NEWS FROM THE OUTER REACHES – MARCH 2023
As 2022 neared its end, my health turned south, and several annoying illnesses raised their head. I won’t go into the details here, but I was always healthy and active, so this is new territory for me. It’s aging rearing its ugly head. Then, came the drugs with their many side effects. Ever notice how many drugs share the same side effect: rash and skin irritations? Take a look, you’ll be surprised, almost all of them. I haven’t been used to taking medication. For years, I’ve had a few prescriptions, but into the new year, I started going to my local drugstore for over-the-counter products and prescriptions, and then there are the insurance drug claims. I’m just finishing up a medication regimen that has made me feel like shit, and I don’t think it has worked. Fortunately, nothing is life-threatening, so I remain optimistic and look forward to being healthy again. At least, I’m still kicking.
I say this because my good friend Eric Ross passed away in November in his beloved Crested Butte, Colorado. His health kept deteriorating until the end. Eric was a creative genius who helped start the 50-year-old Crested Butte Mountain Theatre; Colorado's longest-continuously-running community theatre in that state (see www.cbmountaintheatre.org). To his credit, Eric was a writer, director, improvisational actor, singer, guitar player, and artist, and those are probably only a few of his many talents. He was also one of the funniest people I have ever known. So funny that as a younger man, he was a member of the famed Second City in Chicago. His contemporaries in that group were the famous John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray; you get it—those guys. Eric also followed in his father’s footsteps as an advertising executive in Chicago. He told me his father created the Pillsbury Doughboy.
(Eric and Kathleen Ross)
I got to know him and his wife Kathleen when I moved to the Butte in the late 90s. Kathleen and I worked together at the Crested Butte Public Library for several years. We all shared our love for the Mountain Theatre and the library. Eric was also a good friend of the novelist, John Irving (The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules, and many more novels). They were exchange students studying in Austria. Over the years, Eric would occasionally read me letters he received from John. I miss my friend. I can still hear his voice because he left the local community radio station KBUT (kbut.org) with a large collection of skits he wrote and narrated on the radio, creating and acting out some of the most bizarre stories and unique characters you could ever imagine. You'll see what I mean if you click on the following link:
As a tribute to Eric, I wrote a short play that I called Close Encounter at Peanut Lake, using some of his memorable characters and his writing style, not an easy task. I’ve attached it to the email accompanying this blog. Please have a look.
(The cast of my play THE PUZZLE. From left to right, Andrew Hadley, Nola Hadley, the late Harry Woods, Tuck, Me, the late Eric Ross, Deborah Reich)