Gone in a Puff of Smoke

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Trippy over the years lost his first wife and two kids to divorce, to the lifestyle. "He couldn't afford child care," says Leach. "That stuff ate him up. Underneath it all, Dave had a heart. Not everyone saw it. And not everyone liked the guy."

The romance of William Powell and Myrna Loy lining up shots in a smoke-filled lounge with cigarettes between their lips is irresistible. The question is, if cigarette smoking is banned in bars, then where do we stop? According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency, toxins and cancer-causing carcinogens are everywhere. Do we ban autos, cow shit, and someone else's waste? Sunlight causes cancer; what about that?

Trippy has demonstrated that life was fraught with risk in degrees based on the choices that he made. He knew the risks involved and dived in headfirst. He told a friend just before sinking into the depths of cancer that, if nothing else, he wanted to be an example that would help legitimize the work in bars; the barmaids, bartenders, doormen and musicians, etc.

"How do you keep the faith and alter your lifestyle?" asks Leach. "That's the sad part. He paid dearly for choosing to be a musician."

"Dave liked to drink and he lived life to the fullest," says Paul Thomas. "So people can sit there and say, 'This is why Dave is suffering the demise.' Nobody knows why Dave is suffering the demise. None of us know why we live or die."

Trippy's last public performance was a fund raiser for the Boys and Girls Club at the Pointe Hilton on South Mountain in late March.

Carol Mercadantr sits in a small, gray-toned hospital waiting room. She fidgets, and her thoughts are scattered. When she finally leaves the hospital, it will be alone, and her partner will be dead. The thought makes tears well up in her eyes.

"David loved, loved, loved, loved to entertain," she says softly, wiping her cheek. "That's what it was. He just loved to entertain."

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Brian Smith
Contact: Brian Smith