Archive for the ‘Absent friends’ Category

Bummernacht

December 4, 2017

Now, more than ever.

R.I.P., Dick Gregory

August 20, 2017

Dick Gregory, activist and comedian.

Back in 1978, as a young reporter at what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg, I spoke with two people who could not have been more different — David Duke and Dick Gregory.

Duke was all PR and puffery, arguing that integration wasn’t “bringing peace and harmony to America, it’s accomplishing the complete opposite.” He described his button-down version of the Ku Klux Klan as “a white counterpart of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” and crowed about “a surge of interest and membership in the organization.”

Gregory, as you might expect, approached civil rights from an entirely different angle, knowing a line of horseshit when he smelled it. It was a product he did not carry and would not distribute.

“As long as we have racism and sexism, we are a nation divided,” he said during a speech at the Fort Carson Field House, where he received a standing ovation before heading downtown for another talk at The Colorado College.

“If I walk about for a week with a pile of horse manure in my pocket, ready to throw on you, then whose pocket stinks for a week?” he asked. “And if I walk around with hate in my brain, what is that going to do with my brain?”

Pockets full of horseshit and brains full of hate. Nearly four decades down the road we’re still covering the same old ground. Sisyphus is all like, “Damn, y’all really like rolling that rock, huh?”

• Update: Rolling Stone‘s obit is a good bit more, uh, colorful, than the one in The New York Times.

• Update the Second: Holy shit, now Jerry Lewis has left the building.

R.I.P., Steve Tilford

April 5, 2017

It seems that Steve Tilford has followed Mike Deme’s wheel to the Beyond.

Few details yet, but it appears that he and a friend were in a horrific pileup involving a van and two semis west of Grand Junction.

Steve and I weren’t close, but we used to bump into each other now and again at various races, and he was always approachable, friendly and generous with his time.

And he wrote unsparingly of his sport, bicycle racing, on the blog. If you cut a corner, Tilly was gonna call you on it.

This is shaping up to be an exceptionally bad year. My condolences to his friends, fans and family.

R.I.P., Mike Deme

March 30, 2017

I always snickered at the mugshot Mike Deme used when he was still in the editor’s chair at Adventure Cyclist. He always looks like, “Goddamnit, are we gonna have some fun here or what?”

My friend and colleague Mike Deme has gone west. He was 51.

Mike devoted nearly a quarter-century to the Adventure Cycling Association, winding up his tour of duty as director of design and media.

We may have first connected when he was editor of The Cyclists’ Yellow Pages — Lord, that would have been a very long time ago — but we had our first real professional how-d’ye-dos in 2009, when he emailed in his capacity as editor of Adventure Cyclist to ask:

“Ever do any touring? It’d be great to get an O’Grady story in Adventure Cyclist. Any interest?”

I confessed that I had never toured, so Mike wangled me a slot in the ACA’s 2010 Southern Arizona Road Adventure as something of a test drive. I wrote that up, and nobody threatened legal action, so next Mike shanghaied me into writing reviews of touring bikes despite another protestation of blithering and disqualifying ignorance. The rest you mostly know, because I’m still at it.

Listen you, enjoy your time,

you really don’t have very long.

You were born just a moment ago,

in another moment you’ll be gone.

—Wang Fan-chih, the Buddhist Layman, in “Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih,” edited and translated by J.P. Seaton

Working with Mike and the rest of the Adventure Cyclist crew proved a welcome change from pretending to care about bicycle racing for VeloNews and pretending to write about the industry for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Basically, Mike yanked my cycling head out of my racing ass, reminded me that it’s not all about counting grams, going fast and cutting corners.

We tackled a bunch of Interbikes together, along with a couple of North American Handmade Bicycle Shows, and keeping pace with Mike was always a tough hustle. Short and stout, he never meandered, but always marched, to the beat of his own running commentary. There was work to be done, and a booth to staff, and liquor to drink come quitting time.

And the man was funny. On our separate ways home from NAHBS in North Carolina we texted briefly about the joys of airport travel. When I noted that I’d dodged a cavity search at the Charlotte airport Mike replied: “That place was easy. I’m in Detroit drinking a Miller Fortune. All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it.”

This was his professional opinion, mind you. When Mike wasn’t overseeing the magazine, golfing, or touring, he tended bar in Missoula.

He was gruff and abrupt, liked all the right music and disliked all the right people, and I never had to pester him about money. Ask any freelancer how rare a bird that is. Practically extinct, is what.

I’m sad that he’s gone, and that I never got to ride with him. All the wrong people are shoving off lately.

• Late addendum: The ACA bids farewell to Mike.

Curtis Imrie goes west

January 23, 2017
Curtis Imrie (left) and Hal Walter in a photo lifted from one of Hal's columns at Colorado Central magazine.

