What better word to sum up our feelings on this day that, at 44, our Amy has been taken.
Early in this 14-year association/friendship/love affair, Amy Petrolati revealed to the juvenile morons of Duncan/Channon that in school she’d been teased as Amy “Poopsalotti.” Her revelation was quite voluntary and, in typical Amy fashion, entirely generous, and signaled that she was eager to dive in, as silly as anyone. And, in those days, when we were a much smaller company, we were as silly as could be.
So, in D/C-land, Amy became the funniest word in the juvenile dictionary — Poop — joining the ranks of Toby, formerly Max; Sausage, formerly Ian; and the inexplicable Pops. Not to mention Slash, K-Hole, Big Dummy and Watermelon Gum. The list went on, as juvenile things joyously will.
And I mention it because Amy’s whole existence was dedicated to such fun and games — to creativity, comedy, design, music, theater, to the ultimate art of nature and ultimate theater of politics, to true beauty and fair play and the neverending war on blandness, pomposity, fakery, true ugliness and gloom.
Amy was dropped into the deep end at D/C, a young production artist who arrived amid a production disaster and was cajoled into taking on the entire department. Talk about thankless. But, with great care and almost unmitigated great cheer (there may have been a few valiant tears in the privacy of my office), Amy rose to the occasion.
Which means that when we were a much smaller company, she helped ensure we’d get larger, that when it was earlier, Poopsalotti made sure there’d be a later. She rose to the occasion, for all of us.
She rose to the occasion.
It’s a sentence that might apply to every single thing Amy did and made and was. I’ve never known anyone who rose to the occasion more frequently, more consistently, more gracefully, creatively, readily or bravely, no matter how challenging that occasion might be.
It is Amy’s challenge to us and her lesson.
Poop rose to the occasion when she went from production artist to production manager to seasoned senior designer and mentor to adoring juniors. She rose to the occasion when, as part of the Black Ops team cooking up D/C’s extravagant 20th anniversary (not to mention the 25th, last fall), she said, and I quote:
“I know a guy who has a giant snail car that shoots fire forty feet.”
And she rose to the occasion, literally, when, working with bosom-buddy Moe, she designed and built the vertical bed that let everyone take a picture with the D/C bunny at the 20th and that saturated social media for weeks and our memories forever.
She rose to the occasion whenever we needed an unexpected, cool band for the Tip — maybe one from Fluff & Gravy Records, for whom she’d crafted a graphic identity. Or someone we could completely trust to run creative on a cuckoo-complicated wine account. Or when, for a cuckoo Gary Wilson show, we needed a two-story chandelier of inflatable sex dolls that we didn’t even know we needed until Amy said it. Sounds like way too much work, I replied. Nah, she said, and then rose to the occasion by getting Phil to help.
Hilarious, brilliant, devoted, wonderful Phil, her husband, the esteemed former commissioner of Vallejo Little League — the mighty Commish — who is as much a part of our family, now and forever, as Poop.
And she rose to the occasion when she had to come in late, one morning a month, and which some of us knew was from getting her infusions, but nobody else would suspect. Because Amy came in from her monthly (or weekly) torments as sunny, sassy and ready to work, to create anew, as any of us. More so.
She rose to the occasion when she was first afflicted almost two decades ago and again when she broke her leg this past winter. She rose to the occasion from trials we could never imagine rising from, and upon which Amy — determined to live vividly in the here-and-now — would never want us to dwell.
She rose to the occasion, fueled by a love that may have started with creativity and art and fun, but was deeply rooted in loving Phil and sister Jennifer and brother-in-law John and nephew Cash and niece Maybelle and her folks and her dogs and her friends and her neighbors. A love of being together and goofing together and building Bunny Boudoir beds together and bowling together and going to Pickathon together and coming together to fight for equality and peace and Mare Island and sharing adventures in the woods and cities and in a private penthouse bar, a big, wide love that encompassed a big, wide world and, as it continues to warm and inspire us, will never stop.
And on this most challenging occasion, we can only say Poop.
And dedicate ourselves to learning from her how to love and rise.
PS: Thanks to everyone who made it to The Tip to remember and celebrate our beloved Amy.