Sunday, July 1, 2007

In the immortal words of Dave Chappelle/Rick James: "Wal-COME!"


Been sitting here thinking to myself "How do you kick this off?"

How do you say, "Welcome!"

And as I thought about that, pictures of fucked-up, shocking and unexpected welcomes flashed through my mind--Pow! Pow! Pow! And then, one stuck.

I pictured Charlie Murphy, from "Chappelle's Show", describing his first trip in his "True Hollywood Stories" to The China Club, a nightspot of some fame in New York, and then recounting his shock as he walked in, preparing to get a drink--and realizing something was amiss when he saw his running buddy, a crazed, oddly-misplaced Rick James someplace a bit "off the beaten path".

CHARLIE: And there was Rick...behind the bar.

It was an "Oh shit." moment for Charlie as you may remember. Things got wilder with every second from there on. Because Rick was someplace unexpected--doing something ol' Charlie wasn't used to seeing Rick doing.

Serving up drinks. Behind the bar.

You, the reader probably feel a little bit like Charlie Murphy that night, wondering "What the fuck is gonna happen here?" Trust me--as one of your unexpected "bartenders" here at The Group News Blog, I feel a little like Charlie m' damn self.

Because as you know...I was a patron, along with many of you at a great "watering hole" called... The News Blog. For several years, in fact. And its talented proprietor, the late ( hurts, and I cannot get used to saying that--"the late") Steve Gilliard served 'em up lovely, ya'll--an' ya know that. I have rarely run across a writer whose passion, forcefulness and sheer talent moved me more. I came every Goddamn day, just like you, and drank my fill of his words, opinions and analysis of things political, cultural and all about the place. He even let me occasionally pour a wee dram--heh!--like I knew what the fuck I was doing, behind the bar.

He engaged us all, and kept us happily, staggering drunk with knowledge for years.

And then? Then the bartender/proprietor/brewmaster got sick this year--a second rough bout with the devil in fact, but this time, after several months...sadly, the devil won.

Fucking devil.

During that interim, when the devil and Steve pas de deux-ed, a bunch of us tried to step up and carry things along until the big guy got better. How well we did, I don't know. But I do know we tried...because it was the fight for right that Steve was about--and we--that bunch of bleary-eyed barflies figured "You know what? He'd want the fight to go on in his absence." So, we did. And painfully for us all, he didn't make it back.

But...we kinda learned some things in the process. The fight has to go on, for one--and secondly, we can all take a little something we learned from the big guy, and maybe do our part to help wage that fight.

That's what for me, this--The Group News Blog is about.

It's not a continuation of The News Blog, for nothing can be that. That bad boy is the uncanny offspring of a supremely talented cat and his aide dé camp, Jordan and Pippen--Steve and Jen. We can't fuck with that kind of..well, fuck it--greatness. No, this is a kind of offshoot, wild-assed, cross-pollination, quill-shooting, radioactive mutant, test-tube baby of what happened those last four months at The News Blog, where some of us learned about the level and even presence of some of our nutty, hard-to-harness "powers".

But the main thing is--the vision. The natural flow from "We Fight Back", to "We Fight On" as you see in the masthead above. So yeah, it's gonna be political. It's gonna be rough. It's even gonna be fun, and snarky and all that shit at times. But we're gonna try to make it one thing for certain: Sucka-free. Ain't gonna be about no back-slidin' or half-steppin. I'm a liberal. I'm a progresisve. I'm a dirty fucking hippie--cept' I ain't that dirty, and I like real nice clothes. I'm all the shit that wingnut bastards hate and I'm Goddamned proud of it. So rest assured, the fastballs are comin' as usual, hard and portside. And I love beaning slow-reflexed right-wingers. I got notches in my glove for every one.

That's how this place is gonna play. It's gonna deal with the international, the national, and the local shit. We're gonna discuss war, and how to peace. We're gonna look at what's shaping up to be--the longest election season since Guyana's Three-Toed Sloth Council voted for its Circle of Jungle Elders. Pop culture will be commented on--as will food, and yes...even advice.

Health and gadgets too, ya'll. It'll be here. And I'll be here, too. Maybe a little hesitant. But fuck, now I can at last answer those who've said "Well, why ain't you blogging?" for the longest, with a simple, "I"

It's gonna be hard. I didn't do it before because of time constraints. Those constraints still exist, but somehow--I found a way to kinda do it while Steve was sick. So you know what? I've said "Fuck it. I'll try this.". I can't post as often as Steve did--a herculean feat that I don't even know how he did--but this is a team effort, as things were these last few months at TNB. And the other members of the team--you know them as Hubris Sonic and "Doc" Wendel, will be tossin' alley-oops, throwing down backboard-shattering dunks, and setting hard picks as well--so we're sharin' the ball here.

And at this point, I'd like to thank every one of you who helped us all get through the rough times these past few months--Jim in LA, Doc Bopper, Sara at Orcinus, Julia, Skippy, Bob Geiger, Gracchus, blksista, The Political Junkie, Tanbark, Driftglass, ice weasel, Phoenix Woman, Lindsay at majikthise--every one of you who took the time to write and fill in the gaps--you know who you are, and the archives are tough to search now as the original site transitions, so I can't name-check you all--and those of you who kept reading, and lurked, and commented and kept the community going. We thank--I thank you all.

But most of all...I want to thank Steve--and Jen, for providing a comfortable place for a bunch of people scattered all across the country--and world to camp out, and learn and share. You guys made these last few years of infectious madness seeping from the command and control of our country, downward to where we all dwell--that much more bearable.

And you even managed to make it fun--with the occasional post on well-insured derrieres, men with strategically-placed hams, and the merits of beer-can chicken. Bless you a thousand times.

I can only hope, that this new bar--with my dumb ass at the taps during a shift, can be a sliver of as much fun--'cause if it is, that would be a major achievement.

So, we've had our sadness. Our hurt. It's gonna leave a scar. But you know what? The fight still goes on. Bastards still wanna flex--wanna boost your shit. Be it your rights, your dignity, or your very existence. Fuck all that. You're gonna fight, and live, and Goddamnit--enjoy. So belly up cats and kiddies, dudes and dudettes. And get your bloggy drank on. 'Cause we want you good and blotto on the grog we'll be serving when that inevitable moment comes. You kno wthe one.

Some wingnut's gonna roll by, like he's the man, and we're gonna have to say to him...

"Hey! There's a new joke goin' round--have ya heard it? It goes...'What...did the five fingers say to the wingnut's face?"

SLAP! :)