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how i became the art predator 2: an obit for the ojai & ventucky voice’s jeff san marchi

December 29, 2007

i was doing a little arts writing for the ojai and ventucky voice , mostly promoting sculpture shows at art city, but also published the first article there about Burning Man in 1995 or 96, and the editor, jeff san marchi, wanted my writing, my perspective to become a regular part of the paper–he wanted me to write a column on the arts and life.

yeah well i don’t know i’d say each time jeff brought it up. there wasn’t much money in it, just trade at various restaurants and comps to shows and such. but really i didn’t know if i had that much to say that people would want to read.

then one day i was telling him about the sculptor and how he said i was just a predator on artists, an art predator.

that’s it! said jeff.


you’re the art predator–that’s it–that’s your column! you’re the art predator!

and so i was. i published 1500-3000 word columns or articles every other week for almost three years, from late 1995 or so until 1998. jeff published my stories about art shows and openings, poetry, burning man, really just about anything that interested me. and the column was popular. people remember it still.

during that time in my life, i spent most of my days and nights with one of three gemini’s born on consecutive days and i think in consecutive years more or less. there was a lot of talk, a lot of ideas–too many for this capricorn, and i moved on from all three of them, said goodbye in one rocky way or another to each within a year of each other. one gemini died a few years ago in a paragliding accident, and now jeff.

it is too perfect of a device that if jeff was to go, he would die of a heart attack delivering papers on the eve of Christmas eve. he had that much heart, gave that much of himself. few people knew he was a massage therapist for many years; he hid his gentleness behind his wild hair and beard.

he was a benign editor and would go through some wild shenanigans to get all my words into the issue. he was always full of leads and stories and he was gracious with his time for someone always under a deadline. he would listen to my troubles and sometimes he even shared his with me, especially his concerns about raising his daughters who he adored.

jeff was maybe 10 years older than me. too young. too young to die out of the blue like that, even if he died living a life he loved, living it passionately, fully, intently.

jeff delighted in making trouble, making people think, argue, defend–he challenged those around him i think to challenge himself. as if living and working around ojai’s oak trees making his allergies act up wasn’t enough!

jeff was one of the brightest men in ventucky i knew, and certainly one who really knew how to pay attention to detail. in fact, he delighted in that too.

so jeff, you old gemini you, here’s to you–and to paying attention to every beautiful detail life offers us. i’m just sorry i didn’t get a chance to thank you once more–and to tell you that i’m back on the prowl as the art predator.

with love and gratitude, the art predator

BTW, a memorial service is scheduled for Sat. 12/29 at 11am in ojai. park at matilija for the carpool.

One Comment leave one →
  1. checkash permalink
    December 29, 2007 8:49 pm

    well said. tho i never knew or wrote for him…i gather he was one of the founts of youth around here. bless him as he moves on to the new admixture.

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