Saturday, September 14, 2013

RIP LES Jewels


[Photo from 2011 by Bob Arihood]

Word is circulating in Tompkins Square Park today that LES Jewels, a familiar figure in the neighborhood, has died. Park regulars said that Jewels, aka Joel Pakela, died as a result of a drug overdose. [Update 9-16: A cause of death has not been confirmed. There are other theories, as you can see in the comments.] Friends said that he was 43.

According to sources, Jewels was found unconscious this morning at 7:44 on Avenue A at East Ninth Street. An EMS crew tried unsuccessfully to revive him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His drug- and alcohol-fueled rampages along Avenue A and in Tompkins Square Park were well-documented by Bob Arihood at Neither More Nor Less.

One longtime resident recently introduced himself to Jewels ... and wasn't sure what to expect.

"He couldn't have been nicer."

Here's the last photo that we've seen of Jewels, taken Sept. 8 at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) on Avenue C...


[Photo via MoRUS]

84 comments:

Marty Wombacher said...

Wow. I only met Jewels once outside of Ray's. He was sober and we had a nice conversation about New York. I know he could be trouble at times from what I read, but I'm glad I got to see the nice side of this guy. RIP, Jewels.

Douglas Quint said...

The first morning after our shop's awning went up we "met" LES- he was asleep under it. I kinda felt like we were officially welcomed to the East Village.

I'm sorry you didn't make it, LES.

Rachel Albanese said...

Wow, I mean I knew he was struggling and did really well on and off, but in my mind I thought he was going to live well into old age. I kind of wish I had spent more time down there in the past year now, but things were getting stupid. Meh, I take that back, they've been that way. Anyway, RIP Jewels, even though you were really from New Jersey ahahaha!

Adam Air Williams said...

I have a characture I drew of him and spike together from 2005. I'll search it out and post it up. RIP Jewels

Anonymous said...

the first time i heard of jewels he had stolen a friends drink from a table at Yuca, gotten in a fight and then bled out over their food. also, this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorcanotway/2407470085/

Rachel Albanese said...

I never thought Jewels would go out this way. I mean, I knew he was struggling and he did really well for a while on and off, but in my mind I always thought he would end up as a ripe old age and just die quietly on one of those cold NYC nights near Gem Spa. Anyway, RIP Jewels, even though you were actually from New Jersey! Ahaha. Loved you, dude <3

Anonymous said...

That's sad. I never met him, but he did have some sort of boyish charm that was evident from his photos and when I'd pass him on the street, despite his antics. He was still quite young, too. RIP to you Jewels.

jose garcia said...

as important as the buildings we lose are the people. i will miss jewels, his hijinks, his humor and his humanity as he chose/was able to express it. godspeed sir.

Anonymous said...

Awww, damn.

I think my favorite memories of LES Jewels was him terrorizing people in front of Ray's. I hated it when he terrorized people in front of our house but what can ya do: he was a force of LES nature. Not that I enjoy people being terrorized anywhere at all under any circumstance - but with how much this neighborhood is changing - someone had to step up and do it!

Thankfully, Jewels had a soft side for me. After he realized I once lived in New Brunswick & went to shows there - I think he's brought that up every single time I've seen him since the day of this Hub City epiphany. Back when he lived in the Bruns, I think his favorite band was Genocide. Even sometimes when I wasn't even speaking to him he would just start talking very loudly to himself about Bobby Ebbs (Genocide) or Bobby Alpert (Court Tavern).

Yknow, another vivid memory of him was seeing him all sad on his birthday once because no one had wished him a happy bday yet. So i bought him a hostess cupcake and put a candle in it. He took it & started sobbing - then SMASHed it against the wall. Then he gave me a huge hug and said thank you.

He was a fixture & he will be missed!

R.I.P. LES JEWELS!

Goggla said...

This is such sad news. Jewels was always nice to me and I will miss him. TSP will never be the same. RIP.

Spike Polite said...

