Friday, October 22, 2010

Travels with Craig

[Early 80s Craig Laubert, perhaps in Los Alamos or on the old Sandia Crest before its renovation]

I have only snippets of knowledge about Craig's childhood and early adulthood in Ohio. I know he at various times worked in construction, for a tire factory in Akron (the city made a big impression on him) and at a state facility where he worked mostly with mentally retarded residents. He loved to tell stories of deepest, darkest Ohio.

In New Mexico he was good for an occasional roadtrip to Santa Fe or Hemez. He took great pleasure in moving easily among the dives and seedier sections of Albuquerque ("My people," he'd declare with a grin and a chuckle after an encounter with a person in particular disarray).

But many of his travels were inner journeys. This inner-life expressed itself in compulsive collecting. He was a religious music fan, with an enduring passion for a select group of musicians. He loved dark, witty lyricists - Warren Zevon, Randy Newman, Jimmie Buffett. He enjoyed women vocalists like Linda Ronstadt and Emmilou Harris, and harder-to-categorize artists like Van Morrison. And he had plenty of Rock and Roll standards - Rolling Stones, Doors, Led Zeppelin. In his more withdrawn years he devoted enormous energy and time to burning hundreds of discs of his favorites. He clearly sought out re-mastered works. Always looking to avoid being a sucker, he loathed to pay retail for these - instead he borrowed recordings from libraries and friends and made copies that eventually rose to great columns. In sorting through his collection after his death, I was overwhelmed by the numbers. Some went to his friends and mine who helped clean up his house, I saved some of our shared favorites, but most I didn't know what to do with them, and they either got picked up by strangers at his estate sale or, sadly, thrown away.

For more than a decade, comic books compelled him. Every week he diligently harvested the first editions and select series from Newsland, meticulously packing each one in a protector sleeve with a cardboard back. By the time I saw his collection in the early 90s, it numbered well in the thousands. He also bought and displayed resin and stoneware statues of comic characters, mostly Marvel. When my son Avi developed a taste of comics, Craig gave him gifts of Green Goblin and the Thing figures. Sadly, Avi's full-blown fanboydom didn't blossom until a year or two after Craig sold off his collection in mass, apparently to pay tuition for his educational projects, first to earn a degree in chemistry, latter to earn a degree in nursing.

He also loved film. We saw plenty together, but after I left Albuquerque, he forged another circle of people. In time he developed a (characteristically) obsessional passion for Film Noir. Again, his video library, much of it pirated, numbered into the hundreds. In later years I found giving him a book on Noir genre film making was the easiest way to give him something he'd appreciate. He also collected movie ephemera, mostly posters.

Alas, most of these collections that were with him at the end I've sold off to pay his bills. I hold a small selection still, a couple of boxes really, as a rememberence of his passions and pre-occupations.

No comments:

Post a Comment