With every year that passes since Cathy Seipp died – and today makes five – I have more appreciation for just how much she did for so many.
Cathy was a collector of interesting, smart people – even if many of them had stupid beliefs (which she would tell them to their face). She was truly curious about the world and others, and was always surrounded by those she found worth a closer look, a long lunch, a hike in the hills behind her house, a cocktail hour at Yamashiro.
The first time I came to LA, it was at her insistence. We’d met when she and her teenage daughter Maia came to London, after months of having corresponded via email and phone, and reading and commenting on one another’s blogs. I’d always thought I wouldn’t like Los Angeles, but Cathy insisted I was wrong. As she so often was, she was right. (And she’d never hesitate to tell you: “You know I’m right.”)
But as Nancy Rommelmann, one of the many now-treasured friends I met through Cathy, said to me at the time: “Cathy likes you, so you just got swept into the best social network in town.” This was years before “social network” meant Facebook or even MySpace. No, she meant a wonderful ensemble of writers, thinkers, producers, personalities – people with brains, guts, spirits. This wasn’t about “networking” in the cynical, me-me-me sense; Cathy had been a magnet for people who were interested in other people, and who were themselves interesting, just like she was. Allan Mayer, who was Cathy’s friend and former editor at Buzz, told the LA Weekly upon her death:
What she wouldn’t tolerate were cant, sanctimony and bullies. Political correctness enraged her…[S]he believed in the virtue of personal responsibility. I sometimes thought her lacking in sympathy for the less fortunate, but the fact is she spent far more time than me — far more time than most of us — looking out for and taking care of strays, both the two-legged and the four-legged kind…And now she is gone. Or at least as gone as one can be who has touched as many lives and brought together as many people as she obviously has.
So I loved LA instantly, and made friends with people I love to this day. Tomorrow, I’ll fly to San Francisco and raise a glass to Cathy with one of them. Today, we remember her, giving thanks for having known her and that she brought us all into one another’s orbit.
Rembering Cathy with the #MissSeipp hashtag on Twitter
A pinboard of Cathy Seipp photos and memories on Pinterest
Maia Lazar remembers her mother with admirable maturity and honesty
Nancy Rommelmann says it all
Matt Welch’s obituary for Cathy says the rest
Some of my favorite Cathyisms
Header photo by our friend Robert Avrech