Charles Komanoff



This page links to eulogies I've composed to people whose lives (or, in one case, death) called out to me to memorialize. Each one had, and is still having, a profound impact on my life and/or the world I inhabit.

Many of these tributes were published in Streetsblog. Others appeared in Grist, Counterpunch, or the Carbon Tax Center's blog.

These people were dear to me. (Jose Alzorriz, of whom I learned only after his killing in 2019 by a sociopathic driver, seems someone I wish I'd known.) I do not exaggerate to say that I think of them nearly every day. I hope these remembrances inspire you as their lives inspire me.

The posts, in chronological order:

Colin Fletcher (1922-2007) Farewell Complete Walker recalls the one-of-a-kind outdoorsman-writer who inspired and guided a generation of backpackers, myself included, to explore America's wild places. Published in Grist.

Ted Kheel (1914-2010) In Memoriam: Ted Kheel, Transit Advocate and Visionary sketches Ted's vast imprint on civil rights, New York's civic fabric and the national stage. I like to think of myself as Ted's last protege. My career as congestion pricing advocate and modeler owes everything to him.

Sy Schwartz (1923-2011) Farewell Sy Schwartz depicts the soul of a deeply humane, irrepressible man who detested NIMBY's, understood carbon taxing, and revered Bach and Mozart. Published by the Carbon Tax Center.

Richard Grossman (1943-2011) Undamaged Nature, Unbroken Autonomy: Richard Grossman, a Bicycle and Me, while nominally about a bicycle ride from Manhattan to the Croton Reservoir, also explores the life and legacy of a visionary writer and organizer who goaded and guided me to always reach for more.

Steve Athineos (1956-2015) The Man Who Saved NYC Cycling offers a glimpse of a diamond in the rough who through commanding presence, gift of phrase and indomitable will spearheaded the successful uprising against the 1987 Midtown Manhattan bicycle ban.

Paul Kantner (1941-2016) and the Jefferson Airplane On the passing of the Jefferson Airplane. The deaths on the same day of two founding members of the quintessential San Francisco rock band provoked this personal meditation about songwriting, the hippie era, memory and foregiveness. Published in Counterpunch.

Jose Alzorriz (1967-2019) The Last Seconds in the Life of Jose Alzorriz depicts the unfolding of a homicidal recklessness that, seemingly out of nowhere, took the life of a fellow New Yorker. Though I never met Jose, I'm haunted by the still picture from the video showing death hurtling toward him.

Carl Hultberg, (1950-2019) Bowery Flowers — The Green Spark Behind NYC’s 1980s Bicycle Revival recounts how Carl seduced and compelled me to embrace my bicycling soul and become a full-time participant in New York City's livable streets movement (though this was decades before that term took hold). I miss him terribly and try my best to carry forth his example.

Carolyn Konheim (1938-2019) In Memoriam: ‘Do All The Good You Can’ — The Life of Urban Ecology Pioneer Carolyn Konheim recounts the pragmatic yet prophetic work and life of this urban ecology pioneer and dear friend, who with her husband, Brian Ketcham, probably did more than anyone to bring about New York's and other cities' clean-air renaissance.

McCoy Tyner (1938-2020) Spiritual: How McCoy Tyner Lives On. The music of John Coltrane, and the soul, grace and power of his pianist, McCoy Tyner, have occupied a deep part of me since I first heard their records as a teenager in the early sixties. This essay, centered on a single performance in 1961 and including my long-ago transcription of a Tyner piano solo, explains why "a world that can give us McCoy Tyner is a dear thing." Published in Counterpunch.