Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Purple Friend Ian Reid: He Was The Prince Of The Paupers...

...Crowned Downtown At The Beggar's Bash.

Back in dinosaur days, when Lotuslandian poli-blogging was still a (relatively) new and (kinda/sorta) lonely game, Ian Reid and I became pretty well acquainted on-line.

But it wasn't until we got to talking about music and our kids that we really became friends.

Here's what I wrote about all that a few years ago, back when Ian was still managing to fight off the disease that would eventually kill him:

When Ian popped-up here, in the comments, after I started writing about the Casino Industrial Complex that arrived still-borne, but fully-wurlitzered, in the deep, spikey shadows of the devil-horned roof from nowhere, I was a little surprised.

In the ensuing months we corresponded quite a bit, both here in the bloggodome and offline, about what was really going down.

To be absolutely clear about this, even though a lot of the stuff Ian told me was pure gold I was initially wary because he is an old Pol.

And while I am mostly sympathetic to the party that he has worked for over the years, I have come to learn that you can never be too sure when an old Pol might be working you rather than just talking to you.

But all that fell away when Ian began to respond to the stuff I wrote about making music with my kids.

Because both of those things are personal.

And as we kept talking, purely in pixels mind you, it turned out that, while it would appear on the surface that we have very little in common other than politics, we actually do.

Have lots of things in common I mean.

But it was the differences that I became really interested in.

Like how he would tell me proudly about all the crazy, wild and exhilarating adventures that his own, now fully grown, kids are involved in.

This was a real comfort to me given that my own kids are still young enough that it is hard, as much as I would like to, to let them rush headlong straight into their own private Adventurelands.

As for the musical differences.....

Well, those don't really matter.

Except to mention that I have never really been a Bowie fan.

But then I read a recent post from Ian that lets us know about all the Life (and yes, maybe even death) Changes he's been going through for quite some time now.


I decided to go looking for the intersection of Mr. Bowie and all that I hold dear, musically at least.

And I think I found it.

Here you go Ian (and, thanks).....



As I should have known, Ian really dug Prince and just about everything else interesting under the musical sun.

Luckily Ian's son Shamus, writing on Ian's old blog, has made sure we all know that now, and why:

...This weekend I spent time with Prince, trying to figure out what he meant to me. I’m writing on this blog, so you might have guessed it comes back to my dad. With Prince, I just lost another piece of him. When I grieve Prince’s loss, I grieve the absence of a conversation with my dad about his life and identity.

My dad was a gateway to the best music. Not just for me, my sisters or the rest of the family, but for his friends, his acquaintances, his readers, anybody he liked even a little bit.

After he died, a friend of mine who worked with him told me he had turned her onto Massive Attack in the nineties. Over a decade her senior and he gave her the inside scoop on one of the greatest bands of her generation. My fake-Uncle Adrian—one of several of my dad’s remarkable close friends from childhood—told me about a visit from my dad while he was studying law in Toronto. Pestered, he finally agreed to close the books and go see some new band dad was excited about. They were called U2.

A year before his death he introduced me to Spiritualized at the Rickshaw in Vancouver, prompting another friend to ask “what’s it like having a dad who’s cooler than you?” It was pretty awesome. Didn’t give me an inferiority complex at all.

Anyone who knew him could probably give you a list of bands he introduced them to that became deeply meaningful to them. Mine includes such diversity as Drive-by Truckers, Beck, Patti Smith, KRS-One (I know, right?), Nirvana, Fela Kuti, Tracy Chapman (joint effort with my mom), Bill Callahan (joint effort with my step-dad), Antony & The Johnsons, Lucinda Williams, Joy Division, Parliament-Funkadelic, and so many more. And, Prince, of course.

My dad turned people on to music like an evangelist turns people on to Jesus. I think he did it for the same reason too. Music saved him. He wrote once on this blog about seeing Van Morrison for the first time on PBS when he was 16. Seeing a pudgy, awkward Irishman, made him realize he—a pudgy, awkward Scot—might have the miseries of his life saved by rock and roll...



If I've said it once I've said it a million times...

It's not the Web or the Tubez or the Apps, or even the ever thickening layer of Pixel Dust that really matters around here.

Instead, it's the people.




Anonymous said...

" it's the people " Thanks.... and so true. I remember being in London On., in the early seventies with Bruce Springsteen doing the original Hard to be a Saint...the version. Prince was good but I will admit I never followed his career.... seems I spend more time learning about the other guy.... Ian.

Guy in Victoria

Laila said...

Love this. Tears here and reading Shamus's post. Thank you for sharing.

Eleanor Gregory said...

What a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

SH @ RossK

Thank you for this.

Ian continues to teach.

Don F. said...

I remember following Ian as he shared his battle with us so bravely and thinking what a loss there will be when his illness wins. Now I realize i was right in thinking that. Now you introduce me to Shamus and I see that Ian resides in him.
Thanks Ross!

Norm Farrell said...

RossK and I both shared a little of Ian's life during the time he bravely confronted illness. Writing we do is still inspired by respect for the man and his sense of justice. It is easy to understand why a large circle of people loved and admired him.

The public memorial for Ian at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC was so well located. A venue that honours people who helped build our west coast lands was perfect for a man who sent much of his time trying to make the region even better.

Alison said...

Yeah, it is forever the people ...

Scotty on Denman said...

Yeah, you can say that again---even if you've "said it a million times" already.