By Doug Porter
As you read this, I’m in New Orleans. It’s gonna be a rajun’ Cajun Christmas for this columnist.
That means I’ll be excused from writing the Starting Line five days a week for the rest of this year. Having knocked out a couple of hundred columns in 2012, I’m ready to relax. Recharge. And visit a place that, for all my traveling, I’ve never been to before.
Some folks like to wrap up the year by listing the “top stories” for the proceeding twelve months. I’d like to take a different approach today: I’d like to say thank you to some of the people who made life worth living this year.
Each and every one of you (and probably a few that I’ve overlooked by mistake) contributed something towards making this the best year of my life. It’s not that everything went perfectly, or even great.
After 62.5 years I think I’m getting the hang of turning lemons into lemonade.
In another era I would have died this year from cancer. (As it was, my health insurance group tried to kill me, so they won’t be on this list.) A few years ago the challenges that have come my way might have left me in despair. I’ve read about how Ulysses S. Grant died (from the same kind of cancer) and, believe me, it was a miserable way to go.
The operation (successful, we think) to remove the cancer cost me my voice. And a few other parts.
Complications meant I was eating thru a tube for a bunch of months. My face and neck swelled up to the point it looked like I was about to burst, a problem brought on by the radiation therapy.
There was pain, lots of it. There were drugs, lots of them that left me fuzzy brained and feeble. And there were a couple of sadistic nurses along the way, just to remind me that things could always get worse.
After everything was said and done, I’m making the call that 2012 turned out to be most excellent. I’m hoping that my optimism and praise for all the people along the way over the past bunch of months will, in some small way, make things better for all of you who read this.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy Kwanza. Have a Great Rosh Hosanna. May your stars align in a positive way. And Happy New Year.
Now to the thanking part. I’m gonna try to keep this under a couple thousand words, so the homilies will necessarily be brief. And I want to make it clear these are my personal picks.
First, since this is the San Diego Free Press, the politicos:
The Boss Woman. I think everybody of the progressive persuasion in this burg owns a big thank you and well done to Lorena Gonzalez. Her focus on getting out voters, union or not, contributed greatly to the democratic victories in San Diego. Her willingness to reach beyond the confines of her position as boss-woman of the local labor council to groups in the community benefited both crowds. (Her staffers deserve credit, too.)
The Boss Man. For the record, I expressed my concerns about Bob Filner a long time ago. I have to give him credit, though. He sought me out and actually thanked me for critiquing him. Still I worried. The mayoral race looked like it was his to lose and at times it looked like losing was a real possibility. Now that the nasty business of campaigning is behind, I am nothing but impressed. He’s reaching out. He’s talking about neighborhoods. He’s smiling. I have hope that he’ll deliver.
The Sexiest Man. That would be Todd Gloria. I’m not talking about sexy in the sense of phermonic attraction. And I have real concerns about his willingness to play footsy (excuse the pun) with the downtown development set. But by coining the term “sexy streets” to describe repaving roads in his district (where I happen to live) and making infrastructure the focus of his inaugural speech, he’s changed the game in San Diego. No longer is it “us” (whoever that was) against “the government”; there’s an actual conversation going on about what “we” need to do to fix up our city.
The New Kid on the Block. That would be David Alvarez. While he’s no longer the rookie City Councilman, he’s played his cards right and now needs to be looked at as leadership material for the future. His work on housing and foreclosure issues proved his mettle. It would have been very easy to throw up his hands and walk away. But he didn’t. (Let’s just keep this our little secret for now. We don’t want him getting a swelled head or anything.)
I’ll keep it right here at this URL for this year. It took us a couple of years, but we finally launched the San Diego Free Press on June 4th of this year. If you ask us what our exact plan is, we’ll tell you we don’t know. All we do know is that our future concerns progressive politics, citizen journalism, neighborhood news, interesting writing and the patience to let that mixture evolve over time.
SDFP is already success by many metrics: readership, influence, the number of important people we’ve pissed off and the willingness of some in the conventional media to look down their noses at us.
I like to tell folks the story about my response to the editor-type who told me that he disagreed with my opinions: “Hell, sometimes I disagree with them, too.” We’re learning as we grow and the best part of this process is not starting out with the position that we know all the answers.
It’s not easy being wrong. We’ve had email flame wars between ourselves (our operation is 95% virtual) and more than a shouting match or two when we met in the flesh. San Diego Free Press has no plan for how we’re gonna ‘monitize’ this sucker, or what we’d do if somebody gave us a million dollars. I just have confidence we’ll figure it out. Eventually. One story at a time.
None-the-less, I have learned so much from everybody who contributes to this madness that I cannot be anything but grateful. And, personally, I’ve learned the discipline of writing every day. So, thank you—
Frank Gormlie, Patty Jones, Anna Daniels, Andy Cohen, Annie Lane, Rich Kacmar, Ernie McCray, Jack Hamlin, John Anderson, John Lawrence, Bob Dorn, Brent Beltran, Brenda McFarlane, K.B., Steve Burns, Jim Miller, Kelly Mayhew, Judy Curry, Nadin Abbott, Norma Damashek, Christine Shanes, Dixon Guizot, Fran Zimmerman, Jim Bliesner
The Big C Fighting Team.
Indulge me for a moment here and allow me to thank all the people who’ve helped me in my battle with cancer. Feel free to drop my name if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
Dr. John Berger (my regular doc, who got me help in the first place), Dr. Pierre Rivet (Neck & Throat guy), Dr. Rajesh Belani (Oncologist), Dr. Robert Weisman (Surgeon) and Steve Goldman (Speech Pathologist)
My Family, the most important thank you.
This almost feels like an award acceptance speech as I’m writing. Good News! I’m almost done.
I couldn’t have done it without your support. I’ll spare most of you the embarrassment, but let me give a shout out to my wife Lisa and daughter Haley.
And Thank You Dear Readers.
See you next year.