Steven Puchalski, Tavis Riker and Chris Doherty.
Halloween 1991. As a trio of Hunter S. Thompsons.

SHOCK CINEMA readers have been familiar with Tavis Riker's work for many years. His Sharp Relief music column first appeared in SHOCK CINEMA #10, he contributed to Headpress' SLIMETIME compilation, penned the "Mr. Keyes" grindhouse reviews in the original SLIMETIME newsletter, and interviewed Malcolm McDowell in #21. On a more personal level, he was one of my closest friends since 1981... Tavis Riker died on September 17, 2005 in Cape May, New Jersey. He was on a weekend getaway with his girlfriend and drowned while swimming in the Atlantic. Rescuers attempted to revive him but failed. Tavis was only 40 years old... A lot of senseless shit happens on this planet. You see it on the news, but it's still difficult to process when it's so close to home... I first met Tavis when he was in high school, while I was coordinating the University Union film program at Syracuse University. One evening, this nervous young man approached me in Gifford Auditorium, asking if it was possible to request a few titles. He then pulled out a hand-written list of some of the most obscure films imaginable -- these bizarre, artsy flicks hadn't even been released in the US, much less for 16mm college screenings! To his surprise, I actually recognized many of his suggestions, regretfully informed him that they weren't available yet, but nevertheless invited him to help out and lend his opinions to the Cinema Board. That was nearly 25 years ago, and both of us were just kids... Between then and now, our friendship survived its ups and downs, more movies than we could possibly count, more illicit substances than we could recall the morning after, and one too many beers at Hungry Charley's and the Grass Roots... He was a good man. A good friend. And Tavis' final Sharp Relief column appears in SC#29. -S.P.

Tavis Riker. Guitar God.

Tavis in S.U.'s Gifford Auditorium.
The aftermath of an all-night film festival.