Hi UTMC, long time no see. I wrote this on Facebook, but it seems appropriate to share it here, where I met Noah.
Skott, I'm gutted by this, and I can't imagine what you and the rest of the family are going through. If you need anything, please let me know. Jane has my info.
My friend Noah Scialom died last night.
The way I would describe Noah to people who didn’t really know him was that he was the only person I’ve ever met who made you want to simultaneously punch him in the face and adopt him. He didn’t care much about material things, and he expected everyone else to feel the same way. If you lent something to Noah, he would probably lend it to someone else, or get it stolen, or break it. But you couldn’t hold him responsible, or I never could anyway. It was just the way he was. We spent his 21st birthday at Rocket to Venus, only we couldn’t tell anyone, because he’d been going there for months.
He came to Baltimore to go to law school, and he would have made a good lawyer. He had a gift for talking his way out of situations that was equal to his gift for getting into them. His luck always seemed to hold. When he dropped out of school to become a photographer I told him he was an idiot. He had just picked up a camera and he wasn’t much use with it. But he learned. I think he channeled a lot of his boundless energy into his photography. Example of pre-camera Noah: A Royal Farms clerk asking if you can please stop him from doing donuts in the parking lot with his motorcycle. Post-camera Noah was all over the sidewalk, shoving his iPhone in peoples’ faces, barely breaking stride as he captured them stuffing a sub into their mouth.
Part of being a great photographer is putting people at ease, and he had no trouble with that, but over the years he developed his eye, and people started to notice. First his friends, then the local papers, and eventually the national magazines. He was lucky, but people started to see that he was also very good. That didn’t make him responsible though. I was with him one day when he suddenly remembered an appointment he’d missed that morning. It would have been his first meeting with the New Yorker.
For all that, though, he would drop everything if you needed him. While I was covering a boat race in Missouri, I got a call from home that there was a bat in the house. Another phone call later, Noah was there, with a motorcycle helmet and a badminton racket, checking things out.
Noah loved people, and I think sometimes he felt betrayed by that love. But it was what made him a great photographer, and a great friend. Being with him was a roller-coaster ride, and he always made the people he was with feel special. I never told him any of this, and now I’ll never get the chance, but I think he knew. I hope he knew.
I don’t remember the last time I talked to Noah. I remember telling him we’d adopted a baby girl. There was a long pause on his end before he said, in a perfect mock serious voice, “I just… always thought it would be me.”
I love him and I’m angry at him. And if he were here I’m not sure whether I’d punch him in the face or try to adopt him.
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I have a pawn shop typewriter now. The gov. gangsters have sprayed it with an odor that makes me sick and vomit. I type on the back door step in the fresh air.