to Liverpool and especially to Mitch Weissman who DID NOT KNOW about this and just went with it.) If there was ever a moment to capture the spirit of Ed Wittel, this was it.


Ed, surrounded by some of his friends March 2018


  1. An absolutely beautiful tribute.

  2. 29 years of friendship with Ed wasn't long enough...
    Our friendship had it's ups and downs (as all friendships do), and over the last year or so we drifted apart a bit (thanks Covid!) But I loved the guy.
    Obviously, I'm not alone. Thank you for writing this Beth. It was beautiful.

  3. So sorry for your loss, Beth. What a great tribute to your friend.


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