Taking a work break yesterday, I spotted the subject line "RIP Jon Swift" in my inbox. I hoped this was some sort of joke or a way to announce that this brilliant satirist was officially shuttering his Jon Swift blog and embarking on a new endeavor. With my heart in my throat, I quickly realized that wasn't the case.
We all know now that Jon, whose real name was Al Weisel, has passed away at the age of 46. What a tragic loss of a mensch with talent to burn.
I didn't know Al personally but we corresponded through email from time to time, usually commenting on each other's satirical pieces. Back when I was churning out satire on MBH, before I'd begin each new post I always checked two venues to avoid repeating a twist on something they'd already done -- The Onion and Jon Swift. They were the standard bearers to me when it came to the highest quality of Internet political satire. And often Al's laser wit and the quality of his writing -- which tended to be more layered, literary, unpredictable and consistently laugh-out-loud funny -- far surpassed that of the average Onion article. Of course, Al wrote in the persona of a faux conservative wingnut, like Stephen Colbert, and the irate comments left on his blog by those from every political stripe who'd been duped by his deft touch were sometimes as funny as the satire that inspired them.
I was proud that Al appreciated my satire here because I had so much respect for the mastery and precision he put into his satirical posts. It gave me great joy to know that I'd made him laugh.
I'm sorry I never had the good fortune to get to know him personally. I will miss him and his hilarious wit. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.
A list of posts on Al's passing are being compiled here, where it's clear to see that Al was not only talented but a good soul who inspired and encouraged many others. Also, you can visit the comments section at Al's Jon Swift blog and leave your own condolences if you'd like. Finally, take a look around Jon Swift and celebrate this man's life by enjoying the brilliantly funny fruits of his satirical labor.
Truly, RIP good sir.