Matt Beer, RIP

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I think I was the only Reason-er who had any dealings with Matt Beer, but his death on Monday was a great loss. Matt, who died of an apparent heart attack in Cambodia, where he had just arrived to start editing an English-language paper, was one of a kind. Although I knew him as an all-around ass-kicker and dirty tricks man at Suck, a boulevardier and journalistic wisenheimer around San Francisco, and one of the most resourceful schmoozers I've ever met, these obituaries from the Detroit News and Free Press demonstrate that his most notorious exploits (of which I knew very little) took place back in the Motor City. He was a born tabloidist, without any political opinions I could ever discern beyond whether something would make a juicy story, the kind of reporter the "three-legged duck" rule was made for. And he had the most important skill of all—the unfailing ability to find somebody who will pay you for a story. I'll miss him.

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  1. At the risk of proving that I am neither ‘hip’ nor ‘with it’, can anyone shed some light on what a ‘three-legged-duck’ rule might be? Google fails me.

    The loss of any of the Sucksters is a sad day. As was the day that Suck succumbed to the dot-com embulism.

  2. It’s an old saw about editors: You ask new reporters which story they’d go with: A big scandal at City Hall or a three-legged duck found in somebody’s back yard. The good ones will pick the three-legged duck (because there will always be scandals at City Hall, but a three-legged duck is really news).

  3. Guy was a disbarred lawyer who defrauded his clients and, from what I knew of him, kind of an asshole. And his stories contained shitloads of inaccuracies and just-plain-made-up shit. Sorry for his family, but why he deserves any plaudits for his vocational exploits is beyond me. Also, just to remind myself of why people like me go into journalism to begin with, I always live by the city-hall-scandal rule. Because it, you know, actually affects people. The duck story can wait a day.

  4. I knew Matt Beer. He attended NMU in Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the same time I did, but I didn’t know him then. He was involved in the student government and drove the administration a bit batty when he was looking for the straight dope (he may have written for the North Wind, NMU’s paper, too.) He tells a story about putting on coveralls and going into a closed admin meeting, prentending to fudge with some light switches or something and eaves dropped.

    I knew of him in Detroit as a writer of a dish column and even snickered with most when his Dad turned out to have another family. We all wondered if he would report on that.

    I met him when I sent a piece to a little magazine called Orbit in Detroit. (You can see an Orby shirt in Pulp Fiction on Quenin Tarrentino) He printed it and then had me write a few pieces about alcohol. His was a very good editor and his touch always made my stuff better. We became friends and lunched and drank together.

    He was five of nine in a Catholic family structure as was I. Middle children do have some things to prove. Since we both lived in the 313 area code, he would call me when he was working from home and we would chat for a dime all day throughout the day. He had gone free-lance, as was I, and phone bills needed to be monitored. We had breakfast during the week his Father died and I was glad to be there to listen.

    When he left Detroit for San Francisco to work for Suck.com, he gave me a wonderful print of an old black man standing in front of his Twin Pines milk truck. A very Detroit image. A very Detroit memory.

    Matt got me some work at Suck.com and then he drifted on. I talked with him off and on, sent him a typed letter once which he had to call me about and thank me for sending a him a letter he could hold in his hand, rather than just read on the screen.

    Before going to SF this summer with my wife and son, I tried to track Matt down. No luck. then I heard he had died.

    Glad to have known you Matt!

  5. To the jag balls “biff” with no respect for the dead. How high and mighty you must be. Have the guts to let us know how to contact you. I knew Matt, went through some seriously trying times with him, and yet I cannot say a bad word about him…contact me, so I can converse with a perfect journalist…how could you write something like that knowing his family will see it? You obviously missed the very first and most important lesson of journalism…can you guess what it is?

    Suz

    1. Tell the truth?

  6. I was in the Air Force with Matt and just learned of his death. I am saddened by this loss. He was a unique individual that I will always remember.

    1. Hi there! Were you stationed at Chanute with him? That is where I knew him….. am stunned at this sad news. We were good friends. Thanks – nancy

  7. I’m with “Biff.” Matt was a colossal jerk. While I was dating him, he actually picked up a friend of mine At my house. I walked back in the room and they were locked in torrid kiss. And yes, he a disbarred lawyer apparently fired from AFP for plagiarism. An all-around great guy.

  8. I dated Matt during his days in the Air Force and have very fond memories of those days. I was looking online for him and just found that he had died. I am curious about him…… if he ever married and how his life turned out. He was pretty wild in the AF. We had a lot of fun. He was one my important men. I loved him dearly.

  9. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. What a giant asshole. RIP my ass.

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