Too Pretty To Die

friends, nostalgia, Viva Las Vegas

Mal: [under cross-fire] Bendis, look at me! Listen. We’re holding this valley, no matter what.
Bendis: We’re gonna die.
Mal: We’re not gonna die. We can’t die, Bendis. And you know why? Because we are so… very… pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die. Huh? Look at that chiseled jaw, huh? Come on!

I met Johnny in a pool. That is, I was in the pool, but Johnny was too cool to sport swim trunks, and was lurking at the edge in his deep-cuffed jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. He cut a dashing figure, and my friends encouraged me to flirt with him, in spite of my protests that he had a very good-looking girlfriend who had kindly “saved” me from a semi-creepy guy who was actually IN the pool with us.

Johnny came right up to the edge of the pool and introduced himself to me. Shook my hand. I have no idea what I answered to whatever polite question he probably asked, but I remember that he told me he was in school, living in Long Beach, and was starting up his own company that would make reproductions of vintage clothes, starting with the sweaters beloved by his vintage motorcycle club.

We found each other on MySpace and while we never had three-hour talks over coffee (or beer), or pondered together the meaning of life, we did pop in and check on each other from time to time. We would have little email conversations for an evening, and then lose track of each other for a month.

When I next saw Johnny, it was at the Viva Las Vegas weekender a year after we’d first met. I was on my way to see the Chop Tops, and Johnny was heading in the opposite direction. I waved, and he came straight over and gave me a fantastic hug. I couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing a really well-made ’40s-looking motorcycle sweater with his name chain-stitched on, and I guessed it was one of his own creations. He handed Nick his card, and explained that the clothing company was up and running. At the car show the next day, I saw that his company, OddBall Brand, had its own vendor booth. Johnny and a partner were manning the booth, and Johnny came out to give me another of his (apparently signature) deep hugs. I was on the hunt for a particular handbag that I’d spotted earlier, so I said my good-byes and figured I’d see him at the pool the next day. I never did find him. He went to Europe after VLV, so it was a couple/few weeks before I pointed out to him in a message that we hadn’t had our photo taken together. I teased that we’d have to make up for it next year.

Tonight, realizing that it had been a while since we’d last written, I cruised by his MySpace page to see if anything interesting was happening in his life. Specifically, I visited his company’s MySpace page first, to see if any new designs were being released yet. And I saw the blog headline, “Sun May 17 1:11 AM our Pres/Founder John Slisko passed away…” Well, that can’t be right. Is his dad a financial backer? But I thought his name was Peter? I clicked on the link.

And my heart fell out.

Our first President and Co Founder of ODDBALL MC, John Sliskovich, was killed in a motorcycle accident at El Mirage lake bed 2:11 AM Sunday morning.

He had ben at El Mirage since Fri. with some of his MC, the ODDBALLS, and a couple members of the Regents MC for a campout/bike riding weekend.

Just after midnight sunday morning there was a motorcycle accident out on the lake bed and an ambulance went to the scene. John and his friend Buck went to see what happened. John was riding a 1940 BSA. It’s top speed was 55 mph. Buck saw a berm coming out of the darkness and hollered to John. Buck laid his bike over. John seems to have landed face first into the lake bed. No helmet. It doesn’t seem that a helmet would’ve helped.

He wasn’t moving but he was breathing. The ambulance from the first accident, which was close by, couldn’t come to John’s aid as they were trying to save the life of their accident victim (a fight they weren’t able to win). At some point John stopped breathing and his friend Frankie, who has paramedic training, was able to get him breathing again. The ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later and just as it did John stopped breathing again. The paramedics went into CPR but couldn’t bring John back.

I don’t think it would’ve mattered how quickly the ambulance got there, it doesn’t sound like there was anything that could’ve been done for him.

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED IN BUCK’S WORDS, (the only witness)

“Johnny didn’t suffer for a second- he was just havin’ fun, doin’ what he loved & in the blink of an eye he was out.
That berm came into view too late for him to do anything but hit it head on- I was ridin’ right about his back tire & right as he hit the berm I hit the skids, I saw his bike pop up & out of my light & I just layed my bike down & slid up over the berm. Later, lookin’ at the site with the CHP we could see that he unfortunately hit the berm at the highest possible spot & right where he would have landed & maybe begun to get control of the bike there was a big crater that would have caught his front tire & caused the bike to flip on it’s side- he lit there & the bike continued to tumble. It was a perfect set up for the worst possible outcome but I can promise you John never knew what hit him.”  -Buck

I know that Johnny and I weren’t best friends, we weren’t even what I’d call close, but there is still a hole in my heart. Johnny was kind and genuine and a go-getter and yes, one handsome sonofabitch. I always assumed we’d have a chance to get to know each other better, but I’m glad that I got to know him at all.

slisko

Poolside: The day we met, April 13, 2008

johnnypuppies

Blue eyes and puppies: The photo all the girls love

johnny

John “Slisko” Sliskovich, 1984-2009

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6 thoughts on “Too Pretty To Die

  1. I only met him briefly when I took his photo, but he stood out because he seemed so genuinely nice. You don’t meet many people like that these days. A very sad loss.

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  2. I visited your blog today after following your link on the Sew Retro blog – I started reading this post and thought, wow, it sounds like she’s talking about Slisko. Then… Oh my God, she’s talking about Slisko!! He touched a lot more lives in his too-few years on this planet than most of us will touch in a fully-lived life. I (and uncountable numbers of other people) share your grief.

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