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RIP Huell Howser 1945-2013

It’s been a few days now since my friends and I found out that Huell Howser died. I’m not good at eulogies. I couldn’t think of anything to say at my grandparents’ funerals, partly because I had the chance to tell them everything I wanted to already. This is one of the very few “celebrity” deaths that has ever bothered me and I still don’t know if this will adequately portray the raw feelings that I have had these last few days, but I have to try. For Huell.

If you’re not a Californian, you may very well have no idea who Huell Howser was, and for that, I am sorry. For those who knew of Huell, and his always-excited Southern drawl, I’m sure you will agree with me: Huell loved California more than anyone else ever. EVER. I love this state, with it’s high crime rates, terrible urban decay, awful air quality and polluted waters but Huell’s passion pushed him to grab a microphone and a cameraman to go everywhere from trout farms to mom and pop restaurants in the middle of nowhere. He is the original “buy-local” proponent, adamant about the quality of goods you can find just around the corner. He’s sincerity, his child-like wonder, were as honest as anyone on TV has ever been and could teach people what being a person was all about.

I looked up to Huell from a journalistic standpoint because Huell wanted to know people’s stories and was genuinely interested in them, which is something I try to portray in between dick and fart jokes in interviews I’ve done for Racket and other outlets. Huell didn’t just ask questions, he listened to the answers, intent on finding out how the story ends. I can only hope to aspire to have Huell moments where I actually stop in to the local fruit stand, that restaurant I remember going to with my parents, or to some local landmark I’ve heard of but never bothered to check out. Huell Howser, thanks for everything.

-Jonathan Yost