Owl at the 2009 National Rainbow Gathering

OWL In Memorium —-David “Owl” Kopelman

(Owl at the 2009 National Rainbow Gathering in New Mexico)

I’m still writing this and inviting comments so come back and check again soon as this memorial expands in content. Jonathan 9:30 am 2/19/12

David “Owl” Kopelman 1963-2012

Owl as teenager
Owl as teenager

Owl was, above all, an unforgettable character, and since there was always a level of performance art about the way he lived his life, he was an outstanding success in leaving an indelible tie-dye colored impression in the minds of a great many people. Since he was also a no-holds-barred, in-your-face kind of a person it would be absurd to memorialize him with sentimental idealization instead of how he actually was—-a funny, brilliant, appalling, offensive, intense, hilarious, abrasive, hygiene-challenged, imaginative, grandiose, gregarious, exaggerator, story-teller, door-to-door cartoon salesman, serial true believer in multi-level marketing schemes, political iconoclast, singer-songwriter guitarist, Ron Paul-debunking, social networking, extremely loud and opinionated, networked video game playing, gas-station-microwave-burrito-eating kind of a guy.

Strangely, I had just written about Owl anonymously on New Year’s Day in An Eyes Wide Shut/ Burning Man Descent into New Year’s 2012. Owl was the friend who invited me to the party and we left early because we were both worried that he forgot to bring his inhaler with him. (Owl had many near death experience asthma attacks, so his death from an asthma attack on Feb. 18, 2012 was not unexpected. I lectured him about his health that very New Year’s Eve and suggested to him that he take his anxiety about not having the inhaler with him as a portent and use it to form New Year’s resolutions regarding his health and especially his bad eating habits.)

This is the one Owl photo here I did not take, but I’m guessing a cyber cafe in Berkley or Santa Cruz Captures his soulful intelligence

Topher sent in a correction of my image caption:

That pic of him that you say you didn’t take and guess is a cyber cafe is actually the notorious Mediterranuem Caffe (aka “The Med”) on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, CA. It played big in Owls scene here, along wih playing pretty big in many people’s scene and Berkeley, itself.

Owl was one of the first friends I made when I came to Boulder in 1995. I met Owl at Greenpeace and within the first minutes of meeting we discovered that we were both Jews from the same avenue in the Bronx. From that moment on I knew that, for better or worst, we were soul brothers. Especially in those days, it often was for worse, because Owl, especially the younger Owl, was one of the most socially disruptive people I’d ever met. He could take a bunch of smiling hippies sitting in a circle of agreement and turn that scene into Maury Povich show. Since I came from Owl’s identical cultural background and am a somewhat more restrained confrontationist, Owl was like an alter-ego for me. Sometimes he served as my shadow reminding me by comically contrasting example of the value of restraint and decorum. At other times, Owl was a kind of muse, reminding me that sometimes it was totally legitimate to do outrageous things and to be unafraid of embarrassment.

Owl was a truly individuated person. No one who knew him can look back on him and find his face blurring with similarity to many other guys just like him. He was as distinctly individual and eccentric as it gets. I sometimes joked with him about television commercials that began with the familiar refrain—-“Millions of people just like you…” We knew that was an approach that didn’t work for either of us—neither of us had met a single Owl or Zap clone anywhere.

Owl on July 4th, 2005 Rainbow Gathering
Owl at the New Mexico Rainbow Gathering
Owl manning Info at the 2008 Wyoming National Gathering

Owl’s death does not seem tragic. Owl’s dad, an accomplished biologist, had died young, probably about Owl’s age, and we often talked about the likelihood that Owl would die young as well. The way Owl wanted to live his life was not very sustainable and we both knew it. All things considered, a clean exit, rather than protracted illness was the way to go. Owl had many intense spiritual experiences and I think he was in good shape to move on to the next plane of existence. I talked to him many times about my research on near-death experiences and evidence for an after life. See (Life Lessons from the Living Dead) This was another level on which I felt a strong alliance with Owl. Although we both often ridiculed New Age bliss ninnies and evangelical fundamentalists, we also had a strong sense of the reality of the spiritual dimension and this was an implicit context in all our communications. If you think back on any Owl conversation you will see that there was always a strong, implicitly moral set of beliefs. One of his most frequent rejoinders to my often cynical observations about people—such as at the New Year’s Party—-was that he was interested in only one thing about people—did they have a good heart? Owl, did have a good heart. Despite all his eccentricities, his consistent emphasis was that we had a moral responsibility as citizens of the planet and should be as informed as possible about history, politics, ecology, etc. and then act in accord with those beliefs. We both came from an intellectual New York Jewish socialist background where rigorous in-your-face moral debate about politics and history was part of the air we breathed. We both had experienced bullies and thugs on the street level and saw the parallels to the collective level from the Nazis and the holocaust—-a dark atmosphere we breathed growing up with parents who lived through it—to many contemporary forms of facism and propaganda. My last communication with Owl was just four days ago on Facebook and directly related to this:

I don’t completely agree with this psychotherapist’s perspective, but think you’ll find this interesting: http://www.serendipity.li/bush/beyond_insanity.htm


A discussion of how humanoids differ from humans. The essay linked above reminds me of many insights you’ve shared over the years about the psychology of fascism—especially the idea of reality by proclamation.

