That was a word used all the time while Rodney and I talked on the phone. It was one of his favorite words. Most of the websites Rodney wrote for would not let him use it in his columns. He always wanted to. But he knew if he did, they would not publish his work. So he refrained.
It is a strange word. It has so many meanings and connotations. It can be used to express a feeling, a mood, an act, and so much more. It works almost in any situation. And although it is not a nice word to most people, it was one spoken more than any other when Rodney and I would talk on the phone.
On Saturday, June 16th, 2002, Rodney died.
It was a sunny day. Warm. I had been fathers day shopping, in fact. But later I called Rodneys house, wanting to talk about our upcoming joint project we had been working towards for many months. It was to be an audio thing, in quicktime, in which Rodney and I would talk about the Mac universe. We had planned to start it sooner, but August was to be the launch date. We had some great plans, and he was really looking forward to being able to say “Fuck” in it. He asked me over and over “you sure I can say fuck anytime I want?” Yes, he could have said it any time he had wanted. Why the fuck not?
It was his wife, Irma, who broke the news to me. I had never spoken to her before, except maybe to ask to talk to Rodney on the phone. When she told me he had died earlier that day, I wanted to know how. How the hell could Rodney be dead?
On June 15th, Rodney shot himself with a gun. He lived for a day afterwards.
It was January 2000. I got a call on the phone at my hotel from Beth Lock, I think. She told me Rodney, whom I had met earlier that day in person for the first time, had a column he wrote pulled from another Mac website, and that he was really pissed. So I called him at his hotel and asked him about it. The story he gave me was that he wrote about a certain Rumors website, and that his publisher (or editor, I forget now) pulled it after some threats from the Rumors site. I asked Rodney if we (mymac.com) could post it, and he spent a few hours that night in my hotel room with Adam (our webmaster here at MyMac.com) and myself, posting his column as well as writing one myself in defense of his column. Rodney and I became friends that night. A friendship that lasted over three years.
Funny word, that.
Rodney rarely pulled his punches in any column he wrote. He looked at most of the other Macintosh columnist out there as pussies. Or suck-ups to Apple. He wanted to be true to his craft, and write about things the way he saw them, without apology. He relished in pissing people off. We would talk on the phone at length about how much fun he had writing something with the intention of pissing people off. He would also use the very offensive word “nigger” just to get a rise out of people. You know why? Because he could. He did. And he did not care an ounce if it pissed you off.
I consider myself a brave writer as well. Like Rodney, I don’t care if what I write pisses you off or not. As long as I write what I feel is the truth, that is all I care about. Take it or leave it, but I ain’t going anywhere, and you can’t shut me up.
Maybe that was why Rodney and I got along so well.
He once told me I had more balls than any of the other Mac publishers simply because I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks. I do my own thing, everyone else be damned. True or not, I always thought that coming from Rodney, that was a great compliment. He also told me I was the blackest white man he ever met. Not sure what he meant by that, but again, I took it as a compliment.
Rodney and I had a lot in common. One of his favorite artists was Prince. We talked about Prince quite a bit, as I am a fan of his music as well. (At least his older stuff.) In one of our talks, Rodney told me he related to the song “Sometimes it Snows in April” from the album “Parade”. I am listening to that song right now. And I wonder if perhaps Rodney was telling me that meant something more.
It is little things like that, little tidbits of information, you look back on after someone kills themselves, and wonder if perhaps they were trying to tell you something all along, and that you just missed it. I don’t know, I wish I did.
Rodney was my friend. And as sad as I am, I have to be honest here as Rodney always was in his columns. He always told me it was my honest, fuck Ôem all, attitude he liked about me. So in tribute to what Rodney meant to me, in the pursuit of being honest with myself and him, what he was about and how he himself wrote, I present this letter to Rodney.
You fucking asshole! All you had to do was talk to me. NOTHING could
have been so bad that you had to go and fucking shoot yourself. You were
too strong for that. To fearless. You were suppose to live your life until the
God you so much believed in decided it was time for you to join him.
I am pissed off. I am hurt. And it is your fault.
I mean, what the fuck? How could you do this to Irma? Do you know just
how fucked up that is to do to someone?
Damn it, Rodney.
Look, I know you had to have been in a lot of pain, emotionally, to have
taken your own life. But you were strong. You hated all those pussies who
did not have the balls you did. Remember all those talks you and I had, the
ones about why you were still writing on the Mac web? How is that the same
guy who could have killed himself? There is no way.
I am pissed. I will get over it.
I will miss you. And you won’t ever be forgotten. I will make sure of it.
Still your friend,