I really don’t believe it. My friend who made me and Gene feel part of Necon from the start, who always believed in me, who bonded with me over the bad penguin, Badtz-Maru, is dead. He died in Atlanta at 8:55 pm EST last night, his wife of a few short months by his side, grieving. His former wife, Anya, also my friend, had visited earlier and shared the well-wishes of many with him. He seemed to hear them even if he couldn’t respond.
He tapped me to write for his magazine Up Against the Wall, he always gave me generous blurbs, and he always had ideas like turning some of my work into films. In addition to his own writing in Wet Work (zombies and armed forces long before they were commonplace) and Cities of the Night, he helped birth films like Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door and Beth Massie’s Abed. Horror was his métier and he loved it dearly.
I wish he had not let the bottle get the better of him. It robbed us of so much, not least his humour and self-deprecating attitude. I see him in a lot of things: the films around me, his books, and even (fancifully) Badger in Firefly, the kind of tough wheeler-dealer he always wanted to be (but was too kind-hearted to really be) and every mini-golf place I pass. Props to Anya who went back to where the pain had been to share our goodbyes to Phil. I don’t know how to deal with this year that seems chock full of losses. I guess the same way we deal with everything — just keep soldiering on and treasuring all the moments we do have. You never know when they might be the last you have to share.
UPDATE: Dave Hinchberger has put together a fundraiser page for Phil’s funeral: donate if you can (you can give anonymously if you wish)
The song I always think of when I have lost someone dear:
But Phil would doubtless prefer:
Mini-golf with Phil and Anya:
And one of his favourite songs from the singer/songwriter he admired so: