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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
RIP Joey Gatski
Listening to:Pat Metheny
Reading:the 4 hour workweek
Weather:40ish sunny
Very sad news for me, and for many many people I know. Joey Gatski was apparently found dead in his apartment last night.

You may have read about him here before, in this post that mentions Joey from 2006, or just last month when I had a lovely encounter with him that I blogged about here. In this most recent one I said something about "a round of love" on my way out. But the more specific truth was Joey hugged me and said "I love you" as I left. At the time I thought it was very nice, but also just a little heavy. Now in retrospect I'm wondering if Joey had some knowledge about his impending death, some kind of inkling that he might not see me again or something. Maybe I'm making too much of it. But that's what ya do when you're stewing in the fresh news of your friend's demise.

But anyway you slice it, I loved Joey, too. I'm pretty sure he knew that. He could be a scary dark guy when he was in his cups, but he could charm the pants off just about anybody when he was in that kind of mood.

I just learned about Joey's death a half hour ago, my dear friend Al came by to deliver the bad news. I think I'll have more to say here when I've had a chance to ruminate on it for a bit. But in the meantime, here's a video I found just the other day, made apparently by a WVU student. It's a collection of stills narrated by Joey with him playing bamboo flute and guitar in the background. Enjoy.


permalink posted by cat 9:36 AM

read 9 comments

Comments:
Joey was my uncle. The video you posted was beautiful.
I just wanted to say thanks for putting this on here, even though probably not a lot of people will see it or even know of him.
He was such a nice man, just really misunderstood.
He taught me how to play chess, made me a flute out of bamboo, and grewa beautiful bamboo archway in my grandma's front yard.
We will miss him a lot.
Katie Gatski
 
The folks that made the video were Jeff Bower's and Matt Sampson. They were students in Joel Beeson's and John Temple's Multi-media class at the WVU School of Journalism. We have been working with them to do video's of artists in our program. Another two students were working with Joey - or Joseph - he corrected me last time I said that - are Alex and Patty. They are still putting that video together. If you want to contact them email joel.beeson@mail.wvu.edu. They should be finishing it up now. This project was also highlighted in Journalisms Alumni Magazine Summer Issue. Jeff talks about working with Joe, and there is a really good image of him looking out over the mountain.

I also have books of Joe's poetry. If anyone wants one we are giving them away for free - just make a donation to the Highland Conservatory in Joe's name. And if you don't have money, you can have one too. I think Joe would have liked that.

I miss Joe and have no words for it. My favorite memory was the morning I was working in my garden and heard this lovely flute music. It was a beautiful cold morning. Joe stood up with his flute in his hand, and was wearing a big smile. He said: "Mornin' ma'am! Got some coffee for a weary stranger?" He had slept in my parsley patch - it wasn't up yet, he reminded me, so it wouldn't be harmed. My husband, Butch took his picture, and I painted a picture of him. If I can find a copy of it I will send it to you.

Joe also loved this poem called Dream Tigers, by Borges. I am leaving it for all you who loved Joseph. Farewell, my friend. May you find peace, a pretty girl and a good fishing hole on the other side.

Dreamtigers, Borges
In my childhood I was a fervent worshiper of the tiger-not the jaguar, that spotted "tiger" that inhabits the floating islands of water hyacinths along the Parana and the tangled wilderness of the Amazon, but the true tiger, the striped Asian breed that can be faced only by men of war, in a castle atop an elephant. I would stand for hours on end before one of the cages at the zoo; I would rank vast encyclopedias and natural history books by the splendor of their tigers. (I still remember those pictures, I who cannot recall without error a woman's brow or smile.) My childhood outgrown, the tigers and my passion for them faded, but they are still in my dreams. In that underground sea or chaos, they still endure. As I sleep I am drawn into some dream or other, and suddenly I realize that it's a dream. At those moments, I often think: This is a dream, a pure diversion of my will, and since I have unlimited power, I am going to bring forth a tiger.
Oh, incompetence! My dreams never seen to engender the creature I so hunger for. The tiger does appear, but it is all dried up, or it's flimsy-looking, or it has impure vagaries of shape or an unacceptable size, or it's altogether too ephemeral, or it looks more like a dog or bird than like a tiger.

