My friend Dave Clancy transitioned into the Mystic last Tuesday. He was a wise and wickedly funny man, gone way too soon, at 58.
In 2009, when I first met Dave, he called himself Phlo. He was a regular commenter on the Flyer website and often won our "Comment of the Week" award for his witty and hilarious remarks. One of his staple moves was to take a random phrase from an article and turn it into a band name, e.g. "I saw the Pepper Spray Panhandlers when they opened for Warren Zevon at the Agora Ballroom in Dallas back in '79."
He was relentlessly snarky. I still recall his advice to then-mayoral candidate Carol Chumney on how to "hip herself up" by getting herself thrown out of Spindini and wearing "way more bling ... including a variety of caps and bucket hats from the Kangol spring/summer catalog."
In all, Phlo/Dave made 1,523 comments on the Flyer website. Sometime in 2010, I think, he dropped the anonymity, put up a picture of himself, and just let it all hang out, damn the consequences. He was a fearless guy.
Around that time, we became friends on Facebook. I learned via our conversations on messaging that he was a musician and composer who played around Memphis and the Mid-South, that he was married to Genelle, the love of his life, and that his daughter, Liz, lived in Springfield, Missouri. We chatted every couple months, mostly about random, mundane stuff: What was a good bird-watching app for an iPhone? What's the deal with Josh Pastner? Can you believe some of the idiots who post on the Flyer site? Guitars. Our pets, vacations. Could you get a good Caipirinha in Memphis? Whatever.
Then, a couple years later, we both got on Twitter, and before long we were having chats on the DM function about whatever political lunacy was being discussed in TweetWorld. At the end of these convos, we'd sometimes mention something about getting together "in real life" for a drink. But he traveled often and we lived in different parts of the county, and it never really seemed urgent. So it goes. Our friendship stayed cyber.
Then, in the summer of 2016, Dave told me he'd been diagnosed with stage four cancer. When we chatted, he was down sometimes and upbeat other times. I told him about my friend Gary, who'd been diagnosed with stage four cancer and was still living three years later. Dave said that news inspired him. We still talked about getting a drink, but the chemo made it impossible and he was unable to get out much. So we decided to wait til he felt up to it. We joked about getting together and doing some opioids.
Soon, family members started a Go Fund Me site for Dave and Genelle to help with medical expenses, which were many thousands of dollars a month. We joked about how Go Fund Me had basically become America's new health-care provider. But it wasn't that funny, really.
We kept up the friendship, chatting online now and then. Dave changed his twitter bio to read: "Composer hijacked by stage four liver and colon cancer."
Dave decided he wanted to learn to fly-fish, so we talked about what kind of rod to get, flies he might want to start with. I offered to take him out on a river, but by then, the summer of 2017, we both knew that fly-fishing was a dream that probably was not going to come true. In October, I asked if maybe I could come by his house for a visit.
"I have a Catscan tomorrow and parents here tomorrow afternoon," he wrote. "I'd love to update you early next week if that's okay. Thanks for always checking on me. I've been struggling lately." A few weeks later, I was invited to come to a family gathering to meet Dave, but I was going to be out of town, visiting my mother. Next time, we said. But Dave was really getting sick, so we stuck to occasional cyber visits.
In April, I wrote him on Twitter but didn't hear back. Shortly thereafter, I learned Dave was in hospice. His last tweet was April 27th. It read: "I've been on a cancer."
Indeed, he had. He left this quote on his Twitter account bio: "The way that you wander is the way that you choose/ The day that you tarry is the day that you lose."