It's been a daunting task. How do I cram 29 years of journalism - 29 years of life - into a farewell column? Luckily, there's a lot to draw on. The boxes and file cabinets and towering piles of pulp that I have been digging through the past few months provide ample evidence of what I've accomplished.
"I can feel my lifetime piling up," Talking Heads' David Byrne sang about 23 years ago. That's certainly how I feel after turning every page of approximately 1,450 issues of Choices Entertainment Weekly, Tacoma City Paper and the Weekly Volcano. That doesn't take into account all the special sections over the years and the last two years of editing The Ranger and Northwest Airlifter. But as the memories surged and the musty, old papers yielded their treasures (and embarrassments), I was struck by the vitality and the spirit of the work. The great thing about my job - from copy boy, sales representative, marketing director, art director, webmaster, editor, publisher and newspaper delivery guy - it's a new paper every week.
After the Weekly Volcano ended its run as an alternative newsweekly in April 2013, I knew that any given edition could be my last. To fault, my passion to captain weekly newspapers diminished, which has been evident on our blogs the last two years. My beer column, New Beer Column, consumes my thoughts and passion. I stopped exploring new band nights. I haven't been on the Tacoma Art Bus in months. The company and the audience don't deserve a restless writer, editor and co-publisher.
So, beginning today, I'm retiring from the newspaper business.
I'm leaving with my head held high, though. We were the first desktop publishing operation in the South Sound; my newspapers documented the rise of several local music scenes (the early '90s were exhilarating); I created two alternative newsweeklies, awesome Best of Tacoma and Olympia issues (including one in 3-D); invented Tacoma Restaurant Week and Olympia Restaurant Week; launched seven March Madness food tournaments; ran a foodie club for two years; sponsored more than 200 events including Tacoma Arts Month, Tacoma Art Bus, Tacoma Farmers Market, Tacoma Craft Beer Festival, Music & Art in wright Park, Urban Art Festival, Showcase Tacoma, Freedom Fair, Olympia Film Festival, Tacoma Film Festival, Art on the Ave, Tacoma Maritime Festival, Hotrod-A-Rama, Downtown Block Party, Squeak and Squawk Music Festival, Olympia Music Awards, Old Town Blues Festival, Tacoma Jazz Festival, South Sound Blues Association, Dockyard Derby Dames, Tacoma Prom; and ran the music stage at the Franciscan Polar Plaza ice rink (thanks Tacoma Art Museum!) as well as nabbed a few awards along the way, including the AMOCAT Arts Award, Go Local Community Stewardship and 25@25 City Club honor. Most importantly, the writers and I kept our fingers on the pulse of the South Sound, and we liked to think we made a difference in our community.
So what do you say after all this time? There is so much I want to say. How do you sum up a lifetime of work (and typos) and pouring your heart (and demented mind) onto paper and computer to share it with other people? Do you write something profound? I have been thinking about this for a while. And here is my answer.
Thank you. Thank you to all the wonderful people I worked with through all the many years. Instead of writing 3,000 words on what this place has meant to me over the years and the myriad of people I'd like to thank, I'm going to sit down with my staff - past and present - the supporting businesses and organizations, my parents (thank you!), family and my dear friends and express my gratitude.
And thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the readers who have stuck it out with me, and by me I mean Bobble Tiki, Suzy Stump, Brad Allen, Jason de Paul, Volcano Staff and all my other pseudonyms.
Thanks most of all and always to my wife, Kate, and daughter, Asa. They are my life.
Thanks to everyone again for among the most incredible experiences of my life. I'm babbling now.
As for Swarner Communications, it's not going anywhere but up. My brother and co-publisher, Ken, has big plans. I wish him and the company the best.
My plans? I'm not 100 percent sure. I do know I'll redirect my passion for beer and the outdoors into a hobby at peaksandpints.com. Drop by and say, "hi."
Wife: "How do you feel right now as this ends?"
A little heavyhearted for sure.
But most of all, this is what I feel.
Not a bad run.
Not a bad run at all.