Donate to the Drew Goren 5th Anniversary Memorial Benefit Fund
All contributions made thru this donate button before December 31st 2011 will go to the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.
“In Vino Veritas”
Drew Goren, a gifted photographer and friend, passed away on December 19th, 2006. His death was a heavy blow to everything true and honest in this world. Looking at his work, you can see that his subjects were relaxed and at ease…which is part of what made him great. The other part is harder to define. He had an eye for the intangible, and managed to use existing light to incredible effect. Even when shooting in a dark and dingy barroom or at an ill lit club, he would manage to capture images which not only had good exposure but captured the soul of a situation, room, person, or moment.
Before Drew employed his DIY philosophy to photography, he offcially got his start in the music industry when he began working for Fat Wreck Chords in San Francisco. In 1999 he moved to New York to work at an internet startup, Fastmusic.com. He later went on to work for College Music Journal where he soon became art director and began taking many of their photos himself. After only a short time of taking pictures he created an impressive porfolio of photos of some of the most iconic artists in music of our day, such as Radiohead, Sonic Youth, and Modest Mouse. In addition, his personal and documentry portraits of friends and family, were magical, especially those of his beautiful daughter, Nina, who was undoubtedly his favorite subject.
In March of 2005, the unimaginable news that Drew had stage IV cancer at the young age of thirtyone came as a huge shock to everyone who loved him. Yet, still Drew would continue on to work through the last year and half, almost harder then ever. He often squeezed photo shoots inbetween chemo sessions. And although it began to get painful for him to even walk his subjects were never even aware of his disease; he always preferred they not make allowances. Drew worked because he loved photography, not because he had to. Photography gave meaning to Drew's life in a way nothing else he had ever worked on had.
There is so much love for this man, because he was so real and honest and upfront in his way of living. His example will continue to inspire every day.
Thoughts about Drew, after learning of his passing on 12/19/06
by Eric Rassmusen
Drew held a few principles near and dear to his heart, and they were a compass which guided him in his life. Many times we talked about this, but most telling for me were his actions which revealed that these were not merely words for him but a creed which he truly lived by.
He believed that individuals should think for themselves, and despised the mentality of corporate advertisers who would like to decide for us how we should live, how we should spend, what we should value and what we should think at the expense of our own mental and emotional health and well-being.
He believed in standing by his friends and family. He would not sacrifice any other person for himself; rather he would offer himself as a sacrifice first.
He had true empathy for his fellow humans and felt deep feelings of guilt and repentance when he felt he had made a mistake, which he was all too ready to admit even when others would easily forgive the transgression.
He was a truly humble man, although his talents were many and might lead some to fall into the trap of arrogance; he carried his gifts with grace and unselfishness. He would sacrifice himself for the good of others out of a deep feeling and empathy for the less fortunate.
He was not one to ask for help or to burden others with his care. He did not ask for help, financial or otherwise, during his illness, but instead he continued working to the best of his abilities to provide for his family.
We never held any kind of fundraiser to help pay for his care, although the idea was often talked about among his friends. He was a private person, and had his pride, and did not wish to make a public appeal for sympathy. He did receive the best medical care and was not limited by finances with regard to his treatment, thank God. Everyone here feels that loss tremendously, and I myself feel a void which I know can never be filled in my life. I have lost a friend and a brother who I know I will never forget as long as I live. However, now that he is gone, I wish to appeal to you all to make a contribution of whatever you can afford to support those who will now miss him the most, his daughter Nina and his widow, Julia.
We lived life together, Drew and I, over many years and many phases. There are things we shared which would not be appropriate to talk about here, in fact there are many. Suffice it to say that we have experienced both heaven and hell on earth together. He introduced me to the writings of Charles Bukowski, whom we both greatly admired. I remember sharing a drink with Drew when we heard of his passing, neither of us being old enough to drink legally yet. But we shed a tear for the old man although he had lived much longer than some would say he deserved.
“If you want to find out who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.”
