Saturday, January 27, 2018
Another Good Man Gone
I was planning on telling another amusing tale from my wild and wooly days in the midwest, but it looks like I have to write another eulogy for an old friend. Damn.
Mary Creasey phoned me yesterday to tell me that her husband John had died. It wasn't unexpected -- he'd been in a nursing home for nearly two years, trying to get his weight and blood-pressure down, and a couple months ago he had a neurological "incident" that behaved like a stroke, and since then he'd had one organ failure after another -- but, dammit, it was still a jolt. The last time I talked to him he was bragging gleefully about having lost a whole 105 pounds, and I joked about not recognizing him when I saw him next. I was so sure he was getting better! I imagined that in another month or two he'd finally get the knee surgery, and be able to walk, and could go home again and take up half the reins of Random Factors Ltd., and we'd get those albums started...
Not to be. Not to be.
Now everything's changed. We'll get the albums done, just not as soon or easily as we'd hoped. Random Factors will go on, so will the family, so will all of us, but it will be a lot harder. I was hoping, last year, to get him to sing bass back-ups on the remake of Firestorm; he had probably the best bass voice in southern-Cal filk-fandom. And he did the marvelous photos for the cover of the two Kipling-album CDs. And how I wish he'd written down all those incredible stories about his growing up in Ethiopia where his family worked on the country's first commercial airline, or his mother's tales of being an army nurse in World War Two, or his fascinating work with the little company that makes gas-flow regulators for spaceships...
And there was all the work he did in fandom, and not just in co-creating Random Factors. I confess, I talked him and Mary into doing that, after Off-Centaur fell apart. Other filk-publishers have come and gone, but Random Factors has lasted. It needs to last, and not just for me and Mary, or to preserve/archive the works of filkers come and gone. With all the changes wrought by the advances in the technology, the near-instant dissemination of MP3s, then near-infinite storage possibilities, the question of how anybody's going to make money selling what's running free on the Internet -- still, somebody has to do the original recording. There still have to be CDs. John was working on some ideas about that, but he never did write them down. Now it's up to us.
...For some reason I keep remembering a whacky dream John told me about, a few years back. He dreamed he was at a big LA convention -- maybe LosCon, maybe a WorldCon, he wasn't sure -- in a hotel suite that was setting up for a party, when suddenly the numbers on the door began glowing. There came a knock on the door, John went to open it, and Superman himself walked in, looking confused. Nonplussed, but always the gracious host, John offered him a chair and a beer. A moment later the numbers glowed again, there came another knock on the door, and in walked a puzzled-looking Thor. Again, John offered a seat and a beer. Another knock, and this time it was Green Lantern. By now the first two guests had recovered enough to start questioning why they'd been yanked out of their respective lives/worlds/comic-books and brought here. Another knock, and in came Captain America, soon followed by Batman, then Wonder Woman. The crowd of superheroes determined that they'd been collected for some vital purpose, and were trying to figure out what it was. John's comment was, "Well, I'd best go to the con-suite and get some more beer."
And at that point he woke up.
At the time he told me the story, I thought that yes, that sounded very much like fandom in action. Now, I'm wondering if it wasn't prophetic. We -- fandom in general and filk-fandom in particular -- are the bewildered "superheroes", however scattered into our separate worlds, who were gathered together by some unknown power (karma?) into John's hotel-room, for some mysterious purpose which it's left to us to figure out. And John has gone out for the beer.
Damn, but we'll all miss him.