Brad Will. R.I.P., 90s Man

During a lull at work today, I found myself googling exes for fun, like ya do.  I never expect to actually find anything.

But today I learned that a guy I had a thing with back in 1994, Brad Will, was shot a couple of years ago in Mexico. There is even a photo of his murdered body online.

Probably no one exemplifies the progressive 90s man more than Brad, who played music and wrote poety and exuded a combination of hubris and honor, sentimentality and  recklessness.

Apparently by the time he died he was a celebrated anarchist documentarian and now there are foundations and memorials and a big Wikipedia page and a Newseum exhibit. Rolling Stone called him “a living folk song.” Also Rolling Stone reported that he slept with a lot of people, which I don’t doubt, because he was awfully cute. And sleeping with lots of people was very 90s.

I met him in 1994 at a Beat conference at NYU, where I was presenting a paper and he was hanging out with the Naropa crowd. We hung out non-stop for a few days and then stayed pen pals for a while. He once stole a poster from a Colorado library and mailed it to me. The poster was a huge picture of Bill Clinton smiling, under which was written, “America Needs You to Help Keep the Promise of ADA.” It’s falling apart, but I still have it.

Once I got a letter from him, annoyed that I hadn’t responded when he sent me a journal of his, but I’d never gotten it. It had apparently gotten lost in the mail.

Anyway, he was a real 90s man. He fought for what he believed in. He was a vegan. He played music and did performance art. He was a feminist, but also a shameless flirt. He married another man to protest gay marriage not being legal long before there was a national dialogue about it.

Running across his name today evoked the texture and emotion and “this-ness” of the 90s for me more than anything has in a long time. I’m really sorry I saw the photo of him dead. And I really wish he was alive.



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3 responses to “Brad Will. R.I.P., 90s Man

  1. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Cool Points «

  2. Mark Bullock

    I was recently reading your entry and I was also saddened to learn of Brad’s passing. He was actually a fraternity brother of mine up at Allegheny College and I always thought of him as a charismatic character, and really liked the little I knew about him. Not exactly what I was expecting to see either when trying to see what happened to friends from the past…

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