( The other day RK was thinking about, and remembering, Ian Bennett. Not the Ian who was working cataloguing crappy commercial rugs for a small regional English auction house. Rather the Ian who we used to occassionally hang-out with - break a bottle of good old Bordeaux and twist up a few bombers.
Bennett was a gas, he had lots of stories -- so does RK -- and we would spend a good part of an evening keeping eaxh other entertained.
Getting on in years has many downsides, perhaps one of the worst is losing friends to the grim reaper. Ian Bennett was definitely not RK's bosom buddy, or best friend. Nor did we ever feel a bromance.
But he was a kindred spirit whose great interest in early great carpets perfectly coincided with ours. Not to say he was one of the few who knew what he was talking about, and was both scholarly and soulful enough to appreciate a great Turkmen or Anatolian rug as much as a Classical one.
Anyway, just thought we honor Ian by taking this memorial out of the archives and moving this into our "Best of RugKazbah.com" section where it has been since he checked-out.
Today we learned Ian Bennett passed from this world over the Christmas holidays.
He will be missed.
Ian was brilliant, and RK means with a capital B. He was a learned gentle soul whose predilections to get a 'buzz' were his undoing.
On that rag hali's website they describe him as "troubled", a catch-all adverb that seems to say much but in the end says nothing.
Just like much of what appears in that magazine.
As well it demonstrates their lack of understanding who Ian Bennett really was.
Nor does it display proper respect to him.
The following are the facts, and RK knows them from having often been there on the scene at Shirland Road where, in a rather run down office suite, that rag hali began.
Bennett was the magazine, often writing most of what appeared therein until the middle 1980's, more exactly when RK does just not remember.
At that time middle school drop-out franses couldn't write three sentences about an antique rug and pinner knew next to nothing. So it was Ian Bennett who shouldered the work-load. He was like Hercules, not physically but intellectually and mentally.
His higher education, quick mind and genuinely passionate interest in antique oriental rugs made him the perfect ghost writer for drop-out franses and rug illiterate pinner to use to produce a magazine about antique oriental rugs.
Go look in old issues and you will NEVER see Bennett's name. Why?
Simply because egotistical franses, and go along pinner, did not want readers to know who really was producing the research and writing that appeared in the magazine.
By the way, the magazine was franses's idea and he roped pinner into the scheme to pay for it. See pinner was a quite rich man whose interest in Turkmen rugs was because his wife, Leslie, was an early collector, researcher and lover.
Believe it or not franses and pinner both asked RK to be their American representative and to take a role with the magazine well before the first issue was produced.
We declined and suggested dennis the thief dodds for the job.
Anyway back to brilliant buzz-aholic Bennett.
There are two types of people who are buzz-aholics, regardless if their chosen buzz is liquor, dope or a combination of the two.
The first are basically zombies who can barely clothe and feed themselves day to day.
The other, far rarer type, can function completely normally for the majority of the day, and you would never know how blasted they were.
Hello, Ian, that's where you were at, old buddy.
So Bennet was able to balance his buzz, do fantastic work and deal with a daily herculean work load. RK often wondered why franses treated Ian so poorly -- franses treated him like Bennett was a serf on his farm, who was lucky to be working there. Truth is franses needed Bennett far more than Bennett needed franses.
One day I asked Bennett why he put up with franses bullshit. Ian was silent for a bit and then told me "I stay here because I love rugs, love doing research on them and love writing about them."
OK good enough reasons. But were RK in his shoes we would have walked out the door day one, as franses is an overbearing pip-squeak who believes he is the man. Yeah right, only in his dreams.
RK realizes this is a memorial to Ian Bennet not a diatribe about franses. But because Ian Bennet's life was so entangled with franses we have to tell it as we are.
Ian stayed at the magazine, got enough pay to take care of his 'buzz' and his lowly expenses, and wrote his butt off.
Eventually the buzz seeking destroyed his marriage, and worse landed him in prison.
When he got out that rag hali had been sold, at least one time, to new 'corporate' owners and RK does not exactly know why but he never was hired back. A big mistake for sure.
By the way one day, probably in the autobiography we talk about, we will tell the true tale of why franses (and pinner) sold the magazine.
So Bennett eventually found himself back in the rug game, as a cataloguer for a small regional English countryside auction.
Unknown to many, even those who knew Ian, was his long time interest in Belouch weavings and his at one time, long ago, having a superior collection.
At a certain point in his life selling them paid for a lot of 'buzz'.
RK last saw Ian was almost 10 years ago and although our friendship was never very deep we appreciated each other's commitment to learn about and appreciate masterpiece antique non-classical oriental rugs.
We hope Ian's passage will find him sitting on a beautiful rug, with some interesting, erudite, witty companions and a stash of 'buzz' material of his choosing.
See you again, Ian, see you again...