Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday Morning Comin’ Down


“Fuck your bony ass, you still lose” Edition

Today the Mouse Circus was a low-grade fever dream of yahoo pundits and has-beens.

With talk of Ted!Kennedy! Jimmy!Carter! the need for Bold!Proposals! For Fundamental!Change! that gets rid of Evil!Big!Gummint!, Newt Gingrich (Fox) beckons the wormy GOP base back to cozy 1979. Those halcyon days when the wingnut slash-and-burn rampage through the America they despise was just a brimstone glimmer in Jerry Falwell’s dead, black eyes and not a tangible, disgraceful, wreckage-strewn legacy from which they and their Dear Leader now flee in belligerent denial.

And everywhere else – from “Meet the Press" turning the spotlight over to odious loser Bob Shrum, cockheaded, matalinwhipped dope James Carville, shark-hearted Cheney- Chekist “Bloody Mary” Matalin and the imperceptible Mike Murphy…to the dusty, waxwork dummies on "This Week"…to Episode 2,774 of Chris Matthews’ creepy and now-overtly stalkerish “Hillary Panty Sniffing Half Hour” – dead things simulated life by lurching and swaying in the cold currents at the bottom of the media sea.

And as their flopping jaws and nutating hands urgently signified nothing, my thoughts turned to missing friends.

So that’s what this Sunday essay is about; some thoughts on Steve Gilliard, and the perversity of a media world where vitality can be the province of the deceased and little-known, while the living and famed contend for the title of Most Debased and Most Irrelevant.

I never met Gilly, but know how he put words together, and as another writer I much admire once said, if you want to know me, read what I wrote.

Gilliard wrote like being hit in the head with a solid gold Howlin’ Wolf 78. And he did it virtually every day, for years.

Think on that for a minute. What has anyone you know done brilliantly, every day, year after year? On spec?

And yet as regular as the Cubs tanking in August, you always knew, every day, Steve was on the job, putting round after round after thermobaric round into the joyless wheelhouses of the Right and those who thought they could defeat monsters by appeasing them.

Shit, if I were a squirt dumber and believed in Intelligent Design, I could very persuasively argue that the internets were invented by a Lefty God specifically so that people like Steve could speak and be heard at the speed of light.

I haven’t a clue what his ledgers looked like, but I am given to understand that Steve made at least part of his living from his pen, and did it without giving up a picodecibel of his voice or a dram of his integrity.

And that, kids, is also no mean feat.

Nor was it an accident. In a media Universe where mutually masturbating bags of polluted natter arbitrarily labeled as “Serious Pundit” can command rock god salaries and the baffling admiration of the Cheetohing Classes, Steve labored without surcease to carve out an acre of blogosphere and make it a home-place for legions, using only a keyboard, a head full of smarts and a fierce fidelity to the plain truth.

And yet in the world of the tony, smirky Lords of Media, everyone knows that selling out and dumbing down is what pays the mortgage. That sincere belief in anything is strictly for the rubes, and Authenticity pulling on the same oar as Realism is just…so…country.

At the Broder Banquet there was no place for someone like Steve, so he paced off a hundred yards, drove his stake into the hard ground, and built his own fucking picnic.

All on faith.

I have no idea if Steve believed in any sort of deity or none, but he was a man of astonishing faith.

He had faith in Democracy.

He had faith that honesty applied to civic life in steady, thoughtful and ferocious doses could slowly force this country to slough off hateful, hag-ridden legacies and become the nation in-fact that we are so terribly good at being in words.

In the end his writing tells of a man with an abiding faith in people. In you and me, contending with the darkness beneath the Proscenium arch of History that he knew so intimately.

He had faith that we would prevail because the alternative is too terrible to allow: a world that would be no kind of world at all.

And he walked that faith every day.

I mean, there is something just insanely brave about setting up shop out on the electronic interstate, baking cherry pies every day, propping them up on the digital windowsill every few hours, and believing that you are enough of a kitchen wizard and enough people are sufficiently hungry for honest fare that they’ll come around to the front door and pay you to keep ‘em coming.

