Last night, in the blink of an eye, my friend Alan Weinkrantz left this world.
He was sitting down to dinner in an outdoor sidewalk cafe on a beautiful, starry June night.
I saw the news of his death appear on my iPhone around 9:30pm while I was participating in the final night of the KLRN Auction, raising funds for San Antonio’s PBS television station. Seconds later, KLRN VP Katrina Kehoe walked down the stairs from her position coordinating auction activities. I could see by the look of shock on her face that she had just read the news as well. We couldn’t wrap our heads around the notion that Alan was gone.
Alan volunteered for the KLRN Auction every year. He would probably have been with us last night if he were not in Israel, where he traveled frequently to participate in the country’s growing tech community.
When I read that Alan died at a Tel Aviv sidewalk cafe, my first thought was that an act of terror must have taken place. This was not terrorism, however, but a very tragic accident.
Reports indicate that as Alan was having dinner, a man had a heart attack while driving his car at a high rate of speed. The out of control vehicle instantaneously jumped the curb and slammed into the tables of the outdoor cafe.
Alan, another restaurant patron and the driver were killed at the scene. Six others were injured.
Alan was a wonderful man who exuded joy and enthusiasm. He was an evangelist and mentor for the tech and start up communities in San Antonio, in Israel and around the world.
He had a passion for technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and music. We shared a love for The Beatles and had wonderful conversations about the brilliance of their songs.
One of the most mind expanding ideas that Alan shared with me was that rock and roll music is code, akin to the code that is used to program computer software and apps.
As Alan said in this interview,
The idea began during I period when I was spending a lot of time at a good friend’s high-end guitar shop in San Antonio. Being surrounded by music all the time I started studying the history of rock n’ roll. And then it hit me.
It’s all code.
I went back in time, listening to old albums from the Kinks, the Who, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. I realized that all the albums, the songs, the lyrics — they’re code. The code isn’t manifested as “lines of code” but rather in the stories built, layered and played.
If you look at the way musical history progressed, it seems each band was creating a new experience for their audience — not just musically but, story wise. We’re talking about their narrative, where they came from, how they got famous, their clothes, their sound and the overall experience which is just as important as the music itself — if not more.
Just like startups.
And just like startups, Rock & roll bands, work together iteratively. Collaboratively. And hopefully, harmonically.
I will always remember Alan for his contagious sense of wonder and his passion for big ideas. He mentored people of all ages seeking to find their path in a complex digital world, including me.
I trust he’s now in Rock and Roll Heaven, making music, creating code and embarking on his next cosmic adventures.
In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. – The Beatles
Learn more about Alan in this story by Bob Rivard in his Rivard Report.
Above: Alan’s Facebook cover photo. His Mac at night at an outdoor cafe with the words, “Do Something That Matters.”
My father died in February of 1965. He was 42 years old and I was four. I was his youngest of five children.
I never knew him when I was an adult and I barely knew him past the age of three, as he served in Vietnam during the last year of his life.
Vietnam was my father’s second war, having flown B-17 bombers over Europe in World War II. He would later tell my mother and older siblings how the war haunted him and how he grieved for the prodigious loss of life that he witnessed and participated in.
Because I was so young when he died, I only have a handful of actual memories of my father.
I have the one item he wrote directly to me. It is 22 words inscribed in pencil on the back of a photograph he had kept in his wallet. It is one of five photos of his children that my father carried with him on his journey to and through Vietnam.
The photo is of his youngest son as he knew me in the last year of his life.
On the back he wrote,
“Kip,” You and your sisters and brother have been on the other side of the world – I love you son. Dad.”
More than 50 years later, I am touched that our father would carry photos of his children with him in a far away war.
How could he have known his son would treasure the message half a century later?
His words, “on the other side of the world,” have both the literal meaning he intended and a cosmic meaning now that he is indeed somewhere on the other side of this existence.
My brother and a sister have since joined him there.
As will I one day.
Until then, I carry the photo and those words with me, as he once did.
Do you feel it?
The moment darkness reaches its apex
And the bitter cold evokes your grief
While warmth, light and summer sun
The longer you live
And the seasons change
This frigid darkness
Is merely a fleeting precursor
To the return of the light
Through orbiting spheres
And the dance of all creation
Again and again and again
After countless cold, dark winters
On this Winter Solstice
You choose to embrace the darkness
Knowing that this moment
To the light you need