Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Hit Parade and David Orr

I've always called it The Hit Parade. I mentioned last blog that I hear music all the time. About 20 years ago, I was out eating Chinese with some colleagues after a meeting of the Louisville DECUS chapter (of which I was chairman for 2-3 years at the behest of my friend David Orr -- more below) and mentioned this. One of my former DEC coworkers, who was normal to a fault, said he seriously believed that this was evidence of schizophrenia or some other other mental defect. David Orr then did a typical David Orr'ism. For the next few weeks, he asked everyone he talked to if they heard music. The results of his natural scientific survey was, if the person had been musical and played an instrument, they reported hearing music all or most of the time. Non-musical people did not. Case closed.

David Orr I met through DECUS in the early 80's. He was running a small computer reseller. He had taught philosophy at U of L for a while. He was 10 years older than me. He and his wife and daughter lived in great old 3-story house in the Cherokee Triangle in Louisville where pretty much every wall, including on the staircase landings, was covered with bookshelves filled with books. Either he or his wife's father had been a bookie, and there was a family tradition: when sitting around bullshitting, they would get out the "bet book" -- where you would enter your predictions, with or without monetary value attached. He administered a trust fund, Weng & Associates, which was charged with promoting the arts in Kentucky. At one point, Weng & Associates had a coloring contest, of a Chinese dragon or buddha, I think mostly because he wanted to see what my 4 kids would do with it. We visited with family once and all swam in the pool in his backyard ("whaling about" he called it), the kids remembered it for years.

David would basically ask everyone he met: what really interests you and gets you excited? Why aren't you doing it? He got me thinking and talking about Astrophysics after years of not doing so.

He was also a SF affeciando. I remember at one DECUS convention in maybe '84, he gave me a copy of "Neuromancer" and said, you've got to read this -- which I did over the next few hours. David's news input model was even more restricted than mine. He neither watched TV news, listened to radio news, nor read the newspaper. He believed in the oral tradition -- if something was really important, someone would tell him.

Anyway, he died in the early 90's (I think -- a bug/feature of my memory model, forget the past, live in the present, focus on the future, is that I can't remember when anyone dies). He was walking down a street in San Francisco and keeled over, massive heart attack. His memorial service had every author, poet, etc, in Kentucky there (Weng gave them all money at some time -- but we was great at inspriring people regardless.) I haven't thought about him much in recent years (again, my memory model), but he was one of the few great friends of my life, and when I do think of him, I miss him. I can't believe he died before the net (although we did sethost ourselves around the world on DEC machines in the late '70s), he would have totally loved the net.

On the topic of music, I am currently being blackmailed by 2 coworkers who found this link to me playing in Salamander -- so I may as well out myself. It was a decent band, Richard was very talented, he moved to LA, got a PhD in music, now does very abstract electronica. The biggest problem with Salander was that the bass player would get a little too wasted sometimes and pull. Nothing's worse in a rock band than the lack of a totally solid rhythm section (bass and drums). Before that I played in Blue-Eyed Boy Mr. Death -- bass, drums, 2 guitars, Hammond organ with a Leslie (damn I love that sound).

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