He laid out words out like Chicago brick – straight and true – and how fucking ironic is it that in the long, cankered kick-line of Conservative wingnut welfare babies all ranting out their subsidized tantrums about Evil Commie Liberals the joys of unfettered Corporatism, you can’t find a one of them that show the kind of genuine and audacious All American-brand confidence in the power of real entrepreneurship and a real Meritocratic, value-for-value-received economy that stinkin’ Lefty Steve Gilliard had on public display every single day?

I believe he saw that the world as we know it has left thousand – millions -- starved for talented honesty in the service of blunt truth and lively conversation. And that we would happily pay to keep his site a going concern for exactly the kind of reasons W.P. Kinsella so eloquently described in “Shoeless Joe Jackson Goes To Iowa":

Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom.

They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon.

They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes.


The site he built and powered became more than a regularly replenishing font of the best writing on the web. Because it was the invention of one, clear voice, it also became distinctive. And because it was interactive -- because you could talk to the author, argue, curse like a beast in real time and, six-to-five-and-pick-‘em, he’d respond -- it became a community-of-choice for a lot of people.

With his passing, folks want to do something. I know I do. Organize something, or knock something down. Take action. Wouldn’t be Gilliardians otherwise I suppose.

But with specific regard to Steve’s site or his legacy, there is nothing to be done right at the moment.

Nothing, except maybe raise a glass, or go read something challenging, or remember to tell the people you love how you feel, or go ahead and cry, or make a point of saying “Thank You” to those who do for you things you appreciate.

Nothing, except working where you are as best you can to oppose people that work to mislead and betray you into the abyss.

Nothing, except demanding and supporting a new journalism that is contemptuous of craven deference to power, the chasing of shiny, distracting objects, and a flatworm-reflex obescience to fake “balance”. A journalism that is instead strongly committed to honesty and insists that readers use their brains and participate in the conversation.

Nothing, except getting off your ass, picking up whatever corner of the banner you are capable of carrying, telling the Reaper to go fuck himself with a steam hammer, and going about the business of saving the world.

Because we are the cavalry. And we are unstoppable.

Namaste to one and all, rest in peace Gilly, and of course,

fuck the fucking Yankees.

45 comments:

beth said...

Thanks for writing this. It's amazing to feel so connected to and personally bereaved by someone you've never met. Visiting the News Blog daily for YEARS makes me feel closer to the Gilliardians than to people I know personally. Hell, closer than some I am related to. But that's whatI got when I read the words of someone who articulated what I felt and knew. He spoke for us , in the best sense.

Please keep writing Driftglass. Your voice is another rare crazy voice that speaks for so many of us who are less gifted , but still have our part to play.

Blessings...
Pax et Bonum

larue said...

Yeah, as said above . . . Drifty, yer pretty much it now. In the style, in the genre, on the ONE like George Clinton.

There are others, good blogs, too.

But YOU got 'this voice' . . . n some of it came from Gilly, but it's YOUR voice, and it's important to us now, more than ever cuz Gilly's gone.

So, stay loud, Drifty. Help to balance the other good blogs, for without YOU, it's tipped too far in a direction that's FAR too compliant and obligingly FAIR and Ph.D like rational and NICE.

We don't need nice, we don't gotta be nice, we don't wanna MAKE NICE TODAY!!!

We want action, change and all this fuckery to stop so decent middle class people will have jobs . . . so won't be held up on streetcorners by little pudgy and flabby dumpling filled white skinned goth wanna be like 12 year old shrieking kids in black trench coats with the 2nd Testament screaming their pale eyeballs out that we're all going to hell.

Lemme hear ya roar Drifty . . Steve's listenin and I don't think he's likin the constrained dialogue's in the blogosphere . . . . let em hear ya.

Harumph.

Tena said...

I always could tell that Steve had faith in democracy and that requires having faith in people. That's one reason I loved him so. He never spoke to me from some Olympic height of elite liberalism - and some liberal bloggers do. He never condescended; if he disagreed, he just disagreed. He didn't sneer.

I'm not really a populist, but I have to say that the attitude a lot of liberals seem to have that Americans are stupid and unworthy of democracy drives me nuts. I fail to see any difference between that attitude and the one the neo-cons have about Americans.

God I will miss Steve so much - his was one of the most authentic voices out there, afaic.

Unique Articles said...

Why is it that there's absolutely no boundaries what so ever in your dreams?

