Friends, I think I have some more bad news to share, and you can thank/blame Coozledad, who has better reporter’s instincts than me, evidently.
He last commented Dec. 27, and, as Coozledad noted in an email, “It was totally out of character for him not to weigh in on Phil Everly.” Absolutely right.
The age is right, the name is right, the city is right, even the sketchy details of the obituary are right; I know he lived with a woman, had a daughter and young grandchildren. I guess it’s possible it’s some other Michael Johnson — it’s not that rare a name — and if so, I look forward to him crashing the funeral like some sort of profane Tom Sawyer. However, something in my gut says this is real.
This is such a strange relationship we all have here. I guess at some point I will have to compose a note for the guestbook, but I have no idea what to say. Dear relatives of Michael, those of us who knew him only as Prospero will miss his crazy presence in our virtual community. Or what? Honestly, I’m stumped. I guess I’ll wait a few days and then make a donation to his designated charity.
In the meantime, weigh in if you’re so inclined. The bar is open, and the wake is under way. As Coozledad said in his note, “Poor bloke. I was wondering how long his heart could take it.”
UPDATE: As he has done for our previously deceased commenters, J.C. has collected all of his comments — 7,673 of them, under at least three names — on a single page. You can find it here, in chronological order.
Peter said on January 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm
I hope you’re wrong but I’m afraid you’re right.
You know, I’d kick in some coin if you want to make a communal gift. You’re right about the virtual community comment, but hey, it’s just another facet of this brave new world.
brian stouder said on January 7, 2014 at 3:07 pm
Oh my; and indeed – 62 is looking younger and younger all the time.
I never have any idea what to say – especially on an online book.
When Pam and I go to funerals, she’s always 1/2 step ahead of me – and knows the appropriate thing to say.
MichaelJ/Prospero has always been one of the reasons to come here. If his passions sometimes got ahead of him, he was still saying things I (usually) nodded in agreement with; giving me cover.
Plain-spoken passion, and a book lover (with an impressive mountain of books he has read) too.
If reports of his demise turn out to be ‘greatly exaggerated’, nobody will laugh more than he will, I suspect.
Danny said on January 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm
Damn, I was suspecting something was up as well and in this case, I hate being right. MichaelJ/Caliban/Prospero, rest in peace, man. You will be missed.
Lex said on January 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm
I’m not as much of a regular here as many of us, but even I have no trouble recalling Prospero, mostly with great affection.
And, Nance, your hypothetical note for the guest book isn’t half bad.
LAMary said on January 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm
Prospero was/is such a complex person. His upbringing, his education his interactions with chemicals all combined to make a fascinating and sometimes frustrating personality.
brian stouder said on January 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm
See – now I’d get a sharp elbow in the side, if I said something as simple and truthful as Mary just said
Bob (not Greene) said on January 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm
Graduated from University of Georgia in 1971 with a B.A. in Journalism (Radio/TV). http://archive.org/stream/commencement7176unse/commencement7176unse_djvu.txt
Letters to the editor from 2003 http://www.lowcountrynewspapers.net/archive/node/103377 and http://www.lowcountrynewspapers.net/archive/node/102823 and http://www.lowcountrynewspapers.net/archive/node/103366 and http://www.lowcountrynewspapers.net/archive/node/102953
I’m surprised how sorry I am to hear this. I never really had a whole lot of patience for Prospero. But he clearly had his demons, as his late night (and sometimes not-so-late-night) descents into incoherence implied. His views could be so sharp one moment and then so utterly skewed the next, it was tough to know what to make of him. He seemed desperate to impress everyone and yet would lash out irrationally. In Nancy’s virtual bar, I tried to stay at the other end from where he was standing. I’ll miss him all the same. And cooze is right, he’d have been all over the Phil Eberly news.
Bob (not Greene) said on January 7, 2014 at 3:54 pm
I figured I’d honor him by posting a comment with five links. I guess it’ll appear when it’s out of moderation.
nancy said on January 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm
It’s out. Thanks for doing the research.
