“Do You Even Exist?”

Click for contextSad news at the House Next Door today: Andrew Johnston, New York critic and author of the House’s excellent “Mad Men” reviews, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 40 years old.

Andrew was my first Internet friend. We both posted to various Usenet groups in the mid-1990s — mostly alt.video.dvd and rec.arts.movies.current-films, if you feel like Googling for posts — and a resulting e-mail conversation about certain professional issues **cough Miramax cough** led to a casual but ongoing correspondence.

We never managed to actually meet, though — while he came to Toronto for the film festival several times, and I was in and out of New York, the timing never quite worked out. In either 1999 or 2000, it became a running gag, with handwritten messages in TIFF press boxes appearing five minutes after the other had left the room: “Missed you again.” “Sorry, can’t stay.” “Did you really expect to find me here?”

Not so funny now.