Scott Wannberg, a member of the traveling poet troupe known as “The Carma Bums” and a 23-year employee of the late Dutton's Brentwood Books, died Friday of an apparent heart attack in his recent hometown of Florence, Oregon, according to his friend Rip Rense. They attended Venice High School together and Rense wrote about Wannberg in 1994 in the L.A. Times. Tributes are rolling in non-stop at Wannberg's Facebook wall, where one poster observes with a smile, "I really liked that Scott didn't have an 'inside voice." Especially inside Dutton's."
At the blog Radius: From the Center to the Edge, Carlye Archibeque writes:
By now the arts community is aware of the passing of poet Scott Wannberg. Word started being delivered yesterday morning, August 20th, by phone and internet and by the end of the day it seemed that the entire world was aware that a great void had just been created in the world of word. Everyone who met Scott knew him because he was what he was. No hidden agenda, no guile, no malice. Just Scott.
On Facebook: Friends post traveling music from John Prine, the Grateful Dead, Elvis Costello, Simon and Garfunkel, Van Halen, Leonard Cohen and this by early bluesman Blind Willie Johnson:
Added: Email from S.A. Griffin, Wannberg's close friend and publisher:
Scott Wannberg's influence as a poet-writer reaches well beyond his hometown of Los Angeles. The genuine article, Scott was one of a kind, a larger than life American original; the stuff of myth and legend. I was lucky enough to be his friend and publisher for almost thirty years. For twenty years with The Carma Bums, we traveled across the country and the internet, our last gig together in Kansas City, MO, August 2009. Over the course of his time as an employee of Dutton's Books in Brentwood, Scott had cultivated an amazing network of fans and friends including Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Dustin Hoffman, T.C. Boyle, Ry Cooder, Peter Case and historian Page Smith. Viggo Mortensen was a very close friend. Viggo's Perceval Press imprint gave us Scott's most recent book, Strange Movie Full of Death," and Scott's forthcoming "Tomorrow Is Another Song."
The past few years via Facebook, Scott had cultivated a whole new audience that was literally global. Generous to a fault, Scott mentored many poets via the blogs, especially younger up and coming writers. With 4,391 "friends" and fans at his death, Scott had arguably become the Poet Laureate of Facebook.
His loss and legacy are immeasurable.
From Perceval Press: "Scott Wannberg left shore from Florence, Oregon in the middle of the night without waking anyone, but not before hiding an unknown number of treasure maps that may help us get through the coming winter...." More at the press's website