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In Memoriam: Greg Peters, ‘Suspect Device’ Artist and Blogger, Father, Friend

08/3/13

Eileen+Greg

September 24, 1962–August 2, 2013

“My message is kind of an emperor’s new clothes thing: I’m making fun of them, but I’m also trying to remind people that you have a choice. And if you don’t get involved in it, then it’s going to continue, and they’ll continue to put on the circus show for you, amusing you by proposing laws about pants that show ass crack, or Darwin being racist, at the same time that they’re screwing over your future.” —Greg Peters

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Update 8/10/13 : Be sure to read Mark Moseley’s thoughtful tribute to his friend and ours at The Lens, “Remembering the unforgettable: a salute to the late, very great Greg Peters.” Highly recommended. ]

 

It is with sadness that we note the death yesterday of our friend Greg Peters, an award-winning cartoonist, artist, and writer, following heart surgery at Oschner Medical Center in New Orleans. A native of Marquette, Michigan, who was an all-but-dissertation-Ph.D. in English and creative writing at the University of Louisiana (Lafayette), Greg Peters was 50.

In his own words (from his profile at Lafayette Creative [‘artsy, without the fartsy’]):

Greg Peters is a cartoonist, writer and graphic designer living in Louisiana. He is available for freelance work, as well as speaking engagements, personal appearances at bachelorette parties, raucous press club luncheons, and swanky, black-tie bourgeois pig feeds, where his unassailable personal magnetism and colorful vocabulary make him a sure object of intense, whispered conversation.

GregPetersPageAlthough we did not know Greg as well as we would like to have known him—living in separate cities, and meeting only at the Rising Tide conferences whose posters he designed year after year—we always admired his intelligence, artistic talent, his satirical wit and no-bullshit honesty, and his very wide and loyal network of friends, in New Orleans and beyond, who will be mourning his passing. We will miss Greg in much the same way as Ashley Morris is missed: talented life-forces who passed too early, too young, from this physical realm, but whose spirits live on among us and continue to inspire our best, most honest work and our best living, as if life itself, and how you live it, matters. We are not OK, because they are gone. But we’ll be OK, because they’re still with us on the inside.

Putting Art to Work Against Official Incompetence and Mendacity

Peters’s award-winning “Suspect Device” editorial cartoon series (named after the song by Stiff Little Fingers) was published in the Times of Acadiana and Gambit, and other graphic work was featured in the book Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists (2004). He designed posters for the Port of New Orleans, among other clients, and, from 2007 on, he designed posters for all but one of the Rising Tide conferences on the future of New Orleans. (A sampling of his work appears below.) He also created the cover for A Howling in the Wires: An Anthology of Writing from Postdiluvian New Orleans (2010), which includes two of his blog posts from Suspect Device.

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Kevin Allman has posted a fine tribute at Gambit, noting that Peters was “funny—and always furious and rude, juxtaposed with sophisticated writing. In a 2004 profile of Peters and his work, former Gambit music editor Scott Jordan noted, ‘Peters’ craft is fueled by his punk rock-influenced DIY personality and educational background in literary criticism, Marxism, post-structuralism, and Buddhism—all meeting the surreal arena of Louisiana politics.’ ”

Other tributes can be found at NOLA.com, Toulouse Street, Library Chronicles, Liprap’s Lament, Pog mo Thoin (an especially eloquent and touching personal recollection from a friend who is not of the New Orleans blogosphere), and on Facebook, where Greg’s companion, Gambit contributor Eileen Loh (shown with Greg in top photo), posted the following:

I’m gutted to have to tell so many of Greg Peters’ friends that the world has lost a brilliant mind, a gifted artist, a scathing wit, a maestro of sarcasm, an ardent defender of the disenfranchised and the discriminated and the broken, and one of the gentlest, kindest, funniest and most fearless people I’ve ever met. He never got to live one day of his life without the congenital heart condition that got him in the end, and in my almost bottomless sadness, I am happy he’s finally free. Please keep his boys in your thoughts; they are inconsolable.

Greg Peters is survived by his two sons, Magnus and Wilder, shown embracing with him above; his companion, Eileen Loh, and his former wife, Saundra Scarce of Lafayette.

Memorial Services Announced

Eileen Loh announces on Facebook:

There will be two memorial services for Greg Peters: one in Lafayette and one in New Orleans. The former is set for next Saturday, Aug. 10, at Martin & Castille Funeral Home, 600 East Farrel Road, Lafayette (337-234-2311). Visitation starts at 1:00, and the service is from 2:00 to 4:00. • The family is hoping that some of the guests might choose to prepare a 4- or 5-minute eulogy or remembrance to read at the service, largely so that Magnus and Wilder can hear many facets of their dad’s truly one-of-a-kind personality.

The New Orleans memorial service is TBA and will be a far less classy affair, a punk Irish wake in a New Orleans dive bar, as the gods intended . . . probably toward the end of August, 23/24, so that as many of his kick-ass friends from all corners can come. I will keep you posted. 

For further details, stay tuned to Greg Peters or Eileen Loh’s Facebook pages.

 

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Greg Peters, center, on a panel at the first Rising Tide conference, August 2006. From left to right: Dedra Johnson, Josh Britton, Greg Peters, Lois Dunn (Scout Prime of First Draft), and the late Ashley Morris. Photo by Maitri.

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Let the last words, for now, be those of Charles Bukowski, as quoted in a signature in an e-mail from Greg in 2009:

“We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

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The images that follow are by Greg Peters. Greg’s Rising Tide posters from yesteryear can be seen here, here, and here. 

 

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HowlinWires

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The Port of New Orleans

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