Heather said on January 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Sixty-two IS young. RIP Prospero, and happy ranting in that big comment board in the sky.
paddyo' said on January 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm
Being 61, I so agree, Heather . . .
Yes, Brian@6: Pros’ said things more truthfully than I would have, for sure. He often spoke what I’d be too chickenshit to say. No question, too, LAMary and Bob(NG), that he could be frustrating, incoherent, irrational — though I gotta add, I’ve never seen quite such colorful and almost-intelligible computer keyboard garbles as when he spewed them while in his cups, or in whatever condition he inhabited at those borderline hours.
Of course, I “knew” Caliban/Prospero only here, and only as a reader, but for a rare exchange or three between us directly in this space. But man, what a body of work. I just went back to his last day here (BTW, his last post was the morning of the 28th, in the Dec. 27 comments section), and his dozen postings had quite the range, from music aficionado to politico-cultural ranter: “ignorant rube teabangers” . . . “Granny-starver Paul Ryan ragging on Pope Frankie” . . . “Edward ‘Munster’ Snowden” . . . “James Franco skeeze factor” . . . and, of course, his signature “$Palin.”
Prospero had his own way with words — and often ran away with them. But I find it fitting that his last comment here ended with three words that were likely the things that so often triggered him to write:
“insults to intelligence”
Judybusy said on January 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Far too young, and I got the sense he was sometimes very unhappy.Like Bob (Not Greene) I stood at the far end of the bar. I will miss most his vast knowledge of music.
Danny said on January 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm
Even for as often as we disagreed (except for sky being blue or something), I too had affection for the fellow. I don’t have a lot of bandwidth today, but he probably told me I was “full of shit” or some such more than Chevy Chase called Jane Curtain and ignorant slut! Hilarious.
He seemed, in general, a happy warrior and fairly magnanimous. I am truly am bummed I will not ever get to have a beer or shot with him on this mortal coil,
nancy said on January 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm
Well, I just left a note to his family on the obit page, and it appears Disqus ate it. If it doesn’t show up soon, I’ll try to redraft.
Icarus said on January 7, 2014 at 4:52 pm
Wow sorry to hear the news. I think he went by Pan on the Change of Subject blog, though I could be mistaken about that. (I do know someone here comments there under that alias).
brian stouder said on January 7, 2014 at 4:58 pm
I look forward to seeing Nancy’s remarks.
The MichaelJ/NN.c compilation is an absolute hoot; I love it!
And his 7673 number? His sports fan facet would probably assert that nobody’ll break THAT record anytime soon!
Kim said on January 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm
What everyone else has said – whether his knowledge was as vast as he presented, he was entertaining. And annoying. And provocative. I loved how he protected the people he loved.
What’s leaving me bereft here is the dearth of an electronic footprint for someone who had opinions (I mean, facts to wrap in velvet gloves and with which to batter those of us who might disagree) and wasn’t shy about brandishing them. That’s sad.
If there is a heaven, I bet Phil Everly got an earful once he cleared the gates.
Danny said on January 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm
Yeah, he is probably up there right now ranting about how absolutely wonderful the MC5 were and how Iggy sucked by far in comparison and about one of his other closely held pet beliefs that B. Bonds never did PED’s. These were all very fun piñata’s to bat around from time to time.
Sherri said on January 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm
I’ll miss giving Prospero a hard time about Georgia football, and whether Bo Jackson was better than Herschel Walker. Damn.
alex said on January 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm
Sorry late to the wake. Typing from iphone ‘cuz computer fell off desk & no work no more. Hate typing from phone.
So much i wish i could say right now. Pros could get on my last nerve at times, not because i disagreed with his sentiments and sensibilities but because he too often would give the conservative trolls ample rope with which to hang him and by extension indict all liberals. But i suspect one day when i review his collected works on this site it will tell a poignant story in its own right. May peace be with you Pros, and the aching heart of yours that so often shone through.
