AUSTIN — One weekend in April 1998, journalist and writer Jan Reid and three of his Texas Month-to-month friends flew right down to Mexico Metropolis to look at a prizefighter residing in Austin who was making his Mexico ring debut. Jan had gotten to know the younger fighter at an Austin gymnasium the place he did a little bit boxing himself. Out in town the evening after the struggle, the 4 Texans climbed right into a cab, whose driver led them right into a entice set by two pistol-wielding robbers.
When the pistoleros ordered Jan and his pals out of the automotive in a darkish and unfamiliar barrio, Jan was positive they have been about to killed. As he exited the cab, he threw a tough left jab, the sort he’d perfected again at Richard Lord’s Boxing Fitness center. The punch fell inches brief; the gunman fired. Smashing by way of Jan’s left arm on the wrist, the slug entered his stomach under the rib cage and got here to relaxation in his backbone. “I’m killed,” he cried out to his pals as he fell.
Jan didn’t die that harrowing evening. He survived because of a talented Mexico Metropolis emergency room surgeon; household and pals who managed to get him on a flight again to the Texas Medical Heart; and devoted medical doctors, nurses and therapists (together with the legendary Dr. Purple Duke, together with his bushy cowboy mustache), first at Hermann Hospital after which at TIRR (The Institute for Analysis and Rehabilitation). After six months of dogged effort and intensive remedy, he was wobbly however again on his toes. For the subsequent twenty years he continued to put in writing articles and books that made him one of the revered writers in Texas. And now he’s gone.
Jan died Sept. 19, a couple of weeks after struggling a coronary heart assault. He was 75 and had misplaced his beloved spouse, Dorothy Browne, final Christmas Eve.
It’s unsettling to be writing about an outdated buddy after which to all of the sudden notice that the person I’m making an attempt to seize in a couple of phrases is not any extra. And but phrases are all I’ve to convey one thing of the essence of a modest, first rate, splendidly proficient human being.
Jan grew up in Wichita Falls, however his pronounced Texas drawl and his easy-going nature would make you suppose he was a rustic boy. And he was a rustic boy after I met him, residing in an outdated cabin with a cat and a collie in a broken-down little burg close to Seguin referred to as Geronimo. He was working because the sports activities editor for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, making an attempt to put in writing a novel and simply making the acquaintance of a brand new journal referred to as Texas Month-to-month.
Not lengthy afterward, he printed his first and arguably nonetheless best-known e-book. “The Unbelievable Rise of Redneck Rock” was a deeply reported, detailed account of the magical convergence of nation, rock ’n’ roll, blues and folks musicians in Austin within the early 1970s. Along with scores of articles for Texas Month-to-month and different magazines, he wrote 12 books, together with the definitive biography of Ann Richards and a boxing novel he completed shortly earlier than his demise. “Music Chief,” it’s referred to as, to be printed subsequent yr by TCU Press.
Austin author Steve Harrigan, Jan’s Texas Month-to-month cohort, as soon as noticed that his outdated buddy “writes with a scholar’s attain, a novelist’s depth and a local son’s intuitive grasp.” On Texas Month-to-month’s web site for the time being is a group of his work. Scrolling down the listing you’ll see that he wrote about six-man soccer; Darrell Royal; musicians Doug Sahm, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Eager and Willie Nelson; boxing; George Foreman; Cynthia Ann Parker; Roger Clemens; the Kickapoos; the Purple River and the Satan’s; rabid coyotes — to say just some items that replicate his vary and flexibility. “I’m blessed with a stressed curiosity and an appreciation of the ways in which individuals and place form one another,” he wrote in a group of his journal articles referred to as “Shut Calls: Jan Reid’s Texas” (Texas A&M Press, 2000).
His e-book “The Bullet Meant for Me,” a 2002 account of the capturing, not solely recounts in harrowing element what occurred that darkish evening but in addition explores his fascination with boxing and his hard-won insights about violence, masculinity and relationships in occasions of disaster.
He labored as a freelancer for a lot of his life. “Monetary safety isn’t a attribute of the commerce,” he famous in “Shut Calls.” “Then again, I’ve seldom been bored by my work, and I’ve come to know an excessive amount of Texas. I’ve complained at occasions that it’s a double whammy — not solely do I reside in Texas, nevertheless it’s all anyone ever desires me to put in writing about. However for all my … moaning, and international wanderlust, I really like the place.”
Complaining was not a trait related to the person, despite the fact that the Mexico Metropolis capturing, the hinge level of his life, left him a lot to moan about. Paralyzed from the waist down for weeks after the capturing, he fought to regain the power to stroll, however he by no means totally recovered. He relied on a cane the remainder of his life. He battled recurring infections, and years after the occasion would all of the sudden expertise spasms of fiery ache capturing up and down his left leg. At all times soft-spoken, his voice was weaker after the capturing. He could have complained, however not round me or anybody else I do know.
“(Jan) was the bravest individual I knew,” retired Texas Month-to-month editor Greg Curtis instructed Austin author Kip Stratton in a tribute that appeared on the journal’s web site shortly after Jan died. “To have lived for thus a few years after his gunshot wound with out grievance or self-pity. Typically you’d see his face contort with ache, however he would by no means give in to it and by no means search for sympathy. He was a sort and delicate soul.”
Greg is totally proper, however I think Jan would bridle on the bravery praise. Sure, the capturing modified his life, however he didn’t dwell on what had occurred to him that evening. He and Dorothy traveled. They gave events and stayed in contact with their huge circle of pals (together with his outdated writing buddies, the Knuckleheads, who met recurrently on the late, lamented Threadgills). He by no means stopped writing. Like somebody keenly conscious of life’s fragility, he lived.