As read at Mike’s memorial at the Boulder Theater on September 24, 2019
I first met Mike Hamill over 20 years ago. Back then, although he mostly booked musical entertainment for the Boulder Theater, he sometimes screened movies too. Screening movies is what I did then and now. Anyway, we first got together to form the Boulder Film Alliance and what started as a work-related relationship blossomed into a tight friendship. Mike was the funniest person I’d ever met and it scares me to think that I may never laugh as hard – or long – as I did when I was hanging out with Mike.
Mike was also an incredible cook. He had a keen intellect. He had a voracious appetite for books, music, art, animals, and people at every station of life. He had an open mind with vast reserves of empathy alongside a child-like curiosity for everything under the sun. He was very passionate. One small example in the music realm is how he’d sing along to a U2 song. He didn’t just mimic the act of singing the song, but rather he would commit 100% of his body, voice, and lungs to channeling Bono. It was like having my own front-row seat at a U2 concert. He did the same thing at Karoake night at the Dark Horse when he channeled Axl Rose. I’ve seen GUNS & ROSES live and I’m here to tell you that Mike Hamill put on a better show.
It’s an obituary cliché to talk of the person in question as someone who would light up any room they walked into, and that was certainly the case with Mike. Only in his case it was a roll of the dice. In my experience, half of the time he’d walk in like a gangster and own the room, while the other half of the time he knew how to hide from the world with the efficacy of someone in the witness protection program.
Mike was titanic, mercurial, soft, loud, a crazy exhibitionist one moment and then suddenly an invisible introvert the next. He was a disco ball in the middle of a laser show. He was also a fly on the wall, quiet and observant. He was a very, very, very interesting human being. And complicated. He could be brutally honest. He could also be somewhat deceitful, in a playful way. Although, sometimes, he might have been the only one in on the joke.
One of Mike’s super powers was that he could read everyone in the room within a few seconds. Size everything up with forensic precision. He could bounce you out of a deep funk like Ram Daz or reduce you to psychic rubble faster than Hannibal Lecter. Most of the time he made me feel like Rocky climbing the Philadelphia steps, but there were a couple times where he also made me feel like Clarice Starling in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
Mike was an incredible friend. It hurts, physically, mentally, spiritually, to miss someone as much as I am now missing Mike Hamill. It feels like a hot brick inside my chest.
Mike helped me through my divorce. I helped him through his divorce. He was there for me, high or low. I was also there for him, thick or thin. He was one of my best friends and we talked or traded messages once or twice a week for the last two decades – although I will confess that the line went dark sometimes for slightly longer periods than that, and in those dark times I worried about him.
Our last exchange was on Saturday, July 6th. I sent him a picture of Boulder creek while listening to the Grateful Dead as they played in Folsom Stadium. He responded with one very simple emoji, it was a heart. A few days before that we’d talked on the phone for about a half-hour and for what had been a very joyful conversation. It ended with Mike telling me how much he loved me and I was not shy about reciprocating that same love back to him.
To say he was one of my favorite people on the planet does not do justice to the word “favorite” because I loved Mike the way people who love music love John Lennon, or the way people who love laughter love Robin Williams, or the way people who love food and culture love Anthony Bourdain, and the way the Beat Generation love Neal Cassidy. For me, Mike was that whole parade of music, funny, food, culture, and explosive, raw energy rolled into one person.
Lennon, Williams, Bourdain, Cassidy, and now Hamill, they have all absconded from our mortal coil and yet they each leave behind a palpable void – one in which I, personally, feel deprived of something essential. It doesn’t help that I feel as if though Mike was stolen from me. As I struggle to make sense of his death I need to remind myself that when I talk of how I love John Lennon or Mike Hamill… that love is not in the past tense. The love these people conjured persists and is present here, now, and in us.
It’s up to us, now, to carry each other in the day, months, and years to come. Thank you for joining us tonight to carry the weight. To lift the weight. And to remember Mike Hamill.
— Pablo Kjølseth, September 24, 2019