Rest in peace Jewels. May your next incarnation be one of progress so you avoid utter despair as this life became for you. Tompkins Square Park 1988 Riot Memorial that SEWAGE performed was funnier due to you being there and letting loose.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in the LES my entire life. I'm pretty sure I walked by him, when I thought he was just passed out last night on Ave A.&9th. Sadly so many people are blackout drunk on the streets out here now, I didn't think twice to call anyone to help him. I wish I had. RIP

Shawn G. Chittle said...

Rest in peace Joel - I mean Jewels. He always hated when I called him Joel.

Last time I saw him was his birthday at Lucy's. I bought him a drink before Lucy saw he was in there and chased us out.



Jeff Kari said...

Wow - I saw Jewels last night along the East River around 7pm. He was completely messed up - staggering every which way, yelling incoherently, eyes in the back of his head. It was sad considering earlier in the summer I saw him holding a sign saying something along the lines of "Clean for 55 days"....seems it didn't last.

moe said...

Wow I always figured him to live forever somehow. I remember one time I ran into him and he had just got out of stir, and I happened to be a little drunk and feeling generous with a full purse, so I gave him $20 and said welcome back to the world, this must have been 12 years ago or so, the guy never forgot my kind if drunken gesture and always made a point to give me the big friendly hello whenever and wherever, right up to the present time. Another piece of the living architecture of the EV gone.
Hey unless this is a fake-out and he is drunk under a bush somewhere, I think I have heard stories of his demise before. Hope so...

jdx said...

very sad.

Lindsay said...

Oh my goodness. So very sad to hear. Regardless of his hijinks, he was so respectful and kind. I hope he went peacefully and is at rest.
Rest In peace, Jewels.

Shannon said...

Sorry to hear it. He was very kind the one time I met him, we talked about Bob A.

Lindsay said...

Is there a fund or anything to donate to so he has a proper resting space?

Anonymous said...

He would give you the shirt off his back, but could not help himself! EXACTLY like our father!Wow! He left an impression on soooooooooooooooooooooo many! I will miss you too!

Anonymous said...

Sad to hear he went out like this. Does anyone know Joel's story? I know he was from Jersey, but did ever have a career of any kind or any family to speak of?

Anonymous said...

Seems like he was, like too many others who live in and around Tompkins Square Park, a Jersey boy with white privilege, homeless by choice. Very tragic news, but what's most tragic is that Jewels could have been something great and made a difference in this community he called home. This "crust" movement, or fashionable homelessness (in reality) is not radical but a waste of very capable minds. These kids have progressive ideas and strong political views, but you'll never penetrate this horrible system by getting drunk and harassing people on Avenue A...Not a way to be taken seriously; it's really sad actually.

Anonymous said...

Wow jewels is gone RIP man I'll drink one for you davey

Scooby said...

Very sad news to hear. The park will be missing an essential element as will the streets without his presence. He was a fixture of human spirit - the struggle with ourselves is always the thing.

You will be missed by many, brother Jewels. I count meeting you and speaking with you a gift. A true character of the neighborhood. Rest peacefully or better yet - stay around here and keep up your antics from wherever your spirit is... RIP, brother

Anonymous said...

Anon 521, despite what you might think (and is this really the best time and venue for your rather classist pontificating?) the quality and quantity of the comments here belie your comment. Jewels did make a difference to many of us. Love to everyone on the very sad news of his passing. xo

Anonymous said...

It's really nice to know that there are so many warm and forgiving people residing in the neighborhood.
He clearly saw some difficult times and struggled with things.
Let us also acknowledge :
He was an asshole.

Steven said...

A good friend and a wonderful and warm person. Jewels was a talented poet and a sensitive person. I ran into him yesterday in front of my building. I'm glad I got to see him one last time. RIP Jewels. I will miss you.

Anonymous said...

The first time I met Jewels he was very high and verbally harassing a wedding at a local community garden. He was finally dragged out by the scruff of his neck to the sidewalk where the cops all knew him and were not sure if they should call an ambulance or not.

Years later I met him again but this time he was straight as could be and very charming. In fact I didn't know it was the same guy until somebody told me! Then suddenly he changed and became a madman. Apparently he had quickly downed an entire flask of something. It was like watching a movie effect as his face contorted and went from a friendly visage to an angry fright mask. His voice changed as well. All the people with him quickly abandoned him and he was finally escorted away screaming by a neighborhood person who worked as a bouncer and knew Jewels well. Sad person.

