Appreciations on Joe’s 50th Birthday

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As a way to commemorate this milestone birthday of 50 years my love, I asked your family and a few of your close friends to write messages of appreciation for you.  They wrote some pretty great, thoughtful messages which are included here:
From your nephew Miles Gastil:

Happy Birthday Uncle Joe!

I hope you have an amazing birthday. You deserve it! I am so happy you now have a family to call your own. I know you will be as good as a father as you are an uncle. You have been a wonderful influence in my life and I look forward to becoming closer with your growing immediate family. You’re an amazing artist who constantly inspires me to draw. I look at your sketches and paintings and see them as a goal for me to someday achieve that kind of beauty in my drawings. I also enjoy playing chess with you and look forward to more games, and helping you teaching your kid how to play someday. Happy Birthday Uncle Joe.

Love you guys! Miles

From your nephew Garrett Gastil:

Happy 50th Birthday Uncle Joe!

You have always been one of the most fun people to be around. When I was a kid, I remember that I would always be excited to see you because you would pick me up and throw me around your body.

You are always inclusive and kind to everyone. I remember that if we had friends who were with us, you always included them when we were all playing together.

You are also very observant. You watch everything, and pay close attention to detail. You only have to look in your sketch books to see! You capture the way objects and people look, in all their beauty and imperfection.

As I have gotten older, you has been a good friend to me. We have discussed many things, and I know you are going to make an incredible father.

Love, Garrett

From your niece Paige Gastil:

Happy birthday Uncle Joe! I’m sad we can’t be with you to celebrate. I’m so blessed to have you as my uncle, you are always so kind and caring and I’m so excited for you and Carrie about your new baby. You have such a big heart for others and I’ve always noticed how great you are with kids. I knew that one day you would find a women to be yours and that’d you’d be a great dad. I’m excited for you to move back to LA so that we can be a part of Maeve’s life, just as you were a big part of our childhood. I hope that you have an amazing birthday and that you always remember that your family loves you very much. I’m so excited that there’s a new baby in the family and about my new aunt! I love you all very much (Maeve too even though I haven’t met her) hope to see you very soon

Much love, Paige

From your brother Matt Linton:

Joe,
Where do I start? I have known you all my life. So I have more dirt on you then many others might. As you turn fifty you tend to look at how many years you have left on this earth. You start to count down to the end. This birthday is a good time for reflection/introspection.

I admire your activism from Friends of the LA River to CicLAvia to the bus riders union to Ecovilliage to grey water to ….., I am sure I am leaving out some. I admire your sense for a greater common good, building a better world for everyone. I see the passion you have for these worthy organizations. You inspired me to ride my bike to work.  Many people talk or complain about issues, but I see you take action and confront them head on. You put your money where your mouth is.

I admire your artistic abilities. We should have coffee sometime so I can discuss a business proposition with you. You can do artwork and I can market greeting cards. (just kidding). I thought up a tee shirt design combining the great wave off Kanagawa and Jesus walking on water. I see how you engage the world by drawing it. You have a record of your life experience through sketchbooks.

I like the way you engage with children. One day I remember you sitting down in front of our house and sketching. The next minute you had Meilyn, Bethany, Rachel and Lauren all drawing on their little pieces of paper. I took a photograph of it and looking at the photo reminds me of how you releated to the children. Kids like to be around you because you are fun and interesting. You treat children with respect and love. That is why they gravitate to you. I was in the pool playing with Lauren and Daniel. Other kids joined in our games and I thought this is how it feels to be Joe.  That is why I know you will be a good dad for Maeve. I can see you starting to engage Maeve with your made up mostly one-way conversations with her. By talking to her you are developing her brain.

Your life has changed in the past year. I am happy to be a small part of the fairytale love story. Everyone I tell from the barber to co-workers are so happy for you and Carrie. You are like Larry the Polar bear. After a long confinement you are finally in your element (being a dad and husband) and you are running with it.

You do things on your own terms. You do not compromise on your values. That is kind of a lost art now a days. It can be lonely road, as I am sure you know. I think of you and Carrie deciding to have Maeve at home. I admit I had some safety concerns, but you two researched it and made a decision that was best for the family. I am proud to hear how you supported Carrie though the birthing process. I am sure you and Carrie love each other more profoundly now, having gone through the pregnancy and birth. Carrie should be commended for carrying Maeve around for nine months and giving birth at home drug free. Carrie, you are super hero Goddess. Your middle name should be Maeve.  I am struck by the timing of Maeve’s birth one day away from Moms passing. God gives and he takes away.

Thanks for the John Lennon tee shirts. I like them a great deal. That’s all for now, I speak for Liz and I saying I can’t wait to hold little Maeve Margaret Lincourt Linton. The experience of having a new born is filled with joy and sleep deprivation. It is overwhelming at times, but hang in there it gets easier.