Anonymous said...

Drifty.

I'm crying.

Your words on Steve...have left me crying.

We're gonna continue the fight.

And I'm gonna continue to write.

But right now...I'm crying.

Steve's passing...your words of tribute.

Damn.

You eloquent son-of-a-bitch.

You know he's proud of you.


Gathering myself for the battles on the horizon,
LowerManhattanite

res ipsa loquitur said...

I watched MTP this AM and the unfairness of Steve's early death was underscored for what definitely won't be the last time. There was Matalin, her entire face paralyed by Botox and God-knows-what-else (hell, even her hair was paralyzed!) running her ugly propagandist mouth. And Steve of all people is silenced. Ugh. Maybe he would have laughed, though, to hear her nasal squawk, "America is not red or blue, it's purple!"

Anonymous said...

Drift,

I found Steve's blog because of a post that you wrote that was sent to me. I printed it out and read it to people. I was about rednecks zooming down a highway to destruction...if memory serves
Just brilliant!
I'm kinda wishing that I hadn't come to depend on Steve. Now I'm moving around the net to read about him.

What a heartache and a loss.

Anonymous said...

Drifty-

Beautiful send off, just what needed to be said. I am amazed, every time I read another tribute I end up crying my eyes out. I never knew how much I came to value his opinion on so many things. I always went to TNB at o-dark-thirty because Steve would always have the first posts of the day.

You are his one true successor, the only one that can fry those little ant people that Steve could crush with a single sentence.

Your words have given me closure.

Thank you for that.

RIP Steve, a great American

-SnarkyShark

Anonymous said...

PS-

mutherfuck the fucking Yankees, and Rudy Giuliani

Mr.Shemp said...

As a long time Gilliard reader since the NetSlaves days, I really can't imagine a future without him. This has hit me as hard as losing HST and Kurt.

Beautiful work, drifty. Nicely said. Keep yourself healthy, my friend...

Anonymous said...

Drifty: I found Steve through you and your's is the first blog I came to when I saw the black page up over there. May Steve rest in peace and thank you for pointing me his direction over 2 years ago.
Annie

Hack said...

I'd really like it if his work could be collected into a book.

Hack said...

And how about setting up a paypal thingie so we can support YOU?

drbopperthp said...

I used to bitch at people over at The News Blog for advocating that you leave "home" and strike out on your own - Go West young man to Blogland. With the Big Fella gone now, I'm glad you did. Carry on Brother, carry on...

larue said...

Test post, some folks told me they couldn't get the reply to work . .

-larue

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Drifty. Well said.

Damn I miss Steve.

-Marek

Anonymous said...

Damn straight Drifty. RIP Kurt and Steve, 2 titans of Americana. I only hope someone can in honor of Steve edit up the whole blog into relevant sections and release it as a book. Publishers be damned!

We can't let his site and memory be doomed to the goddamn wayback machine. It might go the way of BOPNews or Billmon, and get screwed up.

Tim McGovern/DupinTM

Keanu Peeves said...

Charles de Gaulle said it best -- "The graveyards are full of indispensable men."

No one lives forever, but we needed him for at least another couple of years. As long as the white-haired, turkey-wattled juvenile delinquents of the Bush administrainwreck keep frittering away our nation's strength and solvency and moral capital, we need all the eloquence and passion on our side we can get.

Ripley said...

Brilliant and moving, as always, drifty. A righteous tribute for a deserving soul.

Thanks

comsympinko said...

Today is the first time in my life I've cried because of a man I never met.

I felt like I knew him, though.

Knew him for years.

His truth shone like the Lighthouse at Alexandria.

It is up to us to keep that flame
burning bright.

My athiest physician's plea to the cosmos went unanswered.

Organized religion had hindered medical progress too much to allow them to keep Steve alive.

Gotta fight back.

Keep fighting back.

Fuck fucking death.

Fuck the fucking fuckers.

And, as always, fuck the fucking Yankees.

skunqesh said...

I'm constantly amazed at how often other readers 'round here take the words right out of my mouth. I'm all, 'fuck, WTF can i say now?".
So, the F-Bomb seems topical, if at least cathartic.

