Billy Clyde has left the hot tub

Sadly, one of the funniest guys I never really knew has passed away. While I only met him in passing a few times, I can’t for the life of me figure out how I missed out, because so many of my good friends knew him so well.

He was a political insider who understood the players and the process. And he constantly made fun of all of it.

Although almost all the seasoned hands in the Texas Capitol know exactly who was doing the writing, to my knowledge “Billy Clyde” never revealed his true identity on his blogs. So, I won’t either.

At various times in the last few years, he had several different blogs. He’d write at one address for a while, then abandon it and start a new one. I was an avid reader, and it was a rare post of his that I didn’t react to, both with a deep belly laugh and some new insight.

People take themselves much more seriously in the big pink building than they used to, but “Billy Clyde” was never afflicted with that particular disease, to the delight of almost everybody who read his stuff.

There haven’t been any new posts from him in a while. And while now it is certainly unlikely that there ever will be again, I wouldn’t put it past him to have written a post, and scheduled it to auto-post at some future date. I’m going to check back on his various sites from time to time, just to make sure he didn’t pull another one over on us.

My sincere condolences are offered to his family and friends. Meanwhile, treat yourself by reading some of his great stuff. The bulk of it is here. But you can find more of his work here, here, and even here.

Rest in peace, Billy Clyde. Meanwhile, we’re still laughing at the things we still can’t believe you said.
Karen Brooks’ tribute
Eileen Smith’s tribute
Show Lush’s tribute
Aaron Pena’s tribute
Blogger panel video in which Billy Clyde participated



12 Responses to Billy Clyde has left the hot tub

  1. Anonymous August 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    Well now he is sitting around with Big Daddy wondering what Bullock is going to come up with next. My favorite Billy Clyde description of himself was he was a “new age Republican”, he was for sex, drugs, rock and roll and a strong national defense. I will miss his stories, his wit and mostly him.

  2. El Jefe August 8, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    I knew me some Billy Clyde. Here’s one story of many:

    In a typical fit of stupidity, the Daily Texan named me News Editor and BC Assistant News Editor in the fall of 1985. We proceeded to screw up a lot of stuff, but we saved the biggest screw-up for the last issue of the semester.

    That night, BC and I were semi-drunk and very, very awake. Though we were anxious to leave and maintain our conditions, we couldn’t because we had to wait on a story from a reporter covering a Students Association meeting that just would not freakin’ end.

    At the time, Doonesberry was all about how our hero, Uncle Duke, was opening the Baby Doc School of Medicine in Haiti. When the reporter finally showed up with a story, BC topped it with this fake lead: “Dr. Timothy Leary paid a surprise visit to the Students Association meeting last night, and called for academic policies at UT medical schools similar to those practiced at the Baby Doc School of Medicine.”

    Of course I laughed my ass off and sent it on for final edits, assuming they would erase it. And of course, it didn’t get edited out, and it ran in the next day’s paper.

    Yet, nobody really got that mad at us because every time they tried, they’d just start laughing. Which I suppose could have been a recurring theme that ran through much of BC’s life.

    And then there’s the story about Dennis Quaid stealing his girlfriend…

    Junior, you always lived it on your terms. I should have stayed in better touch. Onward old pal.

  3. Don't Mess w/ Pink August 8, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    Aw, fubar. Thanks for writing that for BC. Quite beautifully said. He was certainly one of a kind, and way too young to go. He had a mind like I’ve rarely seen. I will miss him most of all during the coming session. Big void.

  4. Credentials August 8, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    He told me that story about Dennis Quaid stealing his girlfriend. One of the many good ones. And your description of how people would try to get mad at him but would just start laughing at him … dead on.

  5. lb August 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm #

    Speaking of BC and Big Daddy and living and dying —

    BC and I were sitting at the funeral home right in front of Mr. Johnson’s casket. I said it kinda felt like one of those early mornings sitting up in his office trying to learn something.

    After a long pause BC said, “yeah, but Bob don’t normally talk this much.”

    A few minutes later he hit on a mourner. I mean comforted her.

    thanks for rememberizing him.

  6. lush August 8, 2008 at 5:38 pm #

    I really hope you’re right about an auto-post from beyond, and I think I’m going to keep checking back as well.

  7. keenobserver August 8, 2008 at 8:46 pm #

    Some of Jim’s lobby colleagues are specialists, like in water issues, insurance or even in public policy. What some of you may not know, and would have admired immeasurably I am sure, is that for awhile it seemed he specialized in clients whose professions started with a “p,” like plumbers, printers, etc. That took creativity and the boy had it.

    Boy is the right word. He was Bullock’s press secretary in the 1994 campaign, at what seems now the ripe old age of 28. By that time, he’d already been a newspaper reporter and done press work for Jack Rains at the S.O.S. and was lobbying to boot. He had also tapped more of nature’s best natural resource than I had, even though I was 13 years his senior and had a pretty damned good bachelorhood, mostly in the ’80s.

