Caleb Schaber was a man who made you nervous. And like Dick Cheney, you were always worried he might just shoot you in the face. But unlike Dick Cheney, you were more worried that he’d probably shoot himself in the face before he got to you.
And you loved him for it.
I met Caleb first, online, almost 13 or 14 years ago. We went to college together. And his online persona proceeded him. He’d fight with people constantly.
And yet, if you didn’t fall for his shit, he’d like you for it. A few weeks, or months later, I met him in person, and he was nothing like the Caleb I knew online. As one friend put it, he was fragile, way more fragile than you expected.
The last time I saw Caleb he was packing up a grease powered panel van with Esmerelda Strange in my front yard and heading off for new adventures. He had stayed a few days, and we got to play some music, drink some beer, and shoot the shit… and there was a lot to talk about. There always was.
Caleb was a kindred spirit, someone who lived out loud, because it was the only way that he could. It wasn’t a choice he was making, it wasn’t an act. It was just Caleb.
In the time I knew him he wrote more articles for the University of Washington’s Daily than any person before or since, crazy shit, about his own life mostly. He’d be off to chase aliens at Area 51, or writing the most offensive crap the UW Daily ever printed. And the Publisher at the time would be drinking Milk of Magnesia, I’m sure, and wishing it was Milk of Amnesia.
Caleb jumped off the Aurora Avenue bridge once, and got a steel rod through his back to prove it.
He also ran for Mayor of Seattle, after getting a tremendous amount of tattoo work, one that just said “FUCK YOU.” He came in either 3rd or 4th, outta 6 contestants. Which meant he beat people. Which wasn’t suprising, because Caleb was smart, and likeable. Even people that hated Caleb liked him. Mayor Greg Nickels said it himself, “I like Caleb, Caleb’s a nice guy.” I don’t know if Caleb liked Greg Nickels. I would guess not.
After years of gonzo-style journalism, Caleb decided to jump off another bridge, and head to Afghansitan and Iraq, with stops in between. Many of us that knew him figured he’d get himself killed, as if you knew him, you knew the fragile part of Caleb, just as well as you knew the tough as nails part of Caleb.
And in the end, I can’t say what killed Caleb, other than Caleb. He shot himself. He did it in front of someone who loved him. It was a cruel and unforgiveable act. And the reason we all feared Caleb, and loved Caleb, and tried to help Caleb.
I too loved Caleb. He was a good friend, and a good enemy, and a caring and hateful and filled with rage sorta guy. He was as raw nerve, like I will never know again.
I’ll miss him, a lot.