Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Moment of Silence

Steve Gilliard is dead.

He was 42 years old.

I never met the man, yet I found myself tearing up at my keyboard yesterday when I read the news. I was one of his readers, and I felt like I knew something about him. He wrote prolifically - exhaustively - on his site The News Blog. He blogged about politics and ancient war history. He blogged about spaceship-shaped rice cookers and recipes for everything from chicken to cornbread. He mercilessly attacked the Yankees ("fuck the fucking Yankees" will be his virtual epitaph, immortalized by a foul-mouthed teddy bear given him by his blogging partner, Jen). He praised Manchester United and wrote enthusiastically and intelligently about soccer. He wrote about race better and with more energy than anyone else I've seen.

No, I never met Steve. But I knew him. I thought of him as a friend. He was really more of a virtual mentor. He showed me what was possible with a single blog, a supportive audience, and raw passion. When he fell ill, months ago, his readers literally took over the blog. Jen wrote some posts and heroically kept the blog running, but it fell upon his other online friends - dozens of friends, acquaintances, and fellow bloggers - to submit guest posts and keep the site filled with content.

I was lucky enough to have one of my posts accepted to Steve's blog. It felt silly and trivial, my little smartass post in there amongst all the brilliant political commentary and analysis. I felt like an elf among giants. But I was proud to be there, to be doing my part to keep the site running until Gilly came back.

He's not coming back. And I don't know what's going to happen to the site. It will never be the same. It might become a super blog a la HuffPo, but it'll never be Gilly's blog again. No one could possibly replace him. He was a force of nature.

Raise your glasses, folks. Here's to Gilly.

And here's to Jen, who kept me and everyone else informed on Gilly's health, until his family intervened and asked that the details be kept private. She honored their wishes, rightly so. When the final word came down, Jen shared it with everyone, dimming the virtual lights on the blog in tribute. Thanks for everything, Jen.

And oh yes. Fuck the fucking Yankees.

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