A new post – for my closest friend, hero, and all-around amazing human … Ian Clarke. This was part of how I worked through the grief of his sudden passing.
26 February 2020 – 1pm
I love you, my closest friend, my protector, the only adult in my life at times, and the man who was always always always there. Too many memories to hold, too many emotions to hold back, too many things to say -so much beauty as friends that 24 years wasn’t enough to contain it, which is why my love follows you. I expect you to be waiting with a Pat-Gin-and-Tonic-Special for me when I get there. I’m snotty and blithering and crying and absolutely lost now but we’ll meet again in the next, one day. So long, and thanks for all the fish. tyty
26 February 2020 – 11pm
So many ways we shared our lives, tho music had to be our favourite. If there was a new song … I’d run to him with it. If there was an old song, all I had to do was drop a line – and he’d pick it up.
And the jukebox at sneakers was so often hogged by us (when Shawn didn’t drop 20 bucks in there).
One secret thing I shared with him was how much this song made me want to build a lifetime of friendships- should I ever leave ottawa – or leave the streets anywhere. A huge chosen family was my dream.
I have that now – and Ian was the heart of that family.
If y’all ever see me smiling – walking around, living … know how much he did to make that happen.
this one, as so many others- is for you:
I thank you
My friends thank you
My family thanks you
This city thanks you
My spirit thanks you
May our love carry you into the next world softly
Walk proud my friend.
27 February 2020, 1pm
This one time – he and I were talking at sneakers .. and I told him about this song – and how there’s a certain part after the first chorus, during the first verse, where they snuck in a deep guttural falling base note- something that cassettes didn’t capture well. I then told him about how I found the perfect cassette to reproduce all the cool sounds .. the Maxell XL-II S 90 (the $34.00 tape). I’m sure he was beaming at watching this little streetnerd geek out over music. There was no lack of understanding … the man knew his shit and exactly what I referred to. One of our bonding moments. ❤️
27 February 1pm
I can’t remember describing how his song to him, but it was something akin to handing miss erykah the keys to your heart and giving her full reign.
He was working the back door at Traxx back then. I’d visit him frequently if course- as I always did. (Yes, I was the kid who ALWAYS hung out by the door).
I had him listen during a lull in tha work. At around 3.15 in the song I could see him roll his eyes back, grunt, and his whole upper body just relax like butter on a hot crumpet. He said this was the song where your spine just gives in to her embrace.
27 February 2020 2pm
One of things we bonded of was the knowledge that me’shell was widely considered to be one of the greatest bass players of all time. (Never mind that they created one of the greatest R&B albums of all time).
There’s a part in this video where me’shell just giggles- where she just owns this song. That was his favourite moment. He and I often sang to the sneakers jukebox. We promised we’d do this song together, swapping on what parts we’d do. Lol we never did get a chance to sing together outside of sneakers or traxx or Woody’s. But we certainly belted it with songs like these.
27 February 4:20 pm
One night – after flexing at sneakers, he picked me up in his van. *that van*
the soundtrack to great expectations was playing. I remember asking “ wait. Is that Tori?? Love her!!”
Of course it was, this man is a music legend in Toronto.
He said that the soundtrack was the only awesome thing about that movie, and that it was 2 hours he’d never get back.
((He also never wanted to watch any movie with Ethan Hawke in it, because ‘Ethan was enough to ruin any film.’ Long after I kept trying to get him to watch gattaca because I thought it was the exception (don’t know if he did). ))
The night he introduced me to this album, it played constantly while we ran around in the van. We hit an after hours (playing euchre, of course), and then wound up at a guys place east of downtown, doing all kinds of badness. He lent me the CD that night.
I slept In a guy’s bed on the third floor loft, while they continued. I remember a tiny dog not wanting me to leave the bed, growling n such after I woke. That night started some kind of small legend: “Tyler ? The one who stayed in my bed tyler ? Yes. Him” lol
A night that I don’t remember well, but adore largely because he was there.
So many times we hung out and he watched out for my clumsy ass.
27 February 2020 5pm
I remember in sneakers he talked about this video. About how righteously perfect she was, commanding and raising the audience like she was still 20 years younger. He told me about how her hair was just trying to hang in there (the styling giving out). And at one part someone was trying to get her back to the mic.
Her walking off stage, the performance momentarily to awesome for the performer, and Louis smiling, clearly telling someone “get her back here!”
I remembered that story for at least 10 years before I finally saw it. I ran to him again and we shared that moment.
