The Poet and the Wolf

My friend Thom Hofman would have turned 46 this week, I have been writing and re-writing for a while and felt I needed to get it out.

The year 2022 was not the best for everyone. We were all dealing with the effects of Covid and in our own bubbles that we hardly hung out with our friends and loved ones. The last few months of 2022 were an emotional roller coaster for my family and a particular group of my friends.

Let’s start with my dad. My dad is the type of man that puts his family first before others. I would always ask him how he was and he would reply “Fine”. Never really got into specifics unless I probed but I knew that this was his way already. I won’t get into specifics but what should have been a simple one-day outpatient procedure turned into a 2 week stay at the hospital. He’s doing well now but it was a scary few days for my family.

Within the month of October and December, I lost two people who have impacted my life in a big way: Brian Hines AKA Meta Mo AKA the Wolf, from the Chicago Hip-Hop group Rubberoom, and Thom Hofman, writer extraordinaire that I met through the Dadblogging group on Facebook. Let me tell you a few things about these men.

If you are from Chicago, you have heard of the group Rubberoom. Well, I hope you have. Rubberoom was one of the reasons that my friends and I would try to attend every local hip-hop show. Seeing them on the stage was like watching raw energy perform. You could tell that by the end of their set they gave everything they had and left it all on stage. My friends and I were huge fans and little by little we got to know the group personally and eventually became friends with a few of them.

I eventually became friends with Kevin Johnson, one of the producers of the group, who goes by Mr. Echoes. He taught me about production and we even made a song together. Hanging out with Kevin also helped me to learn more about the group. I would run into Brian at the Blue Groove Lounge, which was one of Chicago’s longest-running hip-hop nights, and we would talk about music, life, and how we were doing. It was always like talking to a bigger brother and hearing his advice in that raspy voice of his always felt so wise.

One night after the Blue Groove Lounge, a group of us were going to a friend’s house for the afterparty. Brian was standing outside and asked me in a faux-cockney accent if he can come along to the party. Since I have known Brian for so long I was like “Sure! Let’s go!” We walked to my car and he sat in the backseat and let my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, sit in the front. On the ride, we all talked about music, relationships, and life until we got to the party.

I remember the look on people’s faces when we walked into the party. You know those scenes when that one popular kid walks in the school hallways and everyone stops and looks at them, that’s what it felt like. Everyone stopped and looked at us and Brian was saying hello to everyone. I remember being pulled to the side by one of the hosts of the party and being asked if that was Metamo from Rubberoom and I said it was. As the party continued Brian signed some autographs and sang along to some of the hip-hop songs playing. It was such a fun night and one of my favorite memories.

I last saw Brian at a family Hip-Hop event at the Metro. It was great to take my kids to a venue that I have visited many times to attend Hip-Hop shows and enjoy it with them. There were B-boys breaking. There were DJs on the turntables playing a lot of songs I grew up with and there was graffiti artists doing live pieces (painting) while the DJs were playing. We left before the open mic portion of the event but I remember talking to Brian for a few and catching up on what’s been going on in our lives. Little did I know that that would be the last time I would see him in person. Brian passed due to heart issues in October of last year.

Rubberoom’s discography is on Spotify and I highly recommend you check out their music. Here are some songs I recommend: Buckwild, Sector Rush, and Taste of Chicago.

As an English major, I think I am a pretty decent writer. I mean, one of the reasons we started Fandads was so I can continue my love for writing and share it with others. When we became part of the Dad Blogger group on Facebook we got to meet a lot of new dads and great writers. One of those dads that we got to know was Thom Hofman. Thom was an eccentric man who had a way about him that intrigued you.

Thom’s site is Daddy, Medium-well. On his site, he would write about everyday incidents or stories about his children. Reading one of Thom’s posts was like watching Picasso paint. Every word was beautifully placed and every sentence took you on a poetic journey. I remember reading his stuff and thinking to myself “Why do I even write?” or “Why do I have an English degree if I can’t write like that?” I mean Thom could make the mundane feel magical and like you went on a journey with him.

Being that we were all part of the dad blogging community, I would talk to Thom occasionally online. I would compliment him on his latest post and ask for advice about my writing. In 2017, I went to San Diego with my wife to the annual Dad 2.0 conference. This was my first time bringing my wife with me and I was nervous and excited for her to meet these dads who were my tribe (I hate that term). Walking into the hotel, Thom saw me, stood up, and gave me a big hug. I’ve always had imposter syndrome when I attended these events but that hug made me feel welcomed.

Throughout that weekend I remember Thom saying a few things about some of the Dad’s posts during the DadSlam event. I remember every time I saw him he was in deep conversation with someone. I also remember some of the guys talking to my wife about my writing and making me feel great to be surrounded by all of these people I love. It was such a great weekend but I hate that it only happens once a year and that I was unable to attend the last one.

I would always look forward to Thom’s posts on Facebook and read about what he was up to. He took up culinary classes and his posts about the foods he would make would make you salivate as you read them and saw the pictures of the dish he was describing. My friend, David Stanley, compared his writing about food to that of Bourdain and I could not agree more. Thom had a way of making you hungry with just his words and an image of food.

I remember sending him a message about this new venture in his life response was typical Thom.

If you get a moment read some of Thom’s posts. Here is one quote that I always remember from Sing This With Me, This is Forty, “only boring people are bored”. Another great post to read is The Church of Me (a lament, formal).

Both of these men taught me about the power of words and about life. I will miss interacting with them but I am happy to know that their words will be around for all to discover. Thank you for everything fellas!

Till we meet again!

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