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aw, Jim. - Sisyphus Shrugged
Lasciate ogni speranza and put your feet up.
aw, Jim.
Susie just e-mailed me to let me know that Jim is gone.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

- “Funeral Blues,” W.H. Auden.

My friend Jim died this evening.

Jim, one of the founders of the political blogosphere, started the Rittenhouse Review a week or two before Duncan Black started Eschaton.

He was my fairy blogfather. He showed me how to install a sitemeter, he gave me tips for building readership, and advised me to “pick a fight with a blogger who’s much better known - you can’t believe how well it works.” (I never took his advice, though.) He even paid to have the ugly banner ad removed from the top of my first site.

More than that, Jim was extraordinarily generous. A master networker, he insisted on introducing all of his friends to each other and they, in turn, became friends. “See?” he’d say. “I told you you’d hit it off.” In turn, I introduced him to the sweet potato fries and the chocolate bread pudding at Silk City.

He was a great writer who won a Koufax award for what is one of the liberal blogosphere’s seminal pieces, “Al Gore and the Alpha Girls: The Enduring Power of Cliques in a Post-High-School World.” (You really should read it.) Here’s an excerpt:

Not long ago a newly found colleague, if I may call him that, lamented the harsh tone adopted by many webloggers. (He did not put this comment directly to me, but we both knew he well could have.) My response was that webloggers, some of whom I find smarter, more eloquent, and more perceptive than a sizable portion of their professional counterparts, do not share the punditburo’s status anxiety and do not join with the punditboro in enthusiastically casting aside whatever principles they might have in a craven effort to curry favor with their colleagues.

Jim spoke God knows how many languages. I once met him for lunch when he walked in wearing a Walkman. This intrigued me, because he never, ever listened to popular music. “What are you listening to?” I said, pulling at the headphones.

“I’m teaching myself Dutch,” he said, almost apologetically.

He was also an impeccable dresser who used to work on Wall Street, and he absolutely adored Philadelphia, his adopted city. He made a mean marinara. And because he was the product of a mixed marriage (Irish and Italian), he was both romantic and brilliantly sarcastic. (Jim sometimes said he couldn’t wait to hear what people said about him at his wake.) Oh, and he loved musical comedies.

He was a devout Catholic who knew more about canon law than most bishops. He often accompanied me to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.

He struggled with his illnesses and it was difficult to hold a job. He wasn’t sick enough to get disability, but not well enough to work all that steadily. Because we were both always broke, we used to feed each other when we could.

He could be a pain in the ass, but in such an interesting way. The world is so much less scintillating without him in it.

He is survived by his much beloved bulldog, Mildred.

I can't believe Jim is gone.

Jim was prickly and suspicious and cynical and hard-edged and one of the sweetest people I've ever met.

I first "met" Jim when he linked to something I wrote and I wrote him a thank you note and he thought I was trolling for a sidebar link, because everyone did, because Jim was It back then.

He championed me all the same, as he did lots of other people who are Big Bloggers now.

We got to be e-mail buddies, and we met when he came to New York for one of the first liberal blogger foodfests (Brother's Barbecue, because Jim loved barbecue, and we left a large tip and the waitress told us that the conservatives didn't tip).

Then we arranged to meet in Philadelphia and I ended up at the house of a nice young couple named Black along with everyone with a blog who I wanted to meet in a hundred mile radius.

Jim, in the mean time, was effortless and insanely dapper and endlessly kind to newcomers who he thought should be getting more notice than they did.

I'll post some of his greatest hits in a bit, so you'll know what all the fuss is about, but let's let Jim the nice guy have his due for a few hours.

Dammit, this makes me mad.

Anyway, if you're so inclined, what you could do for Jim that would have made him happy is sometime pimp a blog that you don't think is getting as much attention as it deserves.

Also maybe send your friends an e-mail when you don't have an excuse.

Bye, sweetie. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

ahhhs. -- hmmm?
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 3rd, 2007 02:59 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

I thought all day about that NY dinner...

It was the first time I'd met Jim - he convinced me to come all the way from Maine so that we could finally meet up.

I've known most of the day he was on life support, and couldn't wrap my head around it. I still can't.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: July 3rd, 2007 03:02 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

Re: I thought all day about that NY dinner...


I can't either.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 3rd, 2007 03:41 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

Re: I thought all day about that NY dinner...

Oh, yes, dearie, it's me. Couldn't figure out which format to use, so just ended up with anonymous.

saoba From: saoba Date: July 3rd, 2007 05:36 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
Damn it.
kiplet From: kiplet Date: July 3rd, 2007 05:37 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
Oh goddamn. Oh Mildred.
elaynetoo From: elaynetoo Date: July 3rd, 2007 11:57 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
I'm devastated. That Brothers gathering was the first time I met you and your family as well, I believe, and Mad and Marc and Teresa and Patrick and so many bloggers I've now come to call friends. Jim was an amazing man and he'll be greatly missed.
kip_w From: kip_w Date: July 3rd, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Aw hell. I'm sorry. Shocked and sorry.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

This is terrible

Rest in peace, Jim.

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 3rd, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

No, No, No

His was literally the first blog I ever read, and his used his blogroll to find most of my other favorites. This is a bad, no-good, damnitall piece of news, especially today.
theotherbaldwin From: theotherbaldwin Date: July 3rd, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)


Rest in peace, Jim.

Also maybe send your friends an e-mail when you don't have an excuse.


In fact, I don't know if I ever properly thanked you for the random phone call at work once when I was having the crappiest day ever, or the post explaining the basics of Illustrator's Bezier curves while I was flipping out and panicking about bombing the graphic artists test for the temp agency in NYC that you hooked me up with.

But, thank you. You were the first political blogger that I ever read regularly. You've been a lot nicer to a fellow livejournaler on all sorts of things, and never asked for anything in return.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 4th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)


I met Jim, after exchanging emails, at that "house of a nice young couple named Black." Jim invited me there. He'd taken the time to encourage me in writing my blog. In his honor, I'm going to reinstate my blog (under a different name, 'cause I lost the original domain name through carelessness).

RIP, Jim. The good die, and Bush/Cheney live on.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 2nd, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Today, I will visit your grave and fall apart, reminded of your eyes as life passed from you. I will remember the answer to the question I asked myslf, "What would Jim want me to do?" To be a good husband, father and uncle, to take care of your mother, to take care of myself, to watch over our precious Kurt as you asked, to treat mediocrity as a crime and to be neither a fool, nor foolish.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?