I guess the only good part about Jaime Abeytia leaving the blogosphere is that he didn't spring it on me without any warning. I can't imagine what it would have been like waiting around for an email back from him to find out what the hell happened. He was nice enough to let me know. He was nice enough to make me a part of it when he didn't have to. He was nice enough to have entertained us all for years - for free.
I know people who read my blog (and his) hate him. That's fine - I don't. Never have. We've had a our public dust-ups over the years, but I can't even remember which ones were real and which ones were played up just for the sake of getting everyone riled up. Behind the scenes there was never a bad word between us. That's right - we talked all the time. And like he said - we even once made up a candidate just to flaunt the reality that everyone swore they didn't read our blogs, but they sure knew about our super lesbian war hero democrat we conjured up out of our political candidate fantasies. I can't remember if she was a lesbian for sure, but she was war hero for sure.
We did talk a lot. We did it because unlike other people with professional societies and unions to lean on, we only had each other. Nobody else knew what it was like to be us - other than us. Sure, we'd vet stories with each other - swap a little info here and there. Some things just fit better on his blog and others fit better on mine. We showed each other professional courtesy because we weren't going to get it anywhere else. I can't tell you how many times I sent a scoop his way because he was better at breaking news and getting the legit media to follow than I was. Jaime always said thank you and always had something for me that I didn't know in return.
I think the best times we had were comparing notes and figuring out who was trying to play us against each other and who was trying to sell us two different versions of the same story. There are some dirty rats out there - and one of these days we may tell you about all of them. I don't know, maybe it's just something he and I will keep to ourselves - after all, it's our *thing* (take that in a gay way if you want - I'm comfortable in my skin and so is he).
In a broader sense Jaime brought more to the table than I. He was the Democratic "insider" in a town that is 80 percent Democrat. I never really had (or have) that much info into on what goes on inside the local party. Jaime knew everything. Even when they had put the word out not to talk him, people still went to him and he still had the scoop.
I think the party is significantly changed today because of his efforts on his blogs. Was it changed for better or worse? Depends on who you are now versus who you once were in the party. A lot of people have Jaime to blame or thank for their position in the party today. I hope he one day writes a book about it all. I'd buy it.
Part of what made Jaime's blog so good was the fact that he was present. And by "present" I mean - he actually went to everything. He was a fixture at everything political. He got his info because he was there to either witness it or receive it from those who wanted to share it. No one can say they were at more political events than Jaime - nobody. It's that presence that created all the conflicts he had to endure. That presence also delivered him some life-long friends as well.
I never liked the idea of the attention, so I hardly ever went to anything. Turns out - I could have gone to everything because nobody has any idea who I am. I've sat right next to people who have threatened to burn my house down with my wife and kid locked inside it for an hour and they had no idea. If only I had the courage Jaime has (remember, a lot of people wanted to punch his face into mush and still went to every event they were at knowing they'd be there).
While we never saw eye to eye on issues, we generally agreed on people. Both of us knew/know that the down ballot races in El Paso are full of the nastiest people in our society. I complained that the legitimate news outlets never covered them properly. Jaime voiced the same complaint. I moved on to making jokes about Norma Chavez without doing anything about it. Jaime made it his mission in election years to cover every single race and every candidate. To put that in perspective - the local Chamber of Commerce pays several people a combined salary of more than $100,000 to do what Jaime did by himself for free. And Jaime did a better job than they ever will. Every voter who ever visited his page during election time was better off because Jaime didn't just bitch about the lack of something useful in the world - he did something about it. You can hate him all you want, but you can't deny the guy did something truly great by not relying on someone else to fix a problem he had. It's the most Republican thing he ever did (he may come out of retirement just to refute this one sentence).
I also deeply respect Jaime for his ability build bridges instead of burn them (in certain cases). His ability to be accepted, and eventually relied upon, by the legitimate media is testament to his people skills. They'd rather say "f*ck" a thousand times on the five o'clock news than ever acknowledge my existence. In contrast - Jaime gets a lot of respect from the media and they even covered his retirement announcement. That's pretty damn cool. I like poking people in the eye with a stick because it's a lot easier than trying to explain simple concepts to them. Jaime had the patience to put the stick down and explain to them what was going on. He was rewarded for that patience.
I enjoyed that Jaime was always filled with the spirit of competition when it came to his blog. I think his love of politics and quest for truth were dead even with his desire to be the best. As we've both grown as writers, it's interesting to look back at how far we've come. His early posts showed he was a man with a lot to say. His thoughts were bursting through the seams of his blog posts at first - everything in one place in one post. It wasn't long before he found his voice and for a guy with no formal training and to have never attended writing classes, he does pretty damn well. To produce a few thousand words every couple of days takes something special - Jaime has it. I only regret he didn't get to win the blog awards I didn't care about. He deserved them - he worked harder. That's my only regret for him - the true recognition he deserved. I think he knows that I think he should have won them and I hope that's enough for him.
Jaime and I never played the game of "I don't know what you are talking about. I don't read his blog." We both readily admitted that we read each others blog and agreed we be crazy not to. After all, we were political junkies and our blogs were full of local political information. I think it's funny that there are so many people out there that to this day claim they don't read, or haven't read, The Lion Star Blog. You all read it. You read it all the time. When you say "I don't read his blog," I know that means you're on it several times a day. The best part - he knew that too. I'm glad he did.
Don't take what I've written here as a eulogy for a man. Jaime is not dead. He's just got a new job. He's going to apply his efforts truly on your behalf now and that's a good thing.
To The Lion Star Blog - buenas noches dulce príncipe. You'll be missed.