Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In Memoriam Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson, who died suddenly last week at the age of 53, was one of the finest people I've had the privilege of knowing.

Since this is an arts blog, I should mention that Doug left his mark on the area’s performing arts. A fair number of local musicians made recordings at Acoustic Projections, the studio in his Black Forest geodesic dome. For a couple of years, he did the live recordings of the Colorado Springs Symphony. He did acoustic analysis of numerous buildings in the area.

But I’m writing about Doug because he deeply influenced me, and because I loved him. There’s the matter of my job: Without the experience of writing 100 episodes of “The Golden Age of Pianism” for KCME back in the late 1980s, I don’t know whether I would have bothered to apply for the position as the Gazette’s classical music critic, much less been hired. Doug produced that show, and it almost goes without saying that he didn’t charge me for his time.

His influence on my creative development was just as crucial: In the days before anybody with a computer and a MIDI keyboard could record music, I learned how to arrange and orchestrate songs in Doug’s studio. As an engineer, he was an amazingly resourceful combination of high-tech and low-tech. When I said I wanted my voice to sound like it was coming through a tube, Doug handed me a tube. When I wanted percussion sound like a door slamming, Doug set up a microphone by his door.

(To me, the greatest example of Doug’s resourcefulness was the time he designed and built a printed circuit-board — in his house.)

But as impressive as Doug’s skill and intelligence were, they were overshadowed by his character. He was both one of the most idealistic people I ever knew, and one of the most pragmatic, with a work ethic I can only envy. More than once over the past few years, as Lauren and I have started embracing a lower-energy-consumption lifestyle, I’ve realized that Doug had already done the same thing, or a lot more. We got a Toyota Prius; Doug had an electric car. We cut down on red meat; Doug ate almost none. We got a super-efficient dual-flush toilet; Doug had no toilet at all. (Lauren used to joke that he was a bathroom away from being the perfect guy.)

Of course, a major reason I had to have these realizations was that no one could have been less self-righteous about his virtuousness. All Doug did was set an example.

Thanks for everything, Doug. I’ll miss you.

Atomic Elroy has a tribute to Doug at his blog.


Blogger atomicelroy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:52 PM  
Blogger atomicelroy said...

nice tribute!

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Chuck Snow said...

Hey Mark, thanks for writing about Doug- He was the soundman for The Autono back in the day. What a shocker- Chuck Snow

12:31 AM  

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