Social Commentary

Patrick Hickey – In Memoriam

  • March 8, 2017

Remembrance For Patrick Hickey

I first met Patrick when we were both students at UCLA in the mid 1970’s. At the time I was employed at the Film School as a graduate assistant, teaching a class in beginning filmmaking techniques called “Project One” in which undergrads learned how to make a film project utilizing Super 8 cameras and editing equipment while at the same time working on one of my own Earth-shattering “masterpieces” which would usually keep me occupied into the wee hours of the morning.

A year or so earlier after having been accepted into the UCLA Film School as a graduate student, I had subsequently migrated down from Seattle where I’d parlayed some of my VA benefits into a BA degree in Communications and had worked on the Campus radio station broadcasting the news and co-hosting a Friday night jazz show.

So…early one sunny morning, I stumbled out of my editing room and staggered down to the Gypsy Wagon, a converted trailer next to the Library in North Campus where one could grab a coffee and a pastry or a sandwich and bask in the morning Sun at one of the tables strewn haphazardly about the surrounding square. There, seated on a bench was this wire-haired, fuzzy-bearded character right out of Lewis Carroll, eyeing me with bemused look on his face. I must have looked a sight, because he quipped: “Rough night?” When I grunted a response, his face broke out in an ear-to-ear Cheshire Cat grin followed by a deep belly laugh; what I (and others) would soon come to recognize as signature Patrick. “Here. You look like you could use this”, he said as he handed me a Joint.

What followed were several years of hanging out, sharing stories (or as he called them “Lies”); listening to music (he was the first “geek” I ever met – very much into the latest stereo and video tech, having built his own TV from a Heath Kit – which was unfortunately lost in a fire at my Topanga Canyon flat after he had trusted it to me for safekeeping – something he never let me forget BTW); hanging out in Manhattan Beach on Sundays, scarfing burritos and cheering on the Cowboys; or calling one another at night with solutions to the word game “Boggle”.

American Rabbit by Stewart Moskowitz

Once I even conned Patrick into helping develop a script for an animation series based upon the whimsical creations of graphic artist, Stewart Moskowitz whose manager at the time lived next door to me when I was in Topanga Canyon. Moskowitz’ characters were stylized versions of birds, fish, ducks, and cows — embellished with human-like expressions, an obvious inspiration from those created by the Disney animators. It was a lot of fun spinning ideas off of one another, fueled by some wine and ganja with tracks by Miles Davis and Genesis cooking in the background. Anyway, the project never got past the brain-storming stages, as neither I nor Stewart Moskowitz had the money to move on into production. I think I still have some of the scenarios we conjured up along with a few of Stewart’s posters stuck in a folder somewhere.

After he, Jeanne and the kids moved up to Capitola, Patrick and I kept in touch but didn’t see much of each other until I was transferred to San Francisco to work in the home offices of a book retailer I was then employed with. Then during the holidays or the odd weekend, I was able to drive down and spend some time along the Boardwalk or just lounge with Patrick and the family in their backyard, where he and Jeanne had built some raised beds where they grew flowers and vegetables.

Patrick and JB. Santa Cruz 1988.

On one particular occasion Patrick had been doing battle with an overly intrusive and aggressive gopher who had been tunneling under and into the flower beds then proceeding to suck up carrots and other tubers from below. Patrick knew the only way to stop the pest would be to re-rig the beds with wire mesh “flooring” which meant he’d have to dig everything up and start all over again, and so in frustration, letting his Irish temper get the best of him, he ran into the garage, grabbed a road flare, ignited it and shoved it into one of the gopher holes. “Die you @#!%^&!!”, he roared (or something to that effect). Patrick would have laughed heartily at this story.

Some time after, the Hickeys moved into a gigantic house on a cul-de-sac in Santa Cruz. Patrick was always an early-adaptor for new tech. He seemed to always have the latest gizmo or gadget. He was the first (and only) person I knew who had an Apple Cube. He even had a Next computer. He was the first to have a flat screen TV. And audio? He always had the latest and greatest. Patrick was the first person I knew who had his own internet server. He was the first to have a GMail account and “invite” me to create my own. And on this Mansard-style flat-roofed Santa Cruz abode, he was the first in the area to install solar panels.

Patrick was also an early proponent of digital photography and videography. His website idyll.com features numerous galleries of amazing photos and video projects shot locally and from travels around the world which in turn became an inspiration for me to to do the same and move from film to digital and create my own websites.

In October of last year Jeanne, Patrick and I had a quiet, lovely dinner at Comal, down the street from where they lived in Berkeley where I had the best flan I’ve tasted since my Puerto Rico days, after which we visited for a while in their apartment where I was invited to sit in Patrick’s favorite chair, an Eames lounge. It would be the last time I would see him.

Subsequently we exchanged several emails and made tentative plans to meet up for dinner again in The City. Then in January came the shocker. The email was a goodbye of sorts. So direct. So abrupt. So final. I will miss him more than I have words to describe.

Requiescat in pace, Patrick.

Background photo by Patrick Hickey.
Photos by Jeanne Hickey.


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