FUh-Uck, fucking fuckitty fuck fuck
fu fu fu fuhhhhhk

godfuqingdammitt

Fuck the Fuckin douchebags.

We Fight Back

SG set the bar high, but he was at his best when he inspired others to find their own voice.


(and just for fucking kix I linked to the Eulogy for Graham Chapman, sorry if it seems poor taste to recycle someone else's wake, but they do say 'Fuck' a couple times, and it's good for a quik F'n laff.

if that's wrong, well..

fu-Q)

comsympinko said...

Down With Disease.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNt1ldNEJ-c

BitterHarvest said...

RIP, Steve.

Jenonymous said...

Drifty--LOVE the picture. It's the FIRST TIME I've smiled in days.

Gilly would laugh his ass off if he could see it. Correction: When he gets AROUND to seeing it. I like to think that right now, he's doing the dozens on the Demo debates with Hunter S. Thompson and Martin Luther King. Writing out what those two luminaries are SAYING is a job I would love to co-write with LM and yourself, but that's another story for another day....

Shouts to all. Figuring out how to get a guest book up on the site asap; also getting an official obit from the family and figuring out a PayPal link that his folks can access so that we can get the burial paid for.

Going apeshit out here otherwise.

We are working on site updates, getting someone to continue the community at another locale, etc.

Thank you ALL.

Bustednuckles said...

Shedding a couple of tears, one forSteve RIP dude, and one for the eloquent son of a bitch who just wrote one of the best eulogies I have ever seen.
The mantle has passed, wear it proudly.

Gentlewoman said...

We Fight Back

Yes, we do. Reading Steve (and others, such as you, driftglass) helped me get the courage and energy to do just that.

I wish he had stuck around long enough to see us win.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember how I came across SG's blog it was at least 3 years ago. I was impressed with his reason and truth on all topics whether it was war, racism, bad policies he waxed wise and against the'conventional' bullshit. I then found yor blog because SG said to check you out and I was blown away I read though all your previous rants and on a daily basis check to see if one of your HI Larry Us posts has been added, always disappointed if not.
Now my favorite poster, someone who I knew would shed some honest truth and reason to the bs being spouted by the mouse cicus is gone. forever. And I always wondered how old he was. My guess was mid 60s, based on his experience and accumulated knowledge. To find he was only 41 added immensley to the hurt.
RIP Steve, love to Jen and all Steve's audience. And Drifty ? KEEP POSTING!!!!!

Oh and FUCK THE FUCKING Yankess!!

Lets Go Mets!!

GuyTheGuy

Anonymous said...

That was the best tribute I've read, Driftglass. And I've been wandering the blogosphere like a lost soul (like someone upthread) trying to find to find something that not only did justice to Steve's voice, but to the entirety of what he accomplished.

Some people are truly irreplaceable. A rare number, as I've come to discover. I think it is because the perceptions of most of us are not really unique, our insights aren't that profound. If I don't end up remarking X about Y, a dozen other people will. And my remarks and the dozen others will be pretty much indistinguishable.

Steve's was a perspective that couldn't be found anywhere else and he always went further and deeper in his thinking. His thinking was, of course, combined with his extensive background and historical knowledge. Whenever there was any breaking news, I always went to his site to get his take and I was never disappointed.

When BIllmon stopped blogging I was sorry but, as much as I liked his writing and appreciated his perspective, it wasn't the end of the world. That's because there was Gilliard--who would strip rationalizations to the bone and lay out the bones so that everyone could see the pattern.

I have to confess that when you decided to get your own blog, as much as I wanted to see that I, selfish bastard that I am, was afraid you wouldn't be around quite as often to bat Bloomie around in that humourous and artistic way you have. Little did I know at the time what a powerhouse you are and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your writing and your blog. This is by way of saying it's on you now, kiddo.

joe frantic

Gracchus said...

Excellent tribute, Driftglass -- best so far (though I have yet to read LowerManhattanite's, which I expect will match it when he posts on the News Blog guest book). Thanks.

Bollox Ref said...

Got nothing............eloquent that is! I'll leave that to the masters here present. Anyway, Steve once told me I was a funny guy. I wear that as a badge of pride. With as many hacktackular efforts as I've attempted, well, once-in-a-while, something works.

