Houston-based film critic Eric Harrison, a veteran of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle, died of a brain aneurysm on November 17, and his friends and family are asking for financial assistance with funeral expenses. Like so many journalists, Harrison went from being a staffer to a freelancer when the Chronicle laid him off on 2008, and died without life insurance; the crowdfunding page, started by Houston Film Critics Society president Joshua Starnes, says it took several days for a neighbor to notice his absence.
The Chronicle has a brief post paying tribute to Harrison's "outrageous personality"; a fuller tribute was posted on Houstonia Magazine's website. The most personal remembrance is from the Houston Press's Pete Vonder Haar, who recalls Harrison's willingness to lend a hand to the new kid in town:
That we were both UT alumni predisposed me to like him, but I also had a more personal reason. When I moved from reviewing movies from "the Box" at Film Threat and started covering mainstream releases (in 2004), I was told by my editor to get in touch with local publicists so I could be added to the notification list for press screenings. Not having the slightest clue how to go about this, I contacted the two critics at the Chronicle at the time, mostly because their email addresses were easy to find.
On of them -- not Eric -- evidently saw the arrival of an online critic with no real experience and the naivete to ask a favor as a threat, gave me one phone number and then basically told me to piss off. Eric, on the other hand, sent me his full list of local contacts, as well as the names and numbers of every local theater manager. He also offered me a template for how to go about contacting them, wished me luck, and -- remarkably, as I would come to realize -- suggested I email him with any other questions I might have.
You can donate to Eric Harrison's Funeral Fund page here.