November 12, 2008 22:40I Never Expected To Outlive Anyone
It seems a silly notion to even try to offer up some sort of introduction to who Emru Townsend was. I mean, everybody knew Emru. Really.
Everybody. Knew. Emru.
He was one of the very few people I've met in my life who seemed to be connected to every group, sub-group and community in some way shape or form. People usually have to become movie stars to get the kind of notoriety he enjoyed throughout his adult life. I walk in a number of different circles myself, and know whole clusters of people who have no knowledge of the other clusters I'm friendly with. But they all knew Emru in their own way. If you've ever watched a cartoon in your life, you probably knew Emru. Or emailed with him. Or at least heard of him.
He was the first animation nut I ever met. Particularly when it came to anime. When Japanese animation was far from being the staple of mainstream North American pop culture it is today, he was a walking encyclopedia on the subject. Even as some of the more notorious anime features crept into limited release over here, Emru was quick to arrange screenings of the original uncut versions so we could get the full experience, unfiltered by the delicate sensibilities of edit-happy distributors.
Emru wrote extensively on the subject and established entire magazines to spread his passion, most notably Frames Per Second, which continues to thrive as a hub for animation fans. The first short story I ever had published was printed by him in his small-press zine, Quark.
If you've only recently become aware of Emru Townsend, it was probably because of his headline-making search for compatible bone marrow to combat leukemia, and his efforts to bring more awareness to the need for donors. The campaign blitz he and his ever-adorable sister, Tamu, launched elevated Emru from mere ubiquitous man-about-town to full-fledged media darling.
The last time I saw Emru was almost exactly a year ago. I was on my way to catch the premiere of Lions for Lambs with some friends who had comp tickets. We ran into Emru and Tamu at the theatre and they encouraged us to ditch our tickets and go with them to the premiere of Bee Movie instead. They only had a couple of comps themselves, but a word from Emru was all it took to make a couple more materialize at the guest services desk. In the end, we all agreed we had probably ending up seeing the more political movie of the two.
Afterwards we went to a nearby Canuck-Mex dive for food and drinks. Emru was quick to produce one of his techno-gadgets to show me the latest animation production he was exited about. I updated him about what was going on in the world of Pucca and other cartoons I was working on. As the evening wrapped up, we swapped our latest business cards and promised to keep in touch.
A few weeks later, Emru was diagnosed with leukemia. I watched him fight it through regular updates online and in the media. Given how organized and vigorous his campaign was, it was a relief but hardly a surprise when he found a donor despite the huge odds against it. His cancer wasn't in remission yet, but they went ahead with the transplant in September to give him the best possible chance. But it was just a chance.
Emru died last night. I'd known him for twenty-two years. He was thirty-nine-years-old.
In the summer of 1987, a group of friends got together in a cabin in the woods to drink some beer and play some role playing games. One of them – me – sat out the game to take a photo and draw a picture of the event instead. Emru is the one supplying the much-needed ethnic diversity.
November 05, 2008 14:34Dear America
Nice, shiny new president you have there. Congratulations, you must be very excited. Now, I know it's easy to get carried away with the novelty of the whole thing. It's hard not to feel a little tingly every time you get a whiff of that new-president smell. But please, I'm asking you nicely.
Don't shoot this one.
I realize there's something about young, progressive leaders that compels you to start oiling the gun collection. And really, what's the point of having that really nice gun collection if you don't blow something away with it once in a while? I get that, I really do. Go shoot a moose if you must, but leave the new guy alone. It's a matter of conservation -- an environmental issue, if you will. Progressive leaders are an endangered species. You nearly hunted them to extinction back in the '60s, so don't get all trigger happy now that there's been a tiny surge in their numbers. I know there's something about their dynamic presence that makes you go, "I gots to shoot me one of those," but please, resist the urge.
If you absolutely must shoot a president, why not try one of the old broken down ex-presidents still out there, roaming majestically across the plains of middle America? Thin that herd. I know they don't offer the same thrill of the hunt. Once the Secret Service isn't watching their every move, it hardly seems sporting. But really, you'd be doing them a favour, putting them out of their misery before they write any more tedious memoirs or do another Larry King interview. It's not like they have much left to offer. Mostly they just play golf, run the clock down, and dream of a revisionist legacy that will place them among the great presidents rather than the caretaker presidents like whats-his-face-from-history-class and that-old-dude-they-put-on-a-stamp-once. Shooting one would be a mercy. Hell, shoot two or three while you're at it. Get it out of your system.
I'll make you a deal. As one neighbour country to another. You guys lay off shooting the new guy for a term or two, and we'll do our very best to get our newscasters to start pronouncing his name correctly. Maybe at the end of four years, certainly by the end of eight, they'll have all sorted out which A's are long-A's and which are short-A's. Just give them the time. Four to eight years, tops. Then maybe you can pick out a nice gun for yourself and line up a shot before the Larry King bookers come calling about that eighth or ninth memoir he's been writing during lulls on the putting green.