The lefty lobes of the Philadelphia blogosphere suffered a tremendous loss last night. Jim Capozzola, author of The Rittenhouse Review, died after a long illness. He was 44.
He was a pioneer of the new medium, starting just before brother in arms, Atrios, in April 2002. He once told former Inky staffer Beth Gillin, "One doesn't blog for other people. One blogs for oneself. Plain and simple."
Jim blogged plainly and simply about his bulldog, Mildred, and his misadventures with Bonsai plants. He tilted at a few windmills, and cared passionately about his city.
If you go to his blog, you'll see he last posted on March 14, a jab at the Attorney General and the "Saturday Night Massacre."
Remembrances are rolling in. At the All-Spin Zone, Richard Cranium did the honor:
Deadpan is one word I could use. Intelligent to a fault. Angst ridden. Passionate. Searching. Always reading something. Jimmy was a guy who had been through the worst that life could throw at him, but still maintained a finely-honed sense of humor.
At Suburban Guerrilla, Susy Madrak recalled her friend, calling Jim "my fairy blogfather." He gave her technical advice as she began her site, and offered some career-building lessons, such as "pick a fight with a blogger who's much better known - you can't believe how well it works."
I don't remember him for his fights. I remember him for pieces like this one, from Nov. 25, 2002, called "Al Gore and the Alpha Girls." It won him a Koufax Award, for liberal blog writing. The subtitle was "The Enduring Power of Cliques in a Post-High-School World." It compared cool girls at his old school with the media that manhandled the vice president.
Lassooing a group of A-listers, which ran from Ann Coulter and Maureen Dowd to Frank Rich and George Will, Jim wrote:
When the subject is Al Gore, each of the pundits named here, each member of this gaggle of giggling geese can be counted upon to reveal him- or herself to be the quintessential 17-year-old Alpha Girl: immature, insecure, dishonest, manipulative, selfish, developmentally stunted, and desperate for the approval and affection of others.
These are the players. These are the purveyors and shapers of opinion today. Enjoy, America, this is your media.
Susie Madrak gave him a lovingly tart send-off. She left us with this picture:
I once met him for lunch when he walked in wearing a Walkman. This intrigued me, because he never, ever listened to popular music. "What are you listening to?" I said, pulling at the headphones.
"Im teaching myself Dutch," he said, almost apologetically.
He was also an impeccable dresser who used to work on Wall Street, and he absolutely adored Philadelphia, his adopted city. He made a mean marinara. And because he was the product of a mixed marriage (Irish and Italian), he was both romantic and brilliantly sarcastic. (Jim sometimes said he couldnt wait to hear what people said about him at his wake.) Oh, and he loved musical comedies....
He could be a pain in the ass, but in such an interesting way. The world is so much less scintillating without him in it.