Tito, Por Vida

October 10th, 2011

By Jason Mulligan

It has been a rough week since Courtney “Tito” Halowell passed away. From crying to smiling about him and the memories we shared what has helped is getting together with our closest friends and sharing stories. Tito was a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman…wait, that’s shaft. Tito was everything from a friend, co-worker, mentor, etc. To me. He helped me and gave me tips and advice when i was just starting out doing website stuff. Even ‘til now we sought each other’s opinions and helped each other out with everything from Photoshop work to articles and more. What i will always remember is the laughter and kindness.

During the average day at the office, Tito would come in a little after I did so that he could avoid traffic. He would stand and wave at me, not stopping even after I waved back. Chances are at one point I would make fun of his 1970s-inspired, giant neon green headphones. Later, we would head to lunch. Courtney always knew the little hole in the wall joints with the best food. If he asked where I wanted to go, I always just said, “Surprise me.” When I asked where we were headed, all I got was, “You’ll see.” A few of my favorite spots are thanks to him. Which reminds me of the first time I met Courtney and we hung out.

Having moved down to Fullerton during college to work at Audiobahn, I was hanging out more and more with people in the custom truck scene. Not long after I moved to town, a couple of us went out to a local watering hole one night, the Canyon Inn, a favorite local dive bar, great for hanging out, bs’ing and drinking. Courtney was one of the group, and we actually stopped by his house (the infamous Tango house) to pick him up on the way. I introduced myself and he handed me a new copy of Street Trucks. I know now that it wasn’t a huge deal because I hand out copies all of the time, but then it meant something to me. Here was the editor of a magazine I had read for years handing me a copy. We headed to the bar, had some drinks, made fun of the Unique Motorsports TV show that was playing at the bar, and swapped stories.

After the bar, we headed to a local strip club. (I’ll leave those details out.) Tito mentioned that one of the girls smelled like carne asada. We had a good laugh and continued passing out our hard earned cash. As we left, he suggested we all go get some carne asada burritos, of course! Don Rigoberto’s was the spot, open super late and cash only. It sounded great, and from then on, when I needed a carne asada fix that is where I headed.

Another great thing I remember about Tito is how many great friends I met thanks to him. One year at SEMA, after I was done helping set up a client’s booth at my previous job, I ran into Tito as he was cleaning the S-10 he brought, built in honor of the passing of its former owner. He was wearing latex gloves so he wouldn’t get messy; the doctor jokes flowed freely and later we met up with some folks to have dinner at Margaritaville. At dinner I met a couple members from Arizona Negative Camber for the first time who are close friends to this day. Courtney kept pulling out the latex gloves (he had a box in his backpack) and snapping them in his best doctor impression. Our hamburgers arrived and each plate had a large pickle spear. Tito, of course, couldn’t resist and started putting the pickle spears in each finger of the glove. Some of us had already eaten ours, so when the waitress came back, Tito asked, “Can I have some more pickles? They’re for my glove.” We all started laughing and she brought out a plate with five pickles. He filled up the glove and we all headed to the Hard Rock. He went around slapping people in the face, challenging them to duels. Tyrese, the actor and model, even got in on the action, posing for a pic with the pickle glove and slapping Tito with it. Sadly, the pickle juice ultimately dissolved the glove.

I will miss Tito’s humor, his talent and his mentoring. I thank him for the great memories and friends we share. He reminds us to keep our friends and family close, share the laughs, and if it has wheels, personalize it and shoot it.

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