One of our earliest and deepest bonds was through music. When we first met at the age of 13 or 14, we had quite different tastes, but as time went on we influenced each other and each became more like the other. A that time he had lived in the valley most of his life and his taste reflected that, he was interested in new wave and Goth music, whereas I was more a suburban rebellious kid who only listened to punk. He turned me on to Bauhaus and I showed him Nofx. Later he worked for Fat Wreck Chords, the label started by Nofx’s Fat Mike. From then on it was mainly him exposing me to new music as he got more and more involved in the industry. He began taking photos while working for CMJ and showed an immense gift for visual compositions, and the marriage between music and photography was a natural one. I think Drew would have made a really great musician, or painter, or businessperson, he really could have been great at anything. Someday the world may know of his musical compositions, which are also amazing. But once he settled on photography he developed a perfectionist and exquisite style over the years which became more and more refined. Part of what made Drew an excellent photographer was the bond he created with his subjects, as he did with anyone he came into close contact with. Nothing irritated him more than a subject who was rude, impersonal, or treated him as less than an equal, no matter how famous or talented the person might be.
Drew would often tell me of his dreams. He had vivid dreams and would remember them in great, bizarre detail. He loved food and cooking, and I will always preserve some of the recipes he taught me in my own cooking. We even had dreams of someday owning a restaurant together, and one time we actually did run a shanty food operation selling chimichangas in the giant dirt parking lot/ campground at a Phish show in Laguna Seca. He and Julia were the ones who nursed me back to health after I was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident many years later. Together, we ventured to Idaho to live the dream of striking out on our own to pursue what we loved, which was snowboarding in the mountains and the freedom that came with it.
We traveled to Berlin Germany together with Paul and Josh to stay with Jules, and we lived life to its fullest, learning and experiencing much each day and night. At that time we knew Drew was ill, so every moment was more precious and took on a sense of urgency. I never really did accept that I might lose Drew, but instead chose to take an optimistic attitude. Of course I thought about the possibility but quickly banished the thought from my mind or believed it to be farther away that it truly was. Now I realize that we must confront these things directly while those we love are still living, for the things of the flesh and of the mind, once gone, can no longer exist again except in the hearts and minds of the living. I will strive to convey everything I know of Drew to his daughter as she grows up so that she may know the character of her father through me although she is still so young at the time of his passing.
I thought I had prepared myself for the worst but did not fully comprehend what it would mean to lose this dear friend. I realize there is so much that can never be recovered when we lose a human being. Every thought, every conversation, every facial expression, every creation that could have been seems to haunt me when I ponder that I will never look into this dear friend’s face again. Every shared memory with the one we have lost becomes that much more precious, and we are instilled with a newfound value of every moment we share with our loved ones who are still living.
As I feel pain for what I have lost I wonder why I am not more focused on gratitude for Drew’s life and the fact that I knew him. Gratitude for the daughter he has given birth to, gratitude for every moment I was able to spend with him, and for the quality of life lessons I learned from and with him.
I spoke with my brother today; he is in a Buddhist monastery meditating. He told me that one of the precepts of Buddhism is that death is certain, so we might as well show gratitude now for every moment of life. Let us not dwell on our loss but give thanks for what we have been granted.
I awoke this morning with a heavy heart and a churning in the pit of my stomach. An angry wind was blowing outside my window. It seemed to me that it was not altogether inappropriate. It is difficult not to be angry at the injustice of losing a best friend in the prime of life with so much more to do and to give to the world. I don’t blame him if he feels angry. I just said, hang on buddy, we are coming to say goodbye to you today. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to summon the strength to speak here, but I know that if I was in that box, he would be right here doing the same thing for me. I know this because I know his heart and his soul, and I know the compassion he felt for others. I know the loyalty he had toward his friends, and the faith he instilled in them. I remember times when he believed in me, giving me the strength to believe in myself. I learned so much about how to treat other people from Drew. He had many deep friends, but very few casual acquaintances. If they weren’t real, he had no use for them. There was nothing fake about Drew or anything that he did, if he did something, we knew it was coming straight from the heart and it was plain for all the world to see, which is why so many people loved him. He lived a full life, leaving nothing unexplored, whether it be in the world around him or within the recesses of his own mind.