Owl responded: “I was just over at the Humanoids site telling them what’s what….I go to Tea Party sites and respond to rightist rants”

We never know what exchange might be the last one we have with someone. This one was about our shared insights into the nature of political evil and Owl’s response was a snapshot of him cheerfully playing a classic role for him—-in-your-face confrontation with people who had politically ignorant and dangerous positions.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Owl later, but I want to throw this open for people to post comments or stories about Owl. But please don’t edit those to soften Owl’s outrageousness—that would be a disservice to his memory. Here’s one to give an example that the outrageous moments were often the most memorable: In 1995/96 a young, highly intelligent hippie couple I was friends—Sarah and Jordie came to see me in Boulder and ended up living in the same group home and to also working at Greenpeace. Jordie, who wasn’t cut out for canvassing, decided he had to quit Greenpeace. Later that night, at a veggie potluck party, Owl, with his outrageous, heavy-handed persuasiveness was trying to coerce Jordie into staying with it. He proceeded, with pseudo-scientific exactitude, to calculate for Jordie (he was always good at tumbling numbers through his head whether they related to reality or not) exactly how many dolphins per day would die as a result of Jordie’s leaving Greenpeace. That was a classic Owl moment.

I also wrote about Owl in a story about going to Burning Man with him in 2008: Incendiary Person in the High Desert Carnival :

I noticed that Owl, who was from the same avenue in the Bronx that I was, and who knew a thing or two about living in a genuinely hazardous environment, was mocking aloud what I had only been mocking in my mind, the excessively dire water drill we were getting from Eric. Owl had been to the last year’s Burn and said he didn’t drink half the water he had been told to bring. I was again told about the philosophy of “Radical Self-Reliance,” a phrase that had been pounded into my head from every Burning Man web page. For example the preparation page is emblazoned with:


Your survival depends on your reading and following these lists:”

But now, with a fellow Bronxite going in, I couldn’t resist that school yard tendency to tag team someone who was already getting it.

“But Eric,” I intoned with tastefully muted sarcasm, “didn’t you say that I can buy all the bags of ice I want there?”

“Yes, they will have several ice distribution centers.”

“OK, because from what I understand, in the hot desert—and by a fairly easy to master, low-tech process—ice can easily be converted into water.”

Owl, In the “Reconnaissance Vessel” on the way to Burning Man 2008

As George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Owl was a classic unreasonable man and he often succeeded in getting the world to adapt itself to him. How many people have the chutzpah to make a living selling their cartoons door-to-door? Whether it was his invention of surrealized, satirical political parties or his continual invention of himself as unique, outrageous character, Owl was always a force in the progress of novelty.

I miss you brother and hope you figure out a way to keep updating your Facebook from the other side. I was expecting to continue hearing from you about the 2012 election. Best wishes for an asthma-free journey to the great Rainbow Gathering we are all heading toward. As usual you got there before most of us.

Owl manning Info at the 2008 Wyoming National Rainbow Gathering
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  1. Thanks again Zap, for a wonderful read. I can almost smell him. And i’ve met some that are obviously related. Sorry for your loss, but how wonderful to have these highly individuated folks in our memory bank! Peace……………………Carol

  2. Hi Jonathan,
    this is so unbelievably beautiful — thank you so so so so so so much for putting this together — am letting all our family know about this obviously (THANK YOU!) and also owl’s & my facebook friends from school — WOW this is so endearing and just so right on about him — could not possibly have done this — the pictures are all really really beautiful and what you wrote is just so insightful & incisive and etc etc — he really was quite a character but there was a light around him from the day he was born and it shone extremely brightly everywhere he went — he scintillated — anyway THANK YOU
    AGAIN for putting this together

  3. Thanks Ruth, I remember Owl speaking affectionately of you many times.

    • thanks jonathan — I was wanting to put together some words about my brother I had really rough childhood and I guess David did too he always complained his childhood – the reason we felt so free to complain was because my parents hardly hardly hardly ever hit us – they were non-violent in belief and they believed very much in the freedom of self-expression that is our right under the Constitution and Bill of Rights in this country.

  4. I’m crushed. I never imagined that the last time I saw him would be the last time. I’ll miss him forever. Bye, Owl.

  5. Karen Briefer-Gose

    Dave (Owl) was one-of-kind. Endearing yet often annoying, but so what? He was himself. I liked him. Hadn’t seen him in 30 years but am glad to have found him on FaceBook. Rest in Peaceful Disobedience!

  6. I’m crushed. Owl was one of the smartest, most irritating people I’ve ever loved. If me saying that makes him pop up & say Ha ha! It’s all a prank, then I’ll say it again. I loved Owl & I miss him.

  7. in memoria dilectissimi arcus bellator

  8. Thank you for being my friend.

  9. Peace. See ya at the big Rainbow in the Sky. Love.

  10. Thanx Jonathan for the heads up…
    ok so its the 4th of July in West Virginia during the silence…with a cluster of folks in the middle of the meadow and everyone else circling along the treeline… and about halfway between the two is this raving laughter coming from this way trippin’ hippie rolling around in the tall grass…and all these hippies trying to get him to stop which just makes him laugh harder and deeper…rolling around more cuz every time he seemed to try to stand up he’d just convulse in deeper and deeper fits of laughter… it was magnificent… that picture you posted of him in the field bare-chested is him a few hours later and you can tell he was just spent from laughing so long and hard…

  11. My heart goes out to you his friends and family. I worked with Owl at the Information stand for many years and everything which is so beautifully said about him hre is so true…..a peaceful crossing.

