It was on Thursday and Friday of the first week of August that word began to circulate around Gainesville of the passing of a truly loved and respected longtime member of our community who had in recent years relocated to Philadelphia.
Travis Fristoe was a cofounder and major motivator of the zine library in the Civic Media Center in the mid ’90s, was a principle volunteer of Wayward Council, a writer, musician, teacher, librarian and a good friend to many here and around the world. It seemed impossible that such a vibrant person was gone, but he was.
There was a memorial event at the Thomas Center on Aug. 23, and another will take place at the Poole building Saturday night, Oct. 3. Preceding that, the Travis Fristoe Zine Library will be dedicated to his memory at the CMC at 7 p.m. What follows are three people’s testimonials to his impact on their lives here in Gainesville.
FROM DON FITZPATRICK:
Wayward Council was a volunteer-run, non-profit record store committed to fostering community, independent expression, and DIY energy. We sold records and zines, hosted punk shows, Books for Prisoners, free AIDS testing, rented out practice space, distributed progressive literature and provided air conditioning and coffee for punks in the Florida summer.
Like any good leader, Travis Fristoe’s role in this endeavor was both big picture ideals and grunt work price tags on 7”s. His fierce principles were a compass for the operation. His librarian workethic and attention to detail coupled with his kindness and passion for music were a model for all new volunteers.
Wayward sold Travis’s zine, America? and records of his bands, Moonraker, True Feedback Story and Reactionary 3 as well as records that his Obscurist press put out. He was one of the key volunteers that helped figure out to spin our measly budget into enough records to be a viable, diverse record store with No Idea, Dischord, and Ebullition releases alongside jazz and hip hop vinyl that only the most astute music fan would know about.
Out-of-town punks sought out Wayward Council and Travis synonymously. His generosity, energy and dedication to fostering human connections continue to inspire.
FROM KEITH HARMON:
I am a friend and former coworker of Travis at the library in Gainesville. He was community-oriented, inclusive, generous, and had an enormous capacity for patience. When I met Travis I confess to be being a bit unsure of him. Despite his obvious good nature he was not an easy person to know. Slowly we shared travel stories, traded recordings, compared Telecasters, and I did get to know him. He was fiercely independent and yet almost supernaturally kind. It used to frustrate me how impossible it seemed to get him angry.
I remember the way he would be off in his own world and suddenly half-grab his belly and laugh when one of us finally said something clever enough to get a reaction. I remember when you surprised him he would do this dazed, head-bobbling façade of shock and then deliberately look at you and say “yes” with that trademark smile.
There are many of these things, each seeming so important now to remember. I remember several dark periods when I had not seen him for a while. Suddenly Travis would call to hang out. He had a sense for those things.
I always felt like I was letting him down by letting myself get down. He had a way of being supportive and non-judgmental, while also having high expectations. He expected his friends to do the hard work of being a well-informed, aware person, with a responsibility to become who you needed to be and to help others do the same.
All of this makes it so hard now, wishing that someone could have eased his burden. We have lost a remarkable person, a true individual in a world of followers. We have lost a rare example of an enlightened person. Now I have only memories, and a volume of Flannery O’Connor with a picture of Travis taped in the cover.
FROM JEREMY MERRITT:
I first met Travis when I moved to Gainesville in 1998. He was doing the zine library at the CMC and was always so friendly when I’d see him. Years later I ended up working at the Alachua County Library District and when I moved to the HQ Branch downtown in Technical Services, Travis was working in Adult Services.
My day was always better after bumping into him. When engaging in conversation he made you feel like the only person in the world. He seemed so focused on that moment and non-judgmental, that it was a real treat to interact with him. For a few years I was the AV Library Assistant, and when the monthly DVD and poster for one of Travis’s programs came in, I always looked forward to bringing it to his desk, hoping he was there rather than “working the desk” (the upstairs Reference Desk).
Whenever we’d be leaving the library at the same time I would get caught up on the latest about his band or another project he was working on and vice versa. I’d never fail to come away from an interaction with him feeling like even if I was having a lousy day, it just turned into a pretty decent day. He left you with a feeling of positivity and camaraderie.
For a while he was the only other vegan at the library I was aware of and one of the few who displayed their tattoos openly. He was also one of the library Union Stewards and helped push for a statement of support for LGBT rights within the Union.
When other co-workers tried to encourage me to go back to school and get my Masters in Library Science, knowing there were “outside the box” librarians like Travis made me strongly consider it. While I ended up going another route for now, I can’t rule out that I won’t one day go back to get that degree, in part because of awesome librarians like Travis. Interacting with him was perhaps best described by the Maya Angelou quote “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said… they will remember how you made them feel.”
Thank you, Travis.
In Memory of Travis Fristoe — http://maximumrocknroll.com/in-memory-of-travis-fristoe/