The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

i find my Brothers in the strangest places


I prefer to spend what might be defined as spare time doing interesting things. Or, perhaps being an interesting fellow. I’ll allow for history to determine if any part of it qualifies as “chinese interesting”.

I like to sing badly (interpret that as you will). So, I do it a lot. I deeply (I prefer that word over really) enjoy music, and various interpretations of art, as well. I’ll admit, here, the music I like only need move me.

That aside, I’m working through a lot of Hootie and the Blowfish. I’ll add Darius Ruckers: History In The Making. I’m enjoying that with gusto, and to the mild amusement of my family, and the odd friend that happens to drop by.

In any event, I found myself thinking about my friend Earnesto. You might as well face it now, there’s a story around this; and, it’s just below!

The thought was triggered by the tune: I Want To Know What Love Is, as performed by Down Low & Friends Best & More (and, the Scream Factory) for Rappers Against Racism (that event was a lot of fun). You can find it on iTunes. And, you can also view it here:

I think the visuals off the video somewhat detract from the impact of the actual message. But, there you have it nonetheless.

Lift it UP! I may not be a Christian… But, this is my religion.

In any event, I first met Earnesto in the city of Sarajevo in early 1989. He was an artist of some repute. My team needed to escort a veritable troupe out of the city, and harms way. I was not surprised to learn that Earnesto knew Father Jim, my Catholic mentor (he would never approve of Christian). And, this was before Father Jim disappeared. Earnesto looked a lot older than his fifty-one years. Born in El Salvador, he had lost one young family in a FARC guerilla cross-fire. He literally painted his way to Yugoslavia where he earned citizenship largely on the grounds of his artistic genius (I had found myself standing mesmerized before a bullet-riddled mural painted by his hand on the south wall of a quaint little restaurant off Titova street [aka: Street of Marshal Tito]). He was still dazed and ruined from losing another wife (this one a Muslim) and young daughter.

Years later I was pleasantly surprised to find Earnesto, oddly no older in appearance, but clearly bent by life, standing amidst a group of hapless workers, right here in Alpharetta. He needed to work. I had that around my yard. I made sure he had hot thick coffee and cheese sandwiches. In a strange way I felt as though he was both grateful for me, and accusing of me. More importantly, in the scheme of things, I sorted out that he was gravely ill. In less than three months he was too weak to work. I found him an apartment, discreetly covered the rent, and made sure there was a bag of groceries on the kitchen counter each Sunday afternoon. In some fanciful way I’m sure I was hoping he would do something charming – like paint the walls with some brilliant story. But, that never happened. The magic was gone from his heart, hand and eyes. His english was broken, but his hearing was good. I found myself telling him stories about my own life, with a focus on Grandad, my girls, soccer and theories about politics.

In the last week he could not rise from his bed and his complete care was left to me.  I thought he smelled good. Rather like cinnamon. But, I also recognized the scent of death with the hollowness of his cheeks. As the darkness closed around him, and he fiercely gripped my numbing hand, he hoarsely whispered that he was not alone, and grateful. He seemingly had no fear; perhaps only resignation, if not relief. His only request: “you no forget me”.

By the way… That mural in Sarajevo is gone. But, it was an image of men of many faiths and color standing on a hillside on the outskirts of the city with their faces raised up to the sun.

I can’t and won’t forget that. It was a gift from Earnesto. And, it’s another lesson for me. As I remember the face of my father, Earnesto’s suffering, the bounty of my life’s experience – and, the potential that I have yet unrealized to make a greater difference in this life, I will continue to find more ways to learn what love is.

Happy Holidays.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork


Adieu Leonard Pennario


Adieu Leonard Pennario.

I was introduced to award-winning pianist Leonard Pennario by my business mentor David Sugarman in Los Angeles in 1988.

This was back when David was working so very hard to teach me to listen.  He would often say that pretty much everyone had something better to say or show than me.  So, I needed to learn how to appreciate great people.

I really miss David.

And, I miss Leonard.

I last spoke to him about 8 months ago.

He was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  So, he had not really played for a number of years. But, he was always teaching and influencing.  He sounded good, and still had his wheezy and raspy laugh.  He inquired about my “ears” – sort of a tribute to our friend David.  I think he had hoped he could teach my Emma Jo one day.  Her fingers might be long enough he would say.  And, she has her Daddy’s eyes and heart.

I always appreciated that he saw Emma Jo and me like that.  It made me feel centered.

I had just finished the Western States Raid Endurance Race.  I would fly into San Diego to catch a friend and his plane for a drop into Mexico for some surfing Monday.  I planned to stop by and surprise Leonard with a visit Leonard for an hour or so.  That is when Mary Kunz Goldman, his biographer called to let me know Leonard was gone.  “There were complications dear”, I heard her voice quaver over the static-filled connection.  She sighed and tutted.  I just said okay (it was all that I could muster), and dropped the line.

About the Man…

Pennario won a Grammy in the 1960s for his work with violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky.

He was a passionate performer who enjoyed playing in front of audiences.

Leonard would say…  “You have to play for the people; you have to play for an audience,” she recalled Pennario saying. “You can’t just go into the studio and make records, you know?”

Pannario was born in Buffalo, New York on July 9, 1924.  He was 10 when he and his family moved to Los Angeles.  At age 12, he learned the Grieg Concerto in just a weeks time so he could perform it from memory with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  Although Pennario never attended a music conservatory but at 19 made his debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic.

He made more than 40 recordings for the Capitol record label between 1950 and 1960.  He went on to make more than 20 more for other labels.

I just know that My Grandad liked his music.  And, I thought it was cool that David Sugarman called Pannario “his dear friend”.

David would travel almost any where just to listen to Pennario.  And, he especially enjoyed having leonard over to his home so they could play chess, and “compare notes” David would say laughing.  I suppose David thought that was funny.  I just liked hearing David laugh in his rich baritone.

When I look to the skies I will hear Leonard’s gift to this world.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork


What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell

photos by John Campbell


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