I started “Our Los Feliz” in hopes that I would have an excuse to get to know my neighbors better – that I would be able to feel more a part of the community. Before this project was even a twinkle in my eye, there were people in the neighborhood who broke through my stranger-danger anxiety and insisted on being a part of my life. Thomas Bond was just such a person.
A fixture in the Hollywood/Vermont Starbucks where I and half the screenwriters in the world seem to while away their days, I knew Tom long before I ever met him. There are unwritten rules in Laptopistan: no one is to talk, no one is to laugh, and no one is to engage those with headphones. Tom was not one for such rules, and our little world was a better place for it.
Tom was incredibly gregarious and could bring even the most shrinking of violets into full bloom. He was a talented storyteller with an easy laugh, and he seemed to be an expert on all subjects political, historical, and mineral. He somehow managed to be the smartest man in the room while never making the people he talked with feel stupid.
I had planned to interview him, in part to introduce a fantastic man to the neighborhood, but selfishly: to satisfy my curiosity. In many ways, Thomas was, and now will remain, an enigma to me. For a man I saw almost every day I knew surprisingly little about his history and what made him tick.
From what I’ve been able to piece together, his life was a remarkable one. He attended Alamagordo high school in New Mexico, later went to Lubbock Christian University on a speech and debate scholarship, eventually graduating from the University of Utah in 1974 with degrees in Nuclear Materials Engineering and Political science. He worked as a Navy nuclear reactor operator with top secret clearance (I’m beginning to suspect he was issued his last name ex post facto), and he helped to evacuate many American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians from harm’s way during the Vietnam War. He ran an advertising agency in Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’s; perfectly timing his transition to online marketing in ’95.
While his death was not entirely unexpected (he had a gallows humor born of long-standing health issues), it is tragic nonetheless. My chats with Tom were often the highlights of my working days, and I suspect I’m not the only one in this neighborhood who now feels like they’ve lost a kindly uncle.
Thomas Bond died of a massive heart-attack on May 2, 2011, he was 62. He is survived by his sister and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday May 22, 2011 at the Hollywood/Vermont Starbucks; I believe the service is scheduled for 3pm, but please check their message board in the morning for additional details.
A pittance of Tom’s thoughts, recollections, and stories can be accessed through his blog, diet website, and facebook page. I encourage anyone who knew Tom to leave a comment on this post.