    One more thing: Some of his closest friends held so very tight to him through the last years and went above and beyond to save him. You don’t inherit that, you get that by being something not readily described. I see now, that a lot of folks have been taking a shot at describing him to a lot of folks who could have used it.

    Thank you all for doing it–for Jim.

  8. CorpusGirl August 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm #

    Jee-yum Warn (as we knew him on the Daily Texan) was one of the funniest men I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I never knew _what_ in the hell he was going to come up with next. And that was part of his immense charm.

    El Jefe was right–it was damn hard to get mad at him because whatever he did to make you get mad was just too funny. Even Timothy Leary at the Students’ Association. Maybe especially Timothy Leary.

    Carry on, Billy Clyde. You left us too soon.

  9. Don't Mess w/ Pink August 9, 2008 at 4:10 am #

    Re: keenobserver

    Thank you for taking care of him. That’s awfully nice to know.

  10. FUBAR August 9, 2008 at 4:21 am #

    I swear, you guys. The comments on this piece have been the best demonstration of basic human kindness and caring I’ve seen in a long time. Nice job.

  11. Jilly Clyde August 10, 2008 at 4:41 am #

    Would you ever guess that Billy Clyde had a little sister? Imagine what a trip that was growing up. I am truly blown away by these tributes. You can’t even imagine how much better it makes me feel. (I sure wish I knew your real names.)

    Thanks, Pink Lady! Thanks, Karen! And, Harold, I have a very special treat for you on Monday! You, my friend, can turn a phrase, too.


  12. Don't Mess w/ Pink August 11, 2008 at 12:59 am #


    I’m sick about it, but I don’t think I can be at the service tomorrow. Several of us would love to meet you, though, and I don’t think Harold will mind being the go-between. If you wish, you can click on his name on the right hand side of the home page and email him. He can then forward it to me so I have your email address. Then I’ll let you know about the next happy hour with the gang in Austin.

    As for stories — here’s one that’s illustrative of why I will miss him badly during the coming session, and for that matter, sessions to come:

    I met Jim some time before the last session and saw him sporadically around the Capitol. He wasn’t there as much as a lot of the lobby, but it was never dull when he was around.

    Though quite the troublemaker, Jim could also be pretty comforting, especially when things got, shall we say, TENSE. There was this one time? Last session? (Which I guess is kind of like band camp, only with so-called adults.) I was in the Extension having a particularly heated exchange with a lobbyist on the other side of an issue who had just gone back on an agreement we had. It was the first time in the 6 sessions I’d lobbied in the Pink Dome that had happened to me. (I know!) Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Jim leaning back against the railing — lolling about, I’d say — watching me get increasingly po’d, with that sardonic grin of his (both sweet and mischevious) on this face. As the asshole-other-lobbyist walked away, Jim was still staring and grinning. I whipped around with a glower and, mainly in jest, snapped “WHAT?!” Here’s roughly how it went.

    JW: Just watchin’ you in action. Not bad. For a girl.

    Me: Funny. What d’you mean, not bad? I just got SCREWED.

    JW: Yeah, but you handled it with your usual calm. [Chuckle.] He’s toast anyway.

    Me: Oh, shut up. What the hell am I gonna do now, and what d’you mean, he’s toast?

    JW: You know your problem? You need to take a longer view of these things. Let’s say this doesn’t go your way. What’s the worse that could happen. You gonna die?

    Me: Hell, maybe. Why is he toast?

    JW: No, you’re not gonna die. Anyone close to you, your family, your squeeze, gonna get hurt?

    Me: Well, no. But you said he’s toast …,

    JW: Your life savings gonna get wiped out?

    Me: Well, I may not have a job, but no. Uh, toast?

    JW: Stop being so dramatic. You’re gonna keep your job. So, nobody’s gonna get hurt, nobody’s gonna get fired, and nobody’s gonna wipe out your life as you know it. Not a bad day, really.

    Me: Well, that’s true, I guess. That’s probably a good way to look at it. But why toast?

    JW: It’s the only way to look at it. You keep gettin’ worked up like this, it’ll kill you. Ain’t nothin’ worth gettin’ all that worked up about.

    Me: You’re probably right, and I really will try to remember that, I promise. OK, Mr. NOITALL, why toast?

    JW: Ah, you’re gonna win this one.

    Me: How do YOU know.

    JW: Just do. So try not to worry about it.

    Well, I don’t know what he knew, if anything, although he was as plugged in as anyone. But it made me feel better and, ultimately, he was right. After that, when he’d see me walking the halls, he’d ask “Anybody die, anybody fired, anybody’s life screwed?” Of course, I’d say “no,” and he’d answer “Well, then, it’s a good day.”

    I swear, you’ll find me muttering those words to myself as I walk those hallowed halls come January.

    Thanks, Billy Clyde.

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