Saturday, March 05, 2011[Note: this is a post I wrote today on the Brady McTigue Memorial Page, here on facebook. Brady was an old friend from Plattsburgh days, who I learned yesterday was killed in a hit-and-run accident while riding a bike near his home in Jacksonville Florida. I don't know many details, but he died six days after the accident, and as far I can gather the driver has not been found. There is a brief account of the accident and a Crimestoppers call for witnesses at JAcksonville.com. Brady's essay, "Fatwood," from one of his now-deleted blogs Camera and Sickle no longer exists, but 8 years ago I had posted an excerpt [here] (Easy Trip to Splitsville) The photos here are some of my favorites of Brady's work, found at his (still active) DeviantART page under geshe451. If you haven't seen his pictures before, why not have a peek, before they fade into the past? ]
Seeing the "how I met Brady" stories on this page, I have to confess, I don't remember exactly how we met. It was around 1988 or so, I was a DJ and student at SUNY Plattsburgh, and I think Brady was a member of a student group or peripherally involved with the WPLT 94.9 station there.
Back then, we'd have rambling discussions on experimental artists I'd never heard of at that point; he introduced me to bands like Throbbing Gristle, Brian Eno, The Jazz Butcher, Genesis P-Orridge, Coil, The Fall, Helios Creed, Jim Thirlwell's myriad Foetus permutations...the list was seemingly endless. Brady had a rare gift for imparting enthusiasm and passion for challenging, unusual music with the "unschooled." I have to give Brady credit for introducing me to musical genres that have since become favorites like dub, ambient, hard bop and classic jazz.
He eventually moved away from Plattsburgh, as did I and many of our cohort; for a number of years we lost contact, but with advent of the Internet we crossed paths with our blogs about 7-8 years ago, a mutual interest in photography (Flickr), and eventually, Facebook. Years ago, I saw mocked-up examples of visual art he'd created using mirror-imaged color copies of photos, matting and other traditional analog techniques; later I was amazed at how the digital imaging revolution amplified those possibilities.
One of the most inspiring things about Brady's photos was his innate skill at capturing transcendence within decay and disintegration of natural and man-made objects, and distilling the kinetics of fire, water, stone, wind and steel into still images that seemed to live and breathe. I think both the Adirondacks (see his essay, "Fatwood") and the Florida coastline provided rich artistic potential. Oh, and he had a great sense of humor, too (the photo I'm thinking of is "Doggles," a real-life "Dastardly and Muttley" shot :) ).
This is "Fatwood":
getting to the fatwood factory is not something you set out to do. all of a sudden, it is possible to split every piece of wood. "split" implies a certain sense of halving, but here it's more akin to "splitting up." making parts for distribution. or burning. more surface area; hotter fires from the same amount of wood. i filled a wheelbarrow full of a number of very hot, fast fires. my general rule of thumb is that if i can stand the piece of wood up on the block, it gets split. two things happen when i find myself in fatwood factory. the first is i become more concerned with accuracy than power. as each piece of wood gets thinner, the need to power through it decreases. it's a direct proportion: less is less. it's a well placed tap that does the job not a swift cut. that's because, in the end, splitting wood is not about cutting. it's about separating the wood from it's structure and order. you are taking it one step closer to chaos. you can "read" the wood. the ends of the sectioned wood can give you a road map to easy trip to splitsville. the cracks indicate places where drying has loosened the bond betweens cells that hold the tree together. what was once a aqueous network of structure and exchange becomes a brittle dotted line that says "cut here." a mindful examination of the wood's surface will reveal untold tales of potential cleavings. you can almost see into the heart of the wood. adventures en flambe await: pop me big boy, what are you waiting for? instead of cutting the wood in two with a heavy sharp object, you're directing force through a focused locus, transferring it and liberating kinetic energy latent in each log section. bone wielding space oddessy ape guy becomes wheelchair scientist guy with the tilt of your head. most folks would prefer the wood that they have to split be uniform and "straight." no burls and the like making for hard splitting. you hit one of those hard spots and the axe can sing out like a bell. in the crisp winter air, the bang echoes off the trees and warps around the drifts in the snow. it accents the howl of the coyotes in a flurry filled afternoon as the light wanes. most times, a big gnarled old log section is a long burner. no splitting much more than quartering. the density of the wood, at a place where two or more directions of growth merge (more or less), is insane. the wood locks in on itself, making a near indestructable fist. wood like that burns for a long time. some twisted bastard of a log that, dry, gives you a hernia slogging to the stove is just the ticket for couple of hours of uninterupted, untended fire, warmth, running water...... you can leave the house. -- Brady McTigueI only learned of Brady's death yesterday, many months late. Sadly, I hadn't suspected his absence of web posts was because he was no longer here. I'm grateful to have met friends like Brady over the years: people whom we may not see or hear from physically for decades, but whose influence as creative kindred spirits uplifts us, even in absentia.
Perhaps this isn't the right place to address this, but I so hope for the sake of his wife Sally, and his family that someday the driver of that truck is found or does the karmically right thing and comes forward. Probably, Brady understood as well as anyone how Universe is ever-changing and impermanent. I remember he sometimes wrote he thought his life would be short, as many of the male relatives in his family passed on early. Unfortunately that prediction came to pass, in an oblique way.
A Latin quote from Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' that's stayed with me over the years is "Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit" - everything changes, but nothing is truly lost. May it be so. To Brady's family, and his wife Sally, I wish peace, love, and healing. Namaste.