Chris Gibson: thinker, raconteur, restless soul, friend to many (1954-2005)

He was the most intense person I've ever known, someone who could talk with you for hours and hours on end about an amazingly wide range of topics -- music, philosophy, religion, politics, you name it. In my home town of San Luis Obispo, California, Chris Gibson became a local character, a friend to many who visited his "office hours" outside the downtown Starbucks, enjoying his insights and incisive wit.

When I met him in the late 1960s Chris was recovering from a serious motor cycle acident. He was fascinated by the equisite clarity of Wittgenstein's philosophy and the pure sound of the classic tracker pipe organs, especially the way Helmut Walcha played J.S. Bach organ concertos. He hoped to travel to Europe to become an organ craftsman, a quest for spritual and practical fulfillment that was, alas, never realized. Instead, Chris worked as a fisherman in Alaska, carpenter in Central California, groundskeeper, and occasional writer of unpublished pieces roughly in the vein of Bukowski, but even more direct and brutally honest. Perhaps he should be remembered as the godfather of nanotechnology, for his Bullshit Detector was sensitive right down to the smallest, sub-molecular particle.

Chris Gibson died in a freak accident in Cayucos on July 26. Jeff McMahon has written a fine tribute to Chris in Contrary Magazine. The same issue contains a piece of Gibson's writing, "The Wages of Insomnia," which he described as follows:

"Remember that I wrote that thing without any sleep and it does have something to say but be forewarned that there is also a strong sense of beating a bush with a stick to prove you can't go around it in there."

(The photo above was taken by Sevastian Roberts a day or so before Chris died.)