May 2010 Archives

Nick Travis

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When I got up today (in a Red Roof Inn in Cleveland) I found out that my friend and co-conspirator Nick Travis passed last night, 3 am at a hospital in Austin where he was being treated for diverticulitis, although the cause of death was not yet known.


This news comes as a shock. I saw Nick last just months ago, standing up to speak and MC the Million Musician March during South by Southwest on a cold windy day out in front of city hall. He was then as I will always remember him, funny, smart, manic eyes darting this way and that, perpetually smoking or quitting, railing against the things he saw as wrong, praising everything else.


I first saw Nick down on Sixth Street. It was during a period of wandering when I was wondering where I would land that I was pulled in by the hard blues of The Solid Senders. Nick was at home with the bass slung to his hip, cigarette on his lip, woven tam on his head, with a grin on his face. Over the years I got to play and travel with Nick some, and he was a never ending fount of stories that he told over break fest at 3am or while behind the wheel of the van or perched on a curb outside a gig. I am grateful for all of them, but even more I am grateful for the work that Nick did in the last decade for this country and the world as a whole. Nick was an unflinching critic of the Iraq war, and I remember marching with him, back before the obvious became obvious to everyone that our country was misguided. Still in the shadow of 9/11 he was a voice for values that make the hero different from the terrorist, no matter what their color or name. Nick loved life.


"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes "Awww!" Jack Kerouac, On the Road.


Nick Travis passed away suddenly this morning around 3 AM under hospital care for diverticulitis.  The cause of death is unknown at this time. 

Blog of darkness

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Circular stair fire escape to nowhere.

Last evening the band unloaded the van in a back alley in Grand Rapids
Michigan that cut between broken teeth brick buildings of a forgotten
century. While pushing a cart loaded with amplifiers and nursing my poisonous
sacroiliac I stopped and raised my head to gaze on an iron spiral stair case
that looked to be suspended in air, framed by the sharp edges of brick and
pipe that that led down to askew dumpsters and chained bicycles.
I leaned over the ramp rail to see it clearly, stretching my neck and,
at the same time bowing my head to see beneath a tangle of heavy black
telephone cables that must have looked out of place here once, but that now
had the feel of an old growth canopy, allowing few scraps of light. I
fallowed the spiraling fire escape as it scaled the side of one of the
taller buildings on the block, wondering how tall it must be. The wall it
was fixed to ( it must have been fixed to it somehow ) was plain where I
could see it, this being a wall facing where another multistory building
must have stood, a different shade of brick than on its facade.

I marveled at the feeling of suspension it produced in me, as it hardly appeared to
touch the bricks behind it, and leaned a little farther out and down,
gritting my teeth against my treasonous back to see where a door, all the
doors must be, but when I found them they, each one, was boarded up, naked
plywood of random shape and hue, with no clue of handle or knob and no window or opening of any kind. The staircase went to the top story (can it only be eight?) but
not to the roof, no iron creeper reaching the summit at all, just one last
wooden rectangle with no door.

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