Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Get Yer Ya-Yas Out

Just one year? It feels like it's been longer.

But that's probably because it has been longer.

The Group News Blog's first incarnation was as an ad hoc group of people who came together in late February of last year to hold The News Blog together so Steve would have his love and livelihood to come home to when he got better. (I'd love to see a full roster of that first crew posted here today somewhere -- Jesse and Jen would be the ones to pull it together.) Jesse, Hubris, and LM were at the core of it, with a half dozen other folks chipping in -- including me, when I could pull time away from a three-a-week posting schedule at Orcinus.

When Steve came home, it wasn't to us -- it was to the angels somewhere in whatever eternity awaited. (We can only hope it was the one of his choice, the one with beer can chicken, God's own military history library, and lots of cute, smart girls who love to talk celestial politics.) When Jesse announced that the blog was going foward, I told him to sign me up -- though I made it clear there were no promises. I was busy as hell, but I'd do what I could do.

I had no freaking idea what this year would be like. Three weeks after we launched, I went to Chicago for Yearly Kos, where I got to hang with Hubris and Gator and Terri in Tokyo. Besides making three good friends (and two more since in Jesse and LM -- I'm pretty sure I'm the only one of the six of us who's actually met all of the other five IRL), that trip was a revelation, on a lot of fronts.

At YKos I learned, to my absolute astonishment, there are actually people out there reading what I write. (I know: duh. You could read the traffic numbers and know this in a sort of abstract way, but the true meaning of all that comes at you like a flying twenty-pound sledgehammer when Joe Conason is standing in front of you, shaking your hand and gushing.) And that some of them are my heroes. And that I was having a far greater effect on the world, curled up every day on my pillows and quilts under the high gables of my house, than I could have ever imagined, or had ever had before.

As the rest of the year unwound, I realized that people I'd admired for years, who had achieved amazing things in the field of progressive journalism and commentary, considered me a peer. I got an attagirl from Bill Moyers, made lunch buddies with Digby, stayed for a few days with Jane Hamsher. The Campaign for America's Future asked me to come on as a guest blogger -- and then kept me, and gave me a paycheck, and brought me to DC for Take Back America. Bob Borosage and Rick Perlstein -- my new bosses -- are asking when I'm getting going on my book. The answer needs to be: soon.

Heady stuff indeed. I had to rearrange the pantry to make room for five-pound boxes of ego candy that kept arriving. (No, it didn't go to my waistline -- I'm actually down about five pounds over the year -- but it's not always easy to keep it from going to my head.) In the name of ego control, I will openly admit to you here and now that in my private moments with this -- which is most of them -- I am grateful, humble, astonished, and more than occasionally terrified.

But I also find that I miss the kind of blogging I did at Orcinus -- opinionated, funny, whimsical, cranky, but always following my passion of the moment. Being a Very Serious Fellow for a Very Serious DC Think Tank gives me an amazing platform for my biggest ideas; but it doesn't give a lot of room to write about all he other stuff that diverts me -- stuff like what's for dinner, what I'm buying, what I'm preaching, and where my personal passions lie.

Trivial stuff, but essential for my own balance and sanity. GNB is my sandbox, my playspace, the retreat where I can let my ya-yas out. What goes up here these days is the only stuff I produce these days that's not written to a deadline, not created out of obligation. I often feel like apologizing for not being more serious -- but I serve up serious all the time, and y'all know where to find that if you want it. Sometimes, I just want to talk about swimsuits. (Which, in fact, I plan do sometime later this week.) And you just know TomPaine.com is not going to appreciate my thoughts on beach attire.

(It should go without saying, but probably doesn't: I hereby solemnly swear there will be no beachwear blogging from Denver. Or lipstick blogging, either.)

Clicking over to GNB is like coming home from work on Friday night and finally getting to spend some quality time with the family. I hope it's like that for you, too. Our patriarch is gone, but somehow, this family has managed to invest his bequest to us in a way that's allowed us to keep living in something close enough to the style he accustomed us to. Your donations will allow us to keep building out the fine house he left us -- making room for more family, more ya-yas, and more good times ahead.

In the meantime, I am -- as usual -- on deadline. Today's topic: dismembering the myth of Carly Fiornia and the legend that Silicon Valley was some kind of conservative miracle. Catch it tomorrow at www.ourfuture.org/blog.