I keep losing friends I never met

Writing is a struggle against silence.  ~Carlos Fuentes

As noted here there and everywhere, writer/blogger Al Weisel, (better known as Jon Swift) passed away on 2/27 and I find this very sad. Al was a frigging genius of blogging.

I read about this in comments this morning and I’ve thought about it all day. I used to email back and forth with Al (or Jon, as I knew him) when he was blogging regularly and I remember that he seemed frustrated that his blog hadn’t grown in popularity, which is a common lament of most bloggers who, if not looking for fame and fortune (and leggy supermodels, in my case), just want to be loved and appreciated for what they do. I always felt guilty about my “somewhat” popularity as a blogger when compared to the brilliance of someone like Al who created these elaborate and  finely constructed posts  that were so subtly subversive that most readers missed the put-on. His timing was impeccable, his set-ups grand, his payoffs brilliant.

Take this from Bobby Jindal: America’s Slumdog Millionaire

But what really inspired me was the story he told about how people in leaky little boats tried to save the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina even though government bureaucrats tried to stop them. If the government had stayed out of New Orleans entirely and encouraged more people to use their boats or to make their own boats out of things around the house, more people would probably be alive today. And instead of waiting for inefficient government workers to fix the levies, ordinary New Orleans citizens could have patched them up using bubble gum and duct tape and good old American know-how.

Instead of relying on the government to build magical magnetic levitation trains, the people of Las Vegas should be encouraged to bring some tools from their garages and build the train themselves, the way the Amish do. And while it’s true that the magical levitation part might prove to be technologically difficult for the average Las Vegas citizen, if they all put their minds together and pray, I bet they would be able to levitate the trains. The power of prayer worked for Gov. Jindal when he and a few friends exorcised some demons and cured a woman of cancer back when he was in college so it could probably work for trains, too. And praying may also be the answer to our health care crisis.


Gov. Jindal also criticized money that is being spent under the stimulus plan to watch volcanoes. Why would you need to pay people to watch a volcano? Isn’t it pretty obvious when a volcano erupts? I don’t think I need a government bureaucrat to tell me that lava is pouring out of a volcano and that I should probably get out of there as soon as possible. If some people don’t get the message, then citizens with lava-proof boats can rescue them – if government bureaucrats just stay out of their way.

I’ve checked back in with the Jon Swift blog many times in the past year but Al wasn’t writing so I assumed that he had moved on to, if not bigger and better things, than to something that made him happy or was more fulfilling or was at the very least less time consuming. Bloggers do this. We all think about putting down our keyboards and picking up our lives where we last left off. One day there will be a blog post, and then the next day …nothing; not so much as a goodbye cruel world I-outta-here see-ya post. But at least there is the hope of their return (I’m talking about you too, Bill Watterson) So when something like this comes out of the blue, it a real kick in the stomach and a reminder to us (I’m speaking as a reader of blogs, not as a blogger) to appreciate these people who give up so much of their time to educate, illuminate, and entertain us and ask so little in return. Before today we missed Jon Swift. After today we will mourn the loss of Al Weisel.

James Wolcott has a nice remembrance and DougJ has a great idea.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....