    • OK. no I feel I can say something a bit more honest. When I was younger, I just thought Owl was fantastic,—I mean fantastic enough to maybe take as a lover. I was working a health education booth near INFO at the Gathering and it was maybe the second Gathering I met owl at—could it be sixteen or twenty years ago? The all run together. I was helping a lot of people and he could see that my service was successful. I came upon him sitting in the trail on a rock talking to a couple of people, being critical of certain others. At a certain point I asked if all people who held whatever belief it was that was being looked t could be judged so harshly. He turned to me and said :

      “Well, not you, you’re obviously and amazing beautiful person who helps people”….and went on with his argument to the rest. tuned out for a moment and then said:

      “Hey! Can we get back to that part where I was obviously a beautiful person and all that?” he laughed….but never responded to any flirtation again…I tried a few times over the next couple of years and gave up and then that very year, in Main Circle, Owl came up to a friend and myself as we sat on the edge. He was holding hands with a lovely man and never saw him look so happy—just glowing and full of life. He announced that the person he was holding hands with was SUCH a beautiful man and it dawned on me that Owl might be gay, which made me feel much less unattractive about how he responded to me. IN later years, we had many conflicts as he failed to see that basic disability accommodations I needed around the INFO site did not mean I should not come to Rainbow anymore—and it hurt me so badly that I couldn’t get his approval and that he was brutal and bullying around these issues, but later, over Facebook, we began to more productively dialogue about these issues. and other issues and I think some healing was achieved. He bothered me about practicing Judaism, I bothered him about not practicing Judaism, but I remember that what I always like is a brilliant, abrasive , Jewish man with soulful eyes and that was the original attraction—it’s the kind of thin I’m into. Don’t worry, there’s one of those here with me right now—-he’s snoring sort of loudly making this a little difficult to write/ Well, Owl’s persuasion was difficult for me to pinpoint, but I will say this—I will never forget how happy he looked that day hand in hand with that gentleman on the Fourth of July—I had the privilege to see him at at least once, glowing, radiant and at peace.

  12. Owl was on one hand the most cynical person I ever met and on the other hand the most loving and hopeful person I ever met; and that he could blend the 2 so well made him a great soul who will be sorely missed.

  13. David changed my life…in essence opened the door to my bliss. Thirty years ago, my parents and I drove from Nashville, TN, to Grinnell, IA, to visit Grinnell College. I’d already checked out UVA and UNC, but was intrigued by this small “liberal oasis in the cornfields of Iowa.” Actually, my mother was, I figured it couldn’t hurt to visit.

    Then, as we drove onto campus, my thoughts, and life, changed. The first thing I saw was this dude w/ half his head shaved happily riding a skateboard down the sidewalk. I thought, “I can be anyone I want to be here,” and that was it, I was immediately a Grinnellian.

    That decision change my liffe, for the better, and has continued to do so ever since. Could that have happened if David with half his head shaved hadn’t skated past me? Maybe, but I’ll be eternally grateful to him that I never had/have to find out.

    I thanked David for that when we became FB friends, not ever having said anything to him about it while we were at Grinnell together (he was a freshman when I had that fateful sighting, so we were in the same place at the same time for 3 years). He thanked me for letting him know, and I hope he heard the beauty beneath the story, that by being himself, just being, he lit a light of growth and discovery and joy, changed a life. That doesn’t change the world, I’m not changing the world, but I’m hopefully lighting a few lights myself along the way, and that matters.

    Thank you, David. Skate free, with joy.

  14. I was a friend of Kopelman’s in undergrad. If I wore glasses I’d wear scotch tape on the side this month to remember him. He made me think, laugh and gag most always at the same time.

  15. Dave was one of the first people I met at Grinnell. We were freshmen together. I remember one phase he went through, very clean@cut,wearing a suit, and distributing Amway. I ranted to him a couple of times because I thought Amway was right-wing. Then, years later I ran into him at Rainbow Gatherings, with the tape on his glasses. I connected with him through facebook maybe two years ago.

    • Nice eulogy Zap. I have not seen Owl in a couple of years, but he certainly was an unforgettable character. Remember when we used to work for ADT? It was difficult to believe suburban strangers would allow him into their house, and yet most of the time he would sell more systems than anyone else. He did things on his own terms. Respect…

    • I canvassed with Owl at Greenpeace, and it made sense to me that he would do it. I knew him when he was canvassing for the large cat sanctuary and it made sense to me. I knew him when he was selling cartoons door to door and even that made sense.

      Once I saw him and he was utterly and crisply clean cut and shaved and he told me he was selling home security systems door to door. That was the only time he ever really freaked me out.

  16. Owl was so wise and taught me so many things. He was a dear Rainbow brother. RIP

  17. I haven’t seen the owl for a couple of decades but the last time I ran inot him he was telling stories in Harvard square. His story was/is a great one. Happy trails

  18. I saw a post on the Northeast Rainbow Family mailing list about the passing of a man named Owl. I remembered I knew a guy named Owl about 20 or 25 years ago, when he lived in a tent in a secluded patch of woods in Amherst. But the writer, in describing her relationship with him over the years, used the term “sarcastic.” I was sure it wasn’t the same guy.

    When I knew him, he seemed childlike, even though he was older than the usual college crowd of the area. He was fanatically idealistic. Naive about the world, is a good description. He was certainly quick to anger in defense of his pure vision, but I never saw him being sarcastic about anything.

    But when I read the tribute site and looked at the pictures… yes, that was him. Everything written here rings true, as a older version of who I knew.