Helen Panzironi hpancironi@hsc.wvu.edu
 
My name is Patty Irizarry and I am a WVU journalism student who was working on another video with Joe. I was blessed with the opportunity to get to know him these past couple of months. He was such a wonderful man who had a beautiful way of speaking to you from his music, poetry or just simple conversation. I'm really sad to see him go; Joe will definitely be missed.

Peace,

Patty Irizarry
 
Video made me cry. I spent some time off and on with Joey over the years, some fishing, tramping around, sang hunting (that's a lie; he would NEVER take me sang hunting, big secrets and all), got a good gallon of shine off of him now and then, not too sweet and no hangover. I swear if I saw him now it would be "Joe, get me some shine, wouldja?" Not much since I moved away, never saw him for a bunch of years. Last time maybe 1995 . . . I think it was a good meeting. Sometimes he was grouchy, uncommunicative, etc. whatever but I didn't really care, ignored it. I thought he didn't like me, too citified and all, but I think he was that way with everybody now and then. And then he could be the most wonderful friendly person, "I love you, man" and all that. Too young to die and too talented to lose though. A hard life, and other extenuating circumstances, may have killed him. Where is the justice in that?
 
Damn. RIP, Joey.
 
Joey was a lover and friend of mine--many years ago-- the early 80's--1981-84 off and on to be exact. I loved his mom, his home,and most all of the time spent with him. I believe he loved me, but it is hard to say now. He gave me a rare book that meant a great deal to him once. I still cherish it.

I cannot believe how sad I am after hearing of his death-- and so many years in between. I think I last saw him before I left Elkins in '85. Perhaps there are those people we never forget; never quite connect with completely though or make a life together and therefore they are somewhat lost to us in time. So sad. So sad, and yet, so free, because I will remember him as young and brilliant and passionate. I will love him onward and wish there was another opportunity to have seen him and kindly exchanged the wisdom of the years.

My love to his family and friends. There is much more to say, that cannot be said simply or succinctly-- so this will suffice. My condolences to you all on his passing. He was truly amazing and more loved than he ever knew.

ellyne bell
sacramento, california
 
Joey was a lover and friend of mine--many years ago-- the early 80's--1981-84 off and on to be exact. I loved his mom, his home,and most all of the time spent with him. I believe he loved me, but it is hard to say now. He gave me a rare book that meant a great deal to him once. I still cherish it.

I cannot believe how sad I am after hearing of his death-- and so many years in between. I think I last saw him before I left Elkins in '85. Perhaps there are those people we never forget; never quite connect with completely though or make a life together and therefore they are somewhat lost to us in time. So sad. So sad, and yet, so free, because I will remember him as young and brilliant and passionate. I will love him onward and wish there was another opportunity to have seen him and kindly exchanged the wisdom of the years.

My love to his family and friends. There is much more to say, that cannot be said simply or succinctly-- so this will suffice. My condolences to you all on his passing. He was truly amazing and more loved than he ever knew.

ellyne bell
sacramento, california
 
Cat,
I never had the pleasure to speak to Joe. I remember him from the ROMPP art show. I remember telling a friend that is music calmed me. After watching the video I know that he would be a friend I would like to have had.
You sure know some pretty cool people.
Rest in peace Joe
Vicki Shaffer
 
I met Joey Gatski in April 1977 at Chimney Rock, which was near Elkins, West Virginia.

Joey had an unusually serene and serious personality, and was unflappable in the face of adversity.

I was camping with a group of rock climbers at a small state park. We encountered torrential rains, and the banks of the creek we were camping at overflowed.

After going to a nearby park with a covered area, about 30+ people huddled together around outdoor cooking stoves, while Joey and I played guitar and banjo through the evening.

That evening still evokes many positive memories that I will never forget.

I am sorry that he and I never met again.

Lloyd Spencer
Washington State
 
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RIP Joey Gatski
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