Thursday, August 24, 2006

In Through the Out Door...farewell Bill

I worked with Bill for only one year, but he left a lasting impression. When I saw his name in the SFGate article about the marathon, my heart literally sank…I actually felt like someone had punched me in the gut. I was really hoping it was another "William O. Goggins." Terrible, but wishful thinking nonetheless.

We clicked immediately. I was the brash and somewhat immature music editor who fought for my writers’ adjective choices and opinions. I drank a little too much at the company parties, and cursed a little too loudly in the office. Some found it annoying. Bill found it charming. He became like a big brother to me, and I often hung out on his desk, next to the big bolt and stacks of books, and bitched and moaned over some minor word change that had been made to my section.

He always gave me advice, but never without letting me finish my whole (and often long-winded) spiels. Bill had this way of looking at you as if you were the only person in the room…as if everything and everyone else moved in silent slow motion and you were the center of it all, loud and clear. He never tuned people out. I think Bill lacked the auto-pilot chip that many of us have, because every moment of everything he did seemed to be with great purpose and intent. Me…well, I can drive 10 miles and not even remember anything I saw on the way.

When I left WIRED and moved to Los Angeles, Bill sent me a very touching “farewell” email. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but the sentiment is something I’ll never forget. As corny as it sounds, he believed in me and wanted to let me know that. You see, I spent many days at the office waiting for the editors to realize they made a mistake in hiring crazy me. I always figured it was just a matter of time before the thugs came in to kick me back out onto the dot com street I came from. Bill let me know that wasn’t the case. And he was really the only person I wanted to impress in the first place.

I’m grateful that I got to see Bill last year, when I dropped by the WIRED office. He was getting ready to leave the magazine and pursue other projects, and he seemed happier than I’d ever seen him. He gave me a great, long hug and told me he was looking forward to some time off. He was as dashing and handsome and clever as ever, and I will always remember Bill that way.

Clare Kleinedler
Los Angeles

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