Monday, January 04, 2010

Here's to You, Brad

I don't come around here much anymore, but there's no place that makes sense more than this to talk about my friend Brad Graham, a man I knew only online and never met.

A few years ago--I suppose it is more like 8 years ago now--I was working in a godawful job that I called "Purgatory Inc." when I wrote about it here on My Life as an American Gladiator. To keep from going crazy, I spent a lot of time at Metafilter, an collaborative blog where users would post links to "The Best of the Web" and comment on those links. As my job seemed more and more, well, kafkaesque, I spent more time there, goofing around and cracking wise, avoiding soul-crushing brochure writing duties. Eventually, I got to know a few of the other wiseacres and joined them at a new site they'd made where such chat was welcome.

I'd keep a window open to this new site all day at work, and as the minutes dragged by, I'd chat away with that bunch of reprobates, including one TheBrad.

He had a quick wit, and a love of language. He'd revel in a pun or a Tom Swifty, or a shaggy dog story, and was always quicker at them than me. Here's one Swifty I wrote that I know he liked:

"I won't be able to make up my mind whether to play golf or go see Hamlet" Tom foreordained.

He is in the OED as the coiner of the term "blogosphere"--a term he did in fact coin, and hated.

He was very openly gay--from him I learned that it's much funnier to call them "the gays" than "gays". He campaigned for gay rights and AIDS education. He told stories of his nights out at the bar scene in St. Louis, usually with some perfect witticism at the end.

I still visit that site and chat with the reprobates, though my job keeps me a lot busier now than then. A job I got because one of the folks on the site hooked me up with an interview 5 years ago this January.

And this weekend, my online friend Brad was found dead in his home. And I am not sure what to do about that. What do I do with this grief for him, someone I never met? I don't know.

I write this, I guess, and say I am proud to have known you, Brad, you reprobate.


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