Mr. Bill's Eulogy

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Mr. Bill's Eulogy

Postby aron on Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:16 pm

Mr. Bill Christie’s Eulogy

ARON: Hallie and I decided that it would be best to get stories from those who have been around Bill a lot over the last few years at the LAVA House in order to to get a variety of perspectives on who he was to us. So we'll get to those then speak our own thoughts on Mr. Bill.

HALLIE: Hannah – Last year about 2 days before Christmas, Hannah, Bart, Bill, Rick, and Noel were all hanging out in the red room drinking some beers. They were listening to Woody’s Roadhouse on the radio and Bart and Hannah started dancing. Then, the clock turned to midnight and it was Christmas Eve. Bill got really jealous of Bart and wanted to dance with Hannah, so Hannah granted Bill his dance with her. When Hannah and Bill started dancing, they were really cutting a rug! Bart kept telling Bill to watch his hands! Noel said to Hannah that seeing the look on Bill’s face was the most he could even want out of Christmas.

Shannon – One day, Shannon had just arrived back at the LAVA House. Somehow, she ended up with a bunch of southern belle dresses that were given to her by an art collector’s friend who also happened to be a midget. She came back to the LAVA House with the dresses and showed them to Bill. They decided to play dress up and put them on. Shannon remembers Bill wearing that dress in the back yard, it was windy and the sun was shining bright. He was posing for her as she took pictures of him modeling.

Glenn – A year or so ago, Glenn walked into the LAVA House. He saw Bill and immediately Bill threw his hands up in the air and proclaimed, “I’m retired”. Glenn said, “well, that’s awful nice Bill. I wish I could do that!” Then, every day from that point forward, when Glenn would come in to the LAVA House in the afternoon, Bill would be sitting on the steps in the bay door that lead into Aron and Hallie’s studio. He would tell Glenn that he was retired. That’s how Glenn wants to remember him, sitting in the sun, happy, telling him every day that he was retired.

Emily – Bill used to get in the pool with the ladies wearing his daisy duke jean cut offs! He always was really helpful to Emily and Shannon when they needed help and no one else would help them because they exhausted all their borrowing privileges. Emily used to come in and Bill would always call her “that other girl” until he got to know her months and months later. She worked at a screen-printing shop and he always talked to her about reproducing his sister Julie’s t-shirt designs.

Hallie – Bill was my friend. This past year, I spent several days alone with him, sitting in the studio. He’d talk to me while I worked, or he’d just sleep on the couch with Disco. He was there for me, keeping me company. We didn’t always have to talk, we were just happy to have each other’s company. Although his smoke drove me crazy. If I was audacious enough to dare fan it out of my face, Bill would get extremely upset with me and tell me that all I had to do was tell him to keep it away from me…. Even though I was just trying to be polite and not complain, he wanted me to stand up to him.

For the past 3 years, I was cutting Bill’s hair and trimming his beard. Sometimes he had to hassle me about it, other times I’d do it on a dime. He always wanted to get cleaned up before seeing Carolyn. I would start to cut Bill’s hair, and he would never sit still. By the time I had moved on to trimming his beard, I’d be shouting at him to sit still about every 30 seconds. He liked to drive me crazy, I think he just liked to get a rise out of me. Probably though, he just liked spending the time with me, getting pampered and groomed by a nice lady who he affectionately called “girlfriend”.

I’m going to miss Bill so much, and the LAVA House, too. As I told Aron the other night, I finally feel like the last element of our youth has slipped away. The loss of Bill has ushered us into complete adulthood. I hope that one day, I can touch as many lives as Bill Christie did, and I hope that I have a strong community of loving young artists who look out for me the way we did for Bill. He was loved by many, and had a great life.

The first time

The first time I met Mr. Bill Christie was the first time I walked into the warehouse that Bart and I came to dub the LAVA House. After walking in wonderment into that awesome building I met a man who introduced himself as Mr. Bill and explained that he was "in his cups, so to say". And then he asked, "Do you understand the words?"

Liking him enough yet sort of uncertain about Bill, I moved in to the warehouse and quickly got to know "Mr. Bill" Christie. Over time got to know him I think about as well as I ever could anyone. As we all know, he had an enormous personality that seemed to change a bit at times. There were those few days over the 6.5 years that i knew him where he was stiff, reserved and very internal. On those days I glanced into his eye to check out what kinda day he was having and if there was no hint of kindness, I knew to say "hi" and move on quickly. I never really attempted to find out what was going on with that side of Bill. It was intriguing though.

