July 01, 2004

PAUL GARDINER

Paul Gardiner was the partner of Liz Feizkhah, a gifted writer whose shyness and modesty is rare among people of her ability. Liz is a dear friend.

But despite our friendship (we met at Time a decade ago) the closest I ever got to Paul was via Liz telling me of his latest one-liners. Gardiner had a particular talent for mock self-aggrandisement:

I am a man of infinite knowledge, and I will not be calumnied by a woman.

I am the most fantastic host there ever was.

Look at those arms! Iím the Apollo of my generation.

Iím trying to make the best roast lamb in the history of the world.

Itís funny about my smell, isnít it? Itís an angel-like smell.

Besides his obvious verbal skills, Gardiner was a journalist, editor, and businessman of considerable achievement. He began his career as a researcher with the ABC in 1969, then worked for two years as the Australian Financial Reviewís London correspondent, and in 1973 became publisher/editor of the Australian edition of Rolling Stone. In the mid-90s, Gardiner launched into IT; hereís a piece he wrote for Salon on Australian internet censorship plans. And here are some more of his one-liners, from a list compiled by Liz:

TV turns every day into a day out.

Mango is the clown of fruits.

A four-hour documentary about polar bears: thatís my idea of heaven.

When it comes to sorting socks, the gift of recognition is the main thing.

I want a canned peach! I detest the real peach.

(On being told that "no one in the world uses a lemon as an incense holder"):
Well, theyíre fuckiní idiots.

Last Thursday, after falling into a crushing, two-week depression, Paul Gardiner killed himself. His funeral was held yesterday morning. Lizís tribute, delivered quietly and clearly to a church full of media and music industry heavyweights, was in equal parts heartbreaking and (because Liz knows how to tell a joke) hilarious.

As people were leaving, I heard somebody say, through sobs: "I miss somebody I never knew."

UPDATE. This is sweet. An identical lemony tribute was seen at the church.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 1, 2004 05:28 AM
Comments

Depression is a bastard. It takes gifted, wonderful people. My condolences to Liz.

Posted by: Alice at July 1, 2004 at 06:11 AM

Mango is not the clown of fruits. Mango is the fruit of clowns. Everyone knows this, you BASTARD!

I should have expected this after your absurd statements about CO2!!!

Posted by: Ash at July 1, 2004 at 06:37 AM

Actually, I should not have posted silly comments on this sad post. I'm sorry. I'm an idiot.

Posted by: Ash at July 1, 2004 at 06:38 AM

Done good Tim. Condolences to all. May their grief be sweet in the end.

Posted by: jafa at July 1, 2004 at 06:45 AM

my condolences, tim, for you and especially for your friend.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 1, 2004 at 07:01 AM

and Ash, you are an idiot in this instance, but one with a conscience, which is a braver one than i've been many a time.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 1, 2004 at 07:03 AM

My deepest condolences

Posted by: Fausta at July 1, 2004 at 07:20 AM


Sorry for your loss, Tim, but it sounds like the funeral was a fitting tribute -- a celebration of a life well lived.

Posted by: Andrew at July 1, 2004 at 07:32 AM

I am so sorry to hear about your friend. My condolences. Depression is monstrous illness.

Posted by: Polly at July 1, 2004 at 07:36 AM

Ash -- you're no idiot. It's okay.

Posted by: tim at July 1, 2004 at 07:52 AM

I've suffered from bouts of depression in the past, and I wouldn't wish them on anybody. I'd rather break both my legs than go through it again.

My condolences, Tim. And to anyone who's suffering from this horrible condition: don't be ashamed to seek help. It's a medical condition which should be no more embarassing than a sore throat.

Posted by: Damian P. at July 1, 2004 at 07:54 AM

My condolences.

Tim, you made me miss someone I never knew.

Posted by: Ernie G at July 1, 2004 at 08:02 AM

Spot on, Damian. Condolences to all.

Posted by: Matt in Denver at July 1, 2004 at 08:02 AM

My condolences on the loss of your friend. And it's true about the peach thing. Canned are so much better -- and since I live not so far from the Georgia border, I have access to fresh, juicy peaches. But -- sliced cling peaches in the can, yum! (Just avoid the ones with "lite" syrup -- ugh.)

I also see nothing wrong with using a lemon as an incense holder. It's biodegradable! And smells nice too. It's certainly better than the things I have used -- flower pots full of dirt, lumps of Play-doh with holes stuck in them. Your friend was obviously a man of good sense. I have lemons uselessly wasting away in the fridge right now; I am going to slice one and light a stick of incense in Mr. Gardiner's honor.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 1, 2004 at 08:18 AM

Tim,
My condolences to you and your friend on your loss.

Posted by: Crusader at July 1, 2004 at 08:23 AM

I read somewhere that close to 90% of failed suicide attempts never try it again.

