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Portrait of Chloe Weil
Photo by Jeremy Keith

After politely listening to one of my diatribes on the untapped potential of music metadata, Jeremy Keith introduced me to the work of Chloe Weil in the fall of 2012, specifically Sound of Summer, which dynamically collates the songs that soundtracked her summers dating back to 2001. I was fascinated by the project, but didn’t get around to actually meeting her until Jeremy introduced us in person a year later at Brooklyn Beta, and we didn’t start spending much time together until just a few months ago. Once we did, though, I knew right away that we would be great friends.

Chloe and I had a mutual love of music and the web and the interesting ways the two could converge, especially in the service of storytelling. We talked about the differences between objective and subjective metadata and the ways they could be harnessed to create smart playlists, recommendation engines, and autobiographical artifacts. We talked about personal websites as extensions of self. I told her my ideas for projects, and she showed me her actual projects, of which there were many. Chloe was a doer. Whether she was wielding code, or a pizza stone, or knitting needles, or language itself, I was in awe of her restless creative spirit, and how capable she was at wrangling her many media into reliably worthwhile products.

We also discussed more personal matters. Chloe was generous with her emotions, but not in a needy or narcissistic way. I think she just found honesty more efficient than posturing. She didn’t hide her depression, but she didn’t let it define her, either. The clouds that followed her around wouldn’t hesitate to part for a good joke or an enthusiastic conversation about shared passions. Her wit was incisive and unassuming, her smile was enormous, and it was tremendously satisfying to make her laugh.

But I knew her clouds were dominant, and it worried me. As often as I could, I invited her to meet up for nerdy talk over coffee, or to see a concert, or to hang out with friends, being careful not to seem overzealous lest she think her new friend had the wrong idea. She accepted about as often as she declined, the latter usually carrying melancholy subtext. The last time I heard from her was in an email thread sorting out our teammates’ availability for our weekly bar trivia night: I’m out tonight. :(

Chloe took her own life a few days later.

Having known her only briefly, I feel kind of like a fraud being as devastated by her death as I am. But I think it says more about her than it does about me – her magnetism, her kindness, and, for all her sadness, her own kind of joie de vivre. I already miss my new friend terribly, and I hate that she’ll never be my “old” friend. But even if it had to end in so heartbreaking a fashion, I don’t regret for a minute that I had the privilege to cross her path.

Rest well, Chloe.

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