Anonymous said...

HE HAD GIRTH.

Anonymous said...

I loved when he was ranting and raving about this and that to tourists, who didn't even see him (let alone understand his diatribes). All parties were clueless.

RonRancid said...

Rest In The Peace You Desire Bro.
Was good seeing you at the show.
See you soon.
Bon Voyage,
Ron Rancid
Nihilistics

gaminette said...

I'm very sad to hear this. The world will be a lot less interesting without him in it. RIP.

NYhysteria said...

Wow, another great LES character has gone. Our world, our community is that much less interesting. He will be missed. Ironically enough my friend was telling me a Jewels story Thursday. Evidently the double Decker tourist buses were coming down Ave A with tourists gawking regularly in the late 1990s,early 2000's, and Jewels gave them something to remember. He would defile their sensibilities with physical jesters of perversion and often Naked. It was so Shocking for the tourist that the Avenue A route had to be canceled. Thanks Jewels,..you did what we all wished we could do!

john penley said...

HOWL FOR L.E.S. JEWELS AT TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK FACEBOOK MEMORIAL EVENT PAGE......https://www.facebook.com/events/191586127687009/

Jeremiah Moss said...

Sad news. Always a nice guy when I encountered him, and real local character. Thanks for letting us know.

Anonymous said...

Here's a couple of Villager articles about (a tiny slice of) LES Jewels's interactions with the police.

"A high-profile Tompkins Square Park punk cooling his heels in prison says he’s innocent of charges that could keep him behind bars for up to four years...."
http://thevillager.com/villager_227/punkinpen.html

"Joel Pakela, 40, of 18 Bleecker St., who pleaded guilty on April 2 to assaulting a man in his apartment on April 1, is being held . . . "
http://thevillager.com/villager_363/policeblotter.html

I feel crummy for Jewels and his family and friends but . . . I've felt bad about Jewels's role in our community for years . . . he clearly had substance abuse problems, anger issues, metal problems, and he needed help, lively character or not. Rikers isn't exactly the best place to sort out psychological problems. Jewels made me wish we had ASBOs in NY.

Anonymous said...

Another Village account of Jewels's, ahem, Antics:

“While people like him and have been amused by him in the past, at this point, he’s completely out of control,” said John Penley, a longtime East Villager. “Last week, he took a s--t on the bench next to the children’s playground. The cops came and he pulled his pants down and he didn’t get arrested for either incident.”

http://thevillager.com/villager_221/anticsoutofhand.html

Anonymous said...

Nice photo of Jewels reading his poetry at BPC during the brief period where he seemed to be getting his shit together. It may have been court ordered but for a year or so, he seemed to be trying . . .

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorcanotway/2601787794/in/photostream/

Anonymous said...

Yup, someone taking a shit on a public park bench, really something to celebrate. Are some of you out of your minds? I feel sad for anyone passing away prematurely and for people who cared about them, regardless of their imperfections (we all have some). However, romanticizing Jewels' behavior is a step too far. I'm sorry for the loss of the people who were close to him, but let's not go too far with these eulogies. Besides, isn't it a bit selfish to be upset over someone's passing because his death will make YOUR life less interesting? That's the sense I get from some of the comments.

I wish the man could have been helped to live a long, healthy life.

jennydevildoll said...

Very sorry to learn of this. Jewels was always cool to me and my husband, who'd known him a bit longer than I had. May Light be extended upon him.

david said...

I have to agree some with Anonymous at 10:07. It's always great to have "characters" in the neighborhood, but it seems his severe substance and anger issues were entertainment to many. Personally, when homeless or crusties or whatever you want to call them start harassing people, the show is over folks. And yeah, taking a shit on the park bench, a real hoot!

To his true friends, I'm sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Hey David - Some people need to be harassed if only for the simple reason that they need to be reminded that they're not the only ones here.

Anonymous said...

