Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

In Memoriam: Bern Nix

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Bern Nix on Guitar
Image from Wikipedia Commons

It is with much sadness that we  learned about the passing of our friend and fellow writer, Bern Nix, who died May 31st, 2017 at the age of 69.  Bern first started writing with us during  the Fall of 2015 after seeing a flyer about our Writers’ Workshop in the Chelsea neighborhood. He quickly became one of our valued “regulars” through the Fall and Spring sessions thereafter, adding his thoughtful wisdom to our discussions, and his insightful essays to our anthology and blog. 

As humble as he was wise, Bern wrote about his life in music from a perspective that belied his notoriety as a jazz guitarist. He was, we would have to learn through independent research, well-known for his contributions to the avant-garde harmolodics style, and had once been lauded as a top ten jazz guitarist by Down Beat magazine. 

Much like the improvisational music he played, his writing unfolded through ethereal commentary, punctuated by wry humor and clear imagery. His art – in whichever genre –  was an authentic and unique gift. 

Here is a piece by Bern that slides effortlessly through several topics and ideas while clinging to a central theme. It was first published on this blog in 2016:

The Discreet Banquet of the Comfortable Class

Bern Nix

Seeing the picture of the banquet table generates a mixture of associations. Someone once said life is a banquet and many poor suckers are starving. That’s not an exact quote, but I’m certain you get the general idea. Food can be about sustenance, community, or abstinence. Often those hazard a career in the arts find themselves unwittingly playing the role of hungry artist. Frequently it is more about famine than feasting. One gig may pay exceedingly well. The next may pay virtually nothing at all. If you’re doing well you may have the luxury of the incestuous elite. It also allow for an awareness of how certain life choices lead one down a road that is far afield from what many consider to be “normal” or mainstream.

Sharing a meal with others can have outcomes that vary. How many holiday family get-togethers degenerate into combat? Hidden rivalry, resentment, and misunderstanding come to the fore. Asking someone to pass the salt can easily turn into an act of war.

When I was quite young, I spent hours in the library reading. Everyone said that would-be writers should read. I read and always enjoyed reading. One of the first things I read by Kafka was A Hunger Artist. The metaphorical aspect of this story contains much having to do with the hazards of artistic life. At least that is the notion in a painfully real and vivid manner. Of course there is humor inherent in the darkest aspect of it all. A person who starves to death professionally can have a laugh or two from time to time. Maybe a professional hunger artist’s life is the ultimate punch line delivered by the ultimate sick comedian.

Hunger has many aspects. There’s the physical hunger for food, the metaphysical hunger for something that palliates the ineffable dread that characterizes even the most smug, secure existence; the kind of existence that allows for one to sup in elegant places.

___

For full obituary and more information about Bern Nix, click on this link:

http://wbgo.org/post/bern-nix-guitarist-steeped-ornette-colemans-harmolodic-language-dies-69#stream/0

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