On his flickr, he finished the photo caption with: "I'm not dead. Just gone for a while."

Last weekend a sizable crowd gathered to remember artist Donald Cecil who passed away suddenly at only 52 years of age.

I worked with Donald for a year, maybe longer, when he was art director at VCReporter.  In those days, the editorial and art departments shared tight quarters in our office at the Harbor, yet despite what could be a tense, deadline-driven environment, laughter and creativity seemed to eclipse the negatives, thanks mostly to Donald’s wicked sense of humor and infinite stream of ideas. Besides being a gifted painter, he was also a master of Photoshop and created some breathtaking, surreal works in that medium.  Memories of time shared with Donald continue to pop into my head without context: our shared enthusiasm for the Strokes when their first record came out; how he would hide a little cat face on every single cover and those of us who knew about it had the privilege of finding it; his quiet faith; how he would say “dude” and then apologize for it; that he actually liked Kid Rock; brainstorming with him on cover ideas; his kindness to my son who, when he was five, sometimes had to come to work with me; how he burned me a copy of the Vines’ first cd with the caveat that it wasn’t as groundbreaking as the Strokes, but it was still damn good; his passion for Jujubees (had to be the name) and his hilarious entry, under a nom de plume, in one of our Flash Fiction contests. Donald was extremely well-read and literary and when he decided to try his hand at super-short fiction not only did we all have a good laugh, but he placed in the contest. If memory serves (see above) I was the only judge who knew which entry was his. To wit:

“THE MAN IN THE BIG YELLOW HAT”

by W. Smith, Ventura

The Man In The Big Yellow Hat was sick and tired of all their stupid jokes. And he was drunk. And hungry.

“My glass is empty,” he belched to himself. In an act of self preservation he closed one eye.  Everyone in the bar watched him in the mirror, except for the lady he punched, she was still on the floor.

He felt his pockets for money. “Damned stinky ape,” he said. His furry wallet was empty and his monkey skin boots were scuffed and damp. The gravy train was gone.

 

See you on the other side, Don. You are missed.

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