Curtis Imrie (left) and Hal Walter in a photo lifted from one of Hal’s columns at Colorado Central magazine.

Just when the Republic needs every man jack it can muster, one of the true wild ones, Curtis Imrie, has left us.

Longtime readers of the DogS(h)ite are familiar with my old friend Hal Walter; we’ve known each other for the better part of quite some time. But Curtis is the guy who introduced Hal to the manly Western art of pack-burro racing, and they were friends, rivals and friendly rivals for more than three decades.

As soon as Hal posts a proper obit, I’ll provide a link. Meantime, the long and the short of it is that Curtis Imrie was (among many other things) an actor, and while he played other roles — including that of the murdered Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Mike Rust — the part he was born to play was that of Curtis Imrie.

A scion of privilege (among his forebears was Robert S. Brookings, founder of the Institute for Government Research, which would become the Brookings Institution), Curtis drove a Triumph motorcycle across Europe and the USS Enterprise across the galaxy, and nearly got killed by a wandering 18-wheeler near the National Western Stock Show complex (where he finally did die almost exactly a dozen years later, reportedly of a heart attack, at age 70).

He worked in front of the mic at Salida’s KHEN-FM on Tuesday evenings; worked both in front of the camera and behind it on a movie that seemed to have no ending (and now never will); won the World Championship Pack-Burro Race at Fairplay three times; and ran quixotic campaigns for Congress from his ranch in the Upper Arkansas watershed nearly as often as he ran for the top of Mosquito Pass. That race, he never won.

Curtis was an honest-to-God, sure-enough character in a world of ciphers, devoted to democracy, donkeys and drama, a spiritual cousin to Ed Abbey, Doug Peacock, Ken Kesey, Thomas McGuane and the Pilgrim from Kris Kristofferson’s “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33”:

He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction

Taking ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

He’s gone back home now. Peace and comfort to the friends and family he left behind.

• Update: KHEN will host a live memorial tribute to Curtis beginning at 5 p.m. Salida time on Tuesday, Jan. 24. You can stream it at their website if you’re so inclined.

Leon Russell, R.I.P.

November 13, 2016
Leon's walk along the high wire is over.

Leon’s walk along the high wire is over.

We interrupt our discussion of the decline and fall in order to tip the Mad Dog top hat to Leon Russell, who like Leonard Cohen has gone west.

I heard him first as half of Asylum Choir, with guitarist Marc Benno. Then there was the Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour with Joe Cocker, the Concert for Bangladesh with George Harrison, et al. Saw him perform once at Folsom Field in Boulder, and wow, what a show. Dude never really stopped playing — he would chat to the audience between songs, tinkling the ivories.

Here’s one of his most popular tunes, and one of my personal favorites. Damn, that Next World Orchestra just keeps getting bigger and better.

 

 

Leonard Cohen goes west

November 10, 2016
I'm not saying alive, I'm not saying dead.

I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.

Gassho, bhikkhu. 

• A final interview with The New Yorker.

• From Lion’s Roar: “Leonard Cohen burns, and we burn with him.”

• His obit in The New York Times.

A moment of not exactly silence

September 11, 2016

Hell sucks

June 25, 2016
You may never have read "Dispatches" by Michael Herr, but chances are you've shared some of his experiences at the cinema, in "Platoon," "Apocalpyse Now" or "Full Metal Jacket."

You may never have read “Dispatches” by Michael Herr, but chances are you’ve shared some of his experiences at the cinema, in “Platoon,” “Apocalpyse Now” or “Full Metal Jacket.”

Michael Herr deserves his own post, if only for “Dispatches,” a work I’ve mentioned here before.

He went to Vietnam for Esquire, not for Uncle Sam, and he had to have a breakdown before he finished the book for which he would be best known.

If you saw “Apocalypse Now,” you’ve heard his work (he wrote the narration). You got some more of it in “Full Metal Jacket” (he wrote the screenplay with Gustav Hasford, author of “The Short-Timers,” for his friend Stanley Kubrick).

But “Dispatches” was the real deal. Seventies reportage from the scene, slightly fictionalized, deeply admired, by the king of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, and by me, too.

Rest in peace, Mr. Herr.

Extra-credit reading

“Hell Sucks,” which became part of “Dispatches,” reprinted in its entirety at Esquire.

“Breathing In,” also from “Dispatches,” excerpted by NPR.

• Herr’s New York Times obit.

A remembrance by Graydon Carter.

A 2000 interview in The Guardian by fellow war correspondent Ed Vulliamy.

R.I.P., Merle Haggard

April 6, 2016

A workin’ man finally clocks out. During one drink-and-drug-soaked road trip I played one of his “greatest hits” tapes so often that my copilot yanked it out of the deck and threw it out the window.

I let him live. I didn’t want to turn 21 in prison doing life without parole. ‘Cause Mama tried.