LAMary said on January 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm
That’s it Alex. That aching heart. He had these moments of astounding knowledge and moments of passionately defending ideas and beliefs. Then the rants and the beligerence would kick in at other times and you had to wonder what happened in his life that brought him to that place.
Jolene said on January 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm
What all of you have said, along with the idea that it’s always hard to believe that someone so full of passion on so many topics could actually die.
Kim, thanks for your phrase about protecting the people he loved. Another thing that comes to mind is his fairly frequent mentions of sending a chunk of cash to some organization, cause, or candidate that had caught his attention. His financial contributions seemed to be as spontaneous and heartfelt as his contributions here. I’m sure the world is in some way better for both.
Very sad news, indeed.
Jolene said on January 7, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Everybody, do not miss Prospero’s letters to the editor that Bob (nG) has linked @7. They capture our late friend at his most irascible, but also most coherent. Sarcastic, strongly argued, and full of colorful vocabulary (e.g., a reference to the late Robert Novak as “an enthusiastic neo-con insider manqué). Lovely.
Jolene said on January 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm
One more on this sad theme. Up until the night she died, I played Words with Friends online with Gina, our friend from Seattle. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting notices from the game manufacturer telling me that I haven’t played with her in a while and might want to check in. Very frustrating. I want to say back to them, “I knoooooow. I would if I could. Now, leave me alone you mean people.”
Charlotte said on January 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm
Oh oh oh. Oh no. It had never occurred to me that this might be the case. Oh shoot.
Julie Robinson said on January 7, 2014 at 6:53 pm
All I can do is add my own words of sadness without the eloquence expressed by y’all. And I’m callously curious, since he so often mentioned long bike rides and physical prowess. My own dad died at 62, so that dredges up grief too.
Since I comment under my own name I haven’t wanted to say much, but someone very close to us has experienced a way-way-way too early death, and the family is having a horrific time. It reminds me to try to show love to everyone as we make our way through our lives and what can often be the proverbial vale of tears. Thank you, all.
ROGirl said on January 7, 2014 at 6:54 pm
Wow. If half of his anecdotes were true, he reminded me of Zelig. He always seemed to be on the fringes or in the background when significant events or movements took place. His passions were relentless and over the top, as were his demons. Too bad he couldn’t tame the demons.
Dave said on January 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm
Forgive me for saying it but occurs to me that he can’t be gone because there’s no one smart enough to tell him he’s dead.
I, too, wondered, when he failed to comment about Phil Everly. He always had a musical opinion, even though I don’t think anyone else here had the same affinity for the MC5. Just think, Ted Nugent can rest easy now in his continued denials of EVER using drugs.
He’s going to be missed around here, he certainly livened things up and I don’t think it’ll ever be the same without him.
Bob (not Greene) said on January 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm
Nancy, I think your condolence post hit the right tone. For sure, pros was a complicated guy. I’m sure his family will appreciate it.
Susan Johnson said on January 7, 2014 at 7:24 pm
You guys may be the closest things to friends that Mike had these last few years. Nancy, thank you for the condolences – they are very much appreciated. I have read a few of the comments on this page and know that we will enjoy reading more of them over the coming weeks. Thank you all for your concern.
Deborah said on January 7, 2014 at 7:51 pm
I’m shocked. I will truly miss Prospero (my favorite pseudonym he had was April Glaspie). I read every single one of his comments when he made them and I will enjoy rereading the lot.
Sherri said on January 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm
Susan, my condolences. Even though I only knew him as Prospero and not as Mike, I did consider him a friend. I enjoyed his presence here and my interactions with him.
LAMary said on January 7, 2014 at 8:02 pm
When I think of the people we’ve lost from our little group here I think I’ve been so lucky to know such interesting people.
Jolene said on January 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm
When I mentioned Gina, by the way, I was referring to moe99, the name she used here. Since I’d last been communicating w/ her as Gina, moe wasn’t on the tip of my tongue.
Minnie said on January 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm
Oh, no. I can hardly believe this. So much passion – gone. I will miss most his music links, as our tastes in that area nearly always coincided, but I’ll miss his invective, too.
