Thursday, October 25, 2007

Once More, with Feeling

Although they were slow in coming, tributes to Seattle freelance travel writer Nick Gallo have been appearing since his unexpected death from a heart condition on October 11. The latest, and perhaps best yet, is actually a paid obituary in The Seattle Times, written by Nick’s friend, longtime office mate, and fellow freelancer, Dean Paton.

My favorite part of Paton’s obit is this:
Though primarily a freelance magazine journalist, [Gallo] was first a poet, and so his journalism had depths of meaning and a polish uncommon in that genre. He once began an article about a trip to Mexico: “Like a jaguar on the prowl, the morning sun creeps out from a thicket of clouds, and stretches itself across the sky. I hardly care, huddling in the sand under two blankets, shivering with headache, fever and chills. First day on vacation, and I’ve brought a respiratory virus from home.”

He knew how to keep readers wanting more.

Nick could tell you, with a mix of forethought and savvy, why the Seattle Mariners front office had bungled its latest trade, and then, if you weren’t in utter agreement, back it up with a trenchant quote from Pablo Neruda, the glorious Chilean poet. He certainly knew the president was a hamburger, tried relentlessly to laugh away his anger and sadness with the state of our world, and, almost as important, he was born to play shortstop.

Nick had a cannon of an arm and for maybe 20 years was the spiritual heart of a rag-tag softball team called The Rocket. He played in a local pick-up basketball league for middle-aged guys who wanted to moderate their testosterone, and coached Little League baseball, partly because he was still a kid himself, and partly because Nick figured if he took the job it would prevent one more screaming failed-jock militarist from psychologically scarring young boys and girls. He could never understand those coaches who thought it helpful, or permissible, to yell at nine-year-olds. (Umpires, of course, a different story.)
You can read all of Paton’s remembrance here.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Web site set up in Nick’s honor by his sister-in-law, Cathy Brown, I discovered a fine blog called Mexico Premiere, which covers news, information, and travel writing related to America’s southern neighbor. Nick was known to many of that site’s contributors, and was apparently a friend of editor David Simmonds, so it is not surprising that Mexico Premiere should have put together it’s own tribute to our friend, Mr. Gallo. What is surprising, and quite endearing, is to read Simmonds’ concluding news that “Mexico Premiere will be establishing an annual excellence in writing award focused on Mexico travel, to be named The Nick Gallo Award. One day, perhaps twenty years from now, some young journalist will ask ‘Just who was this Gallo dude?’ Nick would like that.”

I can imagine him laughing about it right now, in fact.

Again, for those who haven’t been keeping up, a memorial service will be held for Nick Gallo this coming Saturday, October 27, at 4 p.m. at Seattle Universitys St. Ignatius Chapel. Click here for directions.

See you there.

READ MORE:Letting Go,” by Charles Smyth (Spiraglio).

No comments: