6/24/69 ~ 12/6/06
Sean Fightmaster died last Wednesday (6 Dec 06). I'm not sure where they are burying him (if they are in fact burying him), but if you see his grave please leave him a bottle of beer and some spare change. He was a welcome splash of color in a city that was often much too gray.
There's a guest book where you can leave messages (until they decide to remove it... perhaps I will mirror it here afterwards).
There's also a MySpace page for him here.
I've been getting email from friends all day and reading the posts at the guest book and I'm really struck by how much Sean is loved. Everyone has a Sean moment, a story that makes them smile... I've had conversations with total strangers who, hearing I lived in SLC, asked me if I knew Sean, and it's like a bonding thing: "were you there when...?", "did you hear about...?". Since the first time I mentioned him in a post here three years ago, I've received email from numerous people asking me if I knew what Sean was up to now, or sharing their stories. He certainly is an unforgettable person, truly one of a kind.
The last time I saw Sean was on my last visit to SLC; I hadn't seen him in a couple of years, but we talked like it had only been days, basically resuming the last conversation we'd had before I left SLC. He seemed very bright and clear. He had this way of saying something really funny, delivered totally straight like he hadn't intended it to be funny. In most of my memories of Sean, everyone around him is smiling.
UPDATE (23 Dec 2006): I am going to just add to this post, because right now it comforts me to see Sean's picture on this page.
I had a couple of very rough days dealing with Sean's death. I could tell you all kinds of stories about how he was bigger than life, how he was literally a legend in his own time, but it would all sound like the kind of things people say about someone after they have died. The important thing to remember about Sean is that we spoke of him that way when he was alive. I'm not going to pretend I never wanted to kick his ass, but the rest of the time being around him felt like having front-row seats to something important and exciting. He was kind and intelligent and was funny without being mean. He had uncanny style and charm.
Reading through the guest book (linked above) it is plain to see how much Sean was loved and how much he will be missed. There is also a story of sorts, a context to be found in the names and places of the people leaving messages: Sean's friends didn't all come from some little clique, or even from what any one person would consider to be 'the scene'. Sean had a way of transcending such distinctions, and his friends vary wildly in scene affiliation, age, and personality. Any two people might have very little in common except that they were both friends with Sean.
It has been a good thing reading all of the messages people have left for Sean and his family. There are names there that I have not heard in years. And hearing them now, sharing their feelings for Sean, does make it a little easier. There is less of a sense of loss, knowing that people are still carrying Sean in their hearts.
ANOTHER UPDATE (19 Jan 2007): It's been over a month now.
There were a couple of articles in SLUG: With a Name like Fightmaster, You Have a Reputation to Live Up To and his sister, Cyd, wrote up a Fightmaster Memorium.
There's been a flurry of activity on the a guest book today due to an article about Sean in the Salt Lake Tribune ("Punk's passing"). It is a fitting tribute to Sean, and I'm glad there's now a permanent record noting his passing. One of the few things I regret about my time in Utah is that I have little material evidence of the people and places that meant so much to me... we didn't have digital cameras (or computers to plug them into) back then, and there were a few years where everything I owned fit in a backpack, a lifestyle that doesn't lend itself to collecting memorabilia.
So I just collected memories... and the various strains that drugs, university, and time (in roughly that order) have put on my brain have been steadily eroding those memories. The pictures and memories of Sean that others have shared have not only helped me deal with Sean's death, they have brought back some of the feeling of those days, that sense that something incredible (even when it was incredibly tragic,or incredibly boring) was going on and that I was right where I needed to be.
Ave atque vale, Sean. Peace be upon you. And upon your family and friends and everyone whose memory you burned yourself into.