Sunday, September 9, 2012

RIP Ryan Fujiki-Hastings, a scholar among musicians

Posted By on Sun, Sep 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Ryan Fujiki-Hastings with daughter Anais in his last Facebook photo before time of death.
  • Ryan Fujiki-Hastings with daughter Anais in his last Facebook photo before time of death.
If I could make one wish as a writer, I'd request not having to write another obit about a friend — but the cruel hand of fate would just flip me the middle finger and say no.

So, it's with a heavy heart and lingering feelings of futility (and pissed-off frustration) that I say goodbye to Ryan Fujiki-Hastings, 34, drummer for Candy Bars, a Tampa band on the New Granada label (contemporaries of Sleepy Vikings, Rec Center) and before that Michael Furey, his older brother, Shawn's band.

Posted by friend and label boss Keith Ulrey: "We are saddened today to report that last night we lost a good friend and member of the New Granada family. Ryan Hastings was unfortunately killed in a motorcycle accident in Ybor City. Some of you may know Ryan from the band Candy Bars, we knew him as a friend. Please take some time today to remember Ryan's wife, child & family (musical & otherwise). We also ask that you please respect their privacy (ie. FB comments, messages, etc on their respective pages), in the meantime, while they adjust to this tragic news. We will report more as we know more."

During my encounters with Hastings over the past 12 or so years, I've gotten to know him as educated, worldly — and really funny.

He shared without a whiff of self-seriousness that he attended graduate school abroad and doesn't didn't list his major or college info on his Facebook page (he studied philosophy and religion). He knew how to speak Italian but was too modest to practice it with me — or felt silly about it, or both. Or maybe he just took kind pity on me because his Italian was better than mine.

Ryan made sport of turning the world around him on its face, and underscored his opinions with a healthy sense of skepticism, humor and an arsenal of facts, learned from a book or study on whatever topic we were discussing. His acerbic sense of mischief and discriminating taste went a long way in informing his unique and chillingly atmospheric rhythmic style. He said once during a tbt* Meet the Band interview with Candy Bars: "I may just hit a cymbal or a tom, and that's it. It can be an exercise in restraint, but never the cause of frustration." (I had chosen Candy Bars as one of my first Ultimate Local Bands in 2007, when I covered local music for tbt*).

As one does when learning the tragic news of a loss, I reached back to missed opportunities and memories of good times.

I wish I'd been to more his band's shows and had more chances to eat at Laughing Cat and have him as a waiter. (I was told he was leaving his job at the Laughing Cat 5:15 p.m. yesterday when his life ended in a motorcycle accident). I fondly remember once how graciously and amiably he tended to me and a dining companion many years ago. He even treated us to dessert and wine with our dinner.

Ryan was a master concocter of humorous, ridiculous and brilliant "what if ..." scenarios. He'd make you laugh gut-busting silent laugh and stare back expressionless, looking like that famously deadpan cartoon dog, Droopy. But to call Ryan sarcastic would cheapen his memory and sell him short. Just as his eyes could look droopy and sullen, they'd open really wide like a child when he felt strongly about something or someone.

There was a genuineness to Ryan that endeared me. I'm not sure how he'd feel about me going on like this, but hopefully if he's up there reading this somehow, he'll cut me a little slack.

As would be expected, a pallor of tragic senselessness and shock were expressed by many on the Facebook feed Sunday as friends and family sent condolences to widow Tanya and infant daughter Anais, who will now get to know her dad through stories, family videos and photos.

Talk about enviable magazine-attractiveness — while it's a cliche to say, "What a beautiful family," you really can't help but feel choked up about how much it was true for Ryan, Tanya and Anais. Ryan showed his loving nature with his wife and child. The photos — which seem to have captured them during the happiest time of their lives this past year — are among my personal favorites.

Sending heartfelt condolences to Tanya, Anais and Hastings' family. May they derive strength from the kindness of loved ones.

Updates: At the request of the Fujiki-Hastings & Hastings families, you are invited to join family and friends to celebrate and remember Ryan Fujiki-Hastings, his life and his music. This will serve as the official memorial service. New World Brewery opens its doors early the memorial on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 11 a.m. A trust fund is currently being set-up for baby Anaïs and the Fujiki-Hastings family. In lieu of flowers, gifts, etc., please donate to this fund. Details and donation information will be made available Saturday at New World Brewery. Note: This is not a show or event, just a time for family and friends to gather, remember and honor Ryan. 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City, 813-249-4969.

100 percent of any and all downloads and sales of the Candy Bars album On Cutting Ti​-​Gers in Half and Understanding on CD/digital/bandcamp/etc will go to the Fujiki-Hastings family. To donate now, visit

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