Imma leave it at this for a bit. I can’t think of a better performance – a better feeing with which to remember him.
“You know I adore you Tyler”
“Yes. And I you”
27 February, 11pm
I downloaded this one night while leaving Remington’s. he had been DJing there for some time, and of course I was often there. I don’t remember too much, only that I had a crush on the busboy there and used that as an excuse to visit Ian. (Or was it the other way around?)
I was like a whet stone. I was there so often it seemed like the dancers got to sharpening their convo skills on me (as y’all know it’s the talking that does it).
Of course he and I got to talk music, with a full spread of songs at his fingertips, and the opportunity to judge a dancer’s fresh song choice. The fun times were when they let us suggest something. Oh the good times. I think this song came from a dancer’s playlist – had to be. Because It was a lightning bolt for us – yet another memory of the freedom times we had in sneakers.
27 February 1130 pm
Early early days of my meeting him. I remember it was when he was sitting on the wall in the space between the front bar and the front bar access door.
I said that his presence and his look reminded me of the greats. I’d liked to have seen him with a huge Gibson or Gretsch he or something, like B.B. he was touched and floored. (You all know the draw he had).
We talked frequently that night- of course about music n sound n stuff.
We talked Cream. And Clapton. I told him I actually still had one CD from the four CD CROSSROADS collection. He didn’t remember this song as well as the others, because let’s face it – disc four is not the best in the set, by far.
He was interested, he wanted to hear it again, saying it should have been memorable.
About 12 years later I had him listen to it. You know that look he has when he closes his eyes, and turns his head side to side and he pushes his lips forward like he’s the one on the 6-string? That look. Loved it.
We had a way – our conversations sometimes did span decades. ❤️
27 February 2020 almost midnight
I can’t remember if it was a day he asked to see me, or I asked to see him. Either way, one of us was helping the other.
We were sitting in the Tim Hortons just east of his parents place, just chatting.
And then the oven did its alarm thing.
“Hey Ian, have you ever noticed how the oven alarm here is an awful lot like the opening of Kyrie Elaison- that rock version of the Lord of the Flies song?”
He smiled, and laughed. The best low, troublesome, mischievous laugh.
We had hot chocolate, and I took him back to his place, or to meet up with someone downtown, maybe even Kevin.
We did that so often. Random support meets.
28 February 2020 Just after midnight
We didn’t get to watch many movies- us street kids.
But when I started dating Someone, I was stable enough to rent many lol. So I caught up.
During that time, I decided to avoid sneakers. Working wasn’t synonymous with having a monogamous relationship, plus I just couldn’t.
I saw Ian only once I think after about two years. I was hiding from my partner (all concerned looking for my crazy and broken ass). I ran to Remington’s – And saw Ian outside the door. we talked for about 15 minutes. Whatever he said put me right. I returned home, calm.
Why does this song remind me of him?
The time I spent avoiding sneakers was a time when I could be a homebody (cos I had a home).
It was also a time away from fierce friendships too (those forged in the worst times). I was avoiding my friends – but that was collateral damage.
So there were times when I wanted to share moments like Des’ree’s gorgeous voice with Ian soo much, but I’d chosen a life of less harm for a time instead.
Eventually I did share though. You can’t keep friendships under water for long.
I shared my love of the impact her voice had on that scene with him- Like every other beautiful song or new thing I’d come across.
I saved two years of beautiful things to share with my friend. Over time the saving became such a habit that I would ask, “when was the last Time we talked? What did I tell you?”
Like a child with a dandelion behind his back – wondering if auntie had disposed of the last one yet.
Times away … were a chance for me to store the good things I wanted to share. It’s almost like he was the largest part of me, holding space for a beautiful life that had yet to fill it.
I guess, nothing has changed- I’m still gonna save good things to share with him- for the next life. Thank you Ian. A thousand times over.
2️8 February 2020 1130am
he hardly ever missed a birthday of mine. Nor I one of his. On my 24th birthday – he came rushing down, promising me something fabulous.
And it was. Several CDs of the greatest fun I can imagine. This.
This book, the BBC series, all of it was his favourite. And we often dropped lines from this. He said it is the book guaranteed to have you laughing aloud on the bus. 🙂
Two of his birthdays ago, I took him to Stormcrow Manor. Of course he had the pan galactic gargle blaster. The song and lights didn’t work, so we got a discount.