I remeber he took care of me back when i wouldn't speak no English, he would bring me a can of Arizona he was so nice to me i will always remember him,that evenin i left N.Y to come back to L.A. He gave me a hug and said "you will always find me here " .....i will always remeber you Jewels esto me dejo el corazón roto...

Penny said...

Sad when I heard this. I had some conversations with him since he stopped to pet my dog so many times. He was always kind and gentle with her, and friendly with me. He offered to help me find gas after Sandy last year... when he was crazy, he was crazy, and no romanticizing that, but why go there... his life is gone now... just let's send him to the light... rest in peace...

Anonymous said...

Hey this reminds me - is Hotdog still around???

Anonymous said...

Favorite Jewels memory:

A sunny afternoon on Avenue A, Jewels outside one of a newer cafe with windows that open fully to the street and booths full of well-dressed young diners just inside the windows. Jewels reaches in, takes a handful of salad from a plate, and stuffs the leaves into his mouth.

Diner: 'Hey!'

Jewels: '(Snarl.)'

R.I.P.

frankie hister said...

drank many beers with him in tompkins sq had some laughs loved his rants and antics - pure punkrock rest in peace my friend so sad today

frankie hister said...

id be wandering down aveA aimlessless and drunk somehow id always run into Jewels - "hey george i know youve got a wad of cash in your pocket lets gets hammered !" lol so we'd go bar hopping , not sure which one of us was banned from more pubs - so sad to hear of the passing of my friend ,,, rest in peace brother

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:07,
You make a good point. Too many enablers.

Anonymous said...

I first met Jewels when a bartender friend of mine called me because he would not leave and was harassing her and her customers, when I walked in he immediately turned on me. He was out of his mind, I asked him to leave and he took a (very bad)swing at me and fell down. I picked him up and walked him across avenue A to the park, all the while he was screaming every obscenity in the book at me, the bartender, and my mother. The following week she called, he was back but all he wanted to do was apologize. It was was heartfelt and sincere, I feel bad that he had hard time finding peace in this life, I'm not at all religious, but I hope he finds peace wherever his soul is now.

toasty menace said...

I'm gonna miss ya pops... RIP.

Anonymous said...

What does it mean when a public menace is so touchingly eulogized and mourned? This is all quite confusing.

Crazy Eddie said...

It’s complicated?

One of my best friends, very successful, turned into a demon when drunk. A couple of years ago, he yelled to 5 burly Frat types as we walked on First Avenue, “Hey assholes, it’s after 5, loosen up your ties!”. Boy, did I have to double time on that one to calm things down. My friend’s alcohol problem is now is in remission but he had the resources and support to deal with it. Jewels evidently did not.

john penley said...

Someone has confirmed to me that Jewels had been kicked in the head a few days before and was complaining of headaches and nose bleeds. I don't know if this caused his death or not. Yes I did give Jewels shit about things he did which I did not approve of but he loved me and I loved him. He was always the first person I saw and hung out with whenever I came back to the hood. He also may have saved me once when I was drunk and passed out on Ave. A. Jewels got me up and made me drink water and he watched over me to make sure I continued breathing. He was both an angel and a devil but he was also an incredible poet and in a way he was probably the last of the Beat Poets to HOWL on the streets of the Lower East Side.

Anonymous said...

It means that those that are eulogizing him but passing off his true character and behavior as "harmless fun" or "oh, that wild and crazy Jewels..such a card!" are people of small minds and backwards thinking.

john penley said...

Anonymous you suck and guess what when you die I bet no one cares or even notices. Joel good and bad touched our hearts and since he lived mostly on the street people saw everything he did. I wonder what you do in your apartment or condo that is similar to what L.E.S. did in public.

Anonymous said...

Actually 6:06 it means that a lot of us have known good people with bad problems. Addiction is a very terrible thing. By all accounts Jewels was a good person when he was not drinking. People are rightly choosing to remember that side of him on the day after his death and not trivializing his bad behavior, but just setting it aside for one fucking day.

And I seriously have no time for people who use ridiculous terms like "enablers" (that may not have been you, granted). Fuck the AA speak, the reality is that we keep loving addicted people because they are PEOPLE, not just addicts.

shmikeynyc said...