I still can't believe that the outlook and attitude of The News Blog is no more. To the Ref Above: A caution would have been sufficient........you didn't have to flash the fcuking red and send him off!

prof fate said...

I'm at a real loss for words, here, other than to agree with the folks who said this was an outstanding eulogy, drifty.

You can't survive half a century without seeing way too damned many good people taken too soon, while the Bushs, Cheneys, and Wolfowitzs of this world are allowed to work their evil on a generous time plan. Like the man said, "Fortune presents gifts not according to the book."

I owe you big time, Steve, for helping me keep my grip on a few tattered shreds of sanity, back when the majority in this country went screaming bloodthirsty bonkers. Your prose was a constant delight, and like joe frantic, I'll really miss those masterful takedowns of idiots like the egregious Bloomie.

Dan Leo said...

Damn, I actually miss the misbegotten Bloomie now, just 'cause the thought of that poor but somehow almost lovable little nerd reminds me of those good wild times over at Steve's Joint...

Thank you, Drifty. I think this is the first time I've commented here, but I came to your place today just to read what you had to say about Steve, and I'm teary-eyed now and very glad I came here.

We fight back.

Steve Gilliard fought back.

Oh, yeah, and (speaking as a Philadelphian, mind):

Fuck the motherfucking Yankees.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your moving words and the kick-ass graphic, Drift.

It's a balm for a heavy heart to see other NewsBlog irregulars here. I'm lost, too, without Steve's razor-sharp writing wrapped in humanity and optimism.

We cry.
We fight back.
We fight on.

Don't see that we have any other choice.

murfmom

Loveandlight said...

It really does feel like there's a gaping hole in the world of Left Blogistan, doesn't it? Of course, that doesn't even begin to compare to the sense of loss and emptiness certainly felt by Steve's family and friends. All one can do in these situations is try to live one's life as an ongoing tribute and memorial to the one no longer with us.

dave said...

Gollum and Vampira...er...Carville and Matalin. How do you begin to explain those two? Mary must give great head. Anyway, I had barely come to grips with Molly Ivin's passing, and now we lose Steve. You need to take care of yourself, Drifty.

captain goto said...

Dammit, I *knew* I shoulda come over here sooner, after I heard about Gilly.

Righteous as hell, as usual, drifty. Thank you.

hangtown said...

Gilly's death leaves a hole in my heart, though I never met him and was a daily visitor but rare commentator. Like others here, I've cruised the web for days since he died and your words here are sweet water in the desert. Do not, please, underestimate the power and quality of your own voice.

Jill said...

Like so many others here, I'm grieving for someone I never knew...and realizing what a hole there is in my daily blog reading without Steve Gilliard out there making sense of it all. But holy fuck, Drifty, if you didn't write the tribute to end all tributes -- something that I think Steve himself would have written about someone. Makes me wonder if you were channeling a bit there, until I remember that like Steve, you too crank out this amazing stuff day after day.

Jill said...

One more thing...thanks to all of you out there for makiing me feel like I'm not completely nutso out here. I don't think anyone not steeped in blogtopia can really get how we're wandering around out here reading each other's tributes because it's some small way to keep this man we admired so much alive.

The big way, of course, is to make sure that this bunch of crooks and their apologists are never allowed to touch our country ever again -- and to make sure that Pedro comes back healthy in August -- fresh and ready to take the Mets to the World Series.

And win one for OUR Gipper.

Mr. Stoopid said...

Thanks Driftglass. It took me while to wander over here, but I'm glad I did. It's really nice to see some familiar handles, too.
Some people slide into and off off the earth quietly. Some other people slam into it like a comet and send shrapnel in all directions. It's called inspiration.
I, for one, intend to act like a molten chunk of Gilliard-shrapnel.

Steve J. said...

fuck the fucking Yankees.

COMMIE BASTARD!!!

:-)

JD said...

I'm still Steve's people, God damn it.

Thank you, Driftglass.

Matt said...

I just want to echo what others have already said: this is the best tribute I've read so far. Thank you, Driftglass.

redoubt said...

Funny you should mention Howlin' Wolf. His cover of "Goin' Down Slow" has been in my head ever since I saw the news.

Thanks for the tribute. Gilliard was a frontkampfer of the first class.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, drift.

---deaconblues