Saturday, September 12, 2015

Norm Rubenstein, Hollywood Editor -- RIP

This was originally going to be a different post about other shit. I can't really do that, though, until I do this.

Norm died Wednesday, 9/9/2015. He was a great guy, probably my biggest fan and I didn't really deserve him.

A proper obituary should be about the decedent, not the guy writing. The problem is that I don't really feel like the guy to do that. So I can only tell my story. Sorry, I guess that's pretty self-centered of me. Let me see how much I can talk about Norm without referring to myself:

He was an administrative law judge for many years, and didn't really like to talk about it. Upon retirement he finally got to live his dream -- discovering and helping great writers in the world of small-press horror publishing. Norm also was a writer himself but his main enthusiasm seemed to be in editing. And, of course, fandom. Norm was a true old-school fan, the kind they don't make anymore since the Internet was invented and everyone got too cool to just be a huge fucking nerd. Even nerds work too hard to be cool these days. He would no doubt have thought these ridiculous and wrong comparisons, but in his enthusiasm for the genre he was right up there with Gernsback, Ackerman, and Moskowitz.

And I'm tapped out. That's a pretty dry bone up there. Hopefully someone else can do better.

Norm was great to work with even though he didn't like Oxford commas. He helped me a lot and was exactly what I think an editor is supposed to be, what you see in the movies where the writer character is drinking whisky in Peru and calls his editor to discuss his hero's deeper motivations -- shit like that. A Hollywood Editor. Not usually how it works, folks, in my experience and from the stories I've heard. Norm gave it his all. Without Norm HBVK wouldn't have been halfway readable.

Ecch, I can't go on with this. Just associating this sweet man with myself and these lame books I wrote makes me feel cheap, like I'll make people think less of him.

Norm and I lost touch over time, mostly my fault. We reconnected at WHC '13 in New Orleans, or tried to. But I was sick, and tired, and frankly I blew him off. I was not my best self. I should've emailed him more. I should've apologized to him. I should've bought him dinner. So many excuses but they don't matter much.

This is all so goddamned wrong. I I I ME ME ME.

I have a dollar in a frame. I won't tell you why, but Norm gave it to me. Big dreams that went nowhere, but it meant more to me than just those stupid dreams I never really believed in anyway. More that this guy ... for some reason ... thought I deserved it.

Look, whatever you think of me, try to forget that, okay? I don't want you to think less of this guy, who suffered so much but was still so cheerful and friendly. But he was my biggest fan, my first fan, and I didn't deserve it but he made me believe I could do this and now he's gone, and I feel like I had this treasure that I put in the attic and went back to find only to see that it's rotting and moldy and ruined, and I should've taken better care of it but I didn't and now it's too late.

Think of all the lives he touched. I know it wasn't just me. His wall on Facebook is full of mourners. I didn't know he knew all these people, but I'm not surprised. So I'm just one of many who shared an experience with him. I'm the guy in the back standing behind the plastic plant, I'm nobody. I slip in, slip out and no one knows I'm there. I just had to pay my respects somehow. This is all I could do.

Somebody do better, please.

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