    • hi terry, do you know how I can get to see that post? I would love to read it & I bet mom would too when she’s ready to look at stuff like that

  19. R.I.P. OWL,Fly Free Brother! Condolences to all…….John&Bingo.

    • I wish I were a better person and treated people better; I could have been kinder to owl and everyone; I am sorry for being so rude, mean and egotistical. Sorry owl

      • Hey, John—I wasn’t always the way I wanted to be with Owl either—I would do annoying things and then wonder why he was upset, which he showed by being rude himself. It was a really hard friendship. Don’t be too hard on yourself Roadrunner, he’s in a place now where he can hear your apology and he has already forgiven. The last conversation I had with him was about forgiveness—it was on Facbook on a page he moderated called Spiritual Earth Party. You can look at it. In the argument he’s coming down way more on the side of forgiveness than I am.

  20. howdy,
    one of the good guys, for sure…. this true brother done did a lot of work in Gathering… prayerful work… loving, hard-head, mucho respect to Owl… good journey to the Gathering in the Sky.
    barry, plunker, montana

  21. Funny how the death of a loved one brings people together.

    I met Owl on a porch in Montpelier, Vermont in 1991 right after the National. The porch would be our sleeping space for the night. I was astounded at his story about sleeping in a tent for an entire New England winter. I always loved his stories, which made me laugh so hard I peed in my pants. I could also get very angry at his insults. I saw how pot smoking deteriorated his health and always prayed he would quit, but to no avail. My only regret is not looking him up when I was in Boulder last summer.

    I will greatly miss his irreverent energy at Info. I am really wanting to get there this year and doing my best to not take on any commitments during that time other than coming Home!

  22. To this day, I use a word that Owl coined and encouraged me to use in place of the omnipresent “man”, as in “Hey man!” Owl gave us “Wan”. Hey Wan, have a great time on your journey!.

  23. From -Clay Inthepottershands rainbow totem “white owl” I thought I was the only one to sell cartoons door to door. .. I did this when I was 5 to raise money for food for family after I heard my mother crying on phone about no food in house …lol may he fly in the spirit as protection over us left behind for now …be looking for you ! Aho!

  24. i don’t have a way cool story to share like the one about seeing him riding a skate board on the sidewalks of iowa. but i can say that i keep coming back to rainbow gatherings because of all the wild, loving, wise and eccentric folks who help me to feel whole and help me be centered. owl was one of those special people and i will miss his twinkling eyes.

  25. I worked with Owl often at info. But my best memory of Owl was him supervising the building of a bridge at the Arkansas gathering. We had a stream in the middle of the gathering too deep to walk through easily. It was quite wide. Owl found two huge trees and gathered the crew needed to move them into place. It became one our our best Rainbow bridges ever. A flash flood came and covered the bridge with a foot of rushing water. The bridge held up becoming a vital lifeline for the gathering.
    I hope somebody can dig up and post some of Owl’s comic book creations.
    We Love You, OWL, rest in peace.

    • hi don, a bunch of owl’s comics are in his Judge Max blog at judgemax.blogspot.com — thank you i had no idea he had such ability to a) work with people b) help put something together — as a child i never saw him being anything but cerebral because that’s what our family was like and it’s really really good to read what you wrote — I really respect construction 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • It took 2 HUGE trucks to tear that bridge out at cleanup.

  26. Oh Jonathan, thank you, what a lovely site. I am feeling very sad. He went too young. I met Owl in the early 90’s in Western MA, he was canvassing for GP. I believe that he was a part of a quite large Affinity Group called, MassPeace. If he did not join, he certainly did participate. So many of you already have captured my sentiments, he was well loves and yet, occasionally annoying but very loving, smart, funny and a blessing on this planet. We LOVE YOU OWL! rip, you certainly will be missed. blessings and see you on the other side. Barbara McGovern

  27. This describes him just as I remember him, and that was from more than a decade before you met him. What a wonderful remembrance.

  28. just want to say thank you jonathan (zap?) and thank you everybody you’re saying such wonderful great things about my brother — would love to be able to all everybody — berkeley community (?), boulder community, rainbow family, & owl’s own family to be able to meet to honor our mutual connection to this unbelievably interesting being who I was able to call brother — i don’t even bother going to that place of thinking “he’s not around” because I don’t believe that so there and much love to all & bless you — good night — ruth

  29. I think we began to bond more when he heard me tell someone at INFO that I lived in a tent for 6 months in the woods at Amhurst College and Mt Toby. Heard me say as the snow came I moved to So Ca. Of course he said I was a wimp since he camped all winter and I departed after 2 weeks of snow. If I’d of stayed in that tent 10 years longer I guess we would have been neighbors and argued for hours.
    He was very upset with my polite not in your face demeanor at the Rainbow INFO booth. Took him years to trust me for not being an in your face kinda guy. I was stoked when he finally told me I was a genuine nice guy and not the hippiecrite he thought I was. He’s the only guy I know that could get so much work done at a gathering and never leaving the bench. He had the gift of getting people to do the work. If in the corporate world he’d of been a billionaire. Glad we got to bond strongly in the last few years. Selling comic strips door to door that’s classic Owl.

  30. Thanks everybody. Come back soon. Found some awesome turn of the millenium photos of Owl which I will try to scan in tomorrow.

  31. Hi everybody,
    Also have to remember Owl’s Hastings community which was a huge part of the seedbed for his funky, creative, and interesting spirit — he was often at the head of some kind of group experience where people were talking together laughing hysterically sometimes — in 11th grade he was a Dungeon Master at this ongoing Dungeons and Dragons games, first in our house with a couple of his friends and me, and then it expanded to this corner in Hastings High School and probably 15 people were all gathered and that fun! He had a giant map of a fantasy planet all over his ceiling in high school and we played a lot of Dipolamacy in his bedroom too — would love to mention each of his friends from back then but anonymity prevents — anyway he was really really great at helping people laugh together & much love to him! Some of my best times as a teenager were spent as a member of these games 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!

