That's right. After nearly seven years as the resident humormonger for CityBeat, I've decided to pull the plug on this column. As of the Dec. 27 issue of this newspaper, the last issue of 2001, "Pseudoquasiesque" will end. Expire. For those of you without a handy calendar nearby, that's next week.
So, you might well ask, why is this, the penultimate column, all serious and somber? Isn't it tradition for a columnist's final piece to be all heartfelt and weepy and pathetic? Well, yes, but I'd really prefer to go out just as I came in all those columns ago: trying to be funny (with the emphasis on trying) and using my anger, hostility, pain and frustration for good (buffoonery), not evil (see Peter Bronson's Sunday Enquirer pieces).
Sorry. This is supposed to be serious. I'll turn off the sarcasm now.
So what do I want to say here after so many years of hiding behind a comic persona? How much of myself do I want to expose after all the obfuscation? Not much, really. I simply want to publicly acknowledge a few debts.
The first is to Bill Thompson. In 1995, Bill was the one person I knew in the newspaper business (he worked, and still does, for The Enquirer) and, since I'd determined I wanted to write a newspaper column, he seemed like the logical (read: only) place to start.
Now, when I say I knew him, I simply mean we'd met a couple of times, that he was a friend of a friend, really. Translation: When I called and asked for his professional opinion regarding the six "practice" columns I'd written, I was imposing on him. Yet he generously agreed. But Bill's generosity didn't end there. After reading the columns and assessing them, accurately, as some amalgam of commentary, fiction, slander and nonsense, he told me he thought I had something and gave me a couple of names along with permission to drop his. One of these contacts worked at the new weekly in town, CityBeat. Good call, Bill. Thank you. Your guidance was irreplaceable, your assistance invaluable, your instincts impeccable.
Next debt: John Fox, editor of CityBeat. John, your decision to publish my work was both a leap of faith and a lapse in judgment. My thanks for both. It was by writing this column, along with the tyranny of my weekly deadline, that I was forced to perform the only job I ever wanted to do but had always, for a variety of self-defeating reasons, successfully avoided. Also, the freedom, the latitude you allowed me -- in subject matter, political prejudice, style and self-indulgence -- was a luxury I truly appreciated, occasionally cursed and will probably never be given again. Thanks for the incredible opportunity and your support.
I'm also grateful to "Pseudoquasiesque" readers. I don't know who you are. I don't know if you are. I don't know whether you're two strong or 2,000. I don't know whether you read this column every week or only when you want to feel superior to some newspaper hack asshole you know you're funnier than. But whoever you are, if you do indeed exist, I truly appreciate your readership. It is only by being read that a writer's thoughts are transformed into a voice.
As for the friends and acquaintances who visit this column regularly, a simple "thank you" seems miserably inadequate. Your comments and acknowledgement, your kind words, often came at the perfect moment, when I was feeling particularly inadequate or incapable or invisible or one of the other 17 clinically diagnosed self-esteem problems from which I suffer. That you actually pick up a paper and voluntarily take a dose of me in absentia is, while bordering on the lunatic, also enormously kind, generous and meaningful.
Finally, I want to thank Lauren, my mate, my partner. My proofreader and cheerleader. Without your confidence, I'd have damn little. Without your support, I'd have long ago succumbed to doubt. Without your faith, I would have no fire. You've listened endlessly to my anxieties, my obsessings, my harangues and my hopes. You've calmed me regularly, counseled me practically, tolerated me (surprisingly) and loved me well. Thank you for all you've done and for all I receive from you every day.
And that's it. Except for next week's return to mirth, of course.
It's been fun. At least from this side of the typewriter.