When you come of a certain age as I have, death becomes a part of life. No longer an abstraction, a mystery of time and space, but a reality of everyday life. We grow numb to death as a means of survival.
But every so often death moves too close. It taps our shoulder and inhabits our conscious lives. The death of a child, whose innocence offends our sense of justice, or a promising youth who never reached fulfillment, or the death of a brethren spirit, someone who exemplified the kind of person we always admired and strove to be.
Beatlick Joe Speer has waved his last goodbye on this journey through life on the planet earth. He has gone to a place where only memories and spiritual messaging can reach him. He was an artist in the purest sense, a master carpenter in the medium of words, a fellow traveler in search of wisdom and inspiration and possessing more than his share of both. Along with his longtime wife and partner, Beatlick Pamela Hirst, he cultivated art and artists, provided a forum for voices longing to be heard, and transformed the world he encountered into a more interesting and better place.
It was my pleasure to share the stage in a recorded production of perhaps my most inspired and least understood work: Dark Underground. I can still hear his Ornette Coleman riffs, rising, falling, punctuated pauses and elongated phonemes, hammering a beat only he could feel. Not only words, which he possessed in abundance, but a master of sound as well.
No one will ever take the place of Beatlick Joe Speer. He leaves behind friends, family, a legacy of prose and poetry, and his masterwork: Backpack Trekker: A Sixties Flashback. It is a work that stakes a place in history, literature, sociology and psychology. It is an exploration of the soul of an artist and stands alone as a chronicle of both the sixties and human evolution. It is a work that will live forever.
“Books are like angels that move between the living and the dead.” Joe Speer.
Adios, my friend, you will be missed.
See you on the next run.