But most of the time, whether or not he was being arrogant, he was as extroverted as a person could get. He was loud, uninhibited and full of all sorts of wild things to say. He loved to argue and he love to tell you what you should do. No, he would suggest to you, as he loved to put it. And you better suggest to him anything that you had to tell him. But he loved to establish himself as being an authority for anything that you wanted to talk with him about. For a couple of years he called me a puppy and rubbed my head aggressively when he did so or he would just plain out would call me a "neophyte" and each time he did he'd ask me again, "if I understood the word." He seemed proud every time I "suggested" to him what it meant;) He would often guide me through tasks with patience and taught me how to work many machines or tools with a clarity of directions and his own sort of pride in being helpful. The only condition was that I had to accept that he was the boss and I, the pupil. And as a side note, I was always so impressed with his ability to verbally direct me to anything he or I needed in his studio, no matter where it was. He had a memory like an elephant.

I was also expected to help Bill very often as I was one of a number of us that he relied on to do things for him, like move large objects, play monkey and run phone and electiric lines, move boxes, whatever. Last year he had written a list of things that he wanted me to do on an old library card catalog index card that I found out in the trash pickup years ago. He had apparently run out of them and one of the last things for me to do on this particular list was to get another stack of index cards out of my studio. So I ran in and got a decent sized stack and left it with him. So the next time that I walked into his space he already had 3 or 4 of those cards filled up with new "Tasks" that he immediately informed me of. But when I could, I'd help him out gladly and spend some good times with him along the way.

But I assume he didn't always rely on other people like this, as this reliance really seemed to grow over the last year or two. But as I helped him more and more, I noticed that his respect for me would grow. He was often very kind and gentle, with just that bit of edge.

But sometimes I would need to walk into the LAVA House to get a tool for home, or something else small and in an attempt to evade a storm of criticisms, task lists, a demand for a ride to the store, or a responsibility to sit still for half an hour to gab, I'd open the warehouse door very quietly and literally tip toe to my studio, so as to not get caught up. And for a guy with tennitis and a screaming television, he could somehow hear so well.

But 90% of the time we'd greet Bill in an endearing way. And it was especially fun to walk in with a new visitor or two to the LAVA House and upon entering the door yell out, "Doooog Assss" to which we would hear, a joyous haaa----Haaaa! AY--- Doga---ss.... Amused by man behind the curtain we would visit him for a bit and he would rarely disappoint.

Which brings me to the memory of Bill that I asked Bart to share with me last night. Bart was particularly intrigued by Bill's tendency to always ask newly acquainted company, "What's your forte?", his fancy way of asking "What do you do?" And after asking his new visitor their background, he would genuinely listen closely with interest and usually ask a couple of questions to them to get a little more information. But the flip side, Bart said, is that you would then have to listen to Bill... for about 2 hours. He would go on and on and he just loved to talk. But it was okay really because he really knew so much and was truly interesting to listen to as he went from topic to topic. But after a while, you just had to tell him to shut up. And at that moment you would have truly gained his respect, because you had stood up to him. I feel over the last couple of years that Bill had come to truly respect me and Bart, a lot more than when we initially met him. He had sort of ushered us into what most would like to call adulthood. As he'd say, "Been there, seen it, done it." He brought us experience and we're all thankful for that.He gave that to all of us.

Lastly and I have to make this kinda quick unfortunately, Bill always told Bart to pick up his feet when he walked, and asked in a perturbed manner, "Why do you have your hands in your pockets?" Bart always finds himself now hearing Bill asking this question to him whenever he realizes that he has hands in his pockets. Upon hearing about this I had to think about what the heck that means and Bart and I agreed that he was basically saying in his special Bill way, "Idle hands are the Devil's hands." Bill wanted us to remember our potential, know our abilities, and to succeed by taking life by the horns. And for these insights, we love and appreciate Bill for his own brand of wisdom. We will miss how he left us hanging on every word.

In closing, I thought last night about what i would be like as a person if i had never met Bill Christie and all I could come up with was that I wouldn't want to know. And I really don't think that any of us would. With all his great qualities and all his bad ones, he came as the full package. Full of life, love and appreciation for his friends and his wonderful family. So if you all will please join me and Hallie in sending him off... We'll all give him his favorite answer to his favorite question, "Who loves us?".... "We Do!"
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