Before I begin, I feel the need to warn you, this post contains language and mental imagery that some folks would find offensive. If you are one of those easily offended people, please stop reading now, because frankly Greg would not have much use for you, nor you for him.
It’s really hard to explain sometimes about some of my friends and my friendships. About sixteen years ago, while waiting for a software build to compile and install, I sat in my cube and poked around the internet. During my travels I happened upon The Dysfunctional Family Circus, a site where Family Circus cartoons were posted, then captions could be submitted, and these captions ranged from the sublime to the surreal to the obscenely funny. I started submitting to the site, and found out there was a side community that had formed with fans of the site, and they had their own IRC chat channel. That ended up being one fateful build and compile, because once I started logging in to that channel, I started making friends there, and nearly every weekday since I have logged in and over the decade and a half made some friends that although I have only ever seen them maybe twice over that time in person, I have been closer to them than many other people in my life.
One of those people went by the internet handle of Agent Orange, and he immediately amazed me with his quick wit, and utter mastery of the English language, especially the darkest, most vulgar parts of it.
It all comes out in the wash, lad! Now free your mind, throw off the chains of patriarchy, and let me see if I can jimmy this pisswidget into your spoor-hole
As I got to know him, I found his name was Greg Peters, and he was at the time a political cartoonist in Louisiana, where material for political mockery and satire was plentiful. His main comic was Suspect Device, a clip-art and photo comic, that spared no language, pulled no punches, and even though I was completely unfamiliar with the politics of Louisiana, I found hilarious. He worked in vitriol and obscenity the way Michelangelo worked in marble and paints. And by god, he was fast. There would be a riff going on and he would log in, read a few lines and immediately come up with something that was not only a masterwork of wordsmithing, but insanely hilarious. I’m posting some of the quotes I have found or saved, and in my eyes, context does not matter. Numbers do not go high enough to count the times that I would be reading something he wrote and have to painfully stifle a laugh and mask it as coughing fits at work.
she has the combined exhibitionism, constant presence, and pig-dick ugly horsehead making sex faces while grabbing boobs that really trims my wick
He put up with no bullshit, and would call it out whenever he saw it. He and I argued a few times about things, and rarely did I get the upper hand. He was mind-bogglingly well-read, a brilliant analyst, and more than once would jump from quoting Immanuel Kant or Nietzsche and immediately and seamlessly segue to Black Flag or the Dead Kennedys.
Despite all of this, though, Greg was also one of the most compassionate, caring souls I have ever encountered. He railed against injustice, and raged against greed and the blatant exploitation of people that corporations or politicians would do, and if you ever wanted to see what an apoplectic conniption looked like, tell Greg that “the people of New Orleans had it coming with Katrina, and they should just move away from the city.” or some similar sentiment.
Conservativism is a political philosophy which has debatable strengths and weaknesses, whereas Republicans are amoral contemptible vermin who had best behave or get the hose.
I remember clearly the moment I first met Greg in person. It had been several years since we hung out in the same channel, and a bunch of us went out to Chicago to hang out for a long weekend. I was standing in a terminal at the airport, when Greg, Lore Sjoberg and Chris Livingston walked up the concourse. The three of them were the most bizarrely unmatched trio with Lore a towering 6’123″ bald with a bushy goatee, Chris a much shorter and slighter of build with dirty blonde hair and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and Greg in the middle fitting between them but none of them fitting together.
I have never laughed so much as I did that weekend, with one of my high points being the time I got Greg to spit-take with laughter.
I had me some baswhatsis brown-rice nut-fuck broccoli shitserrole last night, and I’ve been experiencing some right painful gas ever since. How do those californians do it? I mean, I don’t got three-four hours per day to carve out for farting.
I was able to get together with Greg a couple more times, including one night when he, Sean Reynolds (another IRC regular) and I tore through Harvard Square bar-hopping and having an epic evening of drinking and causing a great deal of discomfort amongst the Harvard students, especially with the bald guy and the salt-and-pepper beard who could quote whoever the fuck they were studying at the time better than they could, in a bizarre Good Will Hunting style abuse-fest. I also remember the conversation we had where he had a very urbane, in-depth,and brilliant discussion of lesbian authors of the past twenty years.
Most of all, Greg was a friend. After his divorce, he and I talked about about his relationship with his two sons, and how much they really meant to him. I remember when they were born, and while we were supportive in our congratulations when his older son was born, we also made sure we made the appropriate jokes about the name Magnus Peters. He would have done the same.
