I went to Dave Thomson's memorial last night. I was surprised as I looked around the room at how diverse the people in attendance were; old, young, strong, fading, all walks of life, genders, just a total mix. I'm going to write about Dave for my Explore column next month as I feel his life and death really warrant recording. He was born into a place that might define normal if it weren't so over-the-top normal, and died in a most extraordinary way by his own hand. Most of the people I know who die do so in accidents. Dave went out on his own terms, which makes the death both odd and somehow socially difficult to understand. If you die in an avalanche it's a tragedy. Take your own life and it's somehow wrong. The result is the same, why does it matter how it happened? Except that in Dave's case it does, as his death was very consistent with his super-independent life.
I'm still figuring this one out; one of the reasons I have a hard time writing for "serious" publication is that it I often over-write by about a factor of 10:1. To fit Dave into roughly 800 words I'll write 8,000 then chop it down. In Dave's case the nature of his life and death deserve a book, an anthology, a movie series. Sometimes I see kids on street corners with loads of ink, piercings, whacked out clothes and so on. Dave looked kinda normal, but he may have been the most genuine, way out-there guy I ever knew. I always said I was going to write a big feature on him, and I never did. It's too late now maybe, but I'm about 3,000 words into an 800-word piece so that feature is in there... I'll let the Explore piece do the talking on Dave, but I just wanted to note the end of his physical life here.