    • ahhh, that’s what he was doing while I was getting high and playing music… I remember he was into D&D. I could never understand it. To this day, I still don’t have that talent!

      • Hey phideaux, i didn’t know you ever got high! who were you getting high with? Owl was obviously getting high every day with people I can’t mention because I don’t want to blow their anonymity but they know who they are and if they want they can post here about how great that was with the Burke Estate etc and also how Hastings was going to be at the center of a giant transformation of people all over the world into love and light and brotherhood which I believe has actually begun although maybe everytown USA is the center including Hastings although I have to say that Owl had a vision of himself as a light being dancing at the center of a giant giant giant group of people and looking back on it I think he was doing the Shiva Nataraj dance if you can visualize the posture very ballet-like which would be Shiva dancing on the flames of the destruction of the world which to me means my own private unshared world as opposed to the world which cannot be destroyed which is God’s world as seen by Jesus/Buddha and anybody who is at where they are at or the closer I come to letting go of judgment the closer I come to their vision and thus their world

        • Ruth, How great to let go of judgement as we near the doors (of perception?). As for my exploration with the weeds, we’re talking 6th and 7th grade as the beginning of my journey down that path. I think David might have gotten there a year or so later because I was fairly precocious in our grade (and subsequently was rarely at school or visible in class). I am so glad you wrote about D&D because I do remember D was getting into that but it went totally over my head (I do think Owl was slightly more intelligent and evidently more interested in debate than was I — my energies all went into music). So, all my Burke Estate activities (what a place, what a tree, what a great way to grow up…) were with the generation preceding. I was the very youngest of the folks during my time, so I imagine you fit into the next wave of explorers (the unbroken chain of Hastings seekers). I only wish it wasn’t Owl’s exodus which stimulated these conversations and that he could be here with us to piece together the forensic memory of how our lives intersected all those years ago. You, your mother and father live in my mind, easily found memories from various sleepovers. The records in your basement, the cemetary across the street, the books on the bookshelf (QB VII by Leon Uris as one came down the stairs…). It lives in my mind but it’s translucent though I’ll bet Owl would be able to reconstruct our games and friendship. How nice it would have been to reminisce! Instead, I’ll have to shout through the door and hope that he hears on the other side.

  32. Ruth, if you have any photos of a younger Owl kicking around and can send me as attachments I can put them on this page. Not sure if my scanner will arrive today, but I have a few images to add too.

    • Hey rob, I remember some really, really, really cool pictures of Owl when he was a really little baby and he was so unbelievably beautiful — he had these bright blue eyes and they were absolutely filled with light —

  33. Wow, that’s weird, no idea why muy last comment came up as Rob Brezsny, but it’s me Jonathan Zap and anyone with photos can send them to [email protected]

  34. Well, It’s been nearly two decades since we met at the Launch Pad (Matt and Dan’s Double Dose house). At first we were both transparent to each other engaging in brief controversies. Several parties later we noticed that we kept showing up at the smae parties and were not connected with the random dead/phish heads or runaways. Always in a comfy chair near the music you were…discussions about they way things should be or how to change the world through multi-level marketing. I was getting my MBA and you were a Grinnell Liberal…(was it economics you majored in?)…this created many interesting discussions and one and perhaps the only thing we agreed upon is that they were not a waste of time and more discussion was needed…until next time my friend. W lost touch for many years only to reconnect in the next fashionable hippy-trend of Burning Man. Late night discussions around the burnbarrel at Pheonix or Burnworks led to solutions of the world economic and resource crisis…controlled sterilization of the population. “Procreation is not a right, it’s a privilege” he would say…both of us knowing that less intoxicated reasonable minds would stop our plan. At Burning Man I had a necklace that has a flashlight and a lighter on it…the bare essentials I would say…you thought that was a great idea to carry your inhaler…you were always leaving it places. That’s just like you to stir up my emotions then let me win the last arguement…I will miss you my friend!

  35. Owl,
    you were quite a hoot!
    I will miss you; thank you for your way

  36. So Owl was planning on attending an informal Mardi Gras Parade in Boulder tonight “http://www.facebook.com/events/106028032860303/” Everyone is invited! We have a memorial planned in front of the Courthouse Fountain at 9pm. Please come share stories celebrate his life!

    This was the last event that Owl signed up to attend…I’m sure his spirit will be with us tonight.

  37. Hey, thought y’owl might like this: “http://presidentowl.blogspot.com/2011/09/using-corporate-model-to-solve-our.html”


  39. i am Owl’s first cousin. i haden’t seen Owl for almost 20 years but i am very saddened by the news of his death. Thanks to everyone who has posted here. reading your posts helps me feel cloer to him in the present and also serves to remind me of the intense, passionate, gifted and eccentric peson tha i rmember so well from our childhood. i remember lounging in his room in Hastings reading his books on great social figures while gazing at the incredible D&D map that he had taped to the walls and ceiling of his bedroom while his rapidly growing boa constrictor (whose name and fate i cannot recall) noshed on a littl white mouse. i admired his independent spirit and the goodness of his heart that drove him to get involved no matter what. i loved his guitar playing, his voice, his powerful, almost manaichal laugh. he lived, by choice, on the edge of so many things ( including a cliff, i believe) yet did so with purpose, born out of the principals of his conscience. i am thrilled to see how many lives he touched and again thank younall fo your wise and wonderful words.

