Nash was a little different from most of of my friends. He was a legend— of a rather magical place. Bob was the last connection to the Beat Generation that flourished in Big Sur and the Carmel Valley after WWII. He rode a bicycle to Partington Ridge in 1952... from Lafayette! He made over 20,000 drawings and paintings, a lifelong artist. Yes, he partied with Henry Miller. He took care of Edward Weston. He was best friends with diplomat Nicholas Roosevelt. He built a cabin on property he didn’t own, and became grandfathered into the parcel. He died one week shy of 90.
Bob also loved the radio, and all things audio. His vision started going about ten years ago. He was passionate about storytelling, science, astrophysics, politics, and sex. The first time I asked him what he liked about my audio programs, he looked at me very carefully, and then said, “I like the way you say 'fuck.'”
How did he survive out in the middle of nowhere? —With tremendous skill and labor, but also a lot of mediation and a peerless application of “doing nothing.” One day, a man came to Big Sur who’d just decided to change his life, and drop out of the rat race. He asked Bob what he thought he should do first. Bob said, "for the first year, look at the clouds." And he wasn’t kidding!
You hear that phrase, "he died as he lived" — so true in Bob’s case. He had no pain. He let go in the night. He was home with friends visiting him 'round the clock. His kitty Teddy was with him. His body was carried by his friends. He had his wits with him till the very end.
When Linda, his main gal-caretaker, was visiting him the night before, she'd fixed up his bed and read him a story. When she asked if he needed anything else for the night, he said, “How about two more blondes?”
When his friend Steve came to see him, who made his web site, Bob requested that he go into the house and get “ a big blue book” near the cat bowl... It was Quantum Mechanics, a textbook. Steve, no slouch, struggled to read it, but Bob helped him through.
I went to see Bob two Sundays ago, thinking I’d catch him one last time. I wanted to talk to him about the Election Primary results! On the way there, Bob's Big Sur family, Toby and Linda, called to say he passed.
But it turned out to be so right that we came that day. I don't know how we would've moved Bob without all our strong arms!
I wasn’t with my parents bodies when they died. Everything was quickly tucked away, the American Death industry at work.
I asked if I could go to Bob’s cabin by myself for a couple minutes, before we carried him out, so I could see how I’d handle it. I felt like a scared kid wandering in, but then I just started talking to him, and that relaxed me. I finally got the nerve to put my hand on his.
When one dies, all your wrinkles seem to disappear, and your skin is so soft... that’s why everyone looks so beatific. I loved Bob's peaceful countenance, but I was sad too, because he was a small figure now, and he once was so big. This guy built everything, was a first-class seducer, and carried every child on his shoulders.
We rolled him up in his bed linens, and picked him up, and walked up the hill. I now know the meaning of "dead weight," Bob! So much for being small! I'll miss you dearly, and the Ridge will never be the same.
Henry Miller famously wrote of our friend, in 1959:
For Bob Nash
friend, critic, collaborator,
né à Wyoming
éduqué par la guerre,
un peu fanatique,
cherchant de secret de son être,
timide, plein de confiance,
---- un enigme, quoi!
.......a man of mystery
born of Wyoming
educated in the war
a little fanatic, always open
searching for the secret of his own being,
timid, full of confidence --
an enigma, what!
I dedicate my audio show this week to, Bob Nash. His Big Sur friends describe their memorial here, and you'll see a bit of Bob on video, too. Our local Central Coast radio station, KUSP, is also dedicating their newly repaired Big Sur radio tower to him, too, which mysteriously went went silent the same day Bob expired! There was no more devoted listener than Our Mr. Engima.
The rest of my show is just the sort of thing Bob would get a kick out of— I say "fuck" better than ever! First there's my dissertation on the American phenomenon of the "Purity Ball". It's like a reverse-coming-out-party.
In my mailbag this week, I read from an article about how to enliven long-married couples, and discuss why people want to scream every time they're asked to perform "date night" rituals.