Every once in a while you meet special people who are way damn smarter than the rest of us. I met Tim Pons at UNC-G in 1974. We both liked John Lennon and lots and lots of Budweiser. I helped him build the pyramids of beer cans that lined his dorm room walls. He was irreverent, rebellious. He could sniff out bullshit from across the room, and he was the kind of guy who would call you on it. He helped shaped my world view, and I like to think that was mutual. I somehow convinced him to take up bike riding, and he and I had a big adventure doing a tour to Virginia Beach. Years later, when we discussed that trip, I was astonished to hear him recount all of the details, down to the name of the guy who put us up and bought us beer halfway through.
And yes, he was smart. How smart wasn’t immediately obvious to his friends, but I guess his professors in neurobiology recognized it. They packed him off to get a PhD at Vanderbilt, and he eventually landed a job at the National Institute of Health doing brain research and adding to the understanding of the phantom limb phenomenon, showing that the brain can reorganize if sensory input is cut off.
Tim later became a professor at Wake Forest University. He died on this day in 2005 from complications from liver disease.
In his honor, I’m posting audio clips from a 1979 New Years Eve Ramones show that we attended at the Palladium in NYC. Tim, enjoy.