I hope you aren't too eager to read Part Two of "Brain Meet" (Part One was last week's entry), because I'm afraid I won't be getting around to writing it—or any other columns, for that matter. I'm done.
I just found out five nights ago. Sally Freeman—my publisher for eight years and my friend for slightly less than that—called and told me she had sold Boise Weekly to a big outfit from far beyond the borders of Idaho. She wouldn't tell me who it was, though word has gotten out since. The details are all in this week's feature article (Page 9), written by the fellow I understand is the new editor. Read it and weep is all I have to say about that.
Sally let me know that the new owners had told her my services would no longer be needed, to put it delicately, and she wanted to give me the opportunity to say goodbye. I appreciate her doing that, especially since she wasn't supposed to tell anybody anything. It was all part of an agreement she had to make with the buyer that the transaction would be kept secret until they decided it was time to make the announcement.
It conceivably could have fouled the deal for Sally, had they known she told me. But she knew that by the time you read this, the cat would be well out of the bag and it wouldn't matter. Not as long as I didn't tell anyone else. I didn't. I didn't even tell my wife until yesterday.
What hurts like a bitch is that I couldn't discuss it with anyone else at BW, as they had to be kept clueless until two days ago. It hurts even more to know I won't be seeing those people any more. At least, not on any regular basis. While other freelancers send their stuff in at the speed of light, I have made a point of driving my submission in, every Friday for 750-plus weeks, for no other reason than I wanted to say howdy-doo. I'll miss it.
To those folks, I give my first and most saddened goodbye. Sally, Rachael, Deanna, Nathaniel, Leila, Stan, Mike, Amy, Elaine, Blake, Jessi, Shea, Tara ... all the rest: bye. It's been a pleasure working with you, and good luck.
Over my 15-year run at BW, the faces have changed repeatedly. Eventually, I found myself to be the individual who had been a part of BW not only the longest, but that I had witnessed the greater part of a generational shift at the paper. I used to feel sort of fatherly toward the staff when I went in to drop off my column. Now it's more grand–fatherly.
My first editors and fellow contributors, intense young hell-raisers at the time, are now slipping into middle-age. So many have come and gone. Writers. Publishers. Owners. Larry, David, Nicole, Andrew, Andrew, Andy, Andy (I do not exaggerate; there has been a surplus of Andys associated with BW), Chris, Perry, Anna, Sarah, Cynthia, Robert, Nick, Bingo ... all the rest ... to you, my second and most nostalgic goodbye. My life has been enriched from knowing each and every one of you.
But I have to say, you are fortunate to have gotten away before you had to live with what has happened to the paper.
Finally, to those people who have read—and enjoyed—my stuff over the years ... my third and most profound goodbye.
I suspect I wasn't exactly what you expected out of an opinion writer. Sometimes, I went a little loony-tunes. Sometimes, as I fished around for a novel way of saying what I wanted to say, I may have sounded like a maniac. Sometimes, even I wasn't sure what I was trying to say.
You stuck with me anyway. I know you did, because I've kept your cards and letters and kind words. I will never know how many of you there are, but it was because of you I kept doing it, even when I wanted to quit. I knew you sometimes felt pretty damn lonely here in Idaho. I knew you sometimes felt heartsick and hopeless—especially during the recent, dark years—and I knew that my being here every week offered you some small and sympathetic company. I knew that if we were sitting together over coffee or a beer, we would both be saying the things I tried to write, and neither of us would feel so much like total strangers in this strange, hillbilly land. I don't think I am being too presumptuous to say I was often speaking for you—not always but sometimes. Maybe during those times when you wanted most to scream, but couldn't find the right words.
In more ways than one, though, it's probably for the best that "my services will no longer be needed." Honestly, I don't think I want to do this anymore. I hoped, after Nov. 4, that maybe everything would simmer down and take me with it. I hoped after the campaign was over, the country would take a deep breath and decide it was time to be nicer.
Brother, was I wrong. The people who lost—those same people I have railed against for 15 years—have evidently decided it's time to abandon any semblance of being nice. With the beautiful Obama family in the White House, they have dropped any pretense of being honorable, honest human beings, and are acting like something that crawled up out of the sewers in a cheap horror movie, intent on complete destruction. They are shameless. And they are driving me nuts.
They make me want to respond to every vile thing that comes from their vile mouths, and I can't even watch the news anymore without feeling like I'm having a stroke. For the sake of my mental and physical health, it's best I stop giving them any of my attention, whatsoever. I yearn to ignore them like I would ignore dog shit on a walk in the park, and I can't do that as long as I have a column to come up with every week. So I won't be looking for another paper to pick me up, even if another paper existed hereabouts that might have me.
And with that, I'm really done. Yes, I'm a few inches short of a full column, but what're they gonna do? Fire me?