The Daily Heller: Requiem for a Cat

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Aug. 22 was the first anniversary of artist Gary Baseman’s muse Blackie the Cat’s “transition from this world to the next.” To honor Blackie and his contributions to art, Baseman hosted a private memorial with “a performance, soundbath and stroll that shares the Power of Purr.” I am sorry to report on the event so late, but any day is a good day to pay homage to such a fine feline.

After all, few characters in Baseman’s real life became subjects in his art like Blackie the Cat, who directly engaged in creative endeavors by co-hosting and starring in “The Blackie the Cat Show,” writing The Mighty Paw, and recording his “triple purr” for the experiential installation The Purr Room.

Gary Baseman’s Memorial to Blackie the Cat at the La Brea Tar Pits in West Hollywood on Aug. 22.

Baseman, along with his alter ego Bosko, gathered together a small group of family, friends and fans at the West hillside of the La Brea Tar Pits Museum to commemorate his longtime friend and collaborator.

Upon arrival, guests received a special booklet with the origin story of Blackie and a handkerchief with an enamel pin featuring an image of a winged cat.

Baseman shared some of his sweetest memories of Blackie, and included a moment of Blackie’s “healing triple purr.” Musician Troy Everett played evocative melodies on his viola and accompanied Baseman in his vocal rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “The Butcher.” At the end of the ceremony, attendees joined Baseman on a Blackie tribute stroll around the historic park.

Baseman’s words say everything that can be said:

Today we stand on the burial ground of thousands of Ice Age creatures, some of whom are Blackie the Cat’s ancestors, like the saber-toothed cat. The La Brea Tar Pits is just one place where there are fossils and oil goo that are evidence of creatures long gone. We’re reminded of the passage of time and change that is inevitable. The hope through all of it is to learn and live with compassion.

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