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🐶 Alex and MacKaye - An Eternal “Love at First Sight” Story 

🐶 Alex and MacKaye - An Eternal “Love at First Sight” Story 


I sincerely hope you’re doing great! I’m already filled with deep emotions as I’m just getting started around the title of this Club Missive, so maybe this is why the word “sincerely” landed between “I” and “hope”, which I normally never do! Emotions are quite a strange thing when you start digging into their nature and realms since they are actively present in our day-to-day, bringing us to navigate through those troubled waters called life, learning how to manage those or not, deciding to expose those or not, to be defined by those or not, etc. I’m not only talking about being sad or crying, but also being mad, angry, jealous, insecure, joyful, at peace, and so on…  

I’ve been thinking about that quite a lot lately since, as you know, 2023 has been quite a long year for us with Alex’s heart surgery in February and how the year tragically ended with the passing of Alex’s faithful and so precious friend and furry boy called MacKaye, as Alex generously recently shared with us. This is why my first Club Missive of the year had this melancholic tone and vibe to it, as most of you noticed when you wrote back to me, but clearly, this year’s holidays have been even harder to go through than some parts of the year in itself. What an unexpected tragic ending for what has been, I think, the darkest year of course for Alex, but also for us all around him who truly love him. 

I don’t want to go too far down that road for now, as all of it is still too fresh and I’m not very good at controlling those emotions still, but instead, I simply wanted to share an incredible story about how, in the face of true love, things can get quite scary, slippery, as it’s so beautiful and powerful, we’re losing our greatest possible illusion: control. Especially for people like us who are art and music lovers, who find peace, love, hope, social justice, healing, joy and even genuine angriness through the purity of something shared to us no matter the medium, creating such a deep emotion that we’ll never forget the moment and will always want to find it again as it was; simply so raw and real. 

Music is so powerful… We can all remember the precise second we discovered our favorite album or artist to such a degree, it’s almost as if time literally stopped just for us to connect with something greater than ourselves and so important it would open many road maps in front of us, many we never thought existed – scientists recently discovered new civilisations in the Amazon! Well, this powerful connection with music and art is what gives life to our own souls. And what I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, being more thoughtful when I’m walking into a dark or sad season or valley as I am into right now, was how, once we experience such a powerful enlightenment, does it materialize itself into shaping our humanity and behaviors. Greatness is a way of living, it’s a choice that needs to be made 10,000 times every minute, and Alex always manages to find such a unique way to remind me of this, on so many occasions and events ever since we started our friendship back in 2002.  

When I first started to hang out with Alex and the band at the time, he already owned a black female labrador dog named Shadow. She was the love of his life! He adopted her as she had been violently raised and kind of abandoned… You know, those horrible stories only humans can do. Well, this was how Shadow grew up until she found the love of her life as well. Having such a background, Shadow wasn’t a very nice and people-driven lady, she was more scared and her way to manage those emotions was to quickly bark at you – and be sure the message was quite loud and clear! 

I was attacked by a dog when I was young, so I'm not necessarily attracted to pet dogs when I see one. My first thought would be more around “Is he on a leash?!” Alex was moving into a new house when I first met him, so I of course decided to help him out with this, as he moved close to where I was living at the time. When we finished, it was night time, and I had to go inside the house to pick up my bag, which I did but never noticed the black Shadow until she stood up, barked, and started to run after me in the house. I ran so fast to get out of there, where I was being waited on by my new friends in the making; Alex, Ben, Sef and Isabel all laughing at me in a crazy way! My respect for Shadow was to the roof, but my love for her was a thing we’d both have to work on, right?! 

Well for Alex, it was a completely different story. He truly loved her with all of his heart and no one could tell otherwise, as it was so beautiful and so Alex to have such a unique connection with this dog who had such a hard life. Through Alex’s pure love, work and loads of efforts, she could give love, life and wonders another real shot! This amazing and inspiring story went on for around a decade, long enough for her and I to become friends, until, tragically, Shadow got sick, and eventually reached the inevitable. Alex was so devastated, I had never seen him even close to those emotions in already ten years of friendship. Alex confessed she was his first and last dog ever… This connection was so pure, this kind of love couldn’t exist again, it would simply be impossible… 

A few more years after this tragedy, we were traveling as Your Favorite Enemies to Austin, Texas, to a friend of a friend’s newly acquired ranch, where we’d start and finish our very first United States of America tour, opening up for this Texas band called …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, sharing a tour bus with them for a month. The vibe in the band is to the roof, we’re fully rehearsed and ready to musically conquer one of the biggest music markets out there! We arrive at the ranch, we don’t know the owner at all, and we’re about to stay with her, Lesly, and her 7-year-old daughter for 2 days before the band tour bus comes to pick us up. The ranch is completely outstanding, very Texas-like with horses, chickens, and huge amounts of land. It’s warm, humid, and sunny! Important to note that we’re like 9 people who have long hair, beards, pretty much all tattooed, and here we are, greeting our new family for the next few days in a ranch a little outside Austin in Texas… Sometimes, life simply is surreal. 

