In loving, living memory, John Melançon 1928 – 2007
[Because i worked at a newspaper and part of what i did there was write obituaries, i've written one each for my grandmother and my father. I realize since starting this (and turning to an opinion piece instead) that it is not my place to write an obituary for Andrew, but instead to simply give testimony to the parts of his life it was my honor to be part of.]
This is hard to write. Not that it is ever easy to write about a dead friend, removed from our embrace too early to comprehend. It is particularly hard as i write today in honor of a man who is a better writer than i will ever be.
He had so many more stories to tell, from his life lived so far, and all the life he had yet to live, stories that i will never be able to tell as well as he did. Stories Andrew told could be amazing in themselves— or purely in his ability to tell them.
I cannot tell Andrew's stories. Wish we had a compendium. But i can tell stories about Andrew, add my little additions to the legend.
He had a great relationship with nearly every good person he came in contact with. The bodega owners and employees he was frequently in debt to, the homeless or near-homeless he often shared stories, food, or cigarettes with.
The Duraznote Deprogramming Device
He played wingman for a friend in the most successful hookup operation i have witnessed. This led directly to Andrew and i vacating his apartment. We went to the 24-hour diner.
Other times we grabbed sustenance and, more importantly, snatches of Internet at a 24-hour Dominican bakery.
I have to thank Andrew for many of the good people in my life. From his role in rejuvenating NarcoNews.com and making me a part of it, i know many incredible people, and it was always great to meet any of his friends.
It is thanks to Andrew that i know Stefan, my close colleague and anchor at Agaric, and dozens of others i have varying contact with.
I asked how the fundraising was going for the next School for Authentic Journalism, and he wrote an e-mail back enthusiastically thanking me for agreeing to write a fundraising letter. So i wrote one, it raised the most money and i won a bonus scholarship to the (always free for all attendees) School for Authentic Journalism. When i walked onto the campus outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia, a hotel which was also hosting a United States Peace Corps gathering, he said school founder Al Giordano looked at me and said to Andrew, "I hope he is with the Peace Corps."
Stefan put it well: "Without Andrew, I would not know much about New York. Remember the first time I came here? He gave me the tour. He cared a lot about where he lived, where he came from. Strange he died in this city. If he had a choice, he would have picked New York City. Perhaps a different time."
"We were so close to him. The least we can do now is endure the pain of losing a friend."
"My friend Ricardo has lost many friends to wars fought in. Some in prison here from Puerto Rico. Maybe we are also living in a kind of war."
He must have died hours before Stefan and i arrived in New York.
If drugs were legal, my friend would be alive today. I don't know how many times that sentence has been said or written, but it could have been said or written hundreds of thousands of times in the last ... several years alone. I don't know the statistics. My friend Andrew would have known the statistics, and the extent to which overdoses are due to impurities, lack of regulation of course, inconsistency of access. If drugs were legal, my friend would be alive today.