Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Peter Noone RIP

After a long battle, Peter Noone has finally come to rest...

I can only guess how reluctantly. He spent his a whole life in outdoor retail, starting at Berkeley's pioneering Ski Hut under the legendary catalogue pioneer George Rudolph (I believe they were the first outfitter to have a mail order catologue) ; then joined his buddy Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia, where he remained for over 4o years. I only hope Patagonia will survive him. His good taste (his favorite city was Paris) and his incorrigible political INcorrectitude served a company occasionally hampered by taking itself entirely too seriously.

Not Peter. A sophisticated urbanite with an occasional foul mouth and, for years, a heavy cigarette habit, he did not fit the image of an outdoor clothing executive. What he did have was an abiding fascination with matching the hatch with tiny flies in sophisticated streams like those in Yellowstone. I recall one day hearing he and Yvon making fun of themselves for being obsessed with "tiny fairy hatch matching", but they were good at it, something I haven't had the discipline or time to do.

He could also be a very innovative hatchet man, doing jobs that no one else could figure out how to do. When the insane cult CUT (Church Universal and Triumphant) came to the Yellowstone Valley, they located there because they were afraid the world was about to end in vulcanism and atomic war. (That they were then located between the largest missile field and the largest supervolcano in the world did apparently not trouble their consequence free minds).At that time, Patagonia replaced or refunded any return without question. A peculiar problem soon arose. CUT members bought over $10,000 worth of clothes in a particular faded cranberry color that caught the imagination of members as the right color for their death shrouds. When they didn't die, they intelligently if dishonestly wanted to return it and get their money back. My feeling, as most sane people's, was too bad; the color didn't save them - stupidity did.

Enter Peter with a solution both Solomonic and satisfying. You can have your money back, but only if you never do business with Patagonia again. Patagonia had to block the zip codes in the upper Yellowstone Valley for a few years. But it worked.

I wonder what Peter would have thought of the fellow who burned his jacket to stay warm while climbing the Grand Teton and wanted it replaced? As I used to say when I was a kid "I'd give a nickel to hear that!"

Good show, Peter -- I hope there is good wine and lots of fishing on the other side...

Peter and Malinda Chouinard several years back

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