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Barry Crimmins

words to live near


political satirist Barry Crimmins

Never the same... Friday, August 3, 2007

Never the same...

Chiris Bracken 10/3/53 - 8/3/02

Five years ago today Chris Bracken died. He was one of the best friends I've ever had. Soon after his passing, I wrote about him in the Boston Phoenix. The essay ended up in my book, Never Shake Hands With A War Criminal. It provoked a generous reaction from many readers.

Five years later, I still miss my friend every day.

So much has happened since then. The war has come and with it, an incredible waste of what Chris fought for: life. Online technology has advanced greatly. Chris would surely be podcasting were he with us today. Chris's fiance Amy LeBaron and her daughter Hali finished and moved into the house he began building. Amy still grieves but has found new love with a wonderful guy. She's gained greeat strength by helping other grief-stricken people. Hali is almost done with high school and is driving!

I worked for two and a half years at Air America Radio before getting economically disappeared. I started Satire For Sanity at Rocky Sullivan's in NY. I worked both the Dem and Reptilian Conventions in 2004. That fall I toured the swing states with the great A. Whitney Brown and, when we were lucky, Reno. I spent three remarkable weeks in Crawford, Texas, where I was proud to produce and report the most important story Air America ever brought to the airwaves. I made some amazing new friends at Camp Casey, including the Iraq Veterans Against the War and especially Cindy Sheehan.

On a memorable evening in Manhattan I performed with the late Kurt Vonnegut, the late Art Buchwald, the livelier than ever Paul Krassner and the insightfully erudite Lewis Lapham at an event moderated by playwright and poet Sarah Jones I've lost other friends including the wonderful Warren Thomas and my best boyhood pal, John Brown. Alas.

New friends like Chris Byrne and Rachel Fitzgerald of Seanachi and the Unity Squad and everyone's favorite Red State Son, Dennis Perrin reminded me that we'll never run out of solid people. I've gotten to know some fantastic young talent like Lainey Schulbaum and the Nicole Luparelli Steamy Bohemians and their genius and exceptionally newsworthy producer Scott Dakota -- not to mention a kid named Ben Joplin who should get off his ass and do more! I've gotten to know some old talent by the name of Garry Goodrow, a lot better and have learned much from him.

More than ever I lean on old pals Tom Duffy and Jim Infantino. Both provided immeasurable artistic and technical help, filling the void Chris left when he was no longer around to keep my website online. More tech and spiritual help came from old pals Barb and Bob Ingalls in Detroit. Motown is also home to rabble-rouser extraordinaire John Joslin, who replaced Chris as the person with whom I speak nearly every day. John Cook kept my lefty credentials in order. Jimmy Huxford kept me laughing through the compounded insult that is middle age. Wendell Wild and Gail Nicholson remained stationed in their usual post: always there. I became a great-uncle to my niece Vanessa's darling son Logan. My mother and I have tried hard but we're yet to find a formula to bring another World Championship to the Bronx. Maybe this year! My sister Mary Jo continued to watch out for her little brother with her inimitably sweet brilliance.

My friend Ian Baston and I commiserate regularly about a world without Chris Bracken. Chris never fails to make us laugh when we speak of him. John and Charlie Ray continue to kindle the brushfire that was Bracken. I retired from performing, bowing out a few months ago at the great Jimmy Tingle's Theater. I continue to write with the great and kind guidance of two wonderful editors, Clif Garboden at the Boston Phoenix and Lars Reilly at Seven Stories Press.

Karen, Lloyd the Dog and I moved into a great spot in the middle of a state forest in New York's Southern Tier. Of course Kevin Mackey, the hero of our efforts to get Chris's home built five years ago, came up and straightened out a million things at our new residence. Paul Fleig, arisen from early drug war martyrdom, provides regular service calls to his old and unhandy friend's home. I am now at that home with Karen and Lloyd, who keep me happy and busy as we attempt to maintain a perimeter between wilderness and our modest residence. All in all life has gone on and been good-- just without Chris Bracken. It certainly will never be the same...