Pal Joey

By John Hood

Joseph Albert Corey, aka Joey, has always been in the friends business. Oh, not because there’s money in it (though there is that) or even because he particularly enjoys popularity (though there is that too). No, Joey’s in the friends business because he actually likes people. He likes talking to them and, yes, listening to them too. Mostly though, Joey likes doing things with people. Consequently, he’s devoted his life to pursuing opportunities that can also include his friends.

That’s led to a lifetime of lifelong friendships, as well as a life filled with friend-friendly businesses. And whether Joey was lining up investors for oil projects or selling cars or real estate, Joey always made sure his friends shared in the benefits. Share and share alike, said Joey. It’s been a win-win for everyone.

In fact, many of Joey’s lifelong friends stem from business opportunities. Of course, one doesn’t make lifelong friends by behaving badly, particularly in business. But again, Joey is a friend. He doesn’t mind his manners just because it’s good business; Joey minds his manners because that’s simply how good friends behave.

That’s how good people behave too. Prior to the unfortunate incidents of 2019, it would be difficult to find someone who didn’t say Joey was good people. Even now, the list of naysayers doesn’t run beyond a certain unindicted “co-conspirator.” From the Dallas elevator operator whose family was generously remembered on the holidays to the Ugandan HIV/AIDS organization that needed to help their severely stricken patients, Joey’s touched a lot of lives. He’s done so without asking for anything in return either, and yes, that even includes a proverbial pat on the back.

In fact, Dr. Faith Philo Kunihira said as much and more when she flew from Kampala to San Francisco to testify at Joey’s sentencing hearing. The good doctor, who also happens to be a Member of Uganda Parliament, runs Bringing Hope to the Family in the village of Kyenjojo, and she was positively effusive with praise over Joey’s selflessness. According to Dr. Kunihira, when Joey first heard her village had hundreds of stricken patients who couldn’t afford to travel the 46 kilometers for treatment, he immediately provided the funds for Bringing Hope to purchase a van. That van stayed on the road five days a week, helping 670 villagers, 230 of which were children.

His help didn’t stop there. When Joey eventually discovered the true extent of the problem, he spearheaded the construction of the village’s first medical facility. According to Dr. Kunihira, that facility currently serves nearly a thousand HIV-positive patients, a full quarter of which are children.

Of course, Joey’s benevolence isn’t limited to Ugandan villagers. Heck, many a congregant at Beverly Hills’ Good Shepherd Catholic Church are just as eager to praise their friend and fellow parishioner. So would the Church’s nearby residents, including Isaac Young, the “Beverly Hills Poet” himself. Young, who neither reads nor writes, composes poetry in his head, which he then performs pretty much wherever he happens to be. Most of that time, that happens to be in the park adjacent to Good Shepherd. And it was there where the poet met and struck up the inevitable friendship with our pal Joey.

Like Mark Wahlberg and many other neighborhood residents, Joey took a liking to the 59-year-old homeless poet. And like the other good neighbors, he decided to help. Wahlberg had already bought Young a wardrobe, and now a kind Manhattan Beach couple was offering him a full set of furniture. Since the homeless poet had no place to hang those clothes, let alone place the furniture, Joey decided to gift him one – right in the very neighborhood that he already called home. Oh, the house wasn’t given to Young free and clear, but he was allowed to live there freely until it was sold. And for the next three years the Beverly Hills Poet served as Beverly Hills Poet-in-Residence.

Christina Hoag liked the story so much she wrote it up for the Associated Press. And when she asked Joey how to spell his name, he asked that his name be left out of it. So throughout the piece, Hoag referred to our pal simply as The Benefactor. Joey’s friends later nicknamed him The Beverly Hills Philanthropist.

Naturally, Joey’s friendships go well beyond simply extending a helping hand. And there are legions of both clients and partners who will eagerly attest to his remaining a true friend, in business and beyond. Many of them now insist that it was Joey’s friend-first policy which led to his legal troubles. That if Joey didn’t believe in people so much, well… But Joey’s always believed in people, and he’s always trusted his friends. So when a certain friend said a certain something, Joey believed him. Unfortunately, Joey continued to believe this friend well after the friend proved to be no such thing.

Yet that is the lot of someone who’s always considered his friends to be like family. Like family, Joey has always placed friends ahead of everything, including his own personal gain. And like family, he continued to stand beside and behind his friend.

Some folks say Joey got blind-sided. Joey says he simply couldn’t believe his eyes. Then again, after five decades of fully trusting people, neither is really much of a surprise. Neither is the fact that Joey continued trusting his friend until it was too late to do otherwise.

Now, unfortunately, it’s our pal Joey who’s paying the price.

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