Peter Eichenberger 1955-2010

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Peter Eichenberger, a columnist and familiar face across Raleigh, suffered a stroke and died in his home Thanksgiving morning. During his career in Raleigh he wrote for the Spectator, the Independent, a few local websites, as well as his personal blog, petrblt.

Peter was known as a vibrant orator of Raleigh life, from high-profile court-cases to unsung citizens, and could often be seen walking or riding his signature 3-speed bicycle all over town.

His life and writing served to scratch the walls of “what is” in search of revealing more, a sort-of literary excavator, and a self-described vision-seeker. This often came at the risk of personal and professional health, and crescendoed in a traumatic bike crash in 2006, shaping his life and work for the next four years, ultimately playing a part in taking it.

His writing approached the wormy and ethereal sides of life just as often as the tangible and number-heavy social-political arena, and his earnestness could be felt when he talked tragedy, love, death or family. He was a scientist: tinkering with bicycles, political framework and perception with an imagination and enthusiasm often compromised in the tight walls of journalism.

He leaves behind a city of friends, a son, David, four brothers, a mother and stepfather.

In Peter’s own words, from a column in the Independent Weekly in 2005:

“Why we live: to participate in this world that makes no sense, to wallow in the joy, the moment, with the knowledge that in a sense there is nothing, no time, no solid objects–all a bundle of energy. A bottle is not an object, but an ‘event.’ We make a collective agreement to create reality–in this case, the Hall and Oates planet. I am wallowing in the ‘thisness,’ half expecting my hand to pass through the PBR bottle like smoke through bamboo. The bar has developed that distinctive purr, the band, me, the universe moaning like a didgeridoo.

‘I’m a balloon and I want to let go of the string,’ I say to a friend.

They get this serious look on their face. ‘Eichenberger, dude, don’t let go of the fucking string.”

-Peter Eichenberger 1955-2010

Correction appended. Peter has four brothers, not three as originally reported.

4 thoughts on “Peter Eichenberger 1955-2010

  1. Excellent job, Andrew, and Peter will be missed and remembered. Peter had a hand in shaping RPR in more ways than one and really helped shape us all a little by reminding us of possibilities we would have otherwise missed. Peter was a constant force against the rat bastards whose uncaring greed shapoes our world in other ways, and here’s to RPR’s similar aspirations.

  2. I first met Peter years ago whilst tinkering with an old Moto Guzzi motorbike. Without his knowledge, enthusiastic advice, and him literally rolling up his sleeves, and jumping in on the spot; I fear that bike would’ve remained disassembled, with parts filling a few old boxes laid out around a bare frame.

    That was our first meeting. Not only did we talk Moto Guzzi, our conversation touched on politics, quantum physics, the Motown horn section sound verses Stax horns records in the sixties, guns, ancient history, drugs, and of course writing.

    That was eighteen years ago. In the time since: we were neighbors, friends, confidants, brothers in bad influences, fellow fathers, fellow sons, fellow writers, and fellow men.

    When I heard of his passing, I reflected on our last couple of conversations. I realized that he knew his time was coming to an end in the somewhat near future, and he had achieved peace within. I always expected that he would be around forever. After all, if he lived through the cornucopia of experiences that would’ve killed any other men; he was Keith Richards invincible. The point is that I wasn’t listening to those last two conversations as I took Peter’s life for granted.

    This world is less one true renaissance man. He was that in every sense of the term.

    I will miss him dearly as (I have NO DOUBT) others do to.

    thanks for writing a concise and sensitive piece, Andrew.

  3. I remember the day I first met Peter Eichenberger.
    It was in the cafeteria at Daniels Junior HS.
    It was the day after the Kent State Massacre.
    Peter was sitting at a table by himself eating his lunch out of a brown paper bag.
    He wore a black armband.
    I had finished my lunch and was returning my tray.
    Instead of returning to my table I walked up to him and made a comment about the horrible tragedy. He looked up and responded in kind. I pulled up a chair and for the next ten minutes or so we talked about what had happened and what was happening to the country. We were both very young. I was just beginning to be aware of what was going on in the world. Peter’s awareness was much greater than mine.
    For many years we had conversations and adventures. Only now with his passing are the memories flooding back.
    The last time we met he told me he was going to study journalism.
    I said I thought that was a great idea.
    One thing I know for sure is that Peter cared very deeply about peace and justice.
    From his writing in more recent years it is clear that he never stopped.