Monday, June 1, 2020

I Lost a Friend to Covid 19

I recently posted The Village Voice obit for my friend Ward Harkavy who died of Covid 19 on May 17.  I had tried to write about this twice but could not get it right.  I kept seeing Ward looking over my shoulder saying, "God, Pryor, that's Bullshit." 

Ward and I  worked at the same newspaper (Lawrence (KS) Journal World), but not at the same time.  That was probably a good thing.  Ward was an exacting copy editor.   I  was a fair to middling reporter and knew nothing of style books or spelling or commas.  

He was a great and admirable companion.  Acerbic, witty, fearless and funny.  (Among the first people to  be banned from the presnut's twitter feed).  We smoked a lot of dope together...  one reason the law school faculty named me most likely to flunk the bar.   (I did not.)  With a small group of wits, ran a fake candidate (Martin L. Roberts, The Man From Kansas) for  Lawrence City Council.  With another select group, watched a lot of baseball.  During an especially long meeting on the pitcher's mound one beautiful evening at Royals' Stadium, Ward informed me they would never allow those meetings in the Jewish Baseball League.  Why? I asked.  "Time is money,"  he said.

The last time I saw him was in 1986.  I  was in Tucson for the NCAA Regionals.  We toured the Saguaro National Forest and stayed out late smoking dope under the desert sky.   He talked about the man who shot up an ancient saguaro cactus, which promptly fell over and killed him.   Karma, Ward noted.
Before there was Google there was Ward.  He was an authority on almost everything, and always  available any time of the day or night to  answer trivia questions.  His answers were widely respected and settled many a debate.  So for a while he never knew when he would get a call from me.  

Still, I lost track of him.   Shortly after I moved to Rochester (where for a very, very, very brief time many years before, Ward had a job as the media reporter) I was looking for some information about Amadou Diallo, and Google took me right to an article Ward had written for  The Voice.   

I called him up and thereafter we faced booked and Plonskied and once in a  while discussed getting together in the city.  We never did.  Just goes to show.  You never know.