This is the closest I ever came to meeting SEK:
The second closest was in February 2015, while I was in New Orleans for the International Studies Association conference. We planned to get together, but failed on account of his job responsibilities at Salon. As is often the case with such things, I anticipated that there would be more opportunities in the future.
Early this fall, Dave Ferguson wrote a fine essay about “losing” internet friends. The headline was widely misunderstood, as most people seem to have assumed that he meant a facebook defriending or some such, but in fact he was writing about the impact of losing a friend to death or social rupture. And of course he was writing about Scott; Dave did outstanding work through this entire difficult process of going to Houston and keeping Scott’s friends updated about his condition. In any case, Dave’s point was that losing an internet friend can hurt as much as losing an FTF friend; it just depends on the nature and depth of the friendship.
Tracking back, my first exchange with Scott came in early 2008. We were bouncing back and forth in comments and blog about the final season of the Wire, and Scott was wondering if I’d managed to get ahead of the HBO viewership (I had). I had been aware of Scott previously, as it was impossible not to know him from his blogospheric misadventures, and this was when the Blogosphere was still a thing. Not quite two years later Scott e-mailed with an inquiry about joining the blog. There was no debate; he fit perfectly with what LGM had become, and we welcomed him with open arms.
Co-blogging is not necessarily an intensive affair, but over the course of seven years we talked a great deal about work, personal lives, academia, and the world writ large. Earlier this year we commiserated over the near-simultaneous dissolution of our respective marriages. Mutual friends can attest that we reacted very differently, but then the situations were quite different, and in any case the conversations helped me a great deal in moving forward from a dark place.
Scott was a magnificent contributor, not simply to LGM but to the broader conversation about politics and art that emerged in the heyday, and persisted into the twilight, of the Blogosphere. He was a few degrees askew, and this askew-ness gave him a vantage point into the core of the intersection of the aesthetic and the political; he understood as deeply as anyone the complex relationship between the message, the messenger, and the medium. I’m hardly the first to note that his talents were tragically wasted in some of the gigs that he had to take on in order to earn a living. Sadly, he became ill just as the internet powers-that-be were beginning to take advantage of what he could offer.
He was also occasionally maddening, and someone who is a few degree askew cannot help but to be. Now and again we had to restrain him from pointless, destructive crusades. At other times he didn’t wait to be restrained. He understood that he was maddening, and wasn’t unhappy about having that impact, but I don’t know that he ever fully understood why some people found him so confounding. But there was never any question that he was worth it, both as a friend and as a contributor.
I will miss him terribly.