Archives for category: Friendship

Every now and then I search for friends and colleagues with whom I have lost touch. Until today, I had tried numerous times to find Terry Campbell, with whom I worked briefly in the late 1990s, with no luck. I just did a search, only to discover he had died a year and a half ago:

Terry was found in his car, which had veered from his driveway into the woods. He lived near a field where llamas graze in rural Chimacum, Washington, a tiny speck on the map near Port Townsend, not far from Seattle. My heart was wrenched by the news.

Warren Goldie, “A Good Friend Is Forever: Discovering the Terry Campbell Fan Club” (November 30, 2019).

The author of this appreciation for Terry wrote well and meant well, with a boyhood cartoon and a fine photo. I wish I had known Terry when he sported the beard, for, sans beard, he looked eerily like author Stephen King. But Mr. Goldie, the eulogist, was misinformed about the nature of the job for which Terry had crossed the country:

Terry found a job as the managing editor of a libertarian magazine in Port Townsend that promptly went out of business right after Terry arrived. He landed on hard times, working a string of part-time jobs—apartment manager, librarian, custodian. Often, he was down on his luck.

The magazine was Liberty, which I helped found in 1987. The publisher, Bill Bradford, hired Terry largely because I didn’t want the job of managing Liberty’s editorial operations. Terry was fired from the job about a half year after joining; I left soon after. In our negotiations for my departure, Bradford expressed his surprise at my lack of interest in doing the job that Terry had applied for and won. “Bill,” I said. “The job of managing editor is basically managing you. I knew I was utterly incapable of doing it successfully. Terry is the only person I have witnessed pulling it off, professionally. And he grew to hate you. Because you were the problem. Not anyone else. You.”

It was a sad conversation. But after Terry and I left, Bradford managed to find competent help, I gather, for the magazine lasted past Bradford’s death in 2005. So maybe he was easier to manage during that stage of his life. I know I thought the prospect hopeless, and Terry judged it vexing.

Terry was a terrific at his job. Never before had the editorial process at the magazine flowed in a timely manner, without bottlenecks. But the half a year at Liberty almost destroyed him. I always felt badly about that. To what extent was I responsible? For the record, Bradford did indeed blame me. But it was Terry he fired. For what Terry could not do was contain his well-developed rage at Bradford; he could not believe that the toughest part of his job was to get his boss to perform tasks within a rational time frame. I had it much easier, in a sense, for whatever anger I felt at how badly the magazine ran, I felt a dozen other emotions as well. To be consumed by one emotion is not good.

Terry kept my cat for half a year after I left, but I never really kept track of the man, because I was far away and knew I could only sympathize — as I figured it, since I had not tried to place myself as a buffer between him and Bradford, as I had for several others, I was not the person for him to fall back upon. I couldn’t make up for what I had not done.

Besides, both he and Bill were strong-willed, obstinate people. I do not try to control such folks. I do what I can and watch them reap what they sow.

It is a tough world. It is sad to see another Liberty laborer leave us. First Bradford in 2005, then Eric and Terry in 2019. Perhaps I will be next.


Eric (at right) and me in Longview, Washington, last November. Here we pose in the parking lot of Pie@Trios, a pizza joint that is the successor to the once-popular pizza chain Pietros. My squinting is no reflection on anything other than a bright autumnal sunlight.

My friend Eric D. Dixon died yesterday. His friends and co-workers and family now condole each other on his Facebook page, and some of us just grieve in solitude.

Eric was a kind person. Unlike many people in politics — he was working for the Libertarian Party as an editor and technology developer when he died — he was not an a**h*le, not even a little bit. But he wasn’t a pushover, either. He was a “connector.” He helped people work together and helped people form friendships. He had a lot of knowledge, from the trivial (he played at “trivia” contests) to the profound. I would have liked to have known him better, but for most of the last 20 years we were on opposite sides of the continent.

He came to Liberty magazine in 1998, where I labored as Executive Editor at the time, leaving in 1999, a few months before I did. We had a more than a few interests in common, like progressive rock and keyboard playing and odd music in general. I just got an email from the California Guitar Trio, for instance, a group that I never would have known about had it not been for Eric’s enthusiasm. Same goes for Béla Fleck and Guy Klucevsek — and it is worth noting that Eric was a fine accordionist. Another of Eric’s and my shared interests was cinema. I probably would never have taken notice of the quirky films of Hal Hartley had it not been for Eric. The “feel” of a Hartley film seems to capture my mood right now.

Through Eric I met Paul Jacob and Justin M. Stoddard, and I heard him mention, on many occasions, his many other friends, such as Michael Malice — who has referred to Eric on his show more than once.

Eric, professionally, was a first-rate proofreader and an expert technician in online technology. His own writing was always clear and dignified, reminding me, actually, of John Hospers’ style. Eric also had a clean design sense.

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, 41 years ago, I found an apartment on Alameda, not far from where Eric was living at that time. I often wonder whether in one of my perambulations I met young Eric and smiled at him (as one does with kids), perhaps giving him a nod. Were life a circular affair, as in comedy and fantasy, I would seek his boy self out, on the streets behind Sylvia’s Italian Restaurant. And wink, or nod — as if to foreshadow a life to come.


The presence of Bene the Cat in this filtered photo reminds me that Eric enjoyed the company of felines, probably more than I do.
His cats, surely, will miss him too.