ANOTHER FRIEND GONE TOO SOON - Content
ANOTHER FRIEND GONE TOO SOON
For Hicksflicks.com, May 30, 2014
Jeff Michael Vice — movie/culture critic, self-described "geek" and one of the friendliest, nicest guys on the local arts-coverage scene — died Monday after a massive asthma attack stopped his heart. He was 48.
Stating the obvious, that's too young. Way too young. And Jeff was way too youthful.
He still seemed 30 to me when I saw him last, a couple of years ago when we ran into each other at the Graywhale store on 13th East by the University of Utah. We stood there and chatted for a half-hour or so and it felt like the late '90s/early '00s again, when we saw each other every day at the Deseret News.
Jeff's death came suddenly and it's hard to wrap my head around it. There's so much out there that still needs to be reviewed. So many comic-book movies to be embraced and/or mocked.
They will all get reviewed, of course, and over-reviewed. But Jeff's wit and style, and especially his passion for film, will be missed. You can check him out here doing his thing for Big Movie Mouth-Off on YouTube, along with other videos in which he talks about film. Here he is discussing "Godzilla" just a week ago.
Left, Jeff's D-News column photo; right, mugging for 3D photo.
Jeff Vice came to the Deseret News in the 1980s and worked as a general-assignment reporter in the Utah County bureau for several years before I met him in 1996. That's when Jeff threw his hat in the ring for a position that was opening up in the Deseret News Features Department: movie critic.
I was approaching 50 after nearly 20 years in that post and decided it was time to step down and hand over the reins to younger blood. So we started doing interviews.
Although I had some input, the final decision wasn't mine, but I didn't have to lobby very hard for the bosses to see that Jeff had quickly floated to the top.
He was intelligent, energetic, knowledgeable and had a genuine enthusiasm for movies, and for music and pop culture in general. Jeff was much more clued into comic books and what he referred to as geek culture than I. In short, just what we were looking for.
When he came aboard, we eased him into the job, or rather we eased me out. Jeff was ready but the powers that be wanted me to hang on a little longer. So we divvied up the movies each week for the next year and then he was finally able to make the beat his own.
Jeff quickly became an integral part of our arts-coverage family; he bonded quickly with the group, and especially our music critic Scott Iwasaki and our TV critic Scott D. Pierce, who were closer to Jeff in both age and critical sensibility.
Jeff had his own voice. He was confident and he knew his stuff. He was young and hip, and the fogeyish Deseret News was sometimes a difficult fit for him. Especially after a new editor came aboard and proved to be so ultra-conservative that movies — along with everything else — came under microscopic scrutiny.
But he fared very well, and in those days, we all had each others' backs. It was a heady time for Deseret News entertainment coverage until the newspaper crash several years ago, when anyone covering such frivolous things as the arts was given his/her walking papers.
Since then, I've enjoyed following Jeff on his YouTube 'casts and will miss his lively, humorous views on all things geekish.
And like everyone who had the privilege of knowing him personally, I'll miss his smile, his quips and his engaging demeanor.
Our prayers go out to his family.
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