Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nikos. Remembered by his friends.

NIKOS.William Hillyard

Physics says all possibilities exist at once, that anything that can happen, does happen in an infinite array of parallel realities. What we feel and see and remember is but one iteration of what is, of what was, of what can be, could have been, always was. If that’s true, Nikos Lukaris didn’t just die on Amboy last Thursday. In a parallel reality, he arrived safely at The Palms and had a beer to cap off a great day riding. And that F350 he hit in our reality passed him cleanly in another. And Nikos kept off Amboy in yet another reality, stuck to the dirt, rode the bike with the headlight making that night a night no different from any other night. Physics says these realities transpired we just didn’t get to live them. We live the one where Nikos smacked a truck head-on on Amboy Road.

I imagine he died how he would have wanted to go, however--perhaps with fire, though, and an explosion, parts scattered even further, fifty more yards at least. Still, he wouldn’t have been disappointed. What would have disappointed him was the pain his death caused those he left behind, the guys in that F350, Rosie and Nick and Warbird and James, as well as the hole he left in our souls as we mourn our loss. For that’s what it is, we cry for ourselves, our sadness is our selfishness. We weep for our future without him.

Questions rattle around in my head: Who’s going to take me out riding now? Who will keep the bikes in repair? Who will keep us curious, keep alight that fire of wonder without Nikos at the bellows?

“He’s not finished with you yet,” Warbird said to me last night. Already he is deified, from a man to a god. That seems right, because I feel him like a holy spirit, a ghost haunting me in the best possible way, his vital essence seeping in from those parallel realities. That seems right too, because no reality could ever be big enough to contain him.


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