When I read the news on the NYTimes yesterday, I had to fight back tears. They threatened to flow anew when I sat down to read your post. But I was left with a wide grin on my face when I realized what a gift you were giving us, your readers. You’ve liberated us, as well, and some of us can go back to living a less virtual and more authentic life.
I write and illustrate books for children, working out of my home studio in Rome, and I am per force reasonably self-disciplined, but damn it was hard not to take a break when the words or paints weren’t flowing to see what new tidbit you or your staff might have been posted. I’ll miss you like mad, but I just might get more done.
I sent the attached photo back in October (explaining how I’d discovered at my local market German-grown pumpkins resembling those I knew back in the States; my neighbors were duly impressed). I include it again by way of sharing what I, loyal reader and original subscriber, could see when I looked out the door of my studio … when my nose wasn’t buried in your blog.
We’re still processing your emails. I couldn’t look at the in-tray yesterday. But today, I ventured in and am still reeling from the range and depth and sincerity of so many of you. These are a first batch of immediate reactions (more to come). A reader writes:
Denial: Ha ha, very funny Andrew. Early April Fools! Got me there for a second. Probably just another vacation or sick leave. Yeah, gotta recharge those batteries, right. The staff will step in. Or some great guest bloggers. They always do a great job.
Anger: Wait, what? Seriously? Shit. Fuck! I mean … FUCK!
Bargaining: But you’ll stay on as editor, right? For the new Dish staff run group blog / new model internet magazine? I’ll increase my subscription! What do you need to make it work? $50? $100? Seriously, you gotta stick around. You can totally make it work as executive editor. Even as just a figure head! The staff is great! You wouldn’t want them to lose their jobs, would you? Take a break, however long you need – two weeks, a month, whatever – and get back to us. Whatever you need buddy; we’re here for you. We can get through it together.
Depression: Well, that’s it then. The Internet is dead to me.
Acceptance: *sob* We love you, Andrew, and we don’t want your last blog post to be a long string of “jjjjjjjjjjjjjjj” after you die face down on the keyboard. Be free! We your readers release you, our wild bear kept too long captive for our own amusement. Go! Perhaps in some distant happy day we will spy you from a distance in your natural habitat, frolicking on the beaches of Cape Cod, or stalking the dark alleys of D.C. Then we will know that it was the right thing to do – that we could only truly love you by letting you go.
I’ve heard of getting dumped by phone, by email, even by text … but getting dumped by blog?!?
Yes, it felt like a break-up. Another possible headline for that post would have been “It’s not you; it’s me.”
Oh, shit! Are you sure you’re not just being hysterical again?
Not this time. It’s been a long time in the making. Another reader gets vivid:
I won’t pretend this hasn’t hit me like a bag of hammers to the essentials.
I am shocked and horrified! Don’t do this … find a way …
Another remembers the last time I tried to stop:
Andrew quits blogging? I hope the Pope’s doctors are on alert.
I’m sorry I took you for granted. It never crossed my mind when you would stop blogging. It’s just that you have always been there. Good days, bad days and everything in between. I’m really at a loss for words.
First Colbert and now the Dish? I am not sure what I’m going to do at work now.
I totally get this. In fact, in the last few weeks, I haven’t been reading The Dish as ardently as before. It wasn’t “you”. I was feeling the stress of the 24-hour news cycle myself.
Betrayed. That’s what I feel. I know it’s not fair and I don’t really understand it, but that’s the best word I have right now.
Maybe it’s because I was a subscriber, or maybe it’s because I’ve read and shared your articles for so long. But it’s like a piece of the internet is being taken out and now the whole is somehow much less. I had hoped I was supporting a new way of doing business, a way to be free of all the ads. But I guess the ads will win after all.
Another also fears the ads:
I just want the record to show that I would happily maintain my current subscription indefinitely for a single article a month from you, or any variation on such a theme that helped you do what you love and not kill yourself in the process. The Dish is not about maximizing content for me, but about smart, honest, opinionated journalism uninfected by the corrosive virus of advertising.
And you already know this. But it is also about love. It is about your ability to be not just a journalist, writer and opinionated public figure, but your ability to be a person just behind the screen of the blog – flawed, struggling, self-questioning, and occasionally a little bit heroic – for whom I can’t be the first to have professed a kind of love.
