Friday, May 19, 2006

Farewell Nickie: Remembering my Blog Brother

I'd like to take the occasion of the passing of my oldest and best blog friend, Nickie Goomba, to write the following post.

In remembering Nickie, I'd like to provide you with some personal/historical background about how I came know him and his blog. Then, I'd like to offer some observations of what we can learn from Nick's blogging career. Finally, I'd like to speak from my heart.

Time is short these days, but I felt it important to put these thoughts together at this time. But I am going to try and keep links to a minimum to get this post done.

Nickie and me ...

I came to know "Nickie Goomba" through his and my association with Homespun Blogger. When I signed up, I took a spin through the various blogs on the Homespun blogroll. Trying to get my fledgling blog off the ground, I paid visits and tried to comment where I could. A few bloggers reciprocated. Nick came by. At the time, he called his blog "Hey relax ... I was just sayin'". I thought that was a funny, catchy title.

I returned to his blog and began to notice that he was genuinely funny and creative. I mean he was really funny, often irreverent. He was also a real-deal conservative. He was a giving soul and was constantly promoting others' blogs, too.

As I got exposed to the blogging world, I noticed that a lot of bloggers visit blogs and comment, hoping that others would return to their blog. This is certainly fine, and I did some of this. Funny, at first I visited Nick's blog hoping to get him to come back to mine. Soon, I found that I wanted to go there just to see what he was saying.

We became fast friends during the '04 election cycle. We both worked our respective spheres of influence, he in Northern California and me in Texas. He was very supportive of this blog. We worked hard for Pres. Bush.

We got hacked together, although mine was minor hit. Nick's was a major job. In fact, I think he got hit twice. I remember rolling up on his site, and it looked like he had changed the language setting to Russian or maybe Farsi. Oh, man. It was bad. I emailed him and his response was ... "They got me good." I could almost hear him panting, but smiling, too. He promised to be back soon.

He was. When he returned, the blog was simply called "Nickie Goomba". The Italian self-deprecation and no-PC-zone commentary was priceless. The comedy was taken to a new level. Armed with photoshop, he was a force.

Of course, he created the blogopshere's crack news service, that is, the Goomba News Network. Via GNN, Nick would chronicle the latest developments in the world through the eyes of his staff of "reporters". Of course, the craziness chronicled was sometimes hard to separate from fiction, or was it truth? And if you watched and read closely, you could tell you were dealing with a comedic genius. A good example of this was his semi-haphazard usage of bold type. It was subtle, yet roaring hilarity, humor at the highest level.

All the while he was communicating a point ... He loved his country and his fellow man. He wouldn't give up his fight for conservative principles or the nation. And he wouldn't sacrifice people in the process. He was unique.

When some one gets you laughing over something rather serious, walls are torn down and bridges are being built. When bridges are built, then people ... and ideas ... can move.

This was the business of Nickie Goomba.

And while blogging away at his first-rate site, he all the while kept in touch and was a generous commenter, here and elsewhere. His comments were funny and generally pithy. He occasionally was serious, and when this happened we caught a glimpse of his super-sized heart. He was particulary moved by last year's Memorial Day Address, as it brought back memories of his own service and that of his friends who did not return from Viet Nam. Unfortunately, his comment is gone now, but I remember his writing that "He was crying now, as I write this".

He loved his country and his countrymen.

We had frequent "scrapes", like our imaginary drunken brawl/party at the Inaugural Ball. I would call him out for his age, looks, whatever. He would drop a "string tie" bomb. Okay, that did it. Not really ...

The Texicans came to call us "blog brothers". Funny. In my part of the world, you know, some people still call Nick's kinfolk "Eye-talians". Whatever he was ... we were ... we were blog brothers.

My most loyal readers (do the names Rhod and Mark ring a bell?, i.e.) and I met at Nick's place. Our readers went back and forth, as it should have been. We were family. That's what you do. He even took in my liberal friend Julie, just like I knew he would. No questions asked or funny looks, either.

In spite of his work in real life, he was generous with his time, and he helped many of us out with either design or other questions. He introduced me to his Italian blogger friends and helped me to learn to love and appreciate Italy more. He showed me the way to great international blogs like Free Thoughts and Big Pharoah. And, by the way, Nick designed the logos for both. He was a fantastic talent.

And this fantastic talent was an ally of freedom-seeking and freedom-loving people everywhere.
Goomba did a button for me once, too, just trying to be helpful and supportive. And ... I wrote him an email with a blogging question once and asked him to give me a call on my cell phone. Less than an hour later, the phone rang. It was Goomba.

We had a great talk. He had a beautiful New York accent. He answered my question and put me at ease. I knew his name, even before that. But I never got permission to tell you. So, I won't. I also didn't get permission to tell you what he did in real life, but suffice it to say he was in the business of helping people get their lives together. He cared about people, this "hardhearted conservative". He asked me what I did, and I told him I was a lawyer. "We've got to get you into politics," he gushed. I told him that just goes to show that even the great Goomba has poor judgment sometimes. "That's just what we need ... another lawyer in politics, " I said. He thought that was a good point: "Never mind." We laughed.

He was a great guy, my blog brother. Being listed right at the top of La Famiglia Goomba was quite an honor for me, I mean, not being an Eye-talian or nothin'. It was much better than those silly ol' blog awards that Goomba should have won.

