Someone named Chris Martin started following my blog recently, and since I once knew a Chris Martin I looked to see if it was the same one. Alas, what I found was that ‘my’ Chris passed away 2 years ago. It had been a good 10 years since we had spoken and yet I had such a sense of loss. Chris was a remarkable man, with interests that ran the gamut from the radically intellectual (a life-long card-carrying Communist) to the truly plebian (he was also a confirmed drag race enthusiast). A fabulous writer, that latter interest gave him his career. He was editor-at-large and contributor to National Dragster magazine and probably one of the world’s foremost experts on the sport. When he left the NHRA, he co-founded Dragster Online; here’s their article about his death.
But, I knew Chris in a different context. He had a remarkable memory for more than racing stats. Ask about any boxing match and he would give you details down to the level of who the judges were that made a particular call not just who won or lost. The same for politics. He was also a fan of music – mostly jazz. In that persona he traded records with the great Dr. Demento. He would come to my home with a 78 turntable and stack of vinyl discs. Prior to playing each he would give us a bit of history – what obscure Echo Park studio had been the site of the jam session after the musicians had spent the day recording the soundtrack to a classic 1930s cartoon or some such. These evenings were a big part of my daughter’s music education as I realized later when I heard her explain to someone that the Stray Cats had not originated a particular tune but rather had covered a recording by so-and-so.
Though I hadn’t seen Chris in such a long time I will miss him all the more knowing I’ll never see him again.