s skippy the bush kangaroo: rip al weisel, aka jon swift

skippy the bush kangaroo

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

rip al weisel, aka jon swift



this is the saddest news we have had to report in a long, long time.

the blogger who was known as jon swift has passed away far too soon @ age 46. his mother posted this message on the comments on his blog:
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)
blogger jason chervokas knew al in real life. he tells us in his tribute:
i had the pleasure of getting to know al when we were both half-formed teenagers full of ego and intelligence, desperate to re-invent ourselves, cringingly carrying the pain of our teenage years in ways we were then just groping to understand. we lived together for a year as freshman college roommates, spending daily hours arguing about and jointly investigating music, movies, writing, new york. we were very different people, and yet not only did we share a lot of the same interests and ambitions (we both became writers--which in those days we consciously discussed setting out to become--and we both found out writing wasn't going pay for our retirements) but also many of the same personality traits--brash and cocksure on the one hand, nervous and insecure on the other.

in the nearly 30 years that i knew al i didn't see him much--once or twice a year maybe, during some decades less, during some decades more. my sense of al was that for him intimacy and emotion were never easy but there was something about our rare occasional conversations that i cherished deeply, and it was precisely the easy intimacy that results from sharing life events during those tender years when the vulnerable parts are all exposed no matter how well we think we're hiding them. i know that is the kind of friendship i'll never have the chance to develop again, so on a purely selfish level i'll miss al more than probably he would have known.

speaking of hiding things-- keeping secrets, was definitely one of al's most treasured inner pastimes. for years, literally years, he would remind me with agitation about something i had written in the early internet days to the effect that we've basically given up our privacy in the modern age anyway so why concern ourselves with protecting it online. privacy, even secrecy, remained for al a deeply cherished notion. i've been reading many of the blog posts eulogizing al's jon swift persona. i know al was proud of jon swift, perhaps a little frustrated by his inability to make it pay off in a kind of matt drudgey way. he certainly was gleeful about poking fun at conservative group think (sometimes the line between his parodies and the non-parodic statements of actual conservatives was indecipherable), and his malicious, gleeful, nervous laugh will be sorely missed. but i keep wondering, reading the swift mourning, how many personae al really had and who among his family, friends and lovers actually knew all of al?
here is al's real life website.

you'll notice that al was an accomplished journalist, having interviewed everyone from vanessa redgrave to johnny cash. he wrote for, among others, rolling stone, us magazine, new york newsday, premiere, spin, out & george.

it's terribly ironic that his book, a look at the making of rebel w/o a cause, is titled live fast die young.

readers of this space know jon was our partner in, and indeed the motivating factor for blogroll amnesty day.

it was his graciousness and tenacity to actual liberal values that inspired (and indeed, was the engine that perpetuated) the idea that all blogs should support each other, never mind the size of the sitemeter traffic stats.

he was a brilliant satirical writer; so brilliant that often times readers (especially conservative readers) had no clue that jon was making fun of the right wing by appearing to be one of their own. [ed. note: many commentors on other sites remarked how jon was doing colbert before colbert]

we had wondered why we hadn't heard from him lately...we are sure that he had other, more pressing real life issues to deal with besides blogging.

his sense of humor made us all realize that it was unhealthy to take ourselves too seriously...and alas, his passing makes it even more pertinent to enjoy ourselves and be kind to each other on a daily, if not moment-to-moment basis.

we all here @ skippy international will miss him greatly, as will blogtopia.

rest in peace al/jon.

you made life on earth and in blogtopia a better place.

