tom smith—a journalistic salute—february 2020
This is absolutely not the column I thought I would be writing for Frankly Green Bay this month or any month for that matter. I'm positive it is not a good omen for 2020 when it starts out with Andrew Kruse-Ross, my friend and our esteemed editor at Frankly Green Bay, unexpectedly passing away. I find it very weird that I'm writing about the death of Andrew because so many times I have handed in to him a column about someone passing away that impacted the music or entertainment world. I never intended to write about death as much as I have but sometimes what I write about for Frankly Green Bay picks me, not the other way around. A reader of mine once informed me to my face he no longer reads my column because I talk about people who die too often.
All I could say was, “That is your prerogative," in the most un-Bobby Brown way as was possible at that point in history. I have repeatedly questioned the fairness of such a beautiful and kind soul being taken away so young from so many people who are now crushed by his absence. I did not come up with any answers to my question unless you want to say the good die young.
My sincere condolences to his wife (Aimee Suzanne Kruse-Ross), family members, friends and co-workers. I know it sounds cliché but Andrew was the nicest guy I have ever met in my entire life. Super great sense of humor, smart as a whip, compassionate, and an all around great guy. I'm positive in the seven years I have known him that I'm a better human being for just knowing him. The job Andrew did as my editor at the Scene and Frankly Green Bay was superb and at times way beyond the call of duty. He had mega patience in dealing with writers who tend to be late when it comes to deadlines.
So grateful to Andrew that he asked me to write for the Scene magazine which was the beginning of our friendship.
When Andrew first asked me to write for Scene, I was hesitant.
“Are you really serious, you want me to write?"
I informed Andrew the last time I wrote record reviews was in high school at N.E.W. Lutheran High School. The last review I submitted in high school was for the Blackfoot album “Vertical Smiles" and they refused to print it, which led to me quitting. Andrew had faith in me and was insistent I could do the job so I accepted his offer not quite sure what I was getting into.
At first it was hard for me to get back into the swing of it. My first review I wrote was for the Alejandro Escovedo album “Big Station." This review was a huge challenge for me—almost broke me before I ever got started. The review took me seven hours to write and, at times, I thought it was going to take me even longer. The relief and joy I felt when I finally finished it at 5 a.m. was immense. The first few months or so it pretty much went like that, a monthly pulling of the teeth to finish, but the whole time Andrew was encouraging to me, patient, and would gladly help out with any questions or problems I had. Eventually the length of time it took to complete my monthly column would decrease and the quality of my sentence structure, grammar, spelling, etc. would increase.
Andrew's incredible calming presence as my editor was the reason I continued to write. If it wasn't for him, I might have just quit. I now realize that I'm really glad I stuck it out because I truly have enjoyed writing for him the last seven years and the paths that Frankly Green Bay have led me to. I had so many articles that would not have existed without his support.
Thanks to Andrew, I got the ball rolling on the Jesus Lizard at Lambeau Field. Thanks to Andrew, I got to interview WWE Superstars Big E and Cesaro, Zombies singer Colin Blunstone, Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Sir Clone Paul McCartney. I really appreciated his support on my article in Frankly Green Bay on if I was in charge of the Green Bay Packers. He also let me write about the Muffs for three consecutive months.
Thank you Andrew!
Andrew also was responsible for finding my cat Krypto as a kitten running around by the Wildlife Sanctuary and making my home Krypto's. Andrew even had the power to convince me to be in four fantasy football leagues (Andrew was the commissioner of two of the leagues I'm in).
The funeral service for Andrew was a very sad, touching, beautiful, and uplifting service. I give it a Timebomb Rating of 13 out of 13. I know that Andrew's sense of humor would laugh at me giving a rating to his funeral service and this is my journalistic salute to him or 'tip of the hat.' Seriously his funeral service was a special event. Frank Hermans, one of the publishers and founders of Frankly Green Bay, did an incredible job with the eulogy. As they say in Zoolander, I didn't think Frank would make such a great eugoogoolizer. Frank's words about Andrew were more than perfect and he was truly able to convey who he was as a person. Frank, of course, talked about things that I knew about Andrew but also of things that I was not aware of or had forgotten.
I guarantee you this was the first funeral service I went to that had multiple Kids in the Hall references.
I wish I had told Andrew that whenever I'm looking for a pen now I'll repeat this phrase.
“My pen, my pen!"
I went to the Kids in the Hall by myself at the Weidner Center a few years back and I wish Andrew had gone with me to that performance. I knew of Andrew's love of Depeche Mode and now I'm trying to recall if I ever told him I had always wanted Motorhead to cover Personal Jesus. Andrew also loved the Cure and I'm positive I never told him I was the Midwestern college DJ who, in the '80s, started the false rumor that Robert Smith had died. Pretty sure this false rumor was even denied on MTV. I know I never told Andrew this because I hadn't thought about that incident in decades.
Andrew's wife, Aimee Suzanne, said some very beautiful things also. What really struck me was when she said it would be awhile before we will realize exactly all the effects Andrew had on our lives. This has rung mother-fraking true for me already and I'm excited to discover the many other ways Andrew made my life better by making me a better human. I work way too many hours at my job and I realize those hours worked are all hours away from the special people in my life. Hey if I didn't work so much maybe I would have taken more advantage of being so lucky and privileged to have been able to call him my friend.
I have the same regret as the French-Canadian Fur Trappers on Kids in the Hall had when they were lamenting the over hunting of the Beaver.
“Oh the Beaver, What we're we thinking?"
Except Andrew isn't a beaver and my lament is not wisely spending more time with him, truly my loss. There is a hole in my heart knowing he won't be stopping by the store to brighten my day.
Until we meet again in the great Holodeck in the sky.
I'm going to end this month on a positive note by saying that Frank and Mike Hermans, the publishers of Frankly Green Bay, choosing Aimee Suzanne Kruse-Ross as the new editor of Frankly Green Bay was brilliant and not only the right choice, but the only choice. Aimee was an integral part of the editorial process here at Frankly Green Bay since day one. Many a time I would communicate with Andrew about a submission and Andrew would be working on another aspect of the next issue and he would give me some positive feedback via Aimee going over my submission before he had a chance. They were a great team and I know myself and the rest of the awesome staff of Frankly Green Bay are going to do what ever we can to help her out in this unexpected transition. I predict we will even see some past writers of Frankly Green Bay come back for guest appearances to honor the memory and everlasting impact that Andrew Kruse-Ross left on our lives.
Somewhere, I hope he is watching me type this last sentence and he is saying,
“I'm crushing your head!"
Live, Long and Love those who make you prosper.