It is an act of painful desperation and so very hard on survivors. It is so much better to seek help and live.

I'm truly sorry for Paul, Liz, and their friends.

Posted by: JDB at July 1, 2004 at 08:37 AM

My condolences to Liz, to you, Tim, and anyone else who misses Paul.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 1, 2004 at 08:47 AM

I'm sorry I never met him; he sounds like he was a wonderful guy.

The most tragic part about depression is in how high you can build a wall around yourself. It's so easy to mimic a contented personality, while inside you. just. want. to. die. And nobody can reach you through that wall.

Posted by: Bill Peschel at July 1, 2004 at 09:44 AM

Lost my dad the same way so I know what a horrible thing depression is.

My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Posted by: Rob at July 1, 2004 at 10:11 AM

It's sad to see another person go that way. Perhaps the saddest part might have been that his depression made him unable to see how much people loved him.

Posted by: EvilPundit at July 1, 2004 at 10:40 AM

My best wishes to those he left behind. May the good memories overwhelm the bad and help mend their hearts.

Posted by: JakeD at July 1, 2004 at 11:03 AM

Prayer When Your Are Depressed

By: Dr. Walter L. Weston

God, life seems so bleak and useless right now. I don't have any energy. I have no ambition to do much of anything. I am really feeling down. I feel "down on" myself and "down on" everyone around me. Even as I pray, I don't sense your presence. I am going through the motions, knowing that you are still with me.
I know that I am sacred and precious but they are just words right now. I know that my life has been worthwhile, full of many wonderful people and experiences, much happiness and joy. I feel little of this right now. God, all I can do is affirm the goodness of life and try to hold on until the darkness is replaced by your light and love.

Help me to spot the lies that my depressed emotions are telling me. Life is good. I am good. You are good. Grant me hope. My loved ones love me. Life will be beautiful again. Soon, I will see the beauty around me again. Soon, I will again know vitality and purpose, happiness and love. Until then, give me the strength and hope to survive this day.

Help me to smile and laugh, even if just for a moment. Be my strength and salvation. I ask you to restore me and make me whole. Fill me with the Word and the Spirit that I might be recreated anew. I praise and thank you. Amen.

Somehow I think perpetual light will shine on this unique individual. May some of those rays hearten Liz and all of Paul's loved ones, friends and intimates.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at July 1, 2004 at 11:29 AM

Andrea: I am pretty sure that the peaches they can are called Golden Queen or Yellow Queen, they are late season cling peaches and are very firm fleshed when ripe. They are my favourite, too. I don't much like mushy or overripe fruit.

Depression is a terrible thing, and much more common than many people think. It's debilitating and tragic, I know of many longstanding friends who suffer from depression. I only know because we talk about it, and how we cope.

Sad story, please accept my condolences.

Posted by: kae at July 1, 2004 at 12:26 PM

God, life seems so bleak and useless right now. I don't have any energy. I have no ambition to do much of anything. I am really feeling down. I feel "down on" myself and "down on" everyone around me. Even as I pray, I don't sense your presence. I am going through the motions, knowing that you are still with me.

When you're doing some heavy petitioning to God, are you supposed to use the "finger-quotes" gesture when you're "down on" yourself and "down on" everyone else? I don't think he'd be "down" with that.

Posted by: MD/V at July 1, 2004 at 02:32 PM

No wonder he was depressed - after years of churning out pseudo-profound crap like that quoted.

Posted by: xto at July 1, 2004 at 03:27 PM

Actually, if you're really depressed, a four-hour documentary about polar bears could seem comparatively like heaven.

Posted by: ForNow at July 1, 2004 at 04:14 PM

No Ash, it's Margo is the clown of fruits.
Condolences, Tim. He done good work.

Posted by: slatts at July 1, 2004 at 07:55 PM

I'd never heard of Paul Gardiner until I read this column.

What a character! What a wit!

What a loss.

My condolences to Liz and all who new him in any way.

Posted by: Greg Williams at July 2, 2004 at 12:22 AM

Bill Peschel, you are spot-on:

It's so easy to mimic a contented personality, while inside you. just. want. to. die. And nobody can reach you through that wall.

You just described 13 years of my life. Depression does kill. I thank God, my therapist, and modern pharmaceuticals that I am now on the other side of that wall. It's a cliche to say it, but I'm truly grateful every day. I had to work very hard to get out of depression, and I couldn't have done it without help.

I am so sorry to hear that the monster that almost got me did, in the end, get Mr. Gardiner. My heart-felt sympathy and condolences go out to all his family and friends.

Posted by: Mary in LA at July 2, 2004 at 07:22 AM

xto: what pseudo-profound crap are you talking about?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 2, 2004 at 09:08 AM