Go do your best, and let us know where that will be. We’ll follow.
I got to your final post as a mistake, but once there I did read your final tripe. Wow you wasted 15 years of your life on that? You will have trouble living in the real world, which is a far cry from the bubble you have lived in. Don’t respond back, as I have no interest.
A different view:
Chatham, New Hampshire, 12 pm
We’ve never met and I’ve never written in. I’m the ultimate Dish lurker: I go on multiple times a day and love all the different insights from readers/guest bloggers/Andrew/the team in general, but never felt like I had the requisite expertise or a unique-enough perspective to write in and improve the conversation. But today I realized I’ve been with this community long enough (just two years, which is far from the decades under other readers’ belts) to send a simple but genuine message to the Dish inbox: thanks.
I’m sure you’ve got a flood of email coming in today. I just wanted to let you know that your readers are looking out for Dusty’s memory. See the attached email from WaPo media reporter Paul Farhi promising to correct his article that defamed her. I took a screenshot for the record:
Just to let you know that, in the immortal words of Mary Queen of Scots (see above), we’re not dead yet; we’re just figuring out the timing of ending the Dish, and hope to have a last hurrah of pure Dishness in the coming days. First up are your emails in response, which we are curating and reading as I write. There was an avalanche of them, so bear with us as we try to sort through it. We’re also a little hung over today, and the Dish team are human beings as I am. They have gone through all this with me, and they need a little time to process. But stay tuned for more Dish. We want to go out with a bang.
One of the things I’ve always tried to do at the Dish is to be up-front with readers. This sometimes means grotesque over-sharing; sometimes it means I write imprudent arguments I have to withdraw; sometimes it just means a monthly update on our revenues and subscriptions; and sometimes I stumble onto something actually interesting. But when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.
Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.
The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.
I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real.
We’ll have more to say – and we’re sure you will as well – in due course. I particularly want to take some time to thank my indispensable, amazing colleagues in a subsequent post. For the time being, auto-renewals have been suspended and the pay-meter has been disabled. While we’re in this strange, animated suspension, I just wanted to take one post to thank you personally, the readers, founding members and subscribers to the Dish.
It’s been a strange relationship, hasn’t it? Some of you – the original white-on-navy ones – went through the 2000 election and recount with me, when I had to explain the word “blog” to anyone I met; we experienced 9/11 together in real time – and all the fraught months and years after; and then the Iraq War; and the gay marriage struggles of the last fifteen historic years. We endured the Bush re-election together and then championed – before almost anyone else – the Obama candidacy together. Remember that first night of those Iowa caucuses? Remember the titanic fight with the Clintons? And then the entire arc of the Obama presidency.
You were there when it was just me and a tip jar for six years, and at Time, and at The Atlantic, and the Daily Beast, and then as an independent company. When we asked you two years ago to catch us as we jumped into independence, you came through and then some. In just two years, you built a million dollar revenue company, with 30,000 subscribers, a million monthly readers, and revenue growth of 17 percent over the first year. You made us unique in this media world – and we were able to avoid the sirens of clickbait and sponsored content. We will never forget it.
You were there when I couldn’t believe Palin’s fantasies; and when we live-blogged the entire Green Revolution around the clock for nearly a month in 2009. You were there when I freaked out over Obama’s first debate against Romney; and you were with me as I came to realize just how deeply wrong I had been on Iraq. But we also fought for marriage equality together (and won!), and for a new post-Iraq foreign policy (getting there), and for legalizing weed (fuck you, Hickenlooper!). We faced the brutal reality of a Catholic church engaged in the rape of children, and the bleak truth about the United States and torture. And I think we made our contribution to all those struggles. The Dish made the case for Obama in a way that actually mattered when it mattered. I think we made the case for gay equality in a way no other publication did. And we lived through history with the raw intensity of this new medium, and through a media landscape of bewildering change.
I want to thank you, personally, for the honesty and wisdom of so many of your threads and conversations and intimacies, from late-term abortions and the cannabis closet to eggcorns and new poems, from the death of pets, and the meaning of bathroom walls to the views from your windows from all over the world. You became not just readers of the Dish, but active participants, writers, contributors. You trusted us with your own stories; you took no credit for them; and we slowly gathered and built a readership I wouldn’t trade for anyone’s.