Love, Matt

From close friend of our family, Michael Oppenheim:

Dear Joe,

One of my very best memories is a Friday evening back in January 2010 when you and your mother and I attended a performance of a new play at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles—a play called Palestine, New Mexico. The cast included the members of Culture Clash—Ric Salinas, Herbert Siguenza, and Richard Montoya (who also wrote the play). Culture Clash was/is a LONG-time ALL-time favorite and beloved performance group for all of us, so anything they do is always a completely irresistible draw. In addition to the play itself, a particular stand-out memory from that evening is that as soon as we set foot on the plaza of the Music Center, there seemed to be no end to people excitedly recognizing you and stopping you to talk—everyone from “art” people, to “bicycle/CicLAVia” people, to Los Angeles River people, to Los Angeles City Council people—and that continued inside the theater, as well. No “typical celebrity” could have been more popular, or could have drawn more attention—but you are a celebrity for all the “right” reasons, thanks to the passions and commitments that drive you to make the world a better place, and a better observed and thoughtfully experienced place. Witnessing your magnetism certainly underscored what a profound impact you have made, with both your civic activism and your art. I know your mother was filled with pride to see that.

Speaking of your passions—it’s certainly impossible not to think of the Los Angeles River, and I’ll always remember seeing you perform in “Touch the Water,” a play about the L.A. River that the Cornerstone Theater Company presented next to the river, back in June 2009. You were wonderful playing a scientist/friend of the river—I STILL think you should do more acting! (not that you’ll have time for that now). It was also great to go on a “river walk” you led, before the performance. When you were writing your amazing, beautifully illustrated book Down by the Los Angeles River, it was great fun for me to research questions you had about the history of various bridges and other structures surrounding or “interacting” with the river.  The Los Angeles River would certainly not have the deep resonance for me that it does without the impetus and inspiration of your championing of it—without being able to see it through your eyes.

Something I have always deeply admired and envied is your amazing rapport and complete naturalness with children, as I’ve been privileged to observe when I’ve seen you play with and entertain AND teach your nieces and nephews. What an incomparable gift and blessing that is—and how wonderful for your child-to-be! It’s rather overwhelming—in the best possible sense!—to be able to imagine what a loving, creative, passionate, articulate, and generous parent you will be.  You’ll have to write another book about that!

Love, Michael

From your sister Liz Gastil:

Joe,

I have known you all my life and I can say it has been a blessing. One of my earliest memories was Mom walking you around the block to apologize for something you said to our neighbors.  I learned so much from some of your discretions.  I remember thinking that Mom really means business and I am sure I was scared to do anything wrong.  I also, in later years upon reflection, learned that parenting is messy business and that making my kids do the right thing would probably cause them to pitch a fit and to not be afraid of that.  I also remember you sending letters to my whole cabin at Indian Village, Forest Home when I was a counselor there.  The letters were written in code, so we would spend our bunk time trying breaking the code!   The letter writing didn’t end there, you wrote to me when I went away to college.  Those letters were a sweet remembrance that my family cared about me and helped me transition into a new life at Cal Poly SLO. Some of my favorite memories are the days in college, when you got me a fake ID (Marina Ferante….such a cool alias!) so that I could go dancing at the Crush Bar with you.  I always knew that you were there to back me up and bail me out if someone hit on me! Then, later in life you blessed me by loving my children.  They loved wrestling with you and having you flip them, like Grandpa used to do to us.  They loved their art supplies gifts (with Uniball pens that I always took a few for myself!) at Christmas, and the books that you would write in on their birthdays.  Then, later, playing chess with them and talking with them and encouraging them in their life’s pursuits.

I can’t believe that you are going to be 50 and that you have found such a wonderful wife!

You are very blessed!

I know that Mom would be so proud of you and so happy for you if she were here.  I also know that she would be so proud of us as a family for staying together and loving each other.  I am grateful for you and your new family and I look forward to what the next 50 will be and being a part of your family for the rest of it!

I love you!

Liz

From your college roommate and longtime friend, Joe Krovoza:

Happy Birthday! Fifty.

I couldn’t be more inspired to call you one of my closest friends. In proximity? Nope; and that just took a step back -for every good reason. In time spent since Occidental? Not a chance. But from our college days, the engagements born from values have kept us oh so close. Your FoLAR; my Putah Creek Council. Your Bus Riders Union; my Institute of Transportation Studies. Your LA County Bicycle Coalition; my Davis Bicycles! Your urban planning, and now the main street of Davis will be “complete,” our new Transportation Element stunning, our routes to schools safer. Your art and journals; my…. okay, it ends right there!

And now you and Carrie enter the sublime adventure of Maeve – just as Charlotte and Lillian move forth from our home.

…excited for the parallels to come. Truth, beauty, kindness today and forever.

Thanks,

Joe

From Rex McDaniel, our pastor as kids at Tustin Presbyterian Church, who married us this year:

Joe,
You may know that the “kaballah,” a book of Jewish mysticism speaks of the “tzadikim”, a group of 36 hidden holy people.  For the sake of these 36 hidden saints, God preserves the world even if the rest of humanity has degenerated to the level of total barbarism.  On your 50th birthday I was going to declare you one of the “tzadikim” but then I did some research and discovered that if a “tzadikim” gets outted they disappear.  So……let us say, you are what a “tzadikim” looks, and lives and loves like but of course you couldn’t really be one because that would ruin the birthday party.  Regardless, I am so grateful for you and all you do to preserve people and places I love and move me to love people and places otherwise lost to me.  May strength be yours for years to come.

Rex

Happy birthday my love! Looking forward to all that we’ll do together in the next fifty years!

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