ED WARD OBIT

EW OBIT
 
A guy I’ve known for 16 years, rock critic and historian Ed Ward, died in May. Ed and I went on lots of long walks in Berlin and talked about music, of course (Ed even got a rave review of a band I sort of faked, in order to kickstart the project, into Paste magazine) and we talked about lots of other things, too. Not trusting Fate to handle the transaction for us, despite the fact that Ed and I were both living in Berlin in the early 2000s, we initially met Online, in the comment section of his then-Blog. Our sensibilities aligned, generally, regarding the quirks and twists of Expat Life in Berlin, so when I commented on a feature of his blog called “Sauerkraut” (about his pet peeves about the city), he loved the comment. The subliminal difference… which would loom larger as time went on… was that my cynical comments about Berlin were coming from a place of mad passion for the city: I loved it (with reservations) then and I love it (with reservations) now, and more than any other city.  It turned out that Ed actually hated the place, but I didn’t realize this when I submitted the long, detailed comment that kickstarted our friendship, which is (excerpted here)…
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cafes/bakeries

  1. if a Berliner lunch companion miraculously picks up the tab at a café s/he will NOT leave a tip; and if YOU then leave one in embarrassment s/he will pocket it with the comment that the service wasn’t THAT good (I’ve had this happen twice)
  1. you’re sitting at your tiny table, minding your own business… and a stranger takes a seat at it (after asking if it’s alright… maybe 50% of the time); privacy at the table does NOT come with the price of your purchase, no matter how small the table (or large the purchase) is.
  1. bees all over your future bakery purchases in the summer (no technology for closing cases); naked counter-help hands all over your future bakery purchases all year round.

exits, entrances, escalators, aisles, sidewalks

Berliners like blocking them.

at the movies

If you’re a native Berliner, go to an OV (Eng) movie and laugh VERY loud at all jokes (even non-jokes) to prove that you get them.

pedantry

At least once in your life, a native Berliner with a few years of English under his or her belt WILL attempt to gainsay your knowledge of…  English.

dating

If you want a Berliner girl to respect you, dump her first; THEN have sex with her.

Ed responded:

Dear Sir or Madam:

You will shortly be awarded a prestigious M.S. (Master of Sauerkraut)
degree for the thesis you have just submitted. Our review staff
considers it one of the most comprehensive, accurate, and detailed
lists ever sent to us.

In fact, I may ask permission to run the whole damn thing on the blog!
Attributed, it goes without saying.

EW

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Soon thereafter we decided to meet and so began a weekly (sometimes twice-weekly) habit of zigzagging, three-hour walks across town.  Almost anyone who can walk with me for three hours, without griping about their feet, can be my friend. Being a world-class raconteur with a radio-friendly voice (Ed’s NPR radio gigs always made me visualize an Ed on his best raconteuring behavior, hoping to get into some “girl’s” pants) made Ed my first choice, for a walking co-pilot, for the first few years of our friendship. During these walks we hatched many schemes, as Bohemians, some involving film scripts and some involving music. One idea we had was creating a band (which calls back to my remark that Ed wrote a rave review in Paste magazine, for me). Digging through the teetering pile of Ed emails I found:
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Ed Ward <ward@berlinbites.com>

To: StevenAugustine

Sun, 16 Apr 2006 at 14:41

Jeez, you recruited the weird kid from St. Oberholz! That’s networking, dude!

Sort of hard to tell definitively from that particular document, but it sounds really good. Get your myspace on, guy! Well, maybe that’s a bit premature, but that’s how it works these days.

And, again, from what I could tell, the songwriting sounds excellent.

On the other hand, I’m just an old fart. Whadda I know.

EW

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At the time I was getting fat royalty checks for having co-written crappy German Pop (the venture with Ed was an attempt to create a cool band as an antidote and my response to Ed’s email was a simple “seriously. MUSIC= MONEY (if you’re clever…and we ARE)” )

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and Ed’s response to that was:

Ed Ward <ward@berlinbites.com>

To: StevenAugustine

Wed, 17 May 2006 at 17:04

Great; I need four grand in three weeks. How do we do that?

EW

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I found an email from later that year, the context of which escapes me, but it seems emblematic:
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Ed Ward <ward@berlinbites.com>

To: StevenAugustine

Thu, 17 Aug 2006 at 20:38

Of course, you realize that your letter’s the only way my name’ll ever get in Salon. What a bunch of stuck-up self-important assholes.

EW

 
 
