I just received the very sad news that Adam "Viejo" Palenik, Jr. – best friend of my Uncle Mando – passed away peacefully in his sleep over the weekend. I will be forever grateful to him for sharing himself so generously in my documentary short, Uncle Mando Mojo Man, and for being such a great friend to my Uncle Mando for so many years. Uncle Mando got the news as he was waiting to meet up with him for a trip to the junkyard to search for used car parts (and whatever other treasures they might have unearthed). He was so stunned that he continued waiting for him even after getting the news. When I spoke with him on the phone Sunday night, he was in better spirits and visiting with Viejo's girlfriend, Opal. "You know me, Bird, I believe in Mother Goose and the Easter Bunny, so I believe he's still with me. But I do miss him."
Opal chimed in, "My van misses him, too."
"He loved that van!" Uncle Mando let fly his trademark belly laugh, "We were just a couple of junkyard dogs. Now it's down to just the one junkyard dog."
I'll miss him, too. As a humble tribute, I've posted here a photo I took of him and some outtakes from the short film. His good nature and great sense of humor is evident in every frame.
Rest in peace, Viejo.