learning of it here, gee, hopefully they're cool about me using the picture if not I'll
find a different one, blog post by John Hoff
What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been
For an unknown period of time, the many readers who depend on this blog or at least enjoy reading this blog won't see new stuff published unless a guest author seizes the helm of the U.S.S. Johnny Northside and writes something.
Click here for an editorial that explains as well as I can explain.
Now this is the part where I tediously mention the PayPal button to the right. I hate sounding like a televangelist. HATE IT. But like my mom says, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."
Since 2008 this blogger has lived like a...
...spider fern on moist air and bright sunshine, blogging uncomfortable truths with a digital camera purchased in a pawn shop and a Mac computer I bought in 2005. A friend who fixes Macs recently told me he's never seen a Mac as old as mine "in the field." I didn't even bother to mention my Mac is also a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Come to think of it, so is my digital camera.
God Speed "Urban Utopia"
Uncomfortable truths boldly and fearlessly published since 2008 have helped my neighborhood deal with its issues, which are many. Uncomfortable truth has exposed, roiled, provoked, informed, entertained, documented, archived, influenced, suggested...and you can just stack a bunch more verbs here.
But since I'm not paid, why do it?
For my neighborhood. For "NoMi."
A place of fine old houses, mature trees, and so close to downtown Minneapolis you can almost reach out and touch the IDS Tower from the top of Farview Park.
If you DARE hang around in Farview Park.
I am not a stranger here. I have a colorful family history in North Minneapolis. My father almost died here--robbed while driving cab, locked in the trunk of a cab in winter, the cab with a bad rusty muffler and running, running--and my father also lived in North Minneapolis in a humble house full of other working men, just trying to get by.
(I wish I could figure out which house it was. I have a suspicion, based upon a fuzzy childhood memory)
Yet I still dream my tough neighborhood can be transformed from a place where there is literally blood in the streets to a shining "Urban Utopia." Indeed, I think if I stopped doing what I do, completely, the neighborhood revitalization trend is already unstoppable.
My last EIGHT blog posts exist to make the public record that...
...I had time to write things about issues of public concern, I wanted to write things, I actually did write some things, but I was CHILLED out of writing about the stuff I normally write about.
I've made my point and I've made the record. No need to beat that horse until it's hamburger.
It Worked! The Crazy North Minneapolis Blogging Plan Actually Worked!
At one time, this blog was the go-to place for a discussion that wasn't taking place anywhere else on social media about specific issues and concerns in this neighborhood. But lately I find my efforts can't hold a candle to the sheer energy of North Vent Facebook Forum and some other similar forums.
The lack of "Google searchability" and efficient archive function of these Facebook forums (a constant public gripe of mine!) is largely balanced out by their popular appeal, user friendly features, and a kind of instant gratification. There's still a place for blogging but it will involve going deeper into facts instead of blogging "small facts" with great frequency.
I would like to believe (and I've been told this by other people I respect) that Johnny Northside blog's practice of boldly telling the truth and getting away with it (in the sense of not being instantly murdered) opened up a space in the social fabric of our neighborhood. People realized we CAN talk about these ugly, controversial topics and it won't instantly result in a brick through the window, a lawsuit, or Murder Most Foul.
The red hot nature of this blog didn't happen by accident, at least not a COMPLETE accident. This was calculated, or at least it became calculated within a couple months after I started what was intended mostly as a personal blog. In fact, I viewed this blog as a poor substitute for being an opinion columnist in the Minnesota Daily. I knew I'd miss being published on newsprint all the time and I thought, well, maybe I can find another form of publication.
But very quickly in 2008 I realized, "People in this neighborhood are afraid to speak. So I must speak boldly, forcefully, fearlessly so they will realize we can get away with speaking out."
The plan worked.
Later, I thought, "People are beginning to speak out in new ways. But I must keep speaking, so heat and controversy is directed at me instead of at them. The more they speak, the more they will gain the courage to speak. I know that from experience."
And THAT worked, too. In fact, dozens of my crazy little plans worked, mostly involving plots to change the public discourse about certain issues by highlighting certain facts. I think this blog reached its zenith in about 2011 and "peaked" while I was actually blogging from Afghanistan about the criminal mischief of certain members of the Gomez family.
But from late December of 2011 until late spring of 2012, I was in a more terrible part of Afghanistan without internet that I could access. I wasn't able to blog for months.
When I came back from Afghanistan, two things changed:
1.) My dirty blonde hair turned gray.
2.) And all these Facebook forums had sprung up about North Minneapolis neighborhood issues.
Now the discussion in our North Minneapolis Facebook forums is so rich, varied, frequent and influential that it appears an unstoppable force for neighborhood revitalization.
If this blog stops blogging, the Northside Facebook forums won't stop "forum-ing." In fact, I suspect many participants won't even see a lack of activity by this blog as significant to THEIR free speech and they may not view "the history of Northside social media" the same way as this blogger.
Many participants, I say, but not all. Some participants in our North Minneapolis Facebook forums understand the situation with this blog well enough to be seriously "chilled" by present circumstances. Yet it is precisely these forums who will carry on the fight to make things better, whether or not it's labeled a march toward "Urban Utopia."
SO FOR THE DURATION, until I feel free to blog (and I don't feel that way right now) I acknowledge NORTH VENT FACEBOOK FORUM as the social media champion of North Minneapolis.
(Cheers, at first muted, then growing louder in the echoing arena)
Blogger Functions, Failing, But Still...Fighting...Must Overcome... The First Amendment Chill Ray...
My guest blogger, Jordan North, she still has the keys to the Johnny Northside kingdom and an ability to write as a guest blogger. Comments are still being approved on various threads. I am still responding to comments when necessary, mostly to point out a particular anonymous comment is vile but I'm approving it anyway for purposes of vigorous free speech or to say I'm rejecting a comment because it goes too far. AND THE PAYPAL BUTTON WORKS. Just thought I'd drop that in there.
On February 21, 2008, when I began this blog, I wrote, "And so it begins."
Is this how it ends?