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Monday, April 13, 2009

Ten Four Eleanor! So Long Steve Gordon!

"These Suck!" doesn't really fully detail the craptiousness here...

-Eleanor Roosevelt

At the risk of hurting someone's feelings at the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, this was Steve Gordon's evaluation of radio scripts he was bidding to produce for the Chamber at the end of January. He had emailed them to me for review and asked me to bid on re-writing them for production. He was proposing a collaboration. It would have been our last but he didn't get the job. And there it all is in a nutshell.

The blunt (and correct) evaluation of the scripts - linked to the email sign-off from Mrs. Roosevelt is vintage Steve. He was absolutely honest in his evaluations but he loved to leave 'em laughing. I think he found the world to be absurd. He understood that taking the world seriously was fine as long as you realized its absurdities were seriously amusing.

Steve was a Libertarian who used to love to taunt my liberal sensibilities with editorial content from the CATO institute and Glenn Beck (before Beck went totally insane...) We had more than a few rounds on society and politics which I appreciated because I enjoy that sort of thing. Unfortunately, Steve shared commonality with a large population of gracelessly aging, despondent white males who find themselves left behind, broke and bitter, unwilling to yield their independence but unable to fight for it.

Steve ended his life as a brilliant man. As a brilliant man he ended his life as an under employed, under appreciated casualty of change. I've seen more than a few of the walking wounded come out of radio in the last 15 years...and you know who you are. The death of radio has killed or crippled more than a few of the brilliant people I love dearly. The survivors carry scars you can't see because radio is not a visual medium.

The pictures here are from what some people have told me was the best party they've ever been to. Certainly it was the best party I've ever hosted.

In January of 2007, we sent out a tarot card image of the Magician to invite our guests to an open house for creative talent, clients, marketing executives and a cross section of the community. We demonstrated the magic of our ISDN studio with a live studio link to San Francisco and Los Angeles. We played a hilarious short film Steve had worked on in the studio. We showed a rich media web site from the Beatles that showed the direction we knew our clients should embrace as the future of communications media. At the after party, we turned up the music and we DANCED!

There was live music and food and there was video on every screen. There was a close-up magician and a hand writing analyst. It a was a memorable and magical alchemy of the sacred and profane, of technology and artistry and the vibe of unlimited possibility hummed above all. I see these pictures now of Steve in his favorite position, at the console.

Sadly my old studio is gone. That desk which I built with my own hands in my dead father's workshop is gone. Steve is gone. All gone because the world changed. Gone because the only work we knew is gone. Gone because we couldn't afford to make them stay. Gone because we didn't need them any more. Gone because they could go no further in this world.

People say after they lose a limb or a physical part of themselves that they feel phantom pain as if the limb were still there. These are my limbs. These are my phantoms.

Steve lived the way he died. He made his own terms and stuck to 'em in a world that no longer cared to negotiate. He was a hostage to fortune who drew the short straw one too many times.

The Firesign Theater created an alternative reality in sound. Steve and I spent hours in their expansive theater of the mind. Put on some old Firesign and maybe you'll find Steve. Clever, ironic, brillliant, cerebral, silly and decidedley off the Interstate in an alternate Universe.

Steve's still part Nick Danger and part George Tirebiter. A tarnished star, a hapless bit player, a cool film noir detective down on his luck. Just listen. Somewhere between Heater and Hellmouth, Spud Coolzip is cruising to Three Finger Mickey's in search of the answers.


Jason said...

great blog john.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting at Steve's last desk, trying to work through the details of moving what is left of him in this world. It makes your post all the more resonant to sit among the tools and remains of his projects.
Gone with Steve are tons of skills, judgement born of experience and lessons learned in an analogue world that may or may not get learned again in the digital one.
Thanks for punching this one out John. It really helps.
BTW_ how do I get these files to play here????

J said...

Thanks for your words John. Steve was an amazing individual. Kind, funny and generous beyond expectation. He will be greatly missed by so many. I will never make another film without missing his input and great talent. I wish he'd stuck around to see our final collaboration premiere.
Jennie Reinish

Rik said...

You got him, John. Thanks!

Actually, I'm sitting at a computer almost like Steve's (A Mac, thank you very much), having just posted a picture of his final resting place at Big Sur. See

It's a beautiful, serene spot he chose, far from the institutions he hated, close to the beaches he loved, and not so far from the thoughts (deep thoughts just now) of his friends (so many friends) he left behind.

See you there, Steve. Go Packers!

-- Rik

mono said...

US = US - 1

I don't like the new math, John.