Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembering Brett

In the days right after his shocking murder, it became cliché: “He never said an unkind word about anyone.”  In Brett Elliott’s case, it was true. 

But there was a deeper reason hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) turned out to mourn the passing of a modest, unassuming ad guy.  Alex Lopez Negrete, his good friend, said it best. “Not only no unkind words,” Alex said, crying without shame and pushing his right index finger into my chest, like my Dad used to, as if this was the most important thing he would ever tell me, “he wouldn’t tolerate it in others!”

So true, I realized.  Anytime the conversation turned to gossip, the unworthy competitor, or the he said/she said, Brett would simply crank up the music – Lou Reed or Patti Smith or hard ska or some crazy-ass psycho-Texas rant.

“I love this part,” he would say.

I probably got close to a thousand e-mails from Brett Elliott over the fifteen years I was privileged to know him.   Every one of them ended “Peace.  Love.  _______.”  

The “peace” was the hippie in Brett, the “love” a constant plea – a true liberal, anti-war voice, maturing on the topic through an adolescence that coincided with the national realization that as Vietnam was a strategic mistake and tactical disaster.

The blank at the end was, or course, never blank.  It was the headline, the punch line, the tag line: the place where the pure and very talented creative copywriter Brett Elliott left his intellectual mark on the missive.  It was always witty, or pointed, or ironic, or just plain silly.  Like “ADDYs.”  Or “Errol Flynn.”  Or “Ad Agencies that Don’t Suck.”

The last words Brett ever gave me were by e-mail, that most modern of copy-writing tools.  We had been arguing about a pop-culture whatever, as we so often did – Beatles to the English Beat, Kubrick to Comedy Central, Brett knew it all. 

But for probably the first time, I was right.  And so in his typically self-effacing way, he wrote back, “you are a pop culture God!”  


But now that justice seems to be moving forward, we all want to get past the pain of a horrible and random murder, and focus on the message of peace, creativity, and love that Brett shared with us every day.

Peace.  Love.  There IS a rock and roll heaven.

And every blog is for you, brettelliott.

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