I just discovered that The American Street‘s founder and site-spirit, Kevin Hayden, is going to be leaving. I don’t know why he’s leaving but my assumption is that the financial difficulties and time constraints he was already struggling with last year have reached the breaking point. As he wrote me a year ago just before I had to give up my websites and phoneline because, cheap as they were, I couldn’t afford them any more – and I’m paraphrasing because I lost all my mail files the last time the computer crashed – “Blogging is time and energy consuming. At some point you have to take care of real life.”
The blogosphere has lost a number of important voices in the year I’ve been gone, and it’s still losing them. Michael Berube is hanging it up soon, Chris at fafblog hasn’t written a post since last July, and Jeanne D’Arc’s Body and Soul is now a private blog closed off to the public. These and others were – are – important voices we’re losing, unique and not replaceable. (And yet PowerLine and the Rottweiler coast on. Go figure.) To some extent, they are the ones who helped make the blogosphere what it is and they’ll be sorely missed.
Kevin’s case is a little different. While his individual voice will certainly be missed, he’s leaving behind one of the 2 or 3 best group blogs on the net. The American Street is a near-perfect blend of personalities and points of view, and Kevin’s willingness to give comedy and satire equal space right alongside pithy commentary and thoughtful analysis has created one of the most eclectic and readable group blogs around. For many of us, it’s the first stop of the day. “What are they saying on the Street?” has a much different meaning for us than it does in the non-virtual world.
And the Street will go on, thanks to Kevin. It’s vibrancy, cutting-edge commentary, and stiletto satire will still be here after he has left to take care of real life, and that’s an achievement few in the blogosphere can boast of. It’s one thing to make your presence felt in the face of daunting odds – there are, literaly, millions upon millions of blogs. That’s hard enough. But to create something that carves out a place not just for itself but for a whole batch of other worthy talents is a distinction deserving praise and, maybe, jealousy.
And there’s always the hope that one day circumstances will allow him to return. After all, we lost Jeff Alworth, creator of one of the early, classic political blogs, Notes on the Atrocities, and got him back again after a year or so in a new blog, Low on the Hog (an expression I confess shamefacedly I had to ask him to explain). With any luck, we’ll get Kevin back, too. But in the meantime, there’s always the Street.
A personal note: When I was trying to stay alive last year, Kevin was kind enough to offer – and supply – enough help to stave off my inevitable surrender to financial realities for an extra couple of crucial months. He didn’t just offer a little monetary aid – though that was most welcome – he offered encouragement, a commodity I was seriously short on at the time and much harder to come by than money. I appreciated it then and even more so now.
If you think that colors my remarks above, well, you’re right, of course. But that doesn’t mean that what I said isn’t true.