RIP Wesley Willis

James Ballot just reminded me I didn’t say anything about Wesley Willis’ death last week (registration required). Here’s another good piece on Wesley . It’s a great loss, of course, but all the media coverage was kinda weird. The Tribune story was way over-the-top, and you could sense that they were happy to be able to write a story about him without having to worry about him showing up at their office to hang out. It’s a lot easier to heap praise on outsider art when the annoying and unpredictable outsider isn’t around anymore. I’m not sure if I miss being headbutted by a huge smelly crazy homeless dude at the Empty Bottle every night, but Wesley made Chicago a little less boring in the 90s, and whichever side of the exploitation argument you fall on, both his life and ours were enriched by his art. I can’t find an MP3, but Heavy Vegetable’s “Song for Wesley” is the most endearing tribute I’ve seen or heard, and it’s the best, because it was written while he was still alive. It ends, in Wesley style, “Rock over London, Rock on Chicago, Wesley Willis, whoopin’ on a mule’s ass with a belt.”