In Memoriam: Erik Allen Fitzpatrick (1975-2010)

This was originally written on May 20th, 2010, the day after Erik died beneath the wheels of an Alameda County Transit bus. The original post evaporated between many server migrations, in addition to many of the original links disappearing, so I have recreated it here as best as I can as it something than can be done while traveling (or in an airport). It’s been a day short of a year now, the void is still there, but these days I do a lot more smiling when I see or do something that reminds me of his shenanigans. I like to imagine that the first hoist of every Stein of Science is a toast to Erik. So, cheers and raise ’em high, boys & girls.

Erik Fitzpatrick, better known to The Internets as graymalkn in various dark corners and rock undersides, the wielder of, is no more. He has ceased to be.  You may fill in the rest of the Dead Parrot Sketch quietly to yourself.

Erik Fitpatrick, Playing With Fire (Possibly Going More Bald)
Erik Fitzpatrick, July 4th On Treasure Island, Playing With Fire

Since learning of his unfortunate demise at lunch time, I have spent the afternoon thinking of how very many of the adventures I’ve had in the last fifteen years have either directly involved Erik or been instigated by him.  These are stories that many of you at one time or another have endured at cocktail point as I enter raconteur/bartender mode.  Because I know how much he hated my bullet point posts, allow me to enumerate in no particular order:

  1. An abortive zero-notice drive to Vancouver to get Tim Horton’s doughnuts, that didn’t quite make it much beyond the southern border of Oregon.
  2. Being the loudest thing on Treasure Island for several Fourths of July.
  3. Formalwear Bowling.
  4. Introducing me to Urban Exploring on my return from Antarctica, and thus making The Golden Age of Ording (exploring the former Fort Ord) possible.
  5. The Proud Dwarven Maritime Tradition.
  6. While we are speaking of Steinwielder Humphrey, The Humphrey Room Inconveniencer.  A wonderful study in the limits of slack vs. inconvenience.
  7. A relationship and help recovering at its end.
  8. The inspiration to actually goddamn make something.  There would be no Steins of Science or Black Blood of the Earth without the Typewriter-Keyboard Conversion project.
  9., the second time.  I blame Antarctic dementia for me failing to heed his & Steinwielder Humphrey’s words the first time.
  10. Dry ice bomb detonation of the Death Star.
  11. The friend who prior to my departure thought that my year in Antarctica sounded like the best thing ever, rather than crazy.
  12. Dance, Dance Immolation
  13. A vegetarian willing, on many occasions, to discuss the merits, ethics, logistics, and food preparation concerns of cannibalism.
  14. The man who gave me two copies of Cryptonomicon at the same time so that ONE of them would stay intact long enough for me to complete the book, knowing my previous history destroying that book by accident.  It was just that important to him.
  15. Seriously, Urban Exploring.  I received an angry fist for getting to do Urban Exploring as a part of my job in places he couldn’t get to and nor could I take pictures of to share.  I did a better job decommissioning former nuclear facilities by his inspiration.
  16. Introducing me to Oingo Boingo with their “Farewell”…dammit.
  17. He introduced me to Ole’s Waffles in Alameda.

This is far from an exhaustive list.  Mighty Wurlitzers crop up in it now and then.

More importantly, Erik was a principled man that made a difference.  He worked in schools teaching elementary school kids that science and computers were awesome.  He left a relatively decent job in the games industry to instead be IT and computer education to Walden House.  He was proud of being an poll station monitor.  And then he decided the only way he was really going make the world better by following his dream to become a lawyer.  Next week, he was supposed to start his internship with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Death Penalty Project in Louisiana.

He was going to be a GOOD lawyer.

While most of us were too busy trying to make a buck and make ends meet, Erik found a way to make his daily bread and help many, many more do the same.

And now he is gone.  The world is so much the poorer for his passing.  I was looking forward to voting for him someday.  As a member of my Shadowy Cabal for Global Domination, a public face is necessary to be loved by the masses.  It is good for that love to be genuine, well-earned, and returned by the recipient.

Erik Allen Fitzpatrick, 1975-2010