R.I.P. les jules! Sick and suffering no more.

Dipsy said...

I am hearing that it was not a "drug overdose", as is stated here. Word on the street is that Jewels' head was bashed in.

Anonymous said...

like most i had both good and bad interactions with him. in all realness, they were all mainly bad. but to focus on the good, i will miss him telling me to smile when he was in a good state of mind. thoughts and love to those close to him. i know what it feels like to lose a friend. he was definitely a neighborhood fixture and yeah, i think its safe to say that he will be missed by all true locals.

Orlando Langello said...

The first time i met Jewels (back in 2009) i was strolling down Ave A around 5AM singing to myself i was a bit drunk looking for a spot to sleep. I vividly remember Jewels was hunched over on the sidewalk by the 8th st bodega sitting indian style with his head down and fingers laced very peacefully resting there like a punk rock angel. As i passed him he looked up and said ''stay young dude, don't ever change'' i'll never forget that, the way he said it, the expression on his face, there was hope there! Not everyone gets to live a privileged life, people can say what they will but every time i ran into or passed Jewels i felt safe, rebel love and understanding i guess, idk, maybe. Dude had a great big heart and was tough as nails too. Radicals don't die, they multiply! RIP Jewels...

Anonymous said...

My family & I have known Jewels for as long as hes been in the EV. He loved my husbands band & we became friends. He was n extremely talented artist, & writer...He'd come into Manitobas when I was there, we'd talk about writing. His wife have me a four leaf clover years ago which I framed. Jewels said "She finds them everywhere..." Thats was the way they rolled.
Jewels would run up to me & my son in the park to give Jake a football or cool toy he'd found. My son hung his 10 yr old head, went pale & whispered "God Bless" when I broke the news.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in the LES, I would see Jewels all the time. I snagged this photo of him a few weeks ago around six AM.
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3818/9710919747_41b100828b_c.jpg

Anonymous said...

I think I encountered him a few weeks ago. I heard someone yelling so I turned around to see what was up. He seemed possessed but not dangerous. The few people around me were laughing (perhaps at my expense). I remember thinking "This is why I moved to NY!" His friends and family are in my thoughts today.

RRReality1 said...

You don't survive on the street on the LES and be Mother Theresa. If you haven't noticed, these streets don't tend to create those kinds of people. If these streets are your sanctuary they can also be your murderer. As a poet on the LES for 30 years I have had many people like Jewels thank me for talking about a kind of freedom they agree with. If you haven't lived the life any moralizing you want to do about Jewels is ill-informed. And tho I wouldn't wish death on anyone, I'd rather do without one more banker, his third wife and their children than lose a Jewels from around here.

Anonymous said...

Gone But Not Forgotten! RIP Les Jewels Your Punk Rock Heaven Awaits You With Open Arms They Should Rename The Park After You!
After All It Was Home To You! Your Welcome Mat Will Always Be There At Your Open Door! For All To Visit You! As You Shared All Your Creative, Wicked, Artistic Talents With Everyone in NYC! I Put You Right Up There With The Great Ones![Artist Jean Michel Basquiat] He Owned It Now So Do You! Thank You For Sharing Your Heart And Entertaining Us All! One Of The Last Great Icons Of NYC! Rest In Peace Now Our NYC Friend!
You Always Made Me LOL When I Saw You Around! [TwintasticsByDesign*NYC]

Anonymous said...

Nobody comes to the ER at their best, but there was something about LES Jewels that I hated to love. When he was sober, he was a respectful caring person. I'm gonna miss him. Some regulars you just can't help having a soft spot for, even if sometimes they make your shift a little more challenging on arrival. And although he could often make difficult trips for EMS, I know a few who feel the same. Someday if I ever write that book about my years as an ER nurse, you can be sure that he will make it in.

Anonymous said...

My brother you will be sorely missed missed. Ill never forget our visit to library while a college student interviewed you and I and his little CF Recorder. Your words will always be with me. I hope your journey is pleasant and peaceful. Rock on.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous September 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM,
They live vicariously through people like LES Jewels. Who know s why?

