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RIP: Mike Glicksohn

Rob Sawyer wrote: "Mike passed away at 5:30 a.m. ET this morning in Toronto after suffering a stroke, following a long battle with cancer. He was a Hugo Award-winning fanzine publisher, and one of the best people I ever knew; I named the entire human race "Gliksins" in his honour in my novel HOMINIDS."

I was delighted to see both Mike and Susan Manchester at SFContario in November. They came out to the convention Friday night, but weren't able to make it back to the All Worldcons, All the Time Bheer Tasting that randy_byers, Pat Virzi, and I hosted Saturday night.

When we talked that Friday night, I made plans with Mike to hang out with him on Monday. If his white count was high enough, he'd be at the hospital for about 6 hours getting chemotherapy. If it was too low, they'd send him back home. Either way, we'd have more visiting time, more time to talk, or just enjoy being in each other's presence. We sorted out the logistics. I'd call the house as I was leaving the hotel. If I got the answering machine, I'd head to the hospital. If Mike answered, I'd go to his and Susan's home.

Right as I was loading the last of my luggage into my car, I received the call from my Dad telling me he wasn't doing well and that he was headed for the emergency room. That did in my plan to spend the afternoon with Mike. I called and got his answering machine, and headed straight for Battle Creek.

The next time I was online, I picked up a rare, personal email note from Mike:

Got your message, my dear. It was much appreciated.

As you surmised, my blood was okay and I spent a fair chunk of time in the hospital getting chemo.

I hope your trip to Michigan ran smoothly and there was good news about your father when you got there. Keep us posted.

I'm very glad we were able to go to the con on Friday night and see and hug you. We might have gone anyway but you were the main reason we wanted to be there.

Take care and may both of our families know better news in 2011.



So far, I'm only reminded how differently I react every time I learn that someone I care for has died. Today, the news came as an interruption in a phone call -- debgeisler and I were chatting away about the Renovation Souvenir Book (Deb's the editor; I'm the designer). Deb was mid-sentence when she saw the news online and immediately interrupted her thought to tell me. An incredibly loud "FUCK!" flew out of my mouth and in fewer than 5 seconds, I told her I had to go and fumbled the phone receiver back into its cradle. I all but leapt out of my chair and paced the office, kitchen, and dining area with tears in my eyes and shouting FUCK! over and over and over again. That went on for a minute or three, then I sat back down and took a few deep breaths without shouting or saying anything.

I started making phone calls. Just a few friends and loved ones so far. The first and shakiest was to benyalow; he'd already seen the bad news in email. None of the others had. Joe Siclari. minnehaha K. And Susan, in Minneapolis. We talked the longest, doing that fragmented in shock conversation thing where we'd talk about Mike, switch to talking about how Gavi's trip to Germany is going (she's there on spring break!), back to Mike, my plans for May and how it looks like I might be able to make it to Minneapolis to see the musical Gavi is in, touching briefly on the fact that in May we'll figure out the logistics of Gavi's August move to Smith College (just 40 miles away from Toad Woods). And how Susan knew things couldn't be good, that it had been too long after receiving 4 updates from Mike in short succession. That sent me to my email archives; I read the post-SFContario note I posted above to Susan. We finally hit a stopping point and said our goodbyes for the moment.

And then I just plain started crying again. I HATE THIS YEAR.

I started writing this post somewhere in there, then called Deb back to let her know I'm as okay as one can be under the circumstances. We finished the interrupted call, then I went back to writing. I'm still in fragmented mode, posting to one email list, a bit more on this, then a longer post to another email list that I've since folded back into what you're reading here.

So. Memories. Tales. And All That Jazz...

Mike, Susan Manchester, and I took a silly moment from MagiCon and turned it into a fun riff that we pulled out every time we saw each other for the following 18+ years. And we laughed each and every time. I'd see them together, we'd walk toward each other all establishing eye contact and grinning. I'd then walk up to Susan and say, "Mike said to wait here, that he'll be right back." Or sometimes I'd reverse the names and deliver the line to Mike. It was the message I failed to deliver in the MagiCon Fan Lounge while Mike was still gone, only to deliver it when they were standing within 3 feet of each other.

Susan was new to fandom at MagiCon; she knew very few people there. We met; we bonded. My heart is so with her right now.

I knew Mike longer, having met him at Minicon some time in the early or mid-1980s. We traded fanzines and were always happy to see each other at conventions in Minneapolis, Chicago, wherever. He saved my ass when I helped run the Minicon program in 1987. Robert Bloch was our Toastmaster. Opening Ceremonies were already running late, the hotel's biggest ballroom held hostage by a tech crew who refused to open the doors until they were ready, regardless of how large the gap was between the scheduled starting time and their own decision about the ceremony could begin.

It wasn't a matter of safety. In fact, the tech crew was breaking fire code by having the doors chained and locked shut while they were in the hall tweaking the lights and sound. Some of the techies knew that and were livid. That was the Minicon when there was a bet going round the committee on the timing of when the tech head was going to punch out his sub-head. Not if he was going to punch him out: when. I forget whether or not the conflict ever came to physical blows. Part of my memory is pretty sure it didn't, another part remembers hearing amazement expressed that it took until 6ish Saturday night, or something like that.

So while I was trying to cut through the tech crap and get the hall opened, Robert Bloch came up to me to ask about the timing (since we were already running 20+ minutes late and the audience was all crammed in to the ballroom's foyer). And also to confirm that we had a podium for him (we did) and a super-bright light because he'd just had eye surgery the week before and he wouldn't be able to read his notes in dim lighting, not even regular podium lighting if our podium had a light. Ahh. His liaison hadn't mentioned that, much though I'm certain he'd made it clear to her. His liaison hadn't mentioned anything.

