I've got a Scott Selig story to tell.
It's long, often inappropriate, always real and uncensored, just like our friendship.
Let me preface that while I totally respect all the much deserved reverence for Scott Selig's achievements in the community and his philanthropic involvement, this story is more about two kids who would make each other laugh, pick each other up when down, keep each other in check when necessary, and always have each other's back.
I first met Scott in the summer of 1984 at the “old” Standard club on the tennis courts for ALTA practice. At that moment, as Scott said in a Facebook post, we were “insta-best friends.” Or as how Scott would say it with his infamous, luring, rise-and-fall inflection, while nodding his head. It was this magical cadence and affirmative nodding that coerced everyone into making whatever he was saying a "thing." Whether or not he coined all those phrases or not, when he said it, it trended. I guess now the kids are calling them “Scottism’s.”
I can't do it justice but here's how he'd say "SUPRA", his legendary first car:
Well, for whatever reason, Scott thought I was cool. Scott was cool. Everyone loved Scott. He was really good-looking, charming, smart, athletic, funny; he had it going on. My parents adored Scott. He was the only friend my parents would let spend the night on a school night, which was a fairly common occurrence. He was my study partner. This will be no surprise to my parents: he was the one who kept the study breaks to a minimum. During those study breaks, I had a mug full of quarters for us to practice playing Quarters, the drinking game. So, I was the one preparing us for those types of tests. Again, no surprise to my parents.
We went on each other’s family vacations. No offense to my folks, but his family vacations were way more fun. This huge Selig clan with the token Wolf - I mean, with all the siblings and cousins and extended family, it was a blast. Destin, Breckinridge, Club Med Ixtapa… twice! I think it was the second trip to Ixtapa that was Steve & Linda’s honeymoon. How romantic: “Let’s bring Wolf on our honeymoon.”
There was a trip to the Fountain Blue in Miami with just me, Scott, Steve and Blake. Yes, along with my brother-from-another-Janet, Scott, came this little brother-from-another-Janet, Blake (both of our mothers are named Janet). It was that trip where my favorite Scottism was born. We were at dinner and Steve was yelling at Blake about something, you know, for being Blake. Blake, of course, is arguing back, sarcastic as hell, and all the while he keeps looking at me to see if I’m laughing (I was). Steve is SO pissed off at him and says “Why do you keep looking at Alex? You need his approval?” Cue Scott: “APPROVAL!” with the hypnotic cadence. From that day on, when you made a joke, you asked for "APPROVAL?” There was an interrogative version of the magic cadence with this head wind-up motion ending with an exaggerated look at the person from whom you were seeking approval. APPROVAL?
OK, I realize this may not make any sense to anyone because you had to be there, but I’m so freaking happy and thankful that I was.
One of my favorite Scott stories from high school: Scott came by my house after school most days as it was on the way to his mom’s. My mom had a strict rule about only eating in the kitchen. But, as you can imagine, we wanted to have a snack in front of the TV in the den. I would sneak it, but Scott didn’t care and would just blatantly eat in there. My mom walks in and yells at him, “Scott! No eating in the living room! If I catch you eating in here again, I’m going charge you $5.” The very next day, my mom is in the kitchen and Scott slaps a bill on the counter and in his epic
cocky tone says “Janet, here’s five bucks, I’m taking these cookies in to watch TV!”
High school was way better because of Scott. We did everything together. I don’t know how many concerts we went to, but it was a lot. Kool and the Gang was the first. Sting, Madonna, Bruce, INXS, and so many more. We got our picture taken with James Taylor - it was double exposed with a picture of us in front of the Eiffel Tower. I’m so mad, I can’t find that one. We spent almost every summer together. American Trails West (a month-long teen-tour that toured Canada, the West Coast and Hawaii), summer school at Tufts University outside Boston, our six-week graduation trip to tour Europe with Lewy (that’s Bryan Lewis, “Nobody wants your drugs around here, Louie!” - another Scottism.) So many adventures in the SUPRA. The Wolf Camera van we used to push down the driveway to sneak out before we had licenses - yikes. Seeing death in Cason’s party van. Meeting at the 7/11 and then driving around until we couldn’t find a party. The double dates. Prom with the other two Al’s (Weinstein & Tauber). Again, high school was way better because of Scott.
We visited U of A in Tucson together. Evidently, Steve called ahead and let ZBT know we were coming. We were greeted at the airport by the President, Steve Gwinner, and I don’t remember who else, but I must say, we got the royal treatment as they picked us up in two hotrod convertibles. I rode with Gwinner
and Scott rode in the other car, caravan-style, one step short of a police escort. The ZBT house had a sand volley ball court. The weather was 75 and sunny most of the school year. A rather high percentage of the girls were from California: all blonde and tan. It was the furthest college I could get into from home, so I was in. Pretty sure Scott was on board independently from my decision. Nevertheless, it was August of 1988 when we moved in to CAMPUS HOUSE together. We shared a room, but really it was Scott’s room because it was agreed upon if one of us had a co-ed guest, the other would be on the couch. Good thing it was a comfortable couch. I remember Jeff Bernstein saying before we left for
college that Scott should learn the guitar like me to swoon the ladies. Trust me, Scott did not need that. We pledged ZBT so now we were “officially” brothers. Ha!!! My parents did not let me have my car for my
freshman year, but Scott made his own rules, so he had his and hence, the SUPRA adventures continued in Arizona. Late August is Arizona’s monsoon season. The rain floods the streets. Scott and I would drive around and he’d time it so that when someone was standing by the curb, he’d gun it and there’d be a tsunami wave of water drenching them. We could be such assholes. Sorry. Really, it was harmless fun. But, still, sorry.
Freshman year was very fun. Perhaps, a little too fun for me. I didn’t do very well in school, but my golf handicap was the lowest it ever had been (there are 70 some golf courses in the Tucson area alone) and I learned all about how to roll joints and smoke from a bong and I really started to learn my instrument. Needless to say, my grades suffered badly. Scott did better than me, so I used his report card to forge a copy to send home to my parents. Scott had all C’s. Yes, I used his card to improve mine. Ouch.
I’m at the frat house one day and Scott calls for me (these are landlines, mind you) and when I get on the phone, in a very concerned voice he asks, “Alex, are you sitting down?” My heart dropped. I thought the worst. He says, ”Someone stole both of your guitars.” Fuck. I was pissed. They were my first electric and acoustic guitars, but besides some sentimental value, quite replaceable. I remember that story, because Scott was so concerned for me. He knew how much music meant to me. He always encouraged me to play. He always talked me up. He was a constructive critic and a loyal fan. He knew all the words to several of my first songs. He always was so supportive. Even in our 40’s he’d sing that stupid song Adam Brode and I wrote as pledges, “We are ZBT”, to sing to the sororities to invite them to our parties.
After five years in Athens, my band broke up. Heartbroken, I moved back to Atlanta and got a job working in the real estate department for Wolf Camera. Scott soon thereafter got his Masters and then his real estate license. I actually did a Wolf deal with Mindy, but Scott wasn’t at Selig Enterprises yet. We never worked together in the late nineties, but we certainly did play. We spent a lot of time in Hilton Head as our fathers both had houses a short beach walk away. For about two years, 1996-1998-ish, almost every weekend, sometimes both weekend nights, a giant group of friends would meet at Scott’s amazing house on Piedmont before we’d venture to Kaya. Those were X-tremely X-cellent times, indeed.
Second semester, Scott moved in to the frat house with Fortas, providing me a full-time bed. I got more and more into music and eventually I stopped going to class altogether. After two years, I left Arizona and moved back to Atlanta for a stint and then decided to pursue music for real in Athens, GA in 1990. Scott graduated from U of A and enrolled at UGA to get his Masters in 1992. We were reunited! I wasn’t sure how Scott would accept me then as I had become quite the hippie: weed, long hair, LSD and more weed. Nope. Didn’t matter to him. Supportive as always. He told me he would have been pissed if I wasn’t playing music. Yes, he made fun of my look - I made fun of his, too, of course - but you aren’t a real friend of Scott Selig’s if he doesn’t bust your balls some. Needless to say, he came out to many of my band's gigs. It definitely wasn’t his preferred style of music, by the way, and I think he paid double at the door.
