Goodbye Brian Lanker (1947-2011)

I’ve known Brian for nearly as long as I’ve been alive; certainly as long as I can remember. He and my dad worked together at the Topeka Capitol Journal beginning when I was around 4 years old. When Brian and his family moved out to Oregon it was due to his encouraging dad to interview at the Eugene Register Guard that we relocated as well, undoubtedly completely changing the direction my life ended up taking.

Thanksgivings at the Lanker house and Halloween with Brian playing the part of “Mogo” and “terrifying” the many kids that gathered each year at the Newnham’s house remain among the best memories I have. Brian’s eye for beauty and love for life were evident in the art he created and the food he loved. Brian and Lynda’s kitchen is still my favorite I’ve ever been in.

While his book “I Dream a World, Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America” may be his best known work, for me I’ll always treasure the autographed poster of Paulina Porizkova that he gave me after shooting the 1984 swimsuit issue for Sports Illustrated as well as the accompanying story of dinner with she and husband Ric Ocasek (no way!!!). Years later I was able to relay the story back to Ric when I met him at CBGB while on tour with my own band. He remembered the dinner with Brian and laughed when I presented a picture of myself in drag, signed, for him to give his wife as a thank-you from 16-year-old me.

I’m very sad to hear of Brian’s death this past Sunday and would have dearly loved to be able to see him just one more time. Thankfully my own kids got the opportunity to jump all over him (well, Rowan did most of the jumping) five years ago during a trip back to Eugene. My thoughts are with Lynda, Julie, Jackie, and Dustin. Love to you all. Goodbye Brian.

NYTimes look back at a truly amazing talent: http://tinyurl.com/6gyl2hd

Epson Promotional Video featuring Brian

Tales of the Merman

I miss Don and Janet. We used to see them all the time and went to their house every whatever-day-of-the-week it was to watch Friends when Julie and Don were in Graduate school together. Janet is one of the most talented interpreters of imagination and how it splashes out all over everything that I’ve ever known. She once made a bar (yes a bar) for Don as a birthday present.

What happens when they decide to make something together? Tales of the Merman, that’s what. If you’re one of those fuddy-duddies who need things to make sense, then I don’t know what to say to you. I never have.

Couldn’t You Wait

I was visiting my friend John’s MySpace page a minute ago and saw that he has posted a trailer for a documentary about one of my favorite bands from Seattle, Silkworm. Halfway through the trailer they start talking about Michael’s death. I hadn’t even known he had died.

It was a little more than two years ago when, apparently, his car was hit by a woman speeding and trying to kill herself. Michael was a great drummer with – as I recall – an amazingly sweet personality and no pretension. That was rare in the 90s rock world of Seattle.

I remember standing to the side of the stage at the Off Ramp watching him play. Coincidentally – after posting just an hour or so ago about smiling rock musicians – I remember him smiling shyly as he played. Man, he really hit the drums hard.

I’m sorry he’s gone and my thoughts go out to his family and the rest of Silkworm. Cheers, Michael.