So Long, Slug
The Rick Linklater crowd counted on the list of locals who were saddened to learn this week of the passing of Slacker cast member and former Austin scenester Charles Gunning, aka Doug the Slug. "Basically, he died in his sleep," says friend and fellow California export Mike Alvarez. Alvarez says an autopsy is being performed to try to explain Gunning's sudden expiration at age 51, though the actor had been battling ailments sustained in a major car accident last November. Gunning appeared in many of director Linklater's film projects, including Slacker, The Newton Boys, and Waking Life, plus the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing and numerous TV series and commercials. The disheveled, stubble-faced Gunning, who always wore steel-toed shoes in case he needed to kick some ass, was often heard informing nightclub bouncers, "I'm not a bum, dammit! I'm a character actor!" Other recent passings include Tom Swatzell, author of Dobro instruction books for Mel Bay, who passed away last week here in Austin at the age of 77. Also, 36-year-old Stereolab guitarist Mary Hansen was killed in a bicycling accident Dec. 9, and finally (as there must always be three musician deaths at a time), Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful has seen his last "Summer in the City," having succumbed to a heart attack at age 58.