Photo of Garrett courtesy of Typewriter Connection
Garrett Lai wanted to punch me. That's how I knew he was one of the good ones.
We were friends for a short while. It was early in what was going to be a long and fruitful friendship.
I've been accused of trusting people too easily. Or maybe I just accuse myself. But there was something disarming and trustworthy about Garrett. He was so earnest in his desire to help people. To prop them up. To take every opportunity to say something nice about you, especially when introducing you to others.
"This is Bryan Mahoney, one of those multitalented folks who can write and draw," he said as he introduced me on one of The Typewriter Guys' live Instagram chats. "And I want to punch him in the face for it."
I only knew Garrett through the typewriter community around Los Angeles but he was a giant in the bike publishing world. There are great things written about him at The Cycling Independent, at Bicycle Retailer, and at TGA Communications. They knew him longer and better than I.
I sent a friend to see him last year. She wanted a typewriter, and he was holding a private sale. She introduced herself as my friend. He told her she'd get the Bryan Mahoney discount. That wasn't a thing, of course, and I asked him about it after. He said he just appreciated someone like himself out there, doing something that brought joy to others through a typewriter, and looking to spread the love.
Garrett died right at the time Inktober started this year. I'd committed to drawing and posting new art every day in October. I said I'd hold off on writing about Garrett's death because I didn't want to break the chain of posts. That was selfish, I thought. Truth was, I was looking for an excuse to put off writing about him. I didn't know him that well, after all. But I was starting to.
And I thought, let me embark on an ambitious art project. Something punch-worthy. And at the end of it I could show it to Garrett, wherever he is, and let him know he inspired me to do it.