Monday, November 12, 2007

George Michael Evica

Truthfully I have never listened to any of George Michael Evica's "Assassination Journal" radio programs in their entirety. I'm not conspiracy oriented and I always felt that I was dropping in on the middle of a long running conversation whose previous path and future destination were too intricately woven together for me to grasp - particularly while at the same time driving my car. However I invariably got caught up in the rhythm of the piece and the ease with which George Michael wove the names and events - some familiar, some not - into a tight fabric of authoritarian mistrust.

I did meet him once in person. Mars and I were answering telephones at radio station WWUH's Fall Fundraiser, an organization we had joined as volunteers about six months previously. The phones were set up on a table tightly packed inside of the classical music library where we were eating lunch with Eugene, one of the afternoon musical hosts, and awaiting our first call. George Michael had just completed his live broadcast and a syndicated public affairs program was now filling the airways.

Station manager John Ramsey was explaining to us that a camera crew was on the premises that day filming George Michael for a possible documentary about him and his radio program and immediately thereafter Evica swept into the room followed by a woman holding a clip board and a man carrying a video camera.

George Michael was talking. He slumped down into one of the available desk chairs at the phone table and instantly shifted to talking about all of us people in the back room "who made all of this" - sweeping right arm gesture - "work." Tall and angularly faced with a full gray beard and longish, nicely cut hair of the same color, he seemed like the actor you would cast for the part of the charismatic anarchist in a politico-historical drama.

We were videotaped and asked to sign releases while George Michael continued his conversation about the wonderful assortment of music that Eugene played, most of which the Russian emigrant had discovered since coming to the U.S. George Michael and Eugene then had a short one-on-one conversation that seemed to consist almost entirely of Russian names and three letter organization abbreviations, none of which were familiar to Mars or me, but made perfect sense to both of them and, like Evica's program, seemed to be just another paragraph in a long-running dialog.

The crew left and George Michael continued what now had become largely a monologue punctuated by comments from us that indicated we wanted him to continue. He told us with pride and amusement in his voice about his wife's overhearing FBI tapsters on their phone line. And of an unplanned meeting at the Hartford Stage Company between the Evicas and an apparently well-known U.S. government official. The Evicas had been given a fellow church member's season tickets for the night and upon arriving introduced themselves to their seatmates. "So you're Evica." The other man harrumphed just before he and his wife got up and left.

Then, being late for some appointment, he packed up some of the luncheon sandwiches and left. About thirty minutes later the phone rang and his wife called to see if George Michael had left his WWUH jacket at the studio. He had and we set it aside for them to pick up later.

At that time George Michael was battling among other things brain cancer, but nonetheless continued to do his radio program and take part in the fund drive.

Yesterday, about one year later, he died.

I remember something that I saw in downtown Hartford a few years ago as I was waiting to cross Main Street in the morning on my way to work. A police cruiser was rushing along, blowing its siren at intersections to make its way through. A large German Shepherd held his head out the open back window barking joyfully as he rode into battle. Some people looked and listened. Most didn't. But the size of the audience didn't make any difference to the Shepherd. He clearly loved what he did, was extremely good at it, and he continued to pursue it with the fervor of a true and honest believer.

After George Michael left the studio that day Mars and I kidded that when we were taking pledges from any of his listeners we should tell them that we already had their credit card numbers in our records. I had thought of sharing the joke with George Michael, but this being our first meeting I decided not to.

Actually I bet he would have rather enjoyed it.

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