In 2009, EW moved to Montpellier, having had a “noseful” (Berlin slang) of Berlin, and it took perhaps six months before he started posting on his new, Montpellier-based Blog, material about how much he was beginning to hate Montpellier.
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Of course this made me laugh, out loud, the first time I read Ed’s new, Frenchy gripes, because it was so Ed. That tendency was Ed’s second biggest fatal law… his “hamartia,” if you’re a classicist… a theory I developed not by knowing Ed from childhood but after a few hundred hours of conversation when Ed was in his late 50s. I was 48 when Ed left Berlin for Montpellier, so Ed must have been 59. I’m a little older than 59 now and I’m trying to imagine things being so bad in Berlin that I would try to do everything, all over again, in yet another country I wasn’t born in. At some point in your life it has to hit you that those greener-grass mirages you sometimes see are actually becoming more illusory the older you get. What was Ed running from or for? The cliché-slinging amateur analysts would say Ed was running from himself. Nah, not really. I think Ed was after what everyone Het in our general demographic (Ed was born in ’48, I in ’59) was after: Her. 
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Ed was a tall, handsome, erudite, witty, connected and way-Hip rake of the ’70s-’80s (his pictures of that era never fail to shock me with his cowboy-hatted badassedness)  and he should have run a major campaign, at the height of his powers, to locate and snare Her.  He missed the chance to (whatever the ins and outs of his romantic intrigues were back then) and, by the time we met, the advice I wanted most to give Ed was the advice I hadn’t known him quite long enough to give: get in better shape, Ed, and lower your sights a little!
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60-ish Ed talking about “girls” was sometimes like a homeless guy talking about sports cars, but it didn’t have to be. Next time I meet Ed… or his nearest analogue… I will say something, I will give that advice, despite the risk of coming off rudely. Though I wonder, now, with so many (artificial) cultural shifts cracking the psychosocial ground beneath our feet, if the next Ed has any chance to find Her, with or without my advice? Do “He” and “Her” even seek one another, now, for any activity other than combat? It feels like bad taste, in this obituary, to remark, at this point, how lucky I feel in my Wife… my Her… but bad taste is my forte.
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During one long walk, Ed began to rhapsodize lasciviously about a tall, skinny 40-ish “hottie” who worked in one of Berlin’s Brit-Expat-Shops. A few minutes into his rhapsody I found myself doubling-over with mirth as I realized Ed was talking about my psychotic-ex-model first wife. She would have shortened Ed’s life considerably and, in any case, she was in the market for a doctor (and eventually settled for an Anesthesiologist). I got a good laugh out of a disappointed Ed, that day, when I told him about the time she said (as a native German speaker), of Agatha Christie, “But if they know what her name is, how is she a Mystery Writer…?”
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 ******

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What I have left of Ed, now, are a few hundred emails (most are a sentence or two long) and some really great video footage. Several times, I  filmed Ed walking and talking across Berlin with me, with my first video camera, and I filmed him again, one day, when he accompanied me and one of my out-of-town-visitor chums to a weekend market in Prenzlauer Berg. During that walk Ed told a great story about being in Bob Marley’s hotel room, among other things. One day I’m going to get that footage together.
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Ed and I were “soul mates” when it came to gossip about Thomas Pynchon, and being baffled about the Hipster Cult of Sinatra (and retro “lounge” music in general),  and Ed was the only person I’ve ever known to have been in a room with The Residents: such trivial things are the lingering markers (the ever-dimming-though eternal flamelets) of a friendship. His flat (right off of Torstraße) was a warren of teetering piles of books and CDs and his battles with his German landlord were legendary. At one point Ed was more than a year behind in his rent, which meant coming and going, when meeting up with Ed, as surreptitiously as possible and holding the yucks down in his living room. If you have never had to displace your ass a few inches to the left or right, mere milliseconds before impacting a sofa, to avoid a suddenly-noticed kitchen knife, or dust-and-mold-encrusted object, or lavishly autographed vinyl from the Tom Tom Club (and, btw: if you have a look at  Chris Frantz’s Faceboot page, you will see that Chris and Ed suffered that same Her curse, though Chris was lucky enough to mitigate the longings by scoring Tina Weymouth: Chris is still posting pictures of Hotties, longingly, on his page, for no good damned reason)  you never visited Ed Ward, at home, in Berlin. Or anywhere, I’m guessing.
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Ed was one of the last of the great 20th century Bohemians. I kept a toe in the Faith but became a family man a few years after first meeting him, so bachelor Ed was left to live out the purest principles of the Faith without me. And, again: incompleteness was Ed’s inspiration and his albatross. Ed needed a woman to clean up, lose weight and stay put for. Though I’m not claiming that would have prolonged Ed’s life, knowing what I know now…
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… because: a much older acquaintance of Ed’s, rock writer Charles Shaar Murray (of Bowie fame), wrote, when Ed died: “Irony of ironies: this news comes almost exactly a month after he proudly announced (on his own FB page) that he’d received his second Covid vax shot”…
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… and surely, I think, nobody can be that thick? But people often are; even clever people can be thick, or naïve and they can believe or do patently absurd things that can harm or kill them.
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Well, Ed had a “good run,” as they say. But it’s almost enough to break your heart, when you read Ed’s Faceboot post, on the occasion of getting the first of two hits that killed him, that he was doing so (and risking so much) so he could travel and “kiss girls”.
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EW-last
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Iconic Clips of Ed From 2008/ 2009:

 
 

https://the-augustine-authority.wistia.com/medias/ymf63695iw

 
 
 
 

2 Comments

    1. Hi Jeffy! I’m anti “let me be a guinea pig for a drug trial (running officially until 2023) for a product based on an unprecedented Gene Tech that’s not even legally a ‘vaccine’ and for which the manufacturer has, mysteriously, been granted zero liability”… ie, are you people nuts or retarded? Laugh. I can see why Big Pharma is into it but why are the unpaid guinea pigs? Do you know what the *reported* death and injury figures are? Normally, a couple dozen deaths are a trial “get out”… these deaths are running to the tens of thousands (conservatively) in Europe and the US. Kids are calling it the “clotshot” on Twitter… which is pretty clever of those kids, Jeffy. You should be that clever. Now, I suspect that you *are* that clever, and, as an upper-middle-tier WASP you’re advocating that the SERFS roll up their sleeves and take their medicine, right…? Wink.

      Anyway: indeed: my memories of Ed are still warm. We palled around quite a bit before his pointless “escape” to France! Ah, well, those who claim that the point of Life is the “lessons” it teaches us seem to believe we get TWO of them. Nope. Get your major mistakes out of the way early, kids…

      Like

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