Wednesday, March 31, 2010

RIP David Mills

It's with enormous sadness that I interrupt my 365 Project. I awoke to the terrible news that my friend and colleague, David Mills, died suddenly last night in New Orleans. He was only 48. My heart has just broken into a million tiny little pieces.

His hometown obituary is here. His great friend and colleague, David Simon, also a journalist-turned-tv-writer/producer, reportedly penned the HBO obituary released by the network today.  It's worth a read -  here's a link to it as published on the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.  If anything can sum up the man, this comes pretty close.

David was a dear friend of mine. We've known each other since our early journalism days at the Washington Times. His talent was undeniable (and his credits show this) but his grace and intelligence, enormous wit, encyclopedic knowledge of R&B, soul and jazz music were legendary. He had a true willingness to learn new things even if sometimes they became minor obsessions once he did.
It was David that got me to blogging here in the first place -- he encouraged me along the way and sometimes spotlighted my posts on his blog, especially when I was doing a lot more culturally relevant or political stuff.  His blog was a must-read every morning for me and I loved that as often as I agreed with him, there were tons of times I didn't. That's David for you -- the last true independent thinker. Loved that about him. Loved that when you asked him a question, he gave you a blunt, honest answer. Always. 

And his blog was important because like everything else he did, he jumped into the deep end and started swimming for his life. The blog was successful because he took it seriously and worked his ass off on it.

He had a gentle soul, never suffered fools and while he was a true loner, he had more lifelong friends than any man I've ever known. You can get a little sense of who he was by checking out his blog, which has become required reading on the cultural roads of what he would call the Internets going on at least two years now. He was proud of his blog and he was proud of his work, including the show he was currently writing and producing on, HBO's Treme, which is scheduled to premier week after next. His friendship with creator David Simon ("The Wire") goes even farther back than mine -- they met at the University of Maryland where they worked for the college newspaper.  I believe it was Simon who convinced David to come out to Hollywood to write Homicide with him.

David could be so quiet when you were with him and I always felt like I was talking too much whenever we hung out together. But he was such a great listener and even when you didn't think he was hearing you, he was. He was a sponge that way -- and if you read his dialogue you would understand how closely he paid attention to the way people talk and how they talk.

Knowing David was to know a sweet, proud, wonderful, serially curious person who would do anything for a friend in need and didn't care who knew or who didn't. I'll never forget our trip to Vegas or the drive back when he made me stay at the speed limit for the whole trip back. Or stopping at a motel halfway and discovering our mutual fear of tarantulas and love of greasy spoon food.
I'm going to miss Dave in the worst way. 

This is just a big blow to those of us who loved him; our hearts ache. Gone too soon doesn't even begin to cut it.

Photo: David Mills

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