One year he sent out CDs of perhaps some of the worst Christmas music ever, with the cover adorned by a naked, grossly overweight, Santa look-alike with a sprig of holly covering his junk. We sent each other 9/11-themed Christmas cards in Dec of 2001. We did things that every single one of you who are not a part of that group will thoroughly judge us as terrible people for. And always, at the head of the pack was Greg, never being outdone, but always appreciating the hilarity in other people’s works.
I bet if *I* were female and cute, people would hook up dry-cell batteries to *my* genetalia too. hmmf.
He was also very humble, He would be really pissed off at me for writing this in fact. He despised attention at times, like when he first had his valve replacement surgery. He told us later how really moved but embarrassed he was when all of his friends, both in Louisiana and online chipped in and bought him a brand new Macbook Pro for his hospital stay.
Greg touched so many lives, and been someone I have always felt very fortunate to call a friend, as well as someone who I looked up to in many ways, in awe of his intelligence, wit, and under that gruff exterior a deeply caring person, who truly wanted all people to put aside the bullshit and actually be nice to each other, and work to make each otehrs lives better. And oh sweet mother of god was he funny.
(when describing someone in their 30s who obsessively will not let go of his mother’s apron strings, and riffing on what their memoirs might be like) “And then I wake up to see mom’s mons lowering onto my face like a big warm wet n fuzzy nuzzle from a grasping, eager jesus, and I am redeemed.”
So yeah, a man I met in person three, maybe four times ever has passed, and I am sitting here on an Amtrak train heading home to Boston, typing this and regularly wiping tears from my eyes. I will never be able to take him up on the Dive Tours Of New Orleans, doing epic damage to brain cells and property values. I won’t be able to look over at the window that has been in the corner of my screen every day for over fifteen years and choke on my coffee at another Greg Peters masterpiece. My world has grown a little darker, a little less funny. But that is nothing compared to those who knew him and saw him every day. Eileen, whose companionship and friendship made these last several months so wonderful for him, and how he cherished that time. His friends and coworkers, who will not traipse around New Orleans with him anymore. His sons…
Magnus and Wilder, I hope you read this some day after this horrible pain has dulled down. It will never go away, but cherish the time you had with your dad, and know that he loved you so deeply, you brought him so much joy and the times he was apart from you were very hard on him, he missed you terribly and out of everything he ever did, you two were his proudest achievements. I hope to meet you both some day. And when you are over 18 I will share some of his best jokes.
For now, let me finish with a…poem… that Greg riffed off on the fly one afternoon after seeing one too many heartwarming shmaltzy Facebook post:
IF FLOWERS GROW IN HEAVEN, LORD,
THEN PICK A BUNCH FOR ME,
PLACE THEM IN MY MOM’S ARMS
AND TELL HER THEY’RE FROM ME.
TELL HER THAT I LOVE AND MISS HER,
AND WHEN SHE TURNS TO SMILE,
PLACE A KISS ON HER CHEEK AND
HOLD HER FOR A WHILE.
GIVE HER THE HIGH HARD ONE JESUS
GIVE THAT BITCH SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT
TELL HER THESE IS FROM HER BOYS AND IF SHE STARTS TO CRY
LIFT HER SKIRTS AND TELL HER STRAIGHT, TONIGHT WE SHAVE ‘EM DRY
…ah the wonder of the mother’s day FB post
Goodbye, Greg. You bastard,you never did get me that new keyboard you owed me.
Laughing and crying. Thank you.
Agent Orange. Of course. This is perfect.
Pingback: Levees Not War » Blog Archive » In Memoriam: Greg Peters, ‘Suspect Device’ Artist and Blogger, Father, Friend
Superb tribute to Greg! This is linked at Levees Not War and praised as “an especially eloquent and touching personal recollection from a friend who is not of the New Orleans blogosphere.” Very sweet, your message to the boys. Thank you. —Mark
Thank you, Mark. I appreciate it.
The best one for Greg I’ve read yet. Yes, laughing while tears drip. That’s one of the best things in life.
Thank you, Stella, high praise indeed
Thanks so much. That’s a terrific tribute to our old friend, beautifully written and chock-full of the hilarity of Greg’s true iconoclastic spirit. Well done!