R.I.P. Gerard Smith and Tim Hetherington

Gerard Smith died of lung cancer today. He was one of the nicest people I've ever met. I didn't know him well, I only met him once, but he was insanely talented and came by success through ability and hard work. He was a busker, a first responder on 9/11 and finally the bass player for TV On The Radio, making his final public appearance in the Nine Types Of Light movie. Jesus christ I couldn't be any more sorry that he's gone. He joined up with the band just after Desperate Youth & Bloodthirsty Babes hit stores and it was his bass playing that contributed to my interest in the group. I remember being initially turned off by the Staring At The Sun video for some reason and then seeing them perform it on Last Call one night changed my mind. Suddenly they weren't just talented musicians experimenting, they were a real band and through it all Smith was a huge part of their appeal to me. Perpetually turned toward his bass amp as they would rocket through "Staring At The Sun" or "Wolf Like Me" on their many TV appearances, Smith rounded out the group's sound and could do anything they needed him to, keys, guitar, whatever. He was a musical polymath and I'll never forget being able to shake his hand backstage at the Wilbur in late 2008 after their life-changing show had ended. Sarah and I watched from the balcony totally in awe of their stage presence, lucky to be so close, happy to be watching what turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The only thing I can think to communicate how much I loved his musicianship was that I spent hours in my basement playing along to his bass parts while the songs blasted in my ears through headphones. I used to pretend to be Gerard Smith when everyone in my house was asleep. That was one of the ways I dealt with emotional problems. The five members of TVOTR are all insanely modest about their ability, Smith perhaps most of all. My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone lucky enough to have spent time with him or shared a stage with him.

I can't really express how angry it makes me that Tim Hetherington is dead. He was a journalist killed because people are so fucking hateful and stupid and greedy and fucking there is no excuse. There is no reason why people like Hetherington should have any reason to fear ending up like he did. He was there objectively, he had no stake, he wasn't carrying a gun.
This is the last film Hetherington made and though short it is a fitting conclusion to his work as a journalist and filmmaker.

Diary (2010) from Tim Hetherington on Vimeo.

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