Black Irish

Double self portrait by Dave Ripton and Todd Beers 1992
Double self portrait by Dave Ripton and Todd Beers 1992

Cheryl Laurro was the queen of Monroe Avenue back in the nineties. Her clothing store, Godiva’s, functioned like a coffee bar with no coffee. Conversation was the main item on the menu, then music by her latest infatuation. She was a big booster of local artists, poets and writers. She released a series of cassette tapes, all produced by Arpad, by local musicians. My favorite was by Dave Ripton, “Poetry Sucks Me.”.

Peggi and I bought the painting above after seeing it in Cheryl’s shop. Later we got to know both Dave and Todd. Peggi and I backed Todd in a series of poetry readings and I played drums in Ripton’s band. Dave was as much a poet as a musician. He tore it up at a Water Street gig I played with him. Every encounter with Dave since the nineties was meaningful. He made it so.

Dave Ripton cleaning cleaning our soffits in 2023
Dave Ripton cleaning our soffits in 2023

Dave moved to Maine for years and ditched most of his bad habits. He painted houses there and we hired him this summer when he returned. It was a treat spending time with him. He asked me if I ever go down a street and think, this is the last time I’m gonna drive down this street? I said, yeah, sometimes. He said “that’s “Black Irish. I do it all the time.” He became somewhat of a regular at Margaret Explosion shows again. I hugged him at the November gig and he was all bones. I held my tears. We heard he was coming to the Christmas show but . . .

Dave Ripton playing with Ani DiFranco at the Tralfamadore in Buffalo 1996. Photo by Arpad.
Dave Ripton playing with Ani DiFranco at the Tralfamadore in Buffalo 1996. Photo by Arpad.
Listen “Idaho” by Dave Ripton from “Poetry Sucks Me”

RIP Ripton


3 Replies to “Black Irish”

  1. Dave was in a constant search of meaning for his life, sometimes his search was frantic, sometimes it was let’s wait on the corner and see what comes along. He tried to find meaning in just about everything that presented itself to his sensibilities; in God, in love, in art, in song, in poetry, in sex, in travel, and even in that general longing for that meaning ,he tried to find meaning. He was powerful in many of his personas. Has a performer, leaving it all on the stage, as a friend ,lending his time, ear, and council, even when he was going through his stages of brokenness and addiction, via alcohol or drug abuse, his person was powerful still, in his cry for help and in the heavy sadness that clothed him during those times. But Dave always maintained that “Black Irish” Dave humor and profoundness while in that pursuit of wanting more of this life, though deep down he knew that he could not glean it from this world, though he tried. His need is what made you love him, wanting to join/ help him on his journey to find that fulfillment. My prayer is that in his final days he returned to God and saw clearly that God was the only One that could fill and heal those chasms, and that persistent need in his heart, mind and soul to know Truth and see Justice.I see my friend at the second coming of Jesus Christ rising in the resurrection and going on to his everlasting life, just has one of his songs so clearly describes and dreams of… May you rest in peace until then my friend.

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