Column the Last

It’s been one hell of a party. – Augustus McRae’s final words in Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove”

Augustus is the archetypal adventurer. Carefree, yet noble, responsible, loyal, and trustworthy. Still, even for him, inevitably the time comes to turn out the lights. As Willie sings, all good things must end. After 16 years with the Courant, for me the party’s over.

It’s been quite the ride since my first piece about the scandal that rocked Georgetown in the March 2003 blizzard aftermath. With it, I became a public person. No putting that genie back in the bottle. Until now.

My columns on Iraq helped establish my liberal cred. Former editor Adrienne Anderson dubbed me the liberal voice of Clear Creek, a sobriquet I’ve worn proudly since.

That displeased a few who wrote some tough stuff. It initially caused me to think, “Holy s**t. This could get uncomfortable.” But I remembered the prime rule of survival: adapt, evolve, or go extinct. So, I fashioned an alligator hide, which I also still wear.

No doubt I agitated some along the way – Such is the life of an op-ed columnist – but my intention remained to provide food for thought, however some might find it unpalatable. It’s my inner teacher: Sometimes you must tell a student the answer is wrong, or his/her argument is weak.

With the rise of denialism, post-truth, and “alt facts,” I felt compelled to address the assault on truth, learning, science, and the press. My writing became wonky; but, dammit, facts are facts and truth is truth. Climate change is real, and evolution is a fact.

As we barrel towards the quarter point of the 21st century – Has it been 20 years since Y2K promised the END? – reality spins at quantum speed. Technological explosions are inevitable, but they are neutral. It’s what we do with them that determines their ethical and moral value.  

Outcomes are almost always the result of choices made. Yes, caca happens and tragedies strike, but they are the exception. Climate change is a choice. The undermining of our democracy is a choice. Gun violence is a choice. Likewise, the ever-increasing wealth gap.

Despite all, like my mentors Abraham Lincoln and Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, I refuse to succumb to pessimism. I believe minds can be opened and outlooks swayed because, in the end, other than delusionary, self-identified stable geniuses, no one likes to look stupid.

There are those dying to get to heaven, but I wonder, why wait? “It ain’t dying I’m talking about,” says Augustus, “it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” And where better than Clear Creek?

While I have used my quill to poke holes in arguments and take aim at those whose positions and agendas were destructive, I also tried to recognize the many who, through their volunteerism and service, work to make Clear Creek a healthier and more sustainable community. The recent incident in which some scoundrel stole KYGT’s remote equipment says it all. The story spread far and wide, and the response spoke to the magnanimous generosity of our community and neighbors. The list with plaudits would fill a special edition of the Courant. So, in the interest of space, a tip of my Bronco cap in gratitude to you.

It is said old cowboys ride off into the sunset and old soldiers fade away. Authors, however, live on through their works. Writing “Sisyphus Wins” is one of my great achievements. Who woulda thunk I’d share shelf space in the Library of Congress with Steinbeck, Morrison, and other gods of American literature? As Gatsby would say, “Not bad, old sport.”

Hereon, I will focus on essays and fiction. If you haven’t yet, explore my website at https://www.jerryfabyanic.com/ and sign up for my blogs. Locally, I will remain a voice, particularly for Colorado authors, on KYGT. Noon – 2:00 Saturdays. So, tune in.

My eternal gratitude to the Courant publisher and editors for the space and freedom to express my thoughts, especially for occasional cringe-worthy pieces. And to you, Courant readers, for reading thoughtfully and critically. Your feedback expressed in emails, personal comments, and letters to the editor were instructive and valued.

It’s important, as my literary hero understood, to recognize when to say when. So, allow me the honor to wrap with his succinct life summation: It’s been one hell of a party.

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