"Chuckie, I got a great one for you today."
I heard it hundreds of times over the past 20 years. It didn't matter that Bill Cooke's health was failing. When getting around to take pictures got tough, Cooke transferred seamlessly to working as a writer. He hustled. He cracked jokes. He loved to talk. And talk. And talk.
I miss him. Cooke, a Vietnam veteran and something of a legend in the Miami journalism community, is gone.
Bill wasn't a fancy or pretentious guy. I once got a call: "Why are you sending a homeless guy to take pictures at my restaurant?" I hung up the phone and fell off my chair laughing. Then I got up, called Bill, and we both fell off our chairs laughing.
I miss him.
Bill became the best reporter at the Miami Herald. He got the management memos before many of the reporters. And he was proud of his scoops. He once had a column called "Mindy Watch," chronicling what he saw as missteps by Herald executive editor Mindy Marques-Gonzalez. He gave publisher Alexandra Villoch crap when the Herald reported heavily on several murders by her house.
His Random Pixels blog has been all about Donald Trump lately. Bill wasn't a liberal. He was a curmudgeon who hated hypocrisy. He hated bullshit. He hated a lot of things. But in a good way.
I miss him.
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He started Random Pixels in 2008. He liked to "keep tabs on local media companies, expose the shenanigans of Miami and county leaders, and take trips down Magic City memory lane," according to a 2012 New Times story. He also published a list showing 3,301 county employees who made more than $100,000 annually. "That's more than 10 percent of the county workforce who are livin' large on your tax dollars," Cooke wrote.
And he went after the Huffington Post's Miami operation. And he advocated for photographers and the little guy at every turn.
We'll add funeral info when it's available.
Love ya, Bill,