  40. Wow, thanks for such a lovely tribute to Owl. We were friends as children but then we drifted apart when I discovered marijuana and started hanging out with the older kids and becoming obsessed with music. I always regret abandoning him, but as we were two guys who folks loved to bully, I was happy to become somewhat invisible and detach from my grade. Later, after high school I heard he changed his name to Owl and was living in the woods. “What???” said I, “How can this be? He sounds like a freak!” Of course, it wasn’t long after that I changed my name from Scott to Phideaux Xavier. I never did live in the woods (a bit too prima donna), but I have always been a freak. Owl sounds like he spread his wings and found his truth. Happily, we had a few facebook exchanges over the years, but I never did see him again, and that’s a very sad thing. I think he would have enjoyed who I had become as much as I know I would enjoy him. It’s a strange unknowable world we live in, but I believe he’s now exploring the mysteries. I love the comics (thank you for the blogspot info, Ruth) and it’s great to get a sense of who Owl has been since the primordial time when I knew him. Hoot!

    • hey phideaux, it’s funny because you’re reminding me that no matter how weird or “declasse” or drunk a person may be or whatever their dark appearance may be there are two places to come from: love and fear. If a person is consistently coming from love, I believe they will ultimately arrive where their nose is pointed no matter how absurd that might seem to the untrained perception — i have been blessed in this life to have a few friends who are like infinitesimal light points at the center of the hub of a huge wheel of love — they look like hell to the uncaring observer but i believe they are actually creating hugely powerful change just because of what they are willing to open up to from exactly their position — i love that whatever Owl believed, he always came from the highest place he knew and that is all that God wants is for us to do our best to join him

  41. Oh Owl, I’ll miss you. I give thanks for you. I look forward to a time beyond this time where nothing will be missed but in this time I miss you.

  42. Ram Nam Sata ha
    Love and Light

  43. I knew Dave at Grinnell. He was one of the most interesting people there by about a mile. He loved to talk, as did I, and we talked a lot. I liked his company and would seek him out. I’d never met anyone like him. We came from very different worlds (Kansas v. Bronx) but we were in many ways similar. But Dave walked the walk, and I did not. In hindsight, I can see he was like a Greek philosopher, standing on a pillar in the square for days, or barking like a dog, or going naked just to make a point. He said a lot of things, but it was what he did that always impressed me. It was a kind of theatre, and I will miss it very much.

    • I knew both Dave and Marshall at Grinnell as well. Marshall did pretty well for himself to put it mildly. Dave was a quite a character, the sort of person you know for a short time, but you never forget. I knew Dave when he was not a hippie. I often got into conversations with Dave that lasted deep into the night. He was open to any and all ideas, and hours would pass unnoticed. My favorite thing about Dave was that he truely didn’t care what anyone thought of him. There is a certain freedom in that philosophy. My least favorite thing was his personal hygiene. Anyhow, its obvious he was an unforgettable character, and he left our dimension too soon.

  44. Thanks Zap, Owl was a beautiful incarnation and we can all use the medicine that he brought of insight. I am glad I got to spend time with him at the Last Chance Ranch. Now who am

  45. I knew Owl since the beginning of the “double dose” house on 40th street. He arrived 5 minutes after Matt Pailais and I formed this crazy wonderful house. We shared the best of times in that communal home. Those where the days of wild music parties hosted by Matt and Dan and a merry bunch of pranksters like Katya, Doug, Jesse, beautiful ladies with names like Summer, Mountain Sun, a couple “exotic dancers”, and later, Jonathan Zap, Dave Schwartz and Rob and a menagerie of other eccentrics.

    Owl was a fellow deadhead, our chief prankster, a sharp humorist, a savvy political critic and a walking history book. He was always up for a game, a movie, music or going down to Shakedown Street. Yes, his words could sting as he often spoke with brutal honesty in sizing up a situation or a person, but his mind often echoed an objective truth. He was a wounded warrior. May he now finally find peace.

  46. Owl recruited me in 1995. I moved to Boulder that summer and Owl, myself and a few other recruits headed onto Boulder Open Space to visit the “angel tree” that had been getting much local press. The county officials decided not to clean up the “angel litter” that folks were depositing on a tree. So, in keeping with separation of church and state, Owl decided that our “Party of God” should remove the “obviously” religious ditreous from our pristine Open Space backyard. Owl composed a single page “Party Proclamation” which we left on the lone tree in place of the angels. Next day, Boulder’s newspaper the Daily Camera gave a front page headline story about the disappearance of the angels and a photo of the Proclamation attached to the tree. A few days later followed blurbs in newspapers across the country, including USA Today, about the Boulder angel tree controversy, that had now been effectively resolved by the Party of God, headed by its prophet Owl. This was one of my first encounters with the person who would become one of the most influential figures in my life. Owl was a high order thinker with a huge heart who really relished the presence of friends. And he was a true friend from whom I learned many important lessons. What I think was really behind Owl’s angel tree hi-jinx was a message that we should replace the material symbols of higher consciousness and goodwill and actually strive to BE angelic in thought, word and deed. Over the last sixteen years, Owl strove to be that at Rainbow, in Boulder and everywhere else he went. Even when at times he could be seemingly abrasive in his style, he was never malicious. His heart was always in the right place and his primary concern was one of REAL caring. He was more of the idealist/dreamer and pragmatist wrapped into one individual than I ever imagined could exist. And he knew what others needed and what they could handle. When I was dealing with a detached retina and loosing my vision, I asked Owl, “They’ve now done three procedures to get the damn membrane to stick and I don’t know if it’ll work this time. Plus, because it’s happened in one eye, I’m at a higher risk of the other eye going bad! Owl, I don’t know what to do!” He said, “Hey Man, I’d start learning braille if I were you.” Somehow, with that response, I felt lighter. He knew what I REALLY needed at that moment. There are so many stories. Many have been told. Many should not be and won’t. To know even one individual like Owl in a lifetime is rare and, I know, occurs not without a moderate dose of magic. This Angel-Brother has now spread his wide Owl-wings and soars, and watches, and waits. Peace, lots of LOVE and light on your continued journey.

