At year's end it is customary to look back one last time at the parade of humanity, both great and small, remembered or nearly forgotten, who died over the course of the year having enjoyed at least 15 minutes of fame over the course of their lives. I prefer to recall, instead, two blogs which were once very important to me (as was I to their success) which imploded this year through the ill-considered actions of their respective blogmasters. I mean, of course, Miami's Cuban Connection and Stuck on the Palmetto. I devoted hundreds of hours to commenting on them and became a fixture on both. The first is now completely dead and the other in extremis.
On Miami's Cuban Connection, I (or anyone else) could take command because Oscar Corral largely ignored his blog, which was thrust on him by The Miami Herald in token of his being a token. It was only at the end, when Corral instituted moderation (or preemptive censorship) in the wake of the public scandals that beset him, professional and personal, that I finally left. So did everybody else.
I next took residence at Stuck on the Palmetto, where other MCC alumni had migrated. In the beginning I was welcomed because my presence attracted a great deal of traffic and resulted in threads that were more interesting than the original posts. I soon became the main attraction on SotP and even had my own Greek chorus which praised every word I wrote. This was the "Golden Age" of SotP, recalled fondly by all. Never did its stats soar before or since to the levels achieved when I was commenting more than Rick and Alex were posting. It was then that Rick called me "SotP's favorite, the beloved Manuel A. Tellechea." But at some point Rick (and Alex, too) began to wonder whose blog it really was, with every commenter wanting to engage me while largely ignoring them. It was then that both Rick and Alex started attacking me and calling me a "squatter" on their blog. Indeed, at one point, they didn't do anything but attack me, and always, of course, got the worse of the argument, which only made them angrier and more insufferably petulant. This, I suspected then, was a gimmick to keep me swinging at their pitches and slamming homerun after homerun in their ballpark. Eventually, I grew tired of this game and left them to their own resources. Even after I was gone, I continued to be the "third wheel" without which their juggernaut became a go-cart. Rick, in particular, couldn't decide whether he should hate me for staying or hate me for leaving, and decided after much deliberation to do both. Even months after I had left SotP, my name continued to be invoked, as in this exchange from May 23, 2007. You don't have to be Freud to detect what lies beneath their scorn:
[T]his blog has jumped the shark without Tellechea around.
5/23/07 6:06 PM
Funny A. #1, without Tellechea around, I see it as quality comments rather than quantity. Plus, SotP is no longer a sounding board for his anti-American BS. The stats say the same thing.
5/23/07 6:38 PM
Yea, I know, Rick... I was sorta kidding. But I have to admit, I used to check the comments primarily to read what he would write.
5/23/07 6:45 PM
Way too much noise. Not any substance. I'm glad he's effin gone..
5/23/07 6:50 PM
nonee moose said...
Careful, he's like Beetlejuice. Say his name three times and...
5/23/07 7:38 PM
Is it a coincidence that a post about garbage reminded you of him, Anonymous?
5/23/07 11:15 PM
Yes, Rick and Alex are Nature's gentlemen; but no matter their provocations, or the number of times that they invoked my name, I was gone for good and nothing could compel me to return. Rick would ocassionally make cameo appearances at RCAB to vent his old rage, and occasionally I would take note of Rick's chronic Cuban-American bashing. Alex and I also had certain interactions here which were more cordial than my exchanges with Rick, because, after all, Alex and I share at least one thing in common, whereas Rick and I share nothing at all. Rick's attacks on Babalú amused me to no end, though I never regarded him as an ally in this struggle. Rick hated Babalú for the wrong reasons and I for the right ones. Besides, I have never subscribed to the syllogism that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. The enemy of your enemy could very well have killed your mother. It is common beliefs and not common enmities which are the foundation for a successful alliance, and in the flame war between Babalú and SotP, I declared neutrality — a pox on both their houses.
Many who know of my association with SotP in the past have wondered why I haven't commented thus far on the recent unmasking of Rick. It is simply because I could always see through his mask. I once compared Rick to Ignatius Reilly, the inofficious office boy in John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Ignatius had his own agenda at work and didn't care what his boss wanted him to do. He brazenly ignored his orders and conspired to turn the other employees against him. He alienated all the company's clients, sabotaged orders and limited his administrative duties to emptying out file cabinets. His goal, in short, was to eliminate all work. This left him free to engage in other more artistic activities which were more suitable to his valve. Ignatius just missed the computer age, but were he alive today and not in a mental ward (if there are still such things), he would certainly be blogging his worldview. Exactly as Rick does (or did): day in and day out. And, of course, on his boss's dime. That is exactly what I suggested Rick did at work nearly a year ago. Of course, Rick deleted the post (he could do that on his own blog but not on somebody else's). His reaction to my analogy left no doubt in my mind that I had touched the rawest nerve in his body. I did not explore the matter any further. I didn't have to.
Rick never made me the recipient of any confidence; but he apparently did unbosom himself to The Pulp's Bob Norman, who, in essence, suggested to him last week what I had suggested to Rick a year ago. With this important difference: Rick knew that Bob knew. Fearing that Bob would expose him because he had indulged in some vulgar sophomoric humor about prison rape (the kind of humor that appeals to those who use rape as a means to control the prison population), Rick in effect engaged in what amounts to preemptive outing. His decision to quit blogging because of Bob's admonition, which amounted to no more than the proverbial warning that "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," left no doubt that Bob had implied no more than the truth: Rick was a law enforcement officer and hence a public employee, who was not authorized to emit private opinions on official matters much less do so while he should have been engaged in official business. It turns out that the company's dime was really the taxpayer's dime. At best, this is dereliction of duty and at worse official malfeasance. The tragedy for Rick is that there is a public log of his activity (or inactivity) for the entire duration of his blogging career which existed concurrently with his other renumerative employment.
Friends and enemies alike have both been having a holiday excoriating the caustic blogger on The Daily Pulp, Critical Miami and SotP itself for everything from blogging behind a mask (which he always did) to reacting histerically to the least insinuation about his identity. Val, Henry and George have all had their say, and were every bit as petty as one would expect them to be and as surely Rick himself would have been in their place. Still, his so-called "defenders" have done him more harm than even his detractors by pretending to justify what even Rick is too prudent to justify. I exempt his blogging partner Alex, whose gift for human sympathy does not astonish me, since I am acquainted with another case where his intervention practically saved the life of a man known to all of us here. I respect loyalty even when misplaced. Rick always attacked others from behind a curtain and when that curtain was ruffled his feathers were too. I do not see that that makes him a fit object of sympathy, but friendship must answer to other claims.
I suppose that I, too, could derive some vicarious satisfaction from Rick's downfall (or, rather, his self-implosion); but I will not commit Alesh's alleged "sin" of piling on. Although I know Rick's real identity and Alex's too, I will respect their "necessity" for anonymity as I always have. However, I believe that now that Rick has made this a public issue it will be impossible for Rick or Alex to long preserve their anonymity. A secret is a vacuum and Nature abhors a vacuum.