You were there before I met my husband; you were there when I actually got married; and when I finally got my green card; and when Dusty – who still adorns the masthead – died. I can’t describe this relationship outside the rather crude term of “mass intimacy” but as I write this, believe me, my eyes are swimming with tears.
How do I say goodbye? How do I walk away from the best daily, hourly, readership a writer could ever have? It’s tough. In fact, it’s brutal. But I know you will understand. Because after all these years, I feel I have come to know you, even as you have come to see me, flaws and all. Some things are worth cherishing precisely because they are finite. Things cannot go on for ever. I learned this in my younger days: it isn’t how long you live that matters. What matters is what you do when you’re alive. And, man, is this place alive.
When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer.
But this much I know: nothing will ever be like this again, which is why it has been so precious; and why it will always be a part of me, wherever I go; and why it is so hard to finish this sentence and publish this post.
But some of it is subconscious, as Eric Posner explains:
To investigate the role of motivated reasoning in the sort of institutional flip-flops that politicians and judges engage in, Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein and I conducted a series of surveys. In one, we asked people whether President Bush acted rightly by using a loophole to make appointments in defiance of Senate opposition.
Katy Steinmetz sees a bright horizon for pot smokers and lovers of liberty:
A new report [from ArcView Market Research] predicts that 18 U.S. states will have legalized recreational marijuana in the next five years, a huge increase from the four states that currently have or are in the process of creating legal markets for pot. …
The map has a lot of overlap with the places where the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the group that helped launch legal weed in Colorado, already has workers on the ground in preparation for legalization votes over the next two years. Yet MPP is a bit more cautious in its outlook: the group believes 12 states could join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska in allowing recreational pot by 2017. Unlike ArcView (whose executive director sits on MPP’s board), they’re not banking on legalization taking root in Montana, New Jersey or Connecticut over the next few years, according to spokesperson Morgan Fox. He says they’re concentrating current efforts in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. They see Texas — yes, Texas —as an outside possibility.
Max Ufberg looks back at the first week of The Nightly Show:
So far, [host Larry] Wilmore has already mocked the Academy Awards, poked fun at Al Sharpton, and taken down Bill Cosby (“That motherfucker did it”). The response has been favorable. Critics have praised Wilmore’s affability and wryness, even his “ideological unpredictability.” He has, as the New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley puts it, “a disarming way of laughing at his own jokes and those of others.” The show’s closing Bill Maher-style roundtable discussion format, while less of an immediate hit, certainly offers long-term potential.
Genetta M. Adams observes that Wilmore “comes at current events in the same manner that brothers at the barber shop or sisters at the hair salon do: straight up and no-holds-barred”:
And even if Wilmore’s takes on topics like Cosby aren’t particularly new, as Slate’s Willa Paskin rightly points out, “There has previously been no black perspective on late night to take these subjects on with such matter-of-fact vigor.” His signature segment, “Keep It 100,” can lead to some squirm-in-their-chairs moments for panelists who have to answer a question honestly or face the prospect of getting some “weak tea”—literally—as they’re handed tea bags. Rapper-activist Talib Kweli had such a moment when he was asked, “When it comes to black images, is hip-hop part of the problem or part of the solution?” …
Variety’s Brian Lowry wondered if The Nightly Show’s format and edgier take on the day’s news would make the show a “no-go zone” for newsmakers and celebrities who wanted to pitch their movies or books. But who cares? The last thing late night needs is another show for celebs to pimp their products.
Think about it. Wolves are terrifying, but no animal is more loving than a dog. Wolves compete with us in the food chain – even hunt us in the food chain! – but dogs have an ancient tradition of being our best hunting partners. They could rip out our throats, but all they want to do is please us. What other animal is eager and effective at offering comfort in times of grief? And they’re often better at it humans.
Frankly, I like dogs a lot more than I like people. One of the few times I’m wary of a dog is when I see one being walked next to a baby in a stroller. It’s hard to know what that dog will do if you get too close to the baby. And when you think about it, doesn’t that really say it all?
The above video says even more. Another reader on the question at hand:
Indoor plumbing. I know there is a God because I don’t have to shit in the woods. So no one needed to invent religion. All we needed was indoor plumbing and you kill two birds with one stone.