    • hey keith that is a beautiful story and thank you so so so so much for your care and love — i was gonna say “as owl makes his transition” but I don’t know much about that kind of crap — glad he was able to help & much love to you!

  47. I’ve laughed and cried through all of your wonderful words about owl. For 10 years or more I’ve always looked forward to seeing his smile at rainbow. It will be missed.

  48. Thank you for allowing someone who never had the privilege of meeting Owl the privilege of getting to know him through your loving words & memories.

  49. It has been an experience reading about folks memories. A Thank You, is well said for sharing those memories. It does draw folks closer. We had met a few times but only briefly during a couple of short visits. That’s when we got to see his comic book sales in action.

    OWL may your Spirit FLY as HIGH as you would ever like.

  50. Wow — Owl was truly one of kind. I met him at the Amherst office of GP and then later in Boulder when he moved there. The world is lesser place without Owl — he was one of the good guys.

  51. An amazing beautiful owl of a man…I cherish the time i had enjoying owls energy and antics at info…our sky has another star and our rainbow another sparkle…lovin you owl, may you continue the info way (this is…where rumors begin and end)…mwuah xox soup

  52. You have flown off to a better world Owl. Can’t believe you are gone. Hope you are enjoying your next incarnation. It was fun hanging out with you.

  53. Owl was always one of my favorite Bros @ Rainbow and elsewhere. I ran into him for the first time at a Nuclear protest ralley in the mId-80’s…Mercury Flats. We wound up in the same detention area where he proceeded to convince me to buy a joke book…a verbal one at that! I gave him my squeeking red clown nose which netted me a joke. Not a bad down payment. I saw him for the last in New Mexico – gave him a foot massage. He dug it. Damn boy Howdy…I’ll miss ya.

  54. I like how Owl frankly stated the hard to take facts.

  55. David was my first date. When we were 12 his dad drove us from Hastings down to Lincoln Center, and waited while we went to the Metropolitan Opera, of all things. I never knew he grew up to be a gay hippie named Owl. I’m happy to learn he had a wonderful life and touched lots of people.

    PS. Ruth, Phideaux was getting high with me (among other folk)

    • Hey Rachel,
      that’s so cool I didn’t know you had a date at the Met when you guys were 12! That is so typical of how he used to always squeeze entertaining stuff out of our parents — I think they must have felt so guilty about it that when I was 15 they sent me on a bike trip to Canada — of course I had to work my ass off the whole way as usual not like Owl who got a lot of no-holds-barred funding 🙂 🙂 🙂 anyway that’s probably not true just a jaundiced view 🙂 🙂 🙂

  56. Known Owl for bout 5 years plus. Traded some guitar licks with him and shared some great conversations also.
    I’ll see you on the other side brother!

  57. Oh my. A girl who knew Owl when they were 12 years old reads one posting here by a woman who desired Owl but was turned down by him and concludes that Owl was gay. This is exactly the type of thinking (faulty conclusion based on obviously biased data) and behavior (posting this conclusion in a memorium) that Owl would distain. I knew Owl for the last may years and never did he provide even a single indication that he was gay — verbally or behaviorally. To the contrary, we often spoke about women – he quite fondly. I also never heard anyone else ever make this assertion about Owl’s sexual orientation. I offer this objective “data” stricktly in the spirit of truth to which Owl was committed. In regard to that previous post here, as far as Owl looking “so happy – just glowing and full of life and holding hands….” — this was with a fellow Rainbow Brother! Hello?!! We’re talking about a Rainbow Gathering were most people look so happy, are glowing and full of life. Oh my.

    • oh owl was definitely not gay as far as i know — he used to have GI Joe torture my barbies and one time he dropped one 17 stories down into a giant fan which was on the 1st floor roof of the huge building we lived in — he was utterly focused on her — definitely not gay as far as I know 🙂

  58. I just found out about Dave’s death today, and though I never knew him as “owl” (in college), I thought immediately, “he sure was a good owl”. Weird to find this website! Dave was very special to me, because he was one of those people, no matter what I just liked the guy. Also, for years I swear every time I thought of him, he’d appear. Then for years, I’d think of him, and would be surprised when he WASN’t there.

  59. I loved Owl He was able to get things done. I wonder how he is getting along with Bam Bam? RIP my brother.

  60. Even post-posthumously breaking down barriers and giving inspiration. I know nothing of him, but you guys made me feel as if I had.
    Thing about casting your pearls on the Internet is that they’re going to land before at least one pig – but I’m glad you guys did so.

