By now you've heard that former Seven Days columnist Peter Freyne passed away last night after a long illness at the age of 59.
I'll miss Peter, even though I was among the many who he sometimes skewered in his column over the years. I'll miss him because, while I took issue with some of his tactics, there was nothing phony about the guy. He was a passionate political junkie, which I admired, and it was always great theater watching him use the press conference format to ask a politician an uncomfortable question, just to see how the person would react.
In his later years, Peter's tone in his work and in his demeanor softened a bit. I remember standing with Peter on the camera platform at what's now the Hilton in downtown Burlington, watching the Democrats at their party celebration after the 2006 elections go wild as Sen.-elect Bernie Sanders entered the room. It was an remarkable, historic moment for the few of us in the media who have been here to watch all of Bernie's long climb up the political ladder, and Peter and I remarked about that amid the avalanche of cheers.
A month or two later, we talked about the differences we'd had as competing columnists over the years as we stood on the corner of Main and South Winooski one night. Peter reached out his hand, shook mine, and told me that he hoped I understood it was "nothing personal."
Safe travels, Peter.
Sam "the Sham" Hemingway