Yes, of course, I assured him. I'd make sure he had the light he needed. Only I couldn't keep him soothed through the rest of the delay at the same time I was tracking down the light and keeping the pressure on to get the damned ballroom opened. I couldn't escort Bob through the 700 people waiting to enter the ballroom, make sure he made it safely onto the stage given his vision problems, or do any of the other normal friendly help'n'support stuff one does with Toastmaster and GoHs before their premier events.

That's when I saw Mike in the foyer. I called over to him; he quickly, smoothly, and companionably took Bob under his wing. They headed over to the nearby Green Room for a few minutes of quiet conversation and a nibble or drink as desired. Perfect. I darted into the artshow. Yes, they had one of those flexible bright spotlight things on a base. Memory has kindly erased what it took to get the ballroom open and the audience seated, but Mike brought Bob up to the stage right as we were finally ready to go.

That more than made up for the Chicago Ditto dinner expedition a couple of years later when Mike managed to be a more obnoxious drunken lout than Madman Riley was, and Madman was in fine form himself that night. Even that was a learning experience. I didn't know anyone could out Madman Mark, certainly not in his presence. And neither of them assaulted me or anyone else in the dinner party, so there were no lasting emotional scars or upsettedness. It was merely an eye-opener.

There was plenty to like about Mike. More than plenty. I only wish we all had plenty more years and good times to share with him.

Mike was a blessing in my life. He always made me glad to be a fan. And now he's dead, dammit. I hate what he had to go through treating the possibility of cancer, then the reality of cancer. I hate that it caused him to miss ConFusion, a convention he always attended, every single one of them. Until this year. Fans at ConFusion made a video greeting for him, and posted it on YouTube so all of us could see it.

I'm still in shock, just starting to grieve. For Mike, for Susan, for all of Mike's friends and loved ones, for fandom itself. He's one of fandom's icons, and now he's gone.

"Take care and may both of our families know better news in 2011."

I HATE THIS YEAR. There's fun and wonder to be had, and I'm having it, but still. I HATE THIS YEAR.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
Mike Glicksohn
Mike G. had made a serious impression on me going back many years. I most remember a long conversation -- at ConFusion? or a worldcon? -- in which we talked about the people who played poker at cons (like him) vs. the people who played music at cons (like me) and the things we had in common, which vastly outweighed the things we did not have in common. I felt that he was very seriously part of the same community I was in and that we were peers. This death is like the deaths of Greg Shaw and Bruce Pelz. This is not the death of some elder statesman I hadn't seen in years and might never have seen again anyway; this is the death of a person who is part of the community *right now.* And the bell tolls for all of us, and despite the fact that Mike and I were not in close contact, this one affects me a whole lot.

In any event, thank you for the long memorial and you and I need to talk sometime soon in any event.

Mar. 18th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
Great memories. Thanks for the stories.

Even with the protracted struggle with cancer, the news of Mike's death is a shock. It's too abrupt.
Mar. 18th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
I don't believe I ever met Mike. But he was a major figure in fandom from my earliest encounters - Energumen had just won the Hugo when I first showed up in this subculture, so I always knew and respected his name when I saw it mentioned or in a byline.

Great story about you and him and Bloch. The perfect thing for him to keep Bob under care, making sure that _he_ was not being shoved disregarded off into a corner while you ran around making sure the techy stuff was being taken care of. That's the kind of deep cluefulness (on both your and Mike's parts) that I like to see recounted in stories about conrunning.
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry.

Mar. 18th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for saying things so well. There are so many memories I have of Mike but I am having a hard time sharing them right now. We will miss him so much...
Mar. 18th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Oh....fuck fuckety fuck.

I don't think we were ever close -- not just not close geographically, but also in temperament, interests, attitudes towards fandom, the things we did. But I like to think that we respected each other for the views we had, the positions we held, the energy we invested in the arguments we made. I certainly respected him as a sort of "elder fan", although I never said as much (to him or to anyone else), and always thought -- in that way you do -- that we'd meet again sometime at some convention somewhere. And now we won't.

As I said earlier: fuck fuckety fuck.
Mar. 19th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry, Geri. I never knew Mike well, but I was always so glad he was THERE.

Mar. 19th, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
I loved Mike dearly, and I am so sad now that I can't find words for him. So thank you for your memories and your eloquence.
Mar. 19th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
Well, hell.

At least when the rest of us get there, he'll have made sure there's ink in the mimeo and plenty of Twiltone.
Mar. 19th, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
I met Mike at Autoclave II in 1975. When nearly everyone at the con went skinnydipping, Mike hovered around the edge of the pool. He couldn't get in because he wouldn't take off his camera, which dangled strategically at the figleaf level. He wasn't taking pictures -- he promised us that he'd leave the camera in the case, and he did -- but he wasn't taking the camera off, either.

He was one skinny-ass guy in 1975, and I don't think he ever got much wider as the years went by. I never knew him well; I was never sure he remembered who I was when I saw him. I enjoyed all the times I talked with him, back in that old century.
Mar. 20th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
He was one of the greats.
Mar. 21st, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
I don't know Susan but I do know what it's like to be a widow, and could you reassure her, over and over, she is NOT going crazy this year, that every widow does dumb things, hears dead people, and are generally just unprepared for the reality?

On Facebook I posted my favorite Mike story--he officiated at Sally & George's wedding, and a relative of Sally's took in Mike's long hair, beard, and garb, and announced, "Wow, they got Jesus Christ to officiate!"
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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