    R.I.P. Owl

  61. Wow. For some reason, I decided to google my old friend David Kopelman, not even quite sure of the spelling anymore. To narrow the search, I added Rainbow Gathering – I was never quite sure whether that was a real thing (I know people on this site will find that hard to believe), but I remember David telling me in one post-High School/College meeting or email that that was where he was hanging, so I added it to the search and bingo. I knew David in middle school and high school and in the summers after – I didn’t even know or recollect that he had lived in the Bronx. Ruth will likely remember me – David and I were good friends back then (I was also good friends with Phideaux back in 5th grade or so, when he was in to Jethro Tull and I knew nothing about music). I had a sort of weird relationship with David and some regrets, because while I liked David, could talk for hours with him, and spent a lot of time with him, I knew that other kids found him easy to make fun of, and it influenced me to do some not nice things, like not inviting him to join me with others, which he told me years later hurt him. Even when he got into drugs, and I didn’t, we remained friends, and he even tried to pitch my parents into joining Amway. It’s nice to see that David found friends who accepted his uniqueness, humor and intelligence – understood it, accepted it, enjoyed it, tolerated it and honored it at his passing. David – I’m really sorry that we never did catch up as adults – we went different ways but I think we still would have liked each other. And to Ruth and his friends, my condolences. — Ted

  62. I have to begin by saying, as another post did, that for reasons unknown I decided to try for the first time in the twenty or so years since we were hanging around to find Owl online. Needless to say, I am devastated to learn that he passed away earlier this year. Owl and I became friends in Amherst circa 1987 in the manner which among these posts seems stereotypical: protracted conversations concerning the great issues of our lives and times.
    Owl lived for a while in my house there in Amherst and years later in a lounge area in my “mod” (student shared apartment building) at Hampshire College). I daresay that I was one of his best friends during his Amherst years and he mine. I regret having to acknowledge that it was probably my talking to him about how others in the mod did not want him living there that drove him to live in the Amherst College woods.
    At the moment, just having learned of his death an hour or so ago, I’m not sure of one particular story I can share but we had many discussions concerning a group he wanted to form for the betterment of wankind which he called Wizenlove and for which he expected to be the first-elected (if indeed any election was to be held) Empoeter. I also often think of a conversation we had in which Owl held to the unlikely position that a worldwide system of air vents should be installed so that in the future we could all travel by flying carpet. I could not even prevail upon him that a more aerodynamic vehicle might be advantageous. But I don’t want to come off as mocking the man because I loved him dearly and it was precisely for this streak of uniqueness that simply could not ever be found elsewhere. The most you could ever get out of anyone else was that cars and combustion engines were probably harmful to the environment. Owl had thoroughly digested that sort of argument and developed a soultion. If it wasn’t a practical one, well, perhaps it could still be used as inspiration toward something more efficacious. At least, I always thought so.
    Now that I have spent all the time I really had this afternoon crying and writing this little bit, I want to end by saying I intend to write againm soon even though I’m not sure people are still reading. One other bit I can add: although Owl and I were so close and spent so much time together that a pretty good friend asked me if we were lovers, we definitely never were (at least not at all physically). I just think Owl was capable of a very close friendship with another man in a way that many men are not and that is sad for them. He was a beautiful guy which is weird to say, perhaps, if you judge by appearances. I know a part of him will always be in my heart.

    • I still remember the very first thing Owl said to me on the main strip in Amherst: “Hey, do you like poetry?” after i said “well, yeah” that began one of our many poetry sessions in my little apartment above Cafe DiCarlo (i don’t think that is still there).

  63. Wow.
    I was browsing other posts and saw the link here. I too canvassed with Owl at Greenpeace in the early 90s (never knew him by any other name than Owl). He was a different kind of guy even in a crew full of different kind of folks. And, yes, he could outrage peacenicks and rednecks alike.

    I never got really close but I’d see him around Boulder now and then and he’d always amuse me. Once we were sitting on the mall talking and a few teenage kids came up and asked if they could ask me a question. I thought they were going to try to sell me something (turns out I was right, in a way). I told them they could ask away but I might not answer. They asked me if I had ever thought about where I’d go when I die. I was impatient with them and said “Just leave now.”, but Owl said no, let them talk. He seemed to genuinely want to hear what they had to say. They gave a fairly standard Jesus rap and when they got to the part about Heaven, Owl asked them what Heaven was like. One of them replied (I kid you not) that Heaven was like the biggest house you had ever seen with the best furniture and that there was always endless amount of the best food you ever had on the dinner table.

    Owl pause for a moment and seemed to think it over just long enough for perfect dramatic timing and then (his voice in a crescendo the peaked on the 4th or 5th word and stayed at full volume for the duration) he replied, “That is the stupidest, shallowest, most selfish and idiotic excuse for a belief in the spiritual dimension I have ever heard in my life!” Then he ignored them, looked over at me and started laughing.

    It was priceless.

    I saw him last fall, he offered to smoke a bowl with me, but I wasn’t up for it at the time. I wish I’d taken a moment for just a puff or two.

  64. A fan.

  65. Once, I traded Owl a pair of socks for one of his poetry recitals.

  66. I just thought today that I hadn’t heard from owl on facebook recently and went to his page only to find he’d died a year ago yesterday. thank you for this memorial; it tells the truth about owl and he would love it. I met him at hampshire college in the late 80s/early 90s and canvassed with him at greenpeace in amherst. rode public buses where he would sing goodnight irene accompanying himself on guitar. played D&D with him as DM. yes, owl had a good heart and he was true to himself. what else can you ask for? <3

  67. I wrote in my earlier post that I would write again soon and since I got a  teaching job, I really never found time. But I didn't forget, and I won't. I still love the Owl man, and mourn the world's loss.

  68. I guess I’m one of the few people in Berkeley that knew Owl to run across these Remembrances of him or post here. I’m a cartoonist, too, and during his trips/stays out here, we hung and collaborated on some things and ‘got by’ together quite a bit.

    I only just now learned of his passing… wondering why it’s been so darn long since I heard from him!

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