Monday, May 16, 2011

Letter from Ryland

     I had a dream about Ryland Luss a few weeks ago.  This morning I found this letter Ryland sent me in May 1998.  It's the last correspondence I ever got from him.  I was in a band at the time and I believe he offered me these lyrics for songs we were writing.  

   Ryland Luss was a close friend of mine.  I became friends with him going to Eldorado High.  The funny thing is I remember meeting him years before at Quanna McCall 6th Grad center in North town.  I was sheltered growing up as an Air Force brat.  My family lived in housing on base and my brother and I went to school on base.

    Three blocks from Las Vegas Boulevard the 6th Sixth Grade Center was an attempt to "integrate" schools in the early 80's.  That concept isn't in play anymore I guess integration isn't all that important anymore in Vegas, or anywhere in America for that matter.  Quanna McCall is now just a regular elementary school.  Growing up this school was definitely my first experience with real public education.  I saw Ryland on the playground several times and he shocked me by being the first kid my age to openly cuss out loud.  Repeatedly.  Even around teachers.  I wouldn't get the balls to cuss out loud myself until I made it to Dell H Robison Jr. High.  

    In High School Ryland became a close friend.  He regularly smoked me out at lunch.  He let me borrow his punk records.  He pushed some guy off a Spree motor scooter and into the street when he tried to park on my parent's front lawn.  He had the MDC Chicken Squak record.  At one time he got his Dead Kennedys Kill the Poor record taken away from him at school because it was "questionable."  He was a hell of a guy.  He gave me lots of shit for free and never asked for more than friendship in return.  Demo tapes, t-shirts, even records on occasion.  We did our fair share of record trading and taping.  I got super pissed one time when he borrowed my Geto Boys CD without asking and then returned it to me broken in half without explanation.  He was funny.  And not at all shy.  He was the guy who most often told me about parties or shows that were happening.  He was my lifeline to the "scene" because I guess I've always been anti-social.  Fuck you.

     Ryland was also a close friend to my brother.  He once put chalk in his afro so he could go buy beer for Mark and his skate buddies.  That's all it took to make him look old.  Can't believe what a pain in the ass it was to get people to buy us beer when we were under age.  Thank god I'm an old man now.  
     Really he was close to my whole family.  He constantly hung out at our house on Linn Lane just about every day when we lived on the East Side.  One time I came home and Ryland was the only person in the house sitting in my bedroom listening to that Big Rig 7" playing Sega.  It didn't faze us.  He was a member of the family.

    He fancied himself as a lyricist.  He was hugely inspired by the lyrics of Operation Ivy and Crimpshrine.  I don't think he ever got to their level.  I can't critique his stuff because I just don't care for poetry.  I think a lot of his work was fragmented but he wrote some interesting shit.  Things that are worth remembering because he was such a great person.  Maybe a little lost, confused, and alone, but he was always true.  It was never fake.  I'm glad he worked as hard as he did on his writing.  It's something I might have taken for granted back then but it's still something I relate to.  Some of it was dead on.  The fact that he did it so often was inspiring.  I wanted to have his work ethic but I couldn't keep it together then.  It's still be a struggle to stay motivated.   I wonder how happy he was to have some of his lyrics finally set to music and recorded by Dwarf Bitch. (Specifically the song What Now?)         

     Things were way simpler.  Not that things have changed so much but life has become more complicated.  Me and my friends didn't do things much different from anyone else who lived in Vegas.  We worked.  We got wasted.  We tried meeting girls.  We mourned the music that died and celebrated whatever shit seemed real at the time.  Ryland never strayed too far from that Bay Area punk shit.  He loved hip hop and gave that style as much love as any of us did back then but he would always return to his "roots."

        We pissed a lot of years away.  When my family eventually moved I remember thinking how sad it was that I wouldn't be seeing Ryland every day like I had been.  We didn't talk about it a lot at the time but I recall my mom thinking out loud "What's Ryland gonna do without us?"  

       We were all fucked up trying to deal with our own issues and it never occurred to us that Ryland might actually have real mental issues.  The last time I saw him he got really drunk at a house party.  I hadn't seen him in months and it was really bad.  I heard people talking about the fact that he had to take medicine now, that he was diagnosed as a Schizophrenic.  He never said that to me.  I don't know who told me that.     

      I still don't know the truth about what happened to Ryland.  His family moved to the West Side.  It must have been like another country to him.  The story is he went out into the desert and died from exposure.  I also heard he died while sitting in a ditch.  Waiting for something.  Waiting for us to show up?  Wow, that really hurt to write that.  Every now and then I have a dream about him.  In those dreams everyone's hanging out.  We're partying.  Listening to Crimpshrine.  Or Fifteen.  Smoking bunk ass weed.  Smokin cigs.  Waiting for something to happen.    


  1. It's been 18 years now/ of having my intentions drilled in the ground/ it's been too many years now/ I've had my dreams beaten down/ beaten down/ beaten down.

  2. I did not know Ryland was gone man i am actually in tears. That was one cool mutherfucker man, even when i got into that nazi shit whenever i seen him we was cool and a laugh and good time was had. In fact after being around him, it would make me feel ashamed of the shit i was into.
    The last time i seen Ryland was at Chads mom and dads house across from Eldorado, I was moving to Modesto,CA to try and get right and away from that nazi shit and i think it was Ryland that went and stole a bottle of yeager and we got ripped and chads parents never even came out lol. I remember messing with him because the girl he liked and was there was the sister of an old girlfriend of mine, and i was F-ing with him.

    I will miss you Ryland thought about you from time to time that night was the best take care man.

  3. Just discovered a great vid that shows Ryland with his pants down in the pit at the Elks Lodge.

  4. I feel like a fucking idiot for not having read this before. Thank you for writing this Chad, but I probably shouldn't have read this at work. I need to go outside for a bit.

    I REALLY fucking miss him.