Anonymous said...

not quite the same guy I once knew... but seems from reading these posts he had many people who cared about him. It's one thing to be wild and free but I don't like hearing the stories of harassing and defacing people and property... :( With that said, no one deserves to die alone and that is heartbreaking. Thoughts and prayers to all who were a part of his life...

rob said...

Jewels was the most transgressive man I know: indifferent to safety, security, health, decorum, decency, police, imprisonment, violence, or any protection from all the dangers we fear, the dangers we hide from to crawl nightly into our narrow caves to sleep in beds of denial, dreaming our small worries.

When I saw Jewels at Zuccotti Park -- he'd been sleeping there along with a lot of homeless during Occupy -- he quietly showed me his latest jewelry he was wearing. He liked to wear crazy jewelry and would always show off his latest, always wordlessly.

Arihood admired him to no end. I remember Bob's delight when Jewels would appear, expecting some outrage to respectability and comfort. The spirit of the old neighborhood lived in him.

Anonymous said...

RIP Jewelz..I had a nice albeit brief hello with Jewelz earler this month. The Pirate has gone to sea. RIP.
Melanie
East Village Corner

Scott wood said...

I met Jewels sometime in 88 or 89 in the ladies room at the LIMElight on a Sunday night, we became friends and spent quite a few Sunday nights at the rock n' roll church , I thought of him many times over the last 25 years , I am saddened to learn of the struggles he has seemed to endure over the past 2 decades..RIP

Anonymous said...

I never knew Jewels had a real name. Does anyone know if he still had relationships with his truck driver father John W. "Jack" Bauereiss or his realtor sister Nicole Czerula in Old Bridge, NJ?

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/app/obituary.aspx?n=linda-m-pakela&pid=143491351#fbLoggedOut

chris flash said...

His mother died while he was in jail in 2010. Around that time, I saw a letter she'd written him in which she said "I hope you get your life together."

Sad....

Anonymous said...

Chris,
That is sad. The parents always suffer the most.

Anonymous said...

Wow, way to sound like a total sheltered bitch, and also make it about you and how you feel. Fuck you and your righteous analysis. Outsider commentary not welcome.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:34am,
3:34am? I assume you were drunk when you wrote that. Who are you referring to?

Tommy said...

I knew Joel for close to 30 years, although we hadn't seen each each other since 98 or 99, when he got out of his first stint at Rikers, we were very close for years. I only hope and pray that now his heart can be whole again, and he is with his little boy.

By the way, to the one asking, Jack Bauereiss wasn't his father, Linda remarried but kept her first husband's name. I went to a family picnic at his grandmother's many years ago and sat with Joel and his dad drinking Chianti. They ended up in a fist fight, and grandma put the hose on them. His dad was living in her basement and had done quite a few years of hard time at Rikers.

Anonymous said...

When I rolled through town I could always count on seeing you on St. Marks. Used to kick it with you although you could be a pain in the ass where the cops were concerned. :) Last time I saw you was a decade ago....and I guess that will be the very last. Hope you're in a better place, buddy.

Anonymous said...

I met Jewels in 1999. I thought that he was a nice guy. He had a serious drug problem. I think thay along with the drinking is what messed him up.addiction seens to attack the most sensitive nicest people. He really was not a bad guy at all. I have seen Tompins sq park, and that area along ave A, bring down so many people. Im lucky I did'nt die down there. I got out in time and got sober. I will pray for my friend Jewels. Im sad he went this way. But atleast now hes at peace.

Anonymous said...

It's been nearly a year... There is one memory/interaction I have of Jewels that I will always regret. He was walking up 9th towards 1st... It was during one of his later 'get clean periods,' and he was all dressed up in job interview attire. He looked at me as he walked past... proud and all. As if too say, I'm doing it. I was about to say, "Jewels, looking sharp." But, I didn't. I regret that...

Anonymous said...

IT IS THE 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE PASSING OF LES JEWELS

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THERE IS A MEMORIAL SERVICE BEING HELD FOR HIM AT THE PARK FOR HIM?

GOD BLESS LES JEWELS

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN!

Twintasticsbydesignnyc@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9/10 9:30,

Organize one.