Saturday, February 23, 2008

Good Night and Good Luck

I don't rise from a Vicoden haze for just anybody, but tonight I fluff up in bed and salute The Chief, the last Editor of The Albuquerque Tribune which closed its doors today and silenced its presses after 86 years of serving the community and New Mexico. I could go on about the sad state of the afternoon newspaper and the evils of Scripps-Howard, but it's nearly time for my next 200 mgs. and I so hate to be late for my meds.

Let me just say, most men would have fled for the better offer when Scripps announced its pull-out six months ago. Most men would have taken a higher paying job back in the mid-80s. Most men would have left Albuquerque for a more sophisticated media market right around the Clinton administration. But The Chief isn't most men. He has always been...the last marine standing. I know if the boogie man ever comes for me, he'll have to go through the Chief first. Because the Chief never sleeps while on watch. And he's always on watch.

Through the fall, as his troops got picked off by other papers, one by one, The Chief dusted off his reporter's notebook and returned to covering his first great love...high school sports (yeah, thought it was me, too, but turns out not so much) and then would go back to the newsroom, late, to work the copy desk. In a culture that honors the quick fix, the just-add-water, the short cut...The Chief is the long, scenic road home. Because he still believes in words, language, the perfectly crafted sentence. And he's written a lot of them. A newspaperman since he was 15, (back when they called them newspapermen) he has given journalism his soulful heart, his rapier wit, his full head of hair.

While much of Albuquerque finds him bull-headed, cranky, irascible, me, he's well, he's my best girlfriend. We met in 1985, two cub reporters working swing shift. He covered sports. I was on cops. Which means we drank an incredible amount of beer and ate our weight in tater-tots. Along the way, we wrote some great stories, some mediocre stories and forged a steely friendship that people still shake their heads at, one which will be fully chronicled in my autobiography. So don't say you weren't warned.

Over the course of 23 years, we survived heated arguments, slammed phones, great distances, hurt feelings, the First Gulf War (you were wrong, I was right. nah, nah, nah, nah nah), my lack of impulse control, his time-warp taste in music, my lack of discretion (I know how much you hate this blog thing...and as to how exactly I got this photo...a good reporter always protects her sources. You taught me that.), his support of urban sprawl, my knee-jerk liberalism and the numerous pissed-off lovers (spouses?) who couldn't figure out why exactly we were joined at the hip. He's my first phone call and my last breath...if my plug needs pulling, I can't imagine who I'd trust more.

The Chief held the barbarians at the gate for 1, 746 days.

I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you today, Chief. But know this. I have NEVER been prouder of you. You always joked about going down with the ship, but remember the Trib's motto, "Give light and people will find their way." Thanks for never letting the room go dark.

Get some sleep. You've earned it.


Kylita said...

He sounds like a wonderful friend and I'm sorry, too, that you couldn't be there with him. You were in spirit, though, and I'm glad you wrote here about him so others of us could learn of him, too. Highest and best wishes for him ... and you, too, as you recuperate, Friend.
KLH xo

Mich said...

Where were you in 1985? I thought you were still in Seattle.