I’m reminded by the Sunday event in his honor (see above) that writer Dave Hickey died two years ago Sunday, and that another writer, Chip Mosher, died a few days later. You might’ve heard of Dave, who famously won a genius grant. You’d probably only know of Chip if you’d read his column, Socrates in Sodom, in Las Vegas CityLife, where I edited him back in the day. Dave, an art critic, wrote about Las Vegas with a deep conceptual originality; Chip, a teacher, wrote about it with unsparing ferocity. He was a relentless disparager of CCSD follies — few writers ever bit off the hand that fed them the way Chip routinely did. (Gawd, the field day he’d have with Jara!) It saddens me that they’re both gone.
At least we can still read Dave’s books, and while “The Invisible Dragon” (subject of Sunday’s event) appeals largely to art nerds, his acknowledged classic, “Air Guitar,” is much more accessible. Sadly, Chip’s body of work is mostly stranded behind enemy paywalls — which reminds me: Free the CityLife archives, R-J honchos!
Anyway, I’m not bringing them together here solely because of the coincidental timing of their deaths, and this is where I do the uncouth thing of quoting myself at length, from something I wrote two years ago. I mean, no need to reinvent the spiel:
“Both were personally generous with their time and intelligence, and they each had a knack for scorning whatever orthodoxies were at hand. But I’d like to think they really intersected in something Dave once told me about Charles Dickens: ‘No matter how horrible the story he’s telling you, there’s this little bubble of laughter underneath it that tells you he just loves telling you this story. I would like my writing to rest on that little bubble of laughter, no matter how terrible the subject I’m writing about.’”
Indeed, both writers nurtured their bubbles of sheer gusto while coming at Vegas from different directions — Dave from above, Chip from below — and that is what I’ll always remember, always miss, always appreciate.