In the early hours, while waiting to leave Chicago for Milwaukee, we heard about the passing of Arlene Dick; blogger, music fan, and all-round decent human being.
When I first started writing my blog, Arlene, disguised anonymously through the ether of Tumblr, took an interest in it and let snippets of information of her life be known. Indeed she had great enthusiasm for all things related to the tour, the musicians, the crew and of course Leonard himself. She took great strides in attending as many shows as she could and after I met her for the first time I was glad I did.
Having worked in the music business for an arguably unhealthy number of years, I’ve learnt to avoid certain pitfalls, and occasionally, some of those traps are meeting with fans of the artist. It’s the dirty little secret of musicdom, that some fans are seen as simply crazy. Indeed, you can’t have fanatic without fan; there are the wide-eyed starlets who will threaten to kill themselves if they can’t meet with the artist, there are some who will do anything they can to simply sit in the same room and gush over their favourite star, some who need to be physically restrained from getting on the bus, and the list could go on — but Arlene was by no means any of those people. To be sure, when we met in the catering area of a venue for the first time (I can’t remember which) I felt as I normally do when speaking with a big fan of the artist — some trepidation: what are they going to ask me about the artist, what method of bargaining and tactics are they going to employ in order to gain favour and some sort of ‘in’…
But Arlene wasn’t like that. We talked about writing, about Toronto, about life in general. She was a massive Leonard fan, but I think she was also genuinely interested in ordinary people, and not in an intrusive way; I think she was curious, in curiosity’s most innocent form — she just seemed to like life. She certainly didn’t judge, at least not in my experience; she praised me for my honesty in writing and I took it as a great compliment. She seemed to enjoy the character Dupuis from the summer blogs and I became of the mind: this is one tough lady — she can handle unpleasant thoughts. In true keeping with honesty, after we met, and when I saw her backstage at various venues, walking from A to B, knowing she was intelligent, strong, charismatic and honest, she reminded me, with her walking stick and not-always-nimble gait, of a certain character from Star Wars — the wise Jedi, knowing something we didn’t know. Yes, I’m talking about Yoda. And I hope Arlene would find that amusing, because to me, she praised honesty and accepted humour, I hope, for something to balance the dark side of things, sickness and death.
I barely knew Arlene, but the Arlene I knew, I liked alot.