Friday, January 9, 2015

MIKE GRAHAM R.I.P.

Mike Graham was a good friend of mine in my L.A. years and beyond. Around my age we shared different experiences but somehow came out at the same place. Mike was a Detroit native who became an intelligence officer during The Viet Nam War and ended up confronting the brass about the pointlessness of that venture.

I was in the service before that, and a low-rank enlisted man getting in trouble for more private battles with authority, though some were political, like ignoring segregation laws in the South etc.

Mike went on to become an award-winning crime reporter for The Detroit Free Press as well as a criminal investigator for the courts for a few years. He continued to practice investigative journalism well after we met and became friends in L.A., where he had also become a script writer for TV and movies.

Some people called him "Angry Mike" because he always was pissed off at some inanity in the world he was constantly exposed to (he naturally wrote for cop shows etc. so did a lot of ride alongs). I was an angry man for decades myself—and still was at times when we were friends—so it was a relief to be buddies with someone known as angrier, especially as I worked hard to find out what I was getting out of my anger so I could finally give it up. At least much of the time.

I remember someone calling me and Mike "bookends"—meaning we were alike but also opposite in some ways. Which was true. But when I found myself in the hospital for the first time as an adult, it was Mike (along with Hubert Selby Jr., another L.A. close friend) who I woke up to sitting at the end of my bed where I learned they'd been for hours. And except for going home to sleep they were around for my remaining days in the hospital.

We used to talk on the phone now and then after I moved to Jersey. We kept up on each other's lives, including the publication of Mike's first novel: The Snow Angel, which I wrote about in a blog post he let me know he greatly appreciated:

"THE SNOW ANGEL, A Novel by Michael Graham, a 'police procedural' but also an original Christmas fable, [...] not only offers hope in the form of serious redemption, but from the perspective of an experienced detective and investigative reporter, as Graham was. I laughed and I cried, as they say, but I really did."

But in recent years his health deteriorated. We had telephone conversations about that, since I'd been through a few health challenges and operations since moving back East in 1999. But then the calls stopped and I learned Mike had suffered a serious stroke and was unable to speak much, if at all as his condition worsened. I got reports from mutual friends, and earlier today found out he had passed.

The good news is he's no longer suffering. The bad news, that another good friend is gone from the bodily realm. But like all writers, his words live on. Check out The Snow Angel and see for yourself.

2 comments:

Anita Olanick said...

Thanks for posting.

Anita Olanick said...

Thanks for posting. He had a mean ass sense of humor too.