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Dave Brockie in the GWAR "Slave Pit" along North Boulevard during the summer of 2012.
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It’s like somebody took chains and ripped a statue off its pedestal on Monument Avenue. That’s what it feels like. An action, by the way, that Dave Brockie might’ve extolled in his way, but he also might’ve critiqued the method or the motivation. I think he would’ve made his hoarse, anarchic chortle, though, upon receiving the news.
No such reactions were made at this office when it came to us that Brockie died on Sunday afternoon.
The suddenness affects us, for certain, a reminder — in particular if you are past a certain age — that the footfalls of actuarial eventuality are gaining. And that they are overcoming more people you know.
That phrase, “found dead.” It’s formed a suffix description for several early demises of the recent past and not only in Richmond. There’ s an air and implication to the words that are imposed on them regardless of the circumstance and especially for the not knowing, and frankly, not being our business.
But I was immediately reminded of another “found dead” instance, that of Page Wilson, a practitioner of "pure-bred American mongrel music."
Wilson and Brockie were as wide apart in their musical approaches as one could imagine, but their commitment to their art was similar. GWAR’s influence was of a different kind — here in 2009, Pete Humes analyzed how GWAR carved its own unique niche as a business model.
Wilson and his Reckless Abandon were part of a regional scene, with Wilson as a radio host and promoter. He and the band played with the Richmond Symphony. When word came around in March 2011 that 56-year-old Wilson was “found dead,” the same one-two surprise came to me: He’s not much older than I am, and how does this happen? The situations of their decease are also different, but, here we are — bereft of them both.
I was able to recognize their work through the Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts just a year apart — Wilson for the 12th annual event in 2009 and GWAR and Brockie for the (appropriate) 13th in 2010.
Don Drakulich, aka “Sleazy P. Martini,” accepted and Brockie/Oderus Urungus made a guest appearance via satellite. Well, sort of.
Last year, I attempted to bring linkage between the Confederate flaggers, the Black Iris Gallery GWAR exhibit and the Meaning of Richmond. This was the last time I saw Brockie and had the opportunity to just hang out and talk. Nothing profound was said, and he wearily shook his head about the 30 years of GWAR-dom.
Most recently, Brockie appeared “in the flesh” as Oderus Urungus at our dining Oscars, The Elbys, where he surprised the audience when he came out to announce plans for the opening of a GWAR Bar in Richmond.
For years, in my head, I’d had this nutty idea and for whatever stupid self-consciousness or dread of logsitics, and more, where to go with the final result, I pushed this crazy vision to the far back burner. It involved me and Dave, sitting side by side, me in seersucker and him wearing whatever he wanted, delivering commentary on Richmond And Its Discontents. Maybe some video behind us. He was sure to cross the line sooner or later, and there I'd be, tut-tutting, “Now, Dave.” The one-off scenario might’ve been funny or just wince-worthy — or both — but now it won’t ever happen at all.