A profound sadness descended on all of us on the Reporter staff over the weekend on news of Mike Hudson’s passing. Mike was a guy much loved by everyone who knew him, even if mostly through his music, or his writing.
It is here, in the newspaper that Mike founded, nurtured and molded into a singular and wildly-popular local source of news and commentary, and to which he contributed many thousands of words himself over nearly 20 years, that we wish to extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family.
Though some might consider passing at 61 to be too soon, Mike didn’t look at it that way. He had a good run, as they say. One of his favorite jokes was, “if I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself!”
And what a run it was. Mike led an extraordinary life.
While most of his social media posts since he moved to Los Angeles were about music, show biz, food, friends, saving homeless dogs from the shelter, performing at Pagans reunions, starring in music videos, writing books and kicking back, enjoying semi-retirement in the southern California sunshine, he periodically took time out to electronically eviscerate the sorry excuses we have for political leadership here in the Falls, writing for the Reporter, quite literally, until the day he died.
Mike produced six quality articles for last week’s paper, each a great piece of writing, entirely in keeping with the journalistic style he honed to a fine art in these pages. If you picked up a copy of last week’s Reporter, good on you, you have a keepsake and a piece of history.
And he did it probably knowing that he had days, or hours, left. He checked out courageously, doing what he did best, his last labors an exclamation point on an extraordinary life in journalism.
His first successful career. of course, was rock star. Making music at the cutting edge of the 1970’s punk rock scene, Mike was a founding member of The Pagans, a band out of his hometown of Cleveland, OH. The Pagans never really “made it big” at the time, discriminated against by a music industry obsessed with mass marketing pablum emanating from the likes of “Journey” and “REO Speedwagon.”
But lately, rock historians have come to view the Pagans as having played a seminal and important role in the US punk movement which, while short-lived, undeniably influenced American music and pop culture to the present day. The Pagans performed at sold-out punk retrospectives from coast to coast over the past couple of years, and their vintage records sell on Ebay for hundreds of dollars.
Most people would have rested on their laurels, gotten a job at the post office and spent the rest of their days in quiet desperation, but not Mike Hudson. He wrote like he breathed, effortlessly, brilliantly and with a singular talent, probably partially derived from his Irish heritage for spinning a good narrative, i.e., a yarn.
After Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York City, he was looking for his next adventure, and as he recounted in his autobiography “Diary of a Punk,”:
“In 1998 I got a call from a guy I knew at the Niagara Gazette, a decent-sized daily in Niagara Falls, New York, telling me they were looking for a city hall and crime beat reporter. The place was a newsman’s dream, he said. Would I be interested?
“… it wasn’t a problem landing the gig. Keeping it was another matter. It took about one year for them to get sick of me…
“they hired lawyers and successfully had my unemployment claim denied. It was a big mistake on their part, as it turned out, because without carfare to the next town I was pretty much stuck in Niagara Falls.
“Money was running dangerously low and I knew I had to bust a quick move or be broke and stranded in wintry Western New York, truly a fate worse than death… I knew it was an impossible thing – every newspaperman I’ve ever known daydreams about having his own paper – (but) with nothing to lose…”
The rest is history. The city of Niagara Falls has had the undeniable good fortune to have a thriving weekly grace its journalistic landscape for the past two decades, presenting viewpoints on many issues, offering insights to be found nowhere else and holding the politicians’ feet to the fire.
Can you imagine life here over the years without the Reporter?
“Work is the most important thing,” he wrote. “People can break your heart or take your money, but nothing can take away the work you’ve done.” Truer words were never spoken.
Goodbye, old friend.