Goodbye Stephen Elliott: best cook, best smile, best father.


Stephen Elliott, the closest thing I ever had to an adopted father, passed away on the morning of September 1st.

Stephen, Tim

I was at Burning Man, so could not be bedside. I also missed his memorial. Yesterday would have been his 67th birthday. I do not feel guilt or regret, only grief.

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It was a privilege to know him and to receive a small part of his generosity, cleverness, and joy. Somewhere there is a video of him playing Spanish guitar at one of my birthday parties, as pictured above, but that doesn’t capture his vivaciousness or his overwhelming wonderful everything. They don’t make them like they used to. He was quality and charm and grace personified, as well as the best sort of sly English wit. I don’t know what else to say, except that he was loved, and is loved, and will always be so in my heart. My sympathies and condolences to everyone else currently grieving. He was prolific with his care, there are so many of us who will forever miss him, and we are all worse off for the loss.


With Andrew gone, it’s time to pick up the slack he’s left behind.

by Czeslaw Milosz

—When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

—And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

—Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.


Andrew was barely in his forties, an acting father of three, a husband, a lover, and, as he would say, “all of the things”! Essential to at least three of my neighborhood’s core communities, he was a precious friend I never imagined doing without. He fell suddenly, an aneurysm or a stroke, the sort of death that unfurls its red flag without warning. I could list facts: his love of pirate clothing, his irrepressible fever for wordplay, his drawings, his games, the entire shelf of books on Rome that served as the incubator for a project that will never blossom from its imaginary blueprint seed. None of it will properly convey who he was, what sort of life he created to inhabit and to share, so the narrative that I have decided upon is to declare him the laughing buddha, the zen creature without public ego who didn’t give in to the idea that we should care what strangers think of us. Monks in saffron robes suffer on mountain tops while he found illumination in the way dice moved over a table, the way foam wrapped sticks bounced off other foam wrapped sticks, and a thousand other nerdy occupations I have never really understood but didn’t need to in order to appreciate him and his glee. We bonded over shiny things, science, dancing, and the regular delights of mangled days. All of that, years of it, but I cannot convey the map of his nation’s borders. He was smart and he was good and we miss him. Everything else is set dressing.

It doesn’t seem so long ago since I last ran into him on Commercial Drive, floppy hat, massive cloak, somewhere probably a drum. The man wore tutus and face-paint as commonly as other people wear socks. He was easy to spot. Was, not is. I write that word and lose my courage. It doesn’t seem long because it wasn’t, yet it will never happen again.

I offered to take his picture before he was cremated, something for the family, something for us, an image to represent the man we all loved. I didn’t even think about it, it was as natural as offering my hand to someone sitting on the ground, and his widow said yes and thank you and we agreed. This left me standing by his coffin at the crematorium two hours before the service, my friend Jay acting as a driver and a voice activated light stand, kit in hand and a bag full of expensive lenses I had never used before.

Though it was surreal, I was fine until I bumped the coffin, reflexively apologizing to his cold face, and when I touched him, brushing hair to cover some of the bruising that the make-up didn’t cover. Excepting those moments, I had a skill set to wield, he could have been made of spring flowers, a still life empty of residual heat. He has too obviously absent, an unmanned puppet, only a former body of work, still bones, still skin. An object encased in love and lighting problems to solve.

Fast forward, I stood with his family, perhaps the only one present who wasn’t tied to him through marriage or blood, the last of the last, in the final moments before he was taken away and sublimated into shimmering air molecules and carbon. Tillie couldn’t be there, but AJ read out a note from her, a prayer for the living who stood in a circle around Andrew’s abandoned body. I watched everyone, I watched and I ached and part of me died, and I made my own strident promises: May we remember this and resolve not to let it go. May we forever refuse to stand still.

Be seeing you, Number Six.

R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan

“..most famous as the character known only as Number Six in “The Prisoner,” a sci-fi tinged 1960s British series in which a former spy is held captive in a small enclave known only as The Village, where a mysterious authority named Number One constantly prevents his escape.

McGoohan came up with the concept and wrote and directed several episodes of the show, which has kept a devoted following in the United States and Europe for four decades.

Born in New York on March 19, 1928, McGoohan was raised in England and Ireland, where his family moved shortly after his birth. He had a busy stage career before moving to television, and won a London Drama Critics Award for playing the title role in the Henrik Ibsen play “Brand.””

He’ll always be Number One.

EDIT: Equally bad news, Ricardo Montalbán passed away today as well.

where do they all go?

R.I.P. Ingmar Bergman

“Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.”


“I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say.”

And the creative world flinches as it suddenly becomes a little less interesting.


And R.I.P. Michelangelo Antonioni too.

obit: abrupt but not unpredictable

I haven’t heard back from the prospective buyer yet. Which makes me think my business whiz hasn’t sent him the model yet. Which is bad.

At the bottom of their deepest hearts of hearts, at the level of instinct, people seem to carry a sticky expectation of spontaneous combustion, mothers who pluck cars off of their threatened children, visits from celestial beings, shapechangers, and animals who speak human languages. It’s in the blood, these vagaries of of human history, and while they are alarming, they feel appropriate. (Possibly not the bit with the car, but metaphorically I’m fairly certain I’m still on solid ground.) Death, however, we don’t seem to properly fathom death. It shocks us into denial, into a rejection of facts, on a level that is almost the antithesis of every day miracles. Nobody apparently expects death, even when seen approaching from far away. There just doesn’t seem to be a framework in place, so instead we gather in loose groups, wear culture appropriate colours that feel outdated and fail utterly to write the music we need to capture our fallen friends.

Part of me wishes to hide inside gaudy and glaring jokes about how T. Paul still owes me money or that now we’ll never move in together because I could never introduce my mother to a dead man, but they’re all the same – dishonest escapes shutting away what I will only have to deal with later. Really I already miss him in ways that will never noted in any obituary. Yes, people will benevolently talk about how wrenchingly he’s influenced Vancouver with his events, MC’ing, poetry and black-coffee solicitousness, his shining rhinestone humour, his unexpected grace with children, and the fun trapped in his Tom Waits paintings or even his retro trademark hair, (mentioned in the first piece of my writing ever properly published), but his cologne will go unacknowledged, the way it would scoff at showers, insisting on clinging for days, after even the briefest hug. It used to drive me crazy later, how I would turn and expect to see him, only to discover he was merely a rockabilly ghost fighting to haunt my clothing.

I caught myself wishing today that there was some way to publicily wear what I’m carrying in my heart, that we had an updated version of shaving off eyebrows, just to make this day different. Some way to mark the change in my life. My friend is dead, I want there to be a ripple, an outward effect that is more than his invisible absence. Otherwise it will only be like he has moved away, taken up residence in some other city, and that isn’t fair at all. He was a rarity, a revelation of whack-job positive influence, more Vegas than Vegas, baby. He deserves to be missed.