Jeff Lustig (1943-2012)

Jeff Lustig died last month. I miss him greatly. He was a very close friend—we’d get together two or three times a month to push chess pieces around and talk and laugh. He was so witty, so sharp, so enraged by the greed, hypocrisy, and stupidity of the world, so delighted by acts of courage and nobility. I knew no one more engaged in life. He’d swagger into the room, looking… Looking for something to fight with, to praise, to play with, to tell a joke about. He was so alive, and he made everyone else around him come alive.

He meant a great deal to Heyday, more I think than most people realize. A couple of decades ago he founded the California Studies Association, and it was out of that organization that I came to meet many of the people who have been so important to me personally and to the growth of Heyday. He served on the Heyday board of directors, we published a book of his, Remaking California, he came to our events, he counseled, advised, and every so often told me what I had to hear.

He was full of jokes, some spontaneously invented to suit the moment, some of the “Two men walked into a bar” variety.  He had a wonderful restless and a holy discontent, forever creating or joining organizations, then leaving them in dissatisfaction. One of his great sayings was, “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.” I’m pleased that we remained close friends for so long, until death came to burn the bridge. It’s a lot lonelier without him. I’m truly saddened at this loss, consoled only by a piece of Sufi wisdom that we used to exchange as various mutual acquaintances died: “Isn’t it wonderful that death comes at the end of life rather than at the beginning.” Wonderful indeed. I’m grateful for the years of friendship.

—Malcolm Margolin, Publisher