Ode to a Fallen Comrade

The death of yet one more print publication is a heartbreak grieved amid much larger, overarching tragedies. Folio Weekly, howeverJacksonville’s alternative weekly magazine—was more than just any publication. She was the written repository of progressive souls in an ostensibly conservative, Southern city.  To her progressive-minded readers, writers, and workers, the loss of Folio Weekly is nothing less than a punch to the gut.

Good thing we’re tough.

As we reflect, here in the United States of Narcissus, in the middle of a global pandemic exacerbated by presidential recklessness, as we count our dead, 78,200 Americans, 1,600 of them Floridians,

while we hear news of cold-blooded murder in the streets of Brunswick,

and hard-won human rights ordinances hollowed out by hyper-technicalities,

with a million unemployed Floridians battling a system designed to deny them benefits, under a governor doing his best to suppress the votes of poor people, while their livelihoods tank, and our local schools literally leak and crumble

in neighborhoods where homicides multiply

under a mayor bound and determined to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to one of Earth’s richest men, who in turn will lower bridge ramps as the planet’s waters rise,

yes, as we reflect,

we might even be numb to this last, dizzying, punch.

Here, in the bluish top-right corner of a purple state ravaged by gerrymandering and GOP-hardball, the news of Folio’s demise bruises, but does not bloody us. Progressives in Jacksonville, after all, are a tough-skinned bunch.

For thirty-three years Folio Weekly afflicted the comfortable, comforted the afflicted, and helped deliver to the meek what was rightfully theirs. It encouraged and fed our arts scene and local artists, who in turn fed the content in an outwardly spiraling dance I can barely begin to comprehend, and which can never be undone.

We’re not going to quit because someone ran off with our megaphone. (To Sam and Farrar, it’s only a metaphor. Thank you for publishing Folio for as long as you did and for stalling her COVID-19 death, for as long as you could.)

Folio held people accountable, especially people in power, in ways no other local media outlet did—or dared. If I had to pick one word to describe the six editors I wrote for, or the numerous writers, countless other contributors, and everyone else who kept Folio going, it would be this:

Fearless. 

Brains and courage are in our DNA, so let’s not lose heart.

Folio Weekly, under the expert editorship of Anne Schindler, helped this writer find her voice. I won’t shut up now, no matter how many secret service agents check me out on LinkedIn.

I hope you won’t, either.

So, keep your face masks on, and keep six feet between you and everyone you meet.

And, in the words of the inimitable Jesse Jackson, “Keep hope alive.”

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