RIP Jon Swift
I've had to say goodbye to three friends within the last six months. One was my UK friend Danny Taylor, the next our beloved cat Sweetie and now Jon Swift.
Via Tom Watson and Roxie's World comes the sad news of, despite his year-long absence, the biggest loss in the blogosphere since the death of Steve Gilliard.
Jon Swift's mother broke the news to us in the only way she knew how to: Buried deeply in the comments section of her son's last, tragically brief post on the death of another friend. In it, she said,
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)
Jon/Al was a justly (in)famous blogger forged much in the same mold as Stephen Colbert. A faux conservative, his posts until March 12, 2009 excoriated the right in an always tongue-in-cheek manner that was subtle enough and never too over-the-top so as to fool many.
As with his literary namesake from the Age of Reason (I'm, of course, thinking of "A Modest Proposal" here), his conservative arguments sounded reasonable until you began paying more than cursory attention to them. At times, when I felt so inspired, I'd post in a similar vein but while I don't fool myself into thinking I always made a good account of myself, Jon/Al perfected the voice of the faux, outrageous conservative.
But not so deep down at heart, he always sided with the little guy. While a liberal blogger par excellence, he never forgot the slight dealt to him and the rest of us B and C list bloggers at the hands of Duncan Black on the first week of February, 2007. He was the creator of Blogroll Amnesty Day, a truly Socialist Day to celebrate yourself and others if you weren't an elitist A lister.
The kind of guy he was is perfectly described by how I found out about his passing last month: Noticing a hit I got from Jon's site, I went right over there, hoping that he was posting again but found that his constantly updated blog list on his side bar listed my last post. Looking at some of the other posts by those on his list, I noted some of the headlines. "A Death in the Blogging Family." "RIP Jon Swift."
Even in death, the guy was still helping me out.
At the beginning of every year, Jon/Al also invited on his blog for people to submit what they thought was their best post from the previous year then post links to them. For the type of blogging he did, he was the acknowledged master and put most of us to shame. And you have to be doing something right to be eulogized by the brutally elegant James Wolcott.
In an ironically macabre postscript, and one I suspect Jon himself would've relished, his Advertise Liberally ad space lists his own death, linking to a brief post on it by Oliver Willis.
Goodbye, dear, dear friend. You will be so missed.