- - -

you can read other memorials for jon/al here:

tom watson, who also knew al/jon in real life

blue gal

drinking liberally in new milford

john cole @ balloon juice

mad kane

maryscott o'connor @ my left wing

oliver willis

jill @ brilliant @ breakfast

sadly, no!

michael j.w. stickings

carl @ simply left behind

mock paper scissors


blue girl @ blue girl in a red state

glenn reynolds @ instapundit

melissa mcewan @ shakespeare's sister (where jon was a contributor)


libby spencer @ the impolitic

kevin k. @ rumproast

kathy kattenburg @ the moderate voice

kathleen maher @ diary of a heretic

mike the mad biologist

mustang bobby @ bark bark woof woof

jill @ feministe

vast left @ corrente

man eegee

steve hynd @ newshoggers

chuck for..., who, sadly, was the subject of jon swift's last post when tragedy visited upon chuck's family

attaturk @ rising hegemon

the mahablog

james wolcott

lance mannion

pamela @ the democratic daily

batocchio @ vagabond scholard

shawn russell @ the tardisgrade

busted knuckles @ ornery bastard

dj @ buzztwang

ann althouse

jeff fecke @ alas! a blog


liberal values

jurassic pork @ welcome back to pottersville

pam @ pam's house blend

ed morrisey @ hot air

thers @ whiskeyfire

and blue gal over @ crooks&liars.

we are sure that jon would want his idea of linking to other deserving voices in blogtopia to continue. if you write a memorial on your blog for jon, pls. send us a link and we will post it here.

also, sadly, no! has a special thread for posting links to your favorite smaller blogs, all dedicated to jon's memory.

addendum: the next morning...tributes keep rolling in for al/jon:

joe gandelman @ the moderate voice writes a very heartfelt tribute

terrence @ the republic of t

m.a. peel


right wing nut house

outside the beltway

eric martin @ obsidian wings

kevin @ the american street

brad jacobson @ mediabloodhound


the dc trawler

dan @ pruning shears

avedon carol @ the sideshow

m and t @ agidita diaries

steven d. @ booman tribune

david e. @ fablog

the sailor @ vidiotspeak


out of context @ oocradio

and lucskyward kevin @ am. street tells us that dougj @ balloon juice is trying to endow an annual al weisel award for internet humor. more on this later.

the day after that - the tributes keep coming in:

shy ann @ cheyenne's campsite

enigma4ever @ watergate summer

that's right nate


ina @ unbound confine

monday, march 8 - the tributes keep coming in:

sungold @ kittywampus

derek @ cheek & bluster

boc @ boconn13

leftwing nutjob @ it's my right to be left of center

double addendum: driftglass finds a nsfw youtube that sums it up:

posted by skippy at 11:52 PM |


It's true what they say: the good die young.

Take care, Al...
commented by Blogger Jim Yeager, 4:29 PM PST  
I am personal witness to the value of using comments to pass on condolences. Leaving something at John Swift would be a part of a memorial to Al and hopefully meaningful to his family. My family owes a debt to the bogging community so again,
Thank You
commented by Blogger Chuck Butcher, 7:58 PM PST  
It is odd how losing someone you knew only through Blogtopia -- even someone whose real name you never knew -- can hurt almost as much as losing a loved one. Jon sent me email when he was doing his end-of-year compilations, before he lost interest in blogging, and other than that our only contact was reading each other's blogs. But it's like when we lost Lurch of Main and Central two years ago, you read a man's output for some time and interact with him in the blogosphere for a while and you feel like you know him. Even though you don't.

RIP, Jon Swift. May the Great Penguin embrace you in his flippers, and the flow of tasty herring never end.

- Badtux the Saddened Penguin
commented by Blogger BadTux, 8:37 PM PST  
Thank U Skippy for a beautiful tribute..eulogy...
I am still stunned...I wrote up a post for him too...just to say goodbye-it's over at Watergate Summer...

he was gone too soon..
he was one of the great secrets of Blogatopia....
an amazing presence behind the scenes...a true Force of Nature...

Al...you are gone too too soon...
commented by Blogger enigma4ever, 12:03 AM PST  
Jon was Colbert before Colbert was Colbert, but his was a three dimensional character, which made him even more intriguing.

It's really odd. I barely knew the man, didn't even know his real name, and yet I feel like I've lost a close friend. He had that knack.

Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney survive heart trauma. Al did not. There is no God.
commented by Blogger Carl, 3:40 AM PST  
What Carl said. This just isn't fair or equitable.
commented by Blogger jurassicpork, 5:17 AM PST  
I am simply bereft.
commented by Blogger Maryscott OConnor, 6:18 AM PST  
Al came up with Blog Amnesty Day but he also asked bloggers (bloggers nobody had ever heard of and then any bloggers who wanted to participate), to send him a permalink for their best post of the year.
I still get hits for what (I thought) was my best post of 2007.
His joke was that this he didn't need to write a post and so could spend his time not-reading a dozen books.
commented by Blogger kathleenmaher, 6:50 AM PST  
Sad news indeed. I lost a stranger and a friend in the same person and I feel the loss personally. May he rest in peace, and my condolences to his family.
commented by Blogger DBK, 8:40 AM PST  
Thanks, skippy, that was invaluable.

Geez, this just sucks big time. To coin a cliché, only the good die young.

And if anyone ever needs any proof that there is no God...
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commented by Blogger mike, 10:00 AM PST  
But what he writ was all his own.
He never thought an honour done him
Because a duke was proud to own him;
Would rather slip aside and choose
To talk with wits in dirty shoes;
Despised the fools with stars and garters,
So often seen caressing Chartres.
He never courted men in station,
Nor persons held in admiration.
Of no man's greatness was afraid,
Because he sought for no man's aid.
Though trusted long in great affairs,
He gave himself no haughty airs.
Without regarding private ends,
Spent all his credit for his friends;
And only chose the wise and good;
No flatterers; no allies in blood;
But succoured virtue in distress,
And seldom failed of good success;
As numbers in their hearts must own,
Who, but for him, had been unknown.
With princes kept a due decorum,
But never stood in awe before 'em.
He followed David's lesson just:
In princes never put thy trust.
And would you make him truly sour,
Provoke him with a slave in power.
The .... senate, if you named,
With what impatience he declaimed!
Fair LIBERTY was all his cry;
For her he stood prepared to die;
For her he boldly stood alone;
For her he oft exposed his own.."
-Johnathan Swift, from "Lines on the death of Dr. Swift"
commented by Anonymous MR, 10:33 AM PST  
My heart goes out to Al's family.

Rest in peace.
commented by Blogger zencomix, 10:55 AM PST  
I have my own humble post.

BTW, your BAD RIP graphic was so great I stole it, (with attribution of course.)
commented by Blogger The Sailor, 3:55 PM PST  
This is one Lilliputian who will miss what Al did for all us minute bloggers out here in the blogosphere to raise our status, self worth, and self esteem in blogland. He made little voices in the wilderness count. (Or he tried to)

RIP Wordsmith man.

Here's my tribute blog to our half-tribal leader, half-cofounder:

skippy if you could add my tribute I would be grateful,

commented by Blogger enigma4ever, 6:29 AM PST  
I don't think I've ever felt so sad about the death of someone I'd never met and that seems to be the universal feeling around Blogtopia these days.
I put up my own post when I heard the news and I'd like it if you could add it to the list here. The address is http://zenyentav2.blogspot.com/2010/03/blogger-jon-swift.html

There's a much more eloquent one at http://thatsrightnate.com/2010/03/04/rip-jon-swift/ - he might not have sent a link but I know he wouldn't being added at all.
commented by Blogger ZenYenta, 6:52 AM PST  
This comment has been removed by the author.
commented by Blogger ina, 7:27 AM PST  
commented by Blogger Connecticut Man1, 1:26 PM PST  
Jon Swift was a real mensch.
Here's my tribute--litbrit over at Cogitamus.

I can't believe it; it's Saturday morning and I still can't believe it.

I miss Jon/Al. God, but I miss him.

And if I, a mere cyber-friend, feel this sad and robbed and grief-stricken, I can't imagine how devastated his family must be. My thoughts and well wishes are with them.
commented by Blogger litbrit, 8:18 AM PST  
And my comments.

Susan of Texas
The Hunting of the Snark
commented by Blogger Susan of Texas, 1:05 PM PST  
Thanks for doing this. Jon meant an awful lot to many of us.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 7:24 PM PST  
Thank you so much for creating this list of links. It is really comforting to read that my old friend Al was so loved and respected as Jon.

Thank you for adding the link to my post. I just wanted to add my voice to the many remembering Al.
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