By Joni Halpern
Amidst the slick, coiffed, ambitious and self-possessed multitude responsible for filling the pipelines of our society with relevant, accurate information, you are the plumbers in overalls, the guys with dirty fingernails, overtired from double shifts, trying to figure out how to finish each new job with too few workers. But unlike plumbers, you are the unpaid, the unprofitable, the squeaking-by artisans of heartfelt truth lodged in the souls of people seeking some way of expressing their deepest concerns in a letter, comment, story, critique or poem.
It is fitting that you have grown tired and need a break, for that is the outcome for every person who works from the heart. There are no material trade-offs you can make with anyone who wants your job. Either they have the heart for it, or they don’t. It won’t really help their occupational climb to say they worked for a publication without any compensation or even minimum recompense, even if there is an award to show for it.
But there is something that can be said for every person who worked at San Diego Free Press, and even for every writer who was allowed to be published here. Every word was somebody’s truth. Somebody’s experience participating in the marches, somebody’s observations about the turn society is taking, somebody’s grief at the demise of our democracy, somebody’s joy at seeing an artist or a musician break into the anxious reverie of our souls and fill us with a moment of awe.
Intensely truthful. Journalistic plumbers in overalls, dirtying their hands with the empirical and emotional residue of a country losing its grip on the future, struggling to tighten the pipes of truth, replacing the rusted elbows of outdated technology with a workable patchwork of new media. Asking that everyone on the job sign their real name and be prepared to stand behind their work. Intensely committed.
My sister was an artist who loved the intensity of color. Whenever she’d see a dress, a ribbon or a lipstick in pure primary colors, she’d say, “Look, Joni, right out of the tube. No mixing.” Then she’d smile wide as if she had once again found proof that life could still be found in its most passionate and concentrated form.
That has been the San Diego Free Press. Intensely honest. Passionate. Focused. Right out of the tube. No mixing.
Thanks to all of you.