As we all enter the house after exchanging greetings, kisses, and hugs – yes, even if we look scary sometimes, we’re francophones so we don’t like shaking hands or bowing to say hi; it’s pretty much always a family vibe wherever we end up landing, for better or worse. We finally make it inside the house where we’re greeted by a female black and gold dog called Nala, who, we can all tell, just very recently gave birth! In all of her sweetness and kindness, she walks toward everyone, welcoming us to what will be our new home! Alex pets her a little bit, nothing too much, just a polite “Hey, great to see you”, some kind of a “shake hand” vibe but on her head! 

Lesly doesn’t know us at all, so she doesn’t know anything about Shadow and Alex’s unique love for her yet. After a few minutes of making ourselves comfortable, Lesly generously invites us to take a look at the 8 new little puppies who were just born not even a month prior to our arrival. There are 5 black and gold dogs, like their mom, and 3 brown and gold ones, all soundly sleeping one above the other in such a heartwarming manner. No one could resist such a beautiful scenery of life and purity. All of us, obviously, were discreetly looking at Alex and were walking this fine line between being all excited in front of such a beautiful spectacle, but also respectful of him maybe being uncomfortable as this was unexpected and he clearly wasn’t mentally prepared for such an encounter, playing with what seemed like well-closed doors deep inside his heart and soul. 

To the greatest of all surprises, Alex picks up one of the puppies, and starts exchanging kisses, talking to him, and even laughing a little, as the puppy generously answers to this sudden and brand new way of interacting! We were all pretty much with tears in our eyes, well at least I was, and Lesly suddenly kind of read the situation but decided not to talk about it… Until a little later! 

It’s 2am, and there’s a massive tour bus with a trailer in the narrow street ahead of the ranch. It's our time to shine, since the next day, we’re playing in Oklahoma City! The entire tour went pretty well, especially amongst us within the band which hasn’t always been a sure shot nor a thing to rely on! Here we were, playing live in so many great cities for the very first time! New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, Dallas, and finally, back in Austin for the final concert of the tour, to which Lesly came with a bunch of friends! Lesly afterwards came to us, inviting us to spend a few more days – if we wanted of course – at the ranch with her and her daughter, and of course, with Nala and her 8 puppies who were now a month older! We didn’t know, but by saying yes to this incredible invitation, we were driving toward what became one of the best decisions we took in our lives as Alex, Leonard and MacKaye were about to give birth to the greatest of all bonds we encountered thus far as a family!     

Lesly is an amazing human being! Close to perfection even, if I can say! She’s a massive music fan who followed the Grateful Dead everywhere they played for decades, doing the same thing for David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and of course, Neil Young! As if this wasn’t already enough, she’s a true baseball fan, cheering for the Red Sox since she was a kid growing up in the Boston area before leaving for Los Angeles to work in the film industry for decades and had just recently moved to Austin, to enjoy nature, music, life, baseball and her newcomers: the puppies! 

Around a few glasses of tequila, very Austin style, we started talking about ourselves and especially music and lyrics, as she had been discovering us after we had left a month prior. The conversation became quite deep and quickly emotional between Alex and Lesly, both connecting on letting go, moving on, second chances, forgiveness, and so on! As we were talking, the little puppies came out of the room kind of barking, sounding as if they had just recently discovered this way of communicating. Pretty much instantly, one of them went to greet Alex. Knowing Alex pretty much by heart at that point, I knew something was going on deep inside him, something we all never saw coming, expected, or even thought possible. Isn’t that such a wonderful thing ?! 

We left Austin Texas with two puppies in a shoe box, driving them back during a 40-hour drive toward a home where began a new journey, especially for Alex, knowing he would suffer again at some point, but where love, friendship, and new stories got deeper and deeper and deeper as days, weeks, months, and years went by! Here we are already, way too soon, after what has been such a long year, grieving more than a dog (Alex never liked it when we called Leonard and MacKaye “dogs”, as they are his “boys” and believe me, they are!), but someone who, with his pure eyes, simply unlocked every possible door buried in dust following Shadow’s departure. There’s so much beauty in this story, I’m still crying a little while writing it down, as I’m a firm believer in the power of light, of how just a little match can light up an entire dark room, and this light lives within us all! 

I simply took a chance on this Saturday morning, as it’s raining and snowing outside and Julie’s Haircut’s album “Invocation and Ritual Dance of my Demon Twin” album is playing, to share this story with you, as I wanted for you to know a little more about how saying goodbye to MacKaye is not an easy thing for Alex, but thought there was more to it for me to share with you...! 

We’re now geographically separated from Alex as he wanted some space to go through this new season, new reality, and new year before we gather again in a few weeks and start working on what will be Alex’s next album! 

Thank you so much for your kind words, love and support!  

Let’s be great to one another!

Your Host and Friend,

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