Monday, August 21, 2006

Bill and I - the odd couple

As we exist just now in a state of shock after having Bill taken away from us so absurdly I wanted to share a few thoughts about Bill, thoughts about my relationship with Bill that I never shared with anyone. Sorry but a lot of this is about me, that is my point of reference and how I can relate to Bill. I am sure you all have special memories of Bill an trust they will endure like mine will.

I only knew Bill for the last four years and did not know about huge pieces of his life. I did not know him during his youth, his college years, his married years and I did not know about his work in any respect other than he had a huge work ethic. I can only imagine the number of people he has impacted during these chapters in his life as he had such a strong impact on me in the last four years. Where it is true that we were very different people, we also shared some strong common threads….and I am not just talking about him being Irish and me Scottish hence an immediate comfort in calling each other pricks from the get go. I think that all said and done we shared a love of the ridiculous and a commitment to working hard and creating, at least in Bill’s case, a legacy.

Bill was a person to share speedy intelligent unintelligent rapid diversifying and connected thoughts with, his discourse additionally spattered with the huge wealth of knowledge and nouns that my mind, thought and life lack. My side of the bargain was held up by my speed of thought and Scottish twist. I was about to suggest that another technique of mine that I used to keep up with him was to lower the tone, but on further consideration I realized that he did this too. I remember Bill so excellently breaking taboos almost without so much as curling his lip to announce his pleasure at doing so…..that curl would soon happen though as he saw my appreciation for his efforts given away by my eyes. Bill loved our conversations and so did I. Bill loved the ridiculous as much as I do and I remember the gleam in his eye when he would see me across the room at a party, in a bar, at a gallery or just bumping in to him on the street. We both looked forward to what we were about to share with each other and knew there was mischief in the air. He called me Big Dog, and actually recently I called him Big Dog too; I think we both saw each other as people who command respect and that leads me to share something me that Bill said to me that helped me grow up a lot.

On Robert Burns night, on January 25th, 2003, Alex and I organized a traditional Scottish evening to celebrate the work of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. It was a night that took a lot of preparation, thought, consideration, the learning of Scottish poetry, cooking, studying Scottish tradition and incorporating the many other cultures that make up our friends. It was a night of guest and host collaboration. It was a night of much Whiskey (Bill brought bloody Irish Whiskey with a sleekit smile on his face), a night of toasts, a night of culture and a night that ended up in the gutter, as Burns would have wanted. But what it was about this night that I want to share was something that Bill said. In one of the very many toasts participants were encouraged to make about whatever they choose, Bill said some words that helped me remember or even ignite a part of my character that many people did not know about. Bill, in a couple of impromptu lines, said something to the effect ‘We all know Daniel for his crazy ways, his desire to party, to drink and to be the fool but tonight we see that when Daniel puts his mind to something he can be a formidable force to be reckoned with. We all welcome this side of Daniel, thank you’. And you know it is true. Having gone through many changes when moving country, having to start again on all fronts, succeeding in many and failing in some, post split-up with girlfiend sheddng myslef of responsibility for anyone including myslef, escaping from reality for much of my life, trying to take it further than the rest, making friends and enemies on a daily basis, it took these few words to realize or remember that I have unlimited potential that should be used. I have been using much of my potential since that night. It was that night that we both realized that we loved the constructive sides of each others personalities as much as the fun loving destructuve sides. Thank you Bill for the helping hand.

Thinking about the ‘ridiculous’ I remember a great moment. At the Love parade a couple of years ago I found Bill, Jerome, Maru and a few other friends at the Last Supper Club in SOMA. I had pulled myslef out of the craziness of that day for a short while to come into these friends’ world, our worlds seperated by my choice to ‘party’ and lose control to a greater extent than they. I had gone to the Supper Club, wearing a sleavless fur coat and bell-bottom pants with fur stripes (and most prob a hat) for a pitstop before continuing the night in full force. I just needed a few Scotches to sober up and to get away from the music for a while. During that period of life I was also obsessed with core training and that night had decided a good way to train was for people to punch my stomach as hard as they can. Bill, with his strong mutually strong core and sense of humor took to this game like a duck to water. When every normal preson had lost interest in this game after a few minutes Bill did not, nor had I. He started with a very girlie punch (sorry girls), then progressively took bigger punches, followed by running punches, each time laughing uncontrollably on contact, the sound of flesh being beaten resonating through this trendy bar. Bill, summoning all his efforts, gritting his teeth while grinning insatiably took one HUGE punch, the force rebounding from my core back to him sending him flying to the ground. Still laughing he thought ‘Big Dog’. I thought the same of him.

Two months ago I dined with Bill, a more serious evening than the one in the Supper Club. We discussed where we were going in life, what we wanted; relationships, work, where to live and all that good stuff. I confessed to him that I am obsessed with what I earn. He concluded I was an asshole. He told me of his various plans which were then thoughts formulating. I told him he was an asshole. Then Whizz (my ex from 3 years ago) joined us cooincidentaly and we all caught up with an easy sense of comfort and familiarity. I drove Bill home that night, went down a one-way the wrong way, bloody pot head remarked Bill, he showed us the views from North Beach and made five quick final wise cracks as he got out the door. I still do not know what he meant. You see….. where I have only known Bill for four years, on a bit-part basis, I realized that night that there is a history between us. We both saw people come and go in each of our own and each others lives, we have seen each other embarc on new adventures, and during these times we had wise words and wise-cracks to offer each other to entertain, keep it real and help each other. I thank Bill for that. Bill was one of the most impressive men I have known. He was a nicer guy than I. Also, I think he got me which very few people do. I talked to him two weeks ago and I really look forward to talking to him again one day. I believe I will.

Thanks Big Dog

Daniel Newman
Monday July 31st 2006, one day after Bill passed away

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