And, oh yeah, he never confirmed this or gave me permission to say so, but he most certainly was the mysterious commenter "Hop Sing": "You no comment here, no more, Mr. Commie Boy. Hop sing say, Italians can cook but not at Ponderosa." Once I called out for a Hop Sing comment and it magically appeared. I mean, I didn't even know that Hop read Daisy Cutter.

When we talked on the phone, I asked him what had been going on with his health, but he wouldn't say. It sounded serious, but he was hopeful. This was a while back. Stefania at Free Thoughts has written that he had some sort of cancer.

Now, he is gone.

From my brain ...

What we can learn from Nickie's blogging career is that quality matters. I went to his blog first for traffic, but returned because of the quality that was there ... and on a consistent basis.

Many in the blogging world use their forums to rant and launch screeds into cyber-nowhere. Then, they in turn want others to come and read same. Well, we each have our various spheres of influence. For instance, I know a loyal cadre in my neck of the woods who will come by and read what I have to say.

I think some like our pal Don Surber (who now refers to himself as a "proud member of the MSM") fail to grasp the power of this medium, this "Army of Davids", as Glenn Reynolds calls it. We each have unique audiences and spheres of influences. We each have opportunities to make inroads and influence a certain group of people.

But we can't demand readers. To expand our reach and influence, we need to produce quality content. We need to do something that others aren't doing, or we need to do what others are doing but better. Nickie did both. Thus, he had a real impact.

He did it with humor, a positive tone, and by not taking himself too seriously. Boy, can we learn a lot from his example now?

Positive stuff works, and I am not talking Polyanna, either. People want to laugh, to be inspired, to believe. People want solutions and a way to go. There's a lot to believe in, still. Nick knew that.

From my heart ...

If you search "Goomba" at this blog, you'll find quite a few references. Nick cut a wide swath here. He both inspired content and made existing content better. He always asked the first question at our "pressers", and the back and forth with him helped me and this blog. A lot.

Indeed, there's a lot of Goomba influence here, from our common loyal readers to our "news networks" (Cutter Network News -- CNN vs. GNN). But ... I know that when doing anything Goombaesque, anything but Nick is/was but a cheap imitation of the one-of-a-kind real deal.

I wish I had known him better. I had plans for a group project, but those are gone now. It pains me to think of his suffering.

More importantly, I think of the loss of a man. And his spirit won't let me believe that such a spirit won't continue to grow and flourish in America.

He cared about people. He cared about ideas, but not at the expense of people. We can learn from this. He was a gracious host at his blog, and he welcomed differing views. He was about advancing ideas, not shuffling past or climbing over nameless faces in a crowd.

Here was his last post:

It is with great sadness that I close down the blog. Keep fighting the fight against the Left's insanity. When God gives me the opportunity to reappear, I'll be angrier and sillier than ever. I shall return.

Nickie Goomba
Until the end, he was advancing against wrongheaded beliefs, while not attacking those who held them. All the while he reached out his hand to his friends and those not yet his friends.

So, in remembering Nickie, maybe we ought to take some time today or this weekend to remember that life is fleeting. Be good to those in your life and sphere of influence. Live outside yourself. Find your life by giving it away. If you need to say something to make a relationship right or better, do it today. Serve God and your country. Live while you can.

Nickie Goomba did.

So, here's to you, Nickie.

Here's to the greatest blogger I ever knew.

Viva Italia.

God bless America.

Godspeed, brother.


Here's a note I received from Julie that sounds a somewhat familiar refrain:
... I'm still sad. Nickie ... was a wonderful supporter when I started the blog. I had asked him long questions about how he learned to write and what inspired him (besides all of us wussy liberals) and he always wrote back with care and interest. Odd how you can miss so much someone that you never really "knew". I'm sure you feel this more keenly as you and Nickie had close a close and hilarious comraderie. ...
I don't know, Julie. I can only speak for myself, because Nickie had a lot of friends. There's a hole in the blogging world and in this blog, for sure.

And thanks to the great post/synopsis at American Daughter for pointing me back to the final exchange with Nickie here at Daisy Cutter. Given how Haloscan deletes comments over time, I thought it appropriate to end this tribute with our final exchange, which includes Nick's comments to this post:
Coulter has been stealing your stuff for years.
Nickie Goomba 04.25.06 - 5:06 am



Is that you? Hold on while I kiss the computer screen. There.
DC 04.25.06 - 6:11 pm


My health is improving. Am in a remote Italian village getting healthy again. I am walking almost 15 minutes per day and I will soon be sprinting. Count on me blogging again by June.

My biggest regret is being in Italy for 2 months and not being strong enough to visit with Otimaster or Bourbaki. By the way, Maria snarls hello.

My very best to you, Mark & Rhod. DC, your kind words and sentiments have meant so much to me. I cannot wait to get back.

At the moment, I am on the keyboard of a young man who has one of the few internet computers in this village. He is suspicious of my slow typing and careful stucturing of sentences. If I dare to complain of his glare, the polizia will certainly be called to this location, post haste.

Truly, my love and respect to you all.
Nickie Goomba 04.27.06 - 9:25 am
If I could write back ... and I wish I could/would have ... I would have said, "And my love and respect to you ... always."

And now, I am sure he would say, "So, what are you waiting for? Get back to it. There's lots of work to do."

And so, I will.