How shocking for his family. I wish them peace.
Nancy, your entry to the guestbook is perfect. Thank you for speaking for your readership.
Minnie said on January 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm
And, Coozledad, thank you for sussing this out.
Joe K said on January 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm
We never seemed to agree, and I had a hard time respecting him at times,
But I still thought of him as a friend.
Next time I’m flying on a crystal clear night,
I’ll look up and count a extra star in the sky.
coozledad said on January 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm
Minnie:I just wondered where he was, as was often the case. My wife did the google. She does stuff like that for work (dogsbody and editor for the Chinese mafia). Don’t cross them. They’ll find you and key your car.
Emily Giorgetti said on January 7, 2014 at 8:47 pm
You may recognize my name from Mike’s obit- I am his daughter. I just had to write in to say a sincere thank you. It has truly warmed my heavy heart to read your words and to know that others are thinking of him and mourning him at this time. Although not blessed with his vocabulary, writing skills or intense desire to communicate my passions, I’d like you all to know how important it has been for me to learn that he had an outlet and “community”. You seem to have all understood and accepted him, demons, passions, rants and all, and that makes me feel good. Hearing that you will remember him as “protecting the ones he loved”, generous, passionate, intelligent and even understanding he had an “aching heart” will certainly help to carry me through this difficult time. Thank you.
Connie said on January 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm
I hope it wasn’t a bike accident, he seemed to have a lot of them.
Deborah said on January 7, 2014 at 8:57 pm
I know this may seem strange, but I wish I knew what Prospero looked like. I had seen pictures of Moe, Whitebeard and Ashley Morris, but never of Pros (or JayZ). I mentioned this before but some of you have turned up in my dreams, and Prospero was in one of them. I always wondered if he looked anything like how he looked in my dream.
Andrea said on January 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm
I am a daily reader here (of both blog and comments) but almost never comment myself, feeling rather like I am intruding on a close knit community. Nevertheless, I feel close to you all*, and that I know you in some way. Prospero of course stands out. I will certainly miss him, and I am glad his family has found their way here.
*Like Deborah, I have often wondered what you all look like, and have created mental images of all the regulars. You are all, of course, extremely attractive.
Judybusy said on January 7, 2014 at 9:39 pm
Dear Emily and Susan, I want to add my personal condolences for you. As is often the case here, other people have caught something I didn’t and managed to say it. When I read it, I knew it to be true: “protecting the ones he loved.” That love always came shining through: the pride, the fierceness of his loyalty to his family was beautiful. –Jodi
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm
Just tuned in, and I am quite sad to learn I won’t be provoked by Prospero again on this side of the veil. Nancy, your note for the funeral home page was wonderful on our behalf, and for his family: he was loved here. We loved to argue with him, goad him occasionally, and we even loved to ask him to make sure to slow down and take care of himself. Perhaps this outlet gave him more months & years than he would have otherwise. We disagreed on much, and I will miss him. Godspeed, Michael Johnson. May your aching heart find rest.
susan said on January 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm
Oh, this is so shocking. I also am a daily NN.c and comment reader, but do not participate often, as I feel kind on the fringe, of people who have been bantering back and forth for quite some time. But I truly was in awe of Prospero’s raillery. His wide-ranging knowledge of almost all things, grinding wit, choice of words, and unrelenting thought-bursts. Some of the air has been let out of the site, for sure. We’ll not get it back, either, because Prospero’s air was highly refined with rare elements.
I am so sorry to hear this.
Deborah said on January 7, 2014 at 10:23 pm
Andrea, I know how you feel about intruding on a close knit group. I felt the same way for a long time, but I felt compelled to jump in and I’m glad I did. You should too.
Deborah said on January 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm
Susan and Emily, my heart goes out to you at this difficult time. He was special and will be missed by all of us.
Scout said on January 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm
Oh no. I can hardly believe it. I was just thinking this morning that it seemed to have been a while since we heard from him but I never even considered that he could be gone. He was larger than life to me, a real renaissance man it seemed, and he backed me up on more than one occasion here. Damn. Emily and Susan, please accept my condolences. Prospero/Michael will be missed dearly by all of his friends. What a guy.