I’d write more, but I’m gonna keep a few things
29 February 2020 3am
When I lived in Willowdale, he and I used to take the yonge bus north after 3am. I’d get off at Norton, and he’d get off at the usual – Steeles.
(Around this time, I had a huge love of crush Luther. Ian once came with me to a concert of theirs – an all ages concert lol.)
We’d share headphones and listen to this album all the way up – when we could. (Punctuated by his lovely convos with others, or perhaps a judgement or two)
My fave was ‘when we were golden’ – and his was ‘slow dance anywhere I go’. We both thought this one was most decent also.
This album became our homeward tunes for a bit. So many nights after the fun, the McDoubles dressed like a Big Mac, and the chats about whatever shenanigans we’d had. And the occasional lament for Sizzler’s – who made the best grilled things. 🙂
Walking down norton, I’d always look up at the (few, but bright) stars. Happy. Any night with him had that effect.
2️9 February 130 pm
It wasn’t just a love of music – but also books. We shared a love of Clive Barker. I remember lending him Galilee – and us chatting about it in sneakers during the afternoon as he read through it.
Imajica is my favourite book (I read it every winter). We also talked the great and secret show, and books of blood. His passion for music and books appeared to surpass each other at every turn of a conversation.
One thing he knew that few did after (and that I’d never revealed publicly):
I have a fanatical love of the first snowfall. So many years of memories coinciding with one.
He knew that this love comes from Imajica. The part where Pie ‘oh’ pah watches the man they love from across the street – the snow falling between them – Is for some reason my favourite thing. It’s the reason why I’ve always wanted to witness a snowfall in New York. I shared that with him.
Of course, Ian was on point when I talked about it- and the giddy excitement he shared with me about so many parts of that book – made sneakers more of a magical place for me. (And the front door my new home). For a street kid- nothing could match such a moment. It’s cute that while we could be bought, those things couldn’t. (That one’s for you).
One birthday, I got him a hard cover original print copy of that book, with cover. Hard to find at one time, but magical only because it was a love we shared.
29 February 2020 430pm
Catharsis – Ian BD Clarke was such a rare kind of person. He was one of the few people who could make the difficult things gentle on your heart – and your memory.
Honest, perceptive, realistic, and willing to share his big beautiful space with you – a home when all other doors are closed. It was serendipitous that he held the door for a bar … where young men came to be safe, and old men came to be who they denied themselves. (The interaction something like a Jackson Pollock painting.)
I remember once, us sitting by the front window, a guy stopped by and was looking up at the sign. Ian opened the door a hand’s width, “it’s a hey bar.”
The man looked around to find the voice that said that.
Ian opened the door a hand’s width again, “as in, Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!”
The man left, our laughter chasing him south on yonge.
Ian was truly my confessor – he knew every war I had inside me, every trouble and every dark part.
He was my own personal Louis – from Jacob’s Ladder. I know he’d be smiling if I told him that now, just shaking his head and grinning with his eyes closed.
I came to him after watching Mysterious Skin. We must have spent a couple hours discussing every detail about the care that went into the safety of the actors through filming and production- and then the many personal impacts that film had. Followed by the many related things thereafter. He was as open minded and challenging as you expect and angel/demon to be. (Oh how I’ve grown because of him). I loved him all the more.
When we did OPEN DOORS for MAC cosmetics and S.O.S., I remember saying, “some people helped steer me through it-“ … told me who was safe, what each man liked, who to avoid, and who was worthy of spending a weekend with. Invaluable help –
the kind that someone can point to and say, “this. This is why I’m Alive today.”
There was only one date he didn’t know about, until recently. A part of that night was in this book.
There was no secret too deep to keep from Ian. There are other secrets I’ll write about, that only he knows. A person who helps you grow is a person who can have you look into the darkest corners of your shadow … without re-experiencing the pain that would keep you there.
That was his gift – among many.
The strongest parts of me now are built from thousands of threads through my life. The thing about Ian is that his hand is on every single one of them.
An angel like that doesn’t come around often, and we all cherish him for it.
Jacob : You know you look like an angel, Louie? Like an overgrown cherub. Anyone ever tell you that?
Louis : [smiling] Yeah, you. Every time you see me.
Jacob : You’re a lifesaver, Louie.
Louis : [smiling] Yeah, I know.
1 March 2020 648pm
We are sooo lucky – to have been a part of his beautiful life. And also … that he is a part of all of us.
We carry him now. I can think of no greater gift … or honour. ❤️