Scott met Amy during that time and I was so proud to stand up with him for their wedding. Of course, I was honored to have Scott stand with me a few years later for my wedding.
After I left Wolf Camera and got into IT, Scott asked me to build two websites/media presentations for two big Selig developments. We had such a great time working on those together. As always, we were a great team: me, being creative and technical and him, having a great logical business sense. He never second guessed any subjective, creative aspects of the presentations. He implicitly trusted me for that. All of his revision notes made perfect sense to me. That’s pretty rare or even unheard of in that line of work, in fact, if he was my only client, I might have stayed in web development.
The next few years were quiet between us as our paths led us in different directions. We’d still see each other now and then at various events. He invited me to celebrate his 43rd birthday party at Treat Your Feet. I was running late to dinner beforehand and I’ll never forget his face when I finally walked in: first, I got that “whatever Wolf” look like I was a degenerate, and then the “get over here and give me a hug and kiss” with his arms open wide.
Heather and I had a pretty late-in-life surprise pregnancy and in 2015 had our baby Maya. I had lost touch with almost everyone being a stay-at-home dad. Out of nowhere, Scott reached out and wanted to meet me and Slater for dinner. It was the most fun I’d had in a while. We laughed and laughed some more.
It was less than a month later that I got a call from Slater. “Are you sitting down?” Fairly certain that my guitars were safe (and insured), my heart dropped. “Selig has cancer.”
I was in Destin; not too far from where I’d traveled with his family back in high school when Scott contacted me. “Pretty fucked up, ain’t it?” “Uh, yes,” I replied. We still made a joke or two in that conversation as it wasn’t very real to either of us at that point.
“What can I do?” I mean, this is a guy who had my back at every turn for 30-some years. When I ran away from home in 9th grade, I ran to his house. When I was broke in the band in Athens, he always picked up dinner and it wasn’t Taco Bell. In fact, he rarely let me pay for dinner throughout our lives. He’d get upset if I tried. Maybe when I had the company card at Wolf, but he’d even argue with me then. Oh, and you don’t really want to get into an argument with Scott Selig. Even when you are totally on the right side of the argument, he’d just talk over you and say some random shit or below the belt jabs until you'd just submit. That said, whenever he’d crossed the line with me, he’d soon thereafter apologize and you knew he was being truly sincere.
“What can I do?” I’m a musician, so I wrote “Presence” for him. After the video was finished, he came over to my studio to watch and hear it on the studio monitors. About half-way through, he put out his hand for mine and we held each other’s for the rest (Scott was always unabashedly affectionate and I loved that about him) and even though I’d seen the video so much in editing and balled several times, we both just cried. He was moved by the song. He commented about being so proud of how I’d developed my craft. He rightfully felt somewhat responsible for me sticking with music. He played the song to his friend, Bert Weiss, who later played the song on the dang The Bert Show! He said he wanted to be my manager and make me famous. It was supposed to be "what can I do for HIM” but Scott is Scott and always thinking about doing something for others.
“What can I do?” He answered, “I’m gonna need you in my corner. I’ve got a long fight ahead of me and you’re one of my big guns, Wolf.”
Lots of texting this past year went on between us. This text from him hit me pretty hard:
"Was reflecting last night around 3am when I couldn't sleep about many things of which you and I were most of it. We have been through so much together and even though our lives took different directions at times the friendship and love never left. Might have gone dormant at times but never left. I always admired you for living the life you wanted and especially how you wanted and who you are now. Although cancer is pretty shitty great things have come from it like our paths have crossed again and become one. I am so grateful for that you have no clue. You have been amazing to me this whole time and I truly love you for it. Unconditional love and support you show me and there for anything. I always knew nothing could break our bond at the end of the day it was too strong. Not distance or lifestyle or anything. Thank you for being family to me and like me never letting anything come between us. Love you brother”
As the months passed, the return texts from him understandably became shorter and less frequent. More recently, when about three weeks went by with no response, I Photoshopped a Scottstrong bracelet onto a massive penis with a girl kissing the tip with the caption “Heather and I were just thinking about you and we are #scottstrong and #cockstrong.” That is what it took to prompt a response. I did always know how to make him laugh. He had a dirty, dark sense of humor, like me.
We met for dinner with our dads at a Chinese restaurant in Sandy Springs. I was feeling so hopeful because except that he was moving a little slow, his wit was dead on. Since we first met, Scott and I had a most joyous friendly competition to see who could better make fun of my dad. That dinner was no different. My dad and Steve were very interested about me being Vegan. I guess one of Scott’s doctors recommended a Vegan diet for him. I’ve been Vegan for over two years, yet the questions from my father keep coming, “Can you eat fish?” “No, dad. No animal products.” “What about eggs?” “No, dad. Eggs are laid by chickens.” “What about cheese?” Scott is now cracking up. “Are you fucking with me?” “Cream?” Scott and I looked at each other to see who would take the swing. “By all means, Scott, go for it.” “Depends if you consider humans animals.” Approval.
That was the last time I saw him up and about. We texted back and forth about a visit when he was last in the hospital, but he just wasn’t up for it. His last text to me was: “Maybe later not feeling so hot”
When I last visited him at his house, I’m not going to lie, it was really difficult. Janet led me up the stairs and warned me that he's easily agitated and he swears a lot. I’m thinking to myself, “So, it’s Scott?!?!” We get to his room and Steve was sitting next to him on the bed. I told him how much I appreciated his unconditional friendship no matter how out-there I got, how he always supported me and that he was an amazing friend. Probably not quite as eloquently in the moment, but that was the sentiment. He couldn’t make eye contact with me. “I love you,” I said. He mumbled “Love you, too.”
That was my goodbye. Now, I’ll just have to wait to see him on the other side. He’ll have dated half of heaven and his robe will be fashion forward for Prince to envy. He’ll be psyched to greet me with some new Scottism that I will uncontrollably repeat to every angel and we’ll begin a whole new era of adventures in a pearly white SUPRA.
On Sunday, October 29, 2017, after about 33 years of friendship, we laid to rest my dear brother-from-another-Janet, one of my big guns.
“Although cancer is pretty shitty, great things have come from it…” said Scott.
Talk about seeing the silver lining… damn. I am in awe of Scott’s fight. I’m inspired to be better. I don’t think one person at Scott’s funeral walked out of there not feeling stronger. Heartbroken, yes. Sad as hell, yes. But stronger, indeed. Everyone’s presence at Scott’s funeral service was empowering and uplifting. Everyone who spoke at the Bimah moved me.
Rabbi Sugarman spoke about "Ner Tamid" or Eternal Light. It’s the lamp that burns eternally in synagogues and per Google, “...calls to mind God’s abiding presence…” Cool how Presence is the title to the song I wrote for him. Here are the lyrics:
I got wind that you got a mountain to climb
it’s not as if we aren’t already pressed for time
you and I have been friends for quite awhile
it’s a good thing that I know you’re stronger than I
can I just sit here a minute and hang out with you
can I steal another moment with you
wherever you might find yourself, I’ll be by your side
whenever you just want to talk, laugh or cry
can I just sit here a minute and hang out with you
can i steal another moment with you
once again, your presence is requested
I never had expected things to go this way
once again, your presence is requested
I know you're being tested
but it'll be ok
imagine what it’s like for you to come back home
have it anyway you like, it’s yours to own
once again, your presence is requested
who would have expected things to go this way?
once again, your presence is requested
if I haven’t expressed it, I'm hoping this may
When you are friends with someone for more than half of your life, especially someone as epic as Scott Selig, you could probably write a novel. For everyone’s sake, though, I’ll stick to music. I’m sure I will suddenly recall plenty of more Scott stories and discover more photos of us for years to come; you can be sure I will share them.
By the way, if Scott read this, he would say, ”Great story, Wolf. Now shut the fuck up.”
Love you, too, Scottie.