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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A terrible loss to the blogosphere
Posted by Jill | 7:59 PM
Sometimes when I think of what my circle of friends would be without the many, many people I've met online, some of whom have moved into "meat world" and others who are still just virtuous, I realize what a Godsend the Intartoobz are to those of us who have tended to be shy, or awkward, or uncomfortable around other people. But then there are those we know only through their writing, and when they disappear, it's hard to describe the grief we feel when they are gone, because these aren't people we know. They aren't our friends, they aren't people we have coffee with or exchange voluminous e-mails with, furiously brainstorming novel plots or sharing family nuttiness. They're people whose writing enriches our lives, they are kindred spirits, and in that kinship we have allowed room for them in our lives.

It's in that spirit that I pass on the terrible news of the passing of "Jon Swift", whom we now know courtesy of Tom Watson was really one Al Weisel:
The great Jon Swift has died. That's the "blogging" angle to a personal tragedy. In reality, the voice of Jon Swift - the hilarious faux conservative blogger whose talent and passion were evident in every post - belonged to Al Weisel, a sweet and good-natured journalist who happened to be the college roommate of my once-and-future collaborator Jason Chervokas.

I didn't know him well, but Al graciously agreed to be part of my little newcritics experiment of a couple of years back and his presence at some of our New York gatherings was generous, friendly, and low key - though the humor could sometimes be appropriately biting.

Al was on the way to his father's funeral in Virginia when he suffered a sudden aortic aneurysm and underwent several surgeries in an attempt to save his life. Sadly, they did not succeed.

Heartbreakingly, Al's mother has posted this comment to the Jon Swift blog, unmasking the true identify of her brilliant son - and yes, he was a blogging super-hero to many of us.

I don't know how else to tell you all who love this blog. I am Jon
Swift's Mom and I guess I'm going to OUT him. He was Al Weisel, my
beloved son. Al was on his way to his father's funeral in VA when he
suffered 2 aortic aneurysms, a leaky aortic valve and an aortic artery
dissection from his heart to his pelvis. He had 3 major surgeries
within 24 hours and sometime during those surgeries also suffered a
severe stroke. We, his 2 sisters, his brother, his partner and his best
friend since he was 9 years old were with him as he took his last
breath. We have all lost a shining start who warmed our hearts,
tormented us and made us laugh as he giggled at our pulling something
over on us. He passed away on February 27, 2010. My beloved child will
live on in so many hearts. I miss him more than I can say. If you are
on Facebook, go to organizations and join "Friends of Al Weisel,
Unite!" It will give you just a taste of how special he was. Farewell,
Jon (Al)

Al Weisel was the political poser's worst enemy as Jon Swift, but he was also a good guy to hang around the pub with and commiserate over New York's shrinking freelance rates. Gone all too soon, he'll be truly missed by many.

Not a week goes by that I don't hear about some outrage and wish that Steve Gilliard were still around to write about it. I've checked back at Jon Swift regularly over the last year wondering where he's disappeared to and wishing, longing for him to return with his razor-sharp takedown of conservative phonies and liberal wusses. There are bloggers, and then there are the Great Wits of Blogtopia (™ Skippy) -- people like TBogg and Driftglass -- and Jon Swift; those modern-day Thurbers and Wodehouses, satirists who sharpen their knives on the preposterousness of modern life. There are damn few of them and today there is one less. And on top of everything else, and all the despair I feel in general lately, this just makes me so fucking sad.

More from Skippy
, who's also linking to other tributes. They're worth your time, because that's how much the "Swiftian" humor meant to us.

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Anonymous mandt said...
Sad, these losses. The loss of intelligent wit, satirical compassion, and warriors against the mediocre diminish us all. Condolences.

Blogger Melina said...
My god this is sad. I wish I had gotten to know him better or at all.
He was so funny but with a current of nice underneath.
Some people just don't make it all that long...or maybe we are getting old in that more and more of "our" people are dying...I don't know anymore.
This life is full of tragedy, but people like this performed a great service in opening eyes and using the funny to bring some light to things. I always think that the funny works the best, and I don't feel like we can afford to lose anymore of these voices.
Take care of yourself...slow down...be healthy...its all like the blink of an eye in the end anyway.
I have to go over and make sure that Drifty is still there...