OK. That's a lie. I never knew the man. Plus I found many of his movies to be overrated, pretentious, confusing pieces of shit.
I liked M*A*S*H.
But in all of this biographical information that has been published I discovered something I never knew! He and I both worked for the same company!
The Calvin Company.
True, we worked there at different times and in vastly different capacities, but still! Fuck "six degrees of separation"...try ONE degree of separation.
All I knew about the company when I worked there in the late seventies, just before their demise, was that they processed 8mm and 16mm film. I knew nothing about their glorious past and sure as hell didn't know anything about Robert Altman.
My job was to schlep into work every morning at 7am, commuting in my piece-of-shit first car (a red, $90.00, 1963 Ford Galaxy 500) so that I could be greeted by my asshole no-sense-of-humor-former-Army-drill-seargent-on-a-pension-don't-give-a-shit-boss and spend the day processing 8mm and 16mm film through a big, smelly machine under the watchful eye of my pony-tailed stoner supervisor. Who I went out and got high with on our breaks and sipped on the beers he kept in a cooler in his car.
The coolest part of the job was that the company (which I remember as Calvin Communications; I remember it being at Troost and Truman Road) had a contract to process classified government film. In order to operate the machinery for this highly secretive film, you had to have a security clearance. Which of course none of us pre-alcoholic, ganja-loving stoners had. So whenever a reel of GUMMINT FOOTAGE came in, we would all be sent out "on break" while only those employees with the proper, Top Secret clearance would process the Army training film on the proper way to lace up a combat boot.
That allowed us to get even more stoned and drink some more beer before it got too hot in Tony's car. Not TKC Tony. A different Tony.
So yeah, I really mourn the loss of my good friend, Bobby Altman. We were sooo close. Almost like brothers, really.