If a library burns when someone dies, the Smithsonian was firebombed on February 9, 2017, with the loss of Nikos Lukaris. He was the real most interesting man in the world. An invincible combination of the Dali Lama, Kit Carson, Dr. Doolittle, MacGyver, Beowulf, and a raw block of iron. A Greek warrior genius king of the desert, sky and sea. With Nikos, nothing was impossible. I once told him we needed to start hunting for meteorites. He replied, "Why don't we just make them?" He killed a Mohave Green rattlesnake by throwing a knife while riding a motorcycle. He opened bottles of beer with his teeth. He started campfires by disconnecting the spark plug wire and arcing a spark to the engine block. He was raised in a zoo. He tracked desert tortoises. He reengineered a snowmobile so he could ride it in the sand. He built a boat by hand, in a week. If you were with him, approximately every twenty minutes, he'd shake your hand. He rode his motorcycle one-handed on trails I wreck on. He once drove from coast to coast, naked, in a vehicle that had no doors. He had nicknames for nearly everyone and everything, so sometimes it felt like he was talking in code. Sometimes he actually talked in code. He emitted so much love, just being around him made you feel like nothing bad could ever happen. He was envied by everyone he met for his limitless passion for life. You wanted to be like him. The notion he could ever die was absurd. He lived every second tiptoeing the edge of the abyss. He was Icarus, constantly flying too close to the sun. He went in the only way possible to kill him: blown into a trillion sparkles of stardust, returned to whatever alien planet sent him, on a mission to force us to discover the best versions of ourselves.
Posted and printed with the permission of William Hillyard and Nick Harmon.
Wonder Valley Sand Paper, Vol. 2, No. 36