As his masthead showed, Terry Coppage had been a political blogger since before the contraction for "web log", or blog, had even been coined. To put it in terms we can all understand, he'd been writing about politics since Bill Clinton's first term or almost two years before the Monica scandal broke. He'd consistently been at it for just over 18 years, making him the internet's equivalent of IF Stone or Helen Thomas.
Years ago, when I ran my first two blogs, "Yep, Another Goddamned Blog" and "Welcome to Pottersville", Bartcop used to link to me on a regular basis. Then, we'd had some falling out 6 or 7 years ago over a matter so trivial that even I cannot remember what it was about (Maybe linking to me once without attribution). From that time on, I'd asked him not to link to me any more if he was going to treat my work thusly and he'd obliged.
So it was with some guilt when I'd heard a few days ago about Terry's passing from pneumonia and leukemia on March 5th. Death, as we all know, helps bring so many things into perspective, such as what's really important in life. Those of us ostensibly on the same side of the Great Ideological Divide, as I call it, often forget we are all on the same team as we fragment the progressive movement over and over again with our petty partisan bickerings that make us look, in the grand scheme of things, like a cage full of irritable parakeets angrily twittering at each other.
And, for whatever cruel Celestial reason, it seems that for every Andrew Breitbart, we lose five of our own. And Terry accessed that Great Server in the sky as had Steve Gilliard, Jon Swift, Joe Bageant and Andrew Olmstead (who was killed in Iraq) before him. In his last, posthumous communique to the world, Terry had this to say:
Since you're reading this, I'm either gone or I'm too sick to get to my computer.
I'd like to thank everyone for reading, especially the pillars who allowed me to quit working at that little car lot and turn my rage on the illegal Bush thugs full time.
But I have a favor to ask and it's a big one. I left Mrs Bart with a mortgage that she can't handle by herself.
When the doctors told me I wasn't going to reach old age, my first thoughts were worry about Mrs Bart and how she was going to make it without me and my income.
You know me, I'm a gambler to the end, so when Bartcop Manor flooded in 2004, I/we gambled that I'd live long enough to get the house paid off, or at least paid down to where she could see the end of the payments. Since you're reading this, it means I lost that gamble.
There's a scene in Cinderella Man where James J. Braddock's wife is talking to Braddock's manager's wife at their bare apartment. Joe Gould had just sold virtually all his worldly belongings in order to bankroll Braddock's one last comeback bid. And at one point, Mrs. Gould tells Mrs. Braddock, "They always think they're failing us."
And that, to me, was the best line in the entire movie, even though it had nothing to do with boxing. Indeed, it strikes me as one of the most perspicacious lines in all cinematic history and the screenwriter nailed it. We men always feel as if we're failing our wives and Significant Others for the simple reason that we feel nothing we can do for them and give them is ever good enough. It's a tragedy that Terry knew he was on the way out and, along with the terror of encroaching death, he also had to endure the stigma of thinking he'd failed his wife and saddled her with a debt that can never be repaid.
His too-early passing and that realization, thinking he'd failed to provide longterm security for his wife, puts a lot of shit into perspective. Only those who have been in our exact predicament know how galling it is to ask for help from readers on a regular basis not necessarily for ourselves but because it is often the only way we can provide for our loved ones. After all the jeremiads about a man needing to support his own household and not being a burden on his fellow man, at the bottom lies the truth that an honest, compassionate man will do anything to keep providing for his loved one when all other avenues have been Jersey barriered off to him.
And, while being relatively hale, healthy and hardy myself, it's impossible for me to fully imagine the stinging guilt he must have felt on his deathbed over the vulnerable position he was leaving his wife.
Perhaps it's possible he could've done a better job bringing money into his house if he hadn't spent so much time blogging. Or it could've been that the downwardly spiraling economy visited on many of us thanks to the "president" against which he'd faithfully railed for eight straight years was the reason why he was in such dire financial straits at the end of his life. I don't know
But whichever the circumstances, he chose to give us gonzo citizen journalism for close to 20 years, an unimaginable length of time in this, the most perishable of mediums. He left behind a gigantic body of work that, regardless of the presentation and the methods he'd used, grabbed our lapels and forced us to listen to the truth and often made us laugh our asses off. Like Jon Swift, the patron saint of B listers, he'd given shitty little bloggers like me a bigger megaphone than we'd ordinarily have and helped bring many of us into notice.
That's gotta count for something, folks.
Like me, Bartcop has had a Paypal button up for a long time and now that he's gone, it needs to be used moreso than ever to help out his poor wife. It's intolerable to me that Mrs. Coppage be evicted from her own home and all the memories it must contain. I don't know her or even know her name. But it's enough for me to know that she's a fellow human being that hasn't gotten very many breaks in life from the flooding of their home a decade ago to this latest tragic loss.
I know a lot of you are hurting financially and otherwise but if you could see your way clear to helping Terry's wife hang on to her house, I'm sure she'd appreciate it way more than even I would.