Bill said on January 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm
Ashley, Moe, JZ, Prospero. We have been blessed with intelligent, passionate participants. I miss them all
Donata said on January 8, 2014 at 6:10 am
Dear Nancy and all of Michael ‘s friends on Nancy’s blog – Discovering your blog about 12 hours ago and reading the many comments posted yesterday has brought great comfort to me and my daughter. We will be leaving Boston in a few hours to journey to Hilton Head for a final goodbye. I can not thank you enough for expressing your kind words and sentiments. I promise to post future information about Michael when time allows. Thank you, thank you 7673 times.
DellaDash said on January 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Why has this hit me so hard? Never thought a visit here would put me on a crying jag. Prospero blasted through with his passionate self-destruction and touched my heart.
Dorothy said on January 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm
Talk about a punch to my gut! I was out shaking away the cabin fever I had from the last three days. Just moseying around the mall, then ordered some prints at the 1 hour kiosk at Meijer. Got some groceries, then headed to Steak ‘n Shake for a lunch. It was then that I got my phone out and clicked on my “Favorites” button, which of course is where nn.c resides on my cell phone screen. Just like Della said above, I just instantly felt like I wanted to cry! But considering I was alone at a table in a restaurant, I stifled that instinct. Now that I’m home and can type on my laptop, the sadness I feel about this loss to our community is just really overwhelming.
Susan, Emily and Donata – my true, deep sympathies to you all and your other family members. We will not be the same group here without Michael to egg us on about so, so many issues. There was no one else like him. I didn’t always follow what he was trying to say, but I sure admired his effort, his wit, his intelligence and his ability to light fires under all of our asses to make us think. This is going to take some time to adjust to. I should probably be posting this on today’s entry instead of the 2nd one from yesterday, but I wanted to read all of the comments from this post and just needed to start typing immediately.
This seems hokey but I have to say it – I really do admire all of you (even Andrea and susan who just chimed in today!) for making this such a rich and stimulating environment. I realize how much I need you all – even if you are just letters on a screen, I know I can sense the hearts behind the names. I’ve been kind of wallowing in worry and self-pity that i haven’t gotten any job interviews here yet, and then today to find out about this news, well it all just gets put into perspective for me. Please know how much I appreciate each of you.
On a different note, my daughter is supposed to drive to Ohio tomorrow for a nice long weekend with us. But their pipes were frozen in their apartment when they got up today. Poor Norfolk – they aren’t accustomed to temps that go down to 17 at night! They can’t leave until the pipes thaw. Fingers crossed and everyone please push some good melting joo-joo in the direction of Norfolk, will you? I haven’t seen my girl since May and I really miss her. Facetime doesn’t count, nor do Instagram pictures.
Mark Johnson said on January 10, 2014 at 8:56 am
Good day to all, and thank you for your touching and incisive comments. Serendipity. While visiting the funeral home to make final arrangements for Mike’s burial I was asked if we wanted an online obituary and guestbook. My first thought was that we wouldn’t want one because few people, if any, would write anything there, as I thought Mike had been a -virtual- recluse for years. Now, seeing the outpouring of affection here, I am more than happy that we ran the obit — if we had not, we might never have learned of this virtual reality and the amazing community of which Mike was a part. As I said, serendipity.
With sincerest apologies to WS, I’m going to steal from Honest Ben Jonson to honor Mike:
De Prospero nostrat[i]. — I remember the players [that would be all of you]have often mentioned it as an honor to Mike, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, ” Would he had blotted a thousand,” which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most faulted ; and to justify mine own candor, for I loved the man, and do honor his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature ; had an excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein he flowed with that facility that sometime it was necessary he should be stopped. “Sufflaminandus erat” as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter, as when he said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him: “Caesar, thou dost me wrong.” He replied : “Caesar did never wrong but with just cause;” and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned.
Thank you all for being friends to my brother.