The music was the kind of loud that makes your eyes hurt. Despite the 20-degree freeze outside, my skin sweltered beneath the brim of my black knit hat and the notorious basement venue buzzed with the sweet smell of cheap beer and feisty college kids. After making the rounds, I stopped to post up at my usual table, sip my Jack and Coke, and take in the musical happiness happening around me. My glance was mindlessly roaming the room when I recognized greasy black hair and dirty tennis shoes standing amidst a huddle of twenty-somethings. I stood for a moment to contemplate my next move. Thanks to my third drink, I was feeling unusually brave and so with a tilt of my head, I threw back what was left in my glass and sauntered across the room. As if fate was in on my plan, the crowd suddenly dissipated and I had a clear shot.
“Hey – my name is Missi. It’s really nice to meet you.”
“Missi? Nice to meet you, I’m Micheal.”
There are moments in life where everything changes – in an instant, suddenly nothing is the same as it was only a moment before. Sunday afternoon, three quarters of the way down the dairy isle, I had a moment. My knees buckled, my heart raced, I was sick to my stomach. Micheal ‘Eyedea’ Larsen, one of the most illustrious people to emerge from the Twin Cities, is gone. He has left us forever with only his music and our memories to guide us through our grief.
The morning after I first met Micheal, he invited me for coffee downtown. To my surprise, he was easy to talk with, easy to relate to, and relaxed. Our friendship came to fruition and I quickly understood he was not your ordinary, well, anything. As he spoke he pulled you into his world – never was there judgment, egotism, or the sense that he deemed himself better than anyone else. Kids would literally stop and stare as he walked down the street and it was like he never noticed – and if he did, it was the same “Hey man, what’s up?”
I find myself mourning Mike on two levels. Musically he was a genius who did things with words I did not even know were possible. His voice reaches out to the masses and lets us know it is good to be different, to be yourself. His heart is at the forefront of every line – every painful shriek tells a tale of his sorrow, his joy, his angst. His face is plastered all over the internet, his name scribbled in chalk on the streets of Uptown. It is simply inescapable. The world is in mourning.
Personally, he was truly one of a kind. We would go to one of his local St. Paul haunts and as we drank our beers, he would engage me with story after story – life on the road, different experiences he’s had, his thoughts on the world. Our conversation would often be interrupted because everyone in the place knew him. Men in their sixties, women in their thirties, bartenders, servers, the maintenance man – and he greeted everyone with the same genuine enthusiasm and kindness.
Things I will miss about Micheal? The familiar sharp inhale through his crooked front teeth. The way he shook his head to the side to toss his hair out of his face. The way he added “town” to the end of any word to make it a destination that did not exist, but you wanted to visit. His sporadic free styling. His homemade t-shirts. That hat – you know the one. He was hilarious. He was intelligent. He just was who he was.
In a sense, I feel lucky. I get to be with Micheal when I turn on his music. I get to hear his voice whenever I feel like it. I get to see his mannerisms in as many YouTube videos as I want. Usually when people die, those things eventually fade from your memory. Micheal is celebrated everywhere. He has very literally left a mark on the world that can never be forgotten.
Thank you, Micheal. For all that you have given me – all that you’ve shown me. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your music. Thank you for always being exactly who you were. Your spirit will never fade – it lives on through all of us left here in your wake. I love you. I’ll see you when I get to Clown Town.