Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
* * *
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark....
He was an International Man of Mystery.
I speak, of course, of the man variously known as "Ed.", "Ed Post", and "the Anonymous Editor of Blawg Review." And I speak of him because he and the online institution that he created and nurtured are gone. This piece is my contribution to the collective Final Edition of Blawg Review, instigated and encouraged by Mark Bennett, gathering roughly a dozen former Blawg Review hosts in a round-robin tribute to Ed and his creation. Each post links to the next, and links to all are collected in an introductory/summary post by Colin Samuels at the main Blawg Review page.
Some/many/most [?] of the participants will be compiling current editions of Blawg Review, linking to worthy current posts from the legal blogosphere. Others, as I am about to do, will simply be writing what comes to mind on the occasion of the Editor's passing. We are each writing independently, so if you have arrived here from one of the earlier posts in the series there is every reason to think that at least some of what I say will be repetitious of others, but if a thing was worth saying once it is likely worth repeating.
Unlike several of the other members of today's circle, I never met or spoke with Ed personally. I do not know his true name—I know only one person who claims to possess that information and he has kept it to himself—and I have only hearsay as a basis for believing that Ed was a Canadian one-time lawyer, no longer in active practice. Among the memorials posted to Ed on the day his death was announced, I particularly recommend that of his fellow Canadian, Antonin Pribetic, at The Trial Warrior Blog.
I first heard from Ed in early 2006, by which time Blawg Review had been up and running for nearly a year. In that time, it had succeeded in capturing a regular readership as it wended its peripatetic course from one legal blog to another week by week. I was among those readers, and in that way discovered quite a number of worthy and reliably interesting writers within the online legal community. As I wrote on Twitter the other day, after learning of Ed's death:
There was, once, a more golden age of blawging, and Blawg Review was in a way its Camelot. @blawgreview— George Wallace (@foolintheforest) October 30, 2013
Ed. was not so much an editor as he was a very good recruiter, or curator, of editors. @blawgreview— George Wallace (@foolintheforest) October 30, 2013
I cannot recall who put Ed on to me, although I suspect it was David Giacalone of the now-defunct EthicalEsq weblog. David, as some may recall, was cantankerous in his dislike of the very word "blog," preferring "weblog" or "web journal." When I launched the first of my two blogs, a fool in the forest, in the summer of 2003, I referred to it as a "web journal" under David's influence. This blog, Declarations and Exclusions, followed within a month of the fool blog, and received some mentions in Blawg Review editions during 2005.
When Ed first approached me, all via email, he persuaded me without much difficulty to agree to take a Monday in August, 2006, to host Blawg Review. Then, in mid-March, he lost the host who had agreed to take the first edition of April, and contacted me again to ask me to take that spot on short notice. As enticement, Ed had come up with a clever "hook": knowing that I maintained two blogs and knowing that one of them specifically referenced fools, Ed proposed that I host the usual edition of Monday, April 3, 2006, here at Dec&Excs and that I spring a SURPRISE! APRIL FOOL! edition on the fool blog two days earlier. I fell for it, and a tradition was born.
It was my pleasure and privilege to host Blawg Review on six different occasions—2006 through 2012, with a gap in 2010 for reasons I no longer recall—compiling two separate editions each time. Ed and his tireless "sherpas" were invariably helpful in locating particularly deserving posts for inclusion, freeing me to wax creative or poetical in my choice of themes. During those years, I would also occasionally put up posts for the purpose of pointing my scant inventory of readers toward one particularly good Blawg Review edition or another. In one of those posts, I included the injunction
Blawg Review. It's not just a blog carnival; it's the law!
and was more than somewhat pleased and proud when Ed adopted it as a tagline atop the Blawg Review main page, where it still stands today.
It is not, I think, mere nostalgia to assert that the first few years of Blawg Review coincided with the freshest flowering, or the high water mark if that's a preferable metaphor, of the legal blogosphere. There was a truly remarkable array of high-quality blawgs ranging across a dizzying spectrum of specialties. Just in the insurance/defense field covered by Dec&Excs, I kept track of nearly a dozen others, each with a lawyer-author writing with a personal voice and a sincere wish to leave the reader better informed at the end of a post than at the beginning. Then came something of a dying off: while the gross number of "blawgs" in the world continued to grow, the number of original recognizable voices went into decline. More and more, the "blawg" seemed to become just another box to be checked off on a law firm marketing plan, an additional stream of "content," often as not not even written by the lawyer whose name was attached to the post. A large number of the blawgs that I followed slowed down or disappeared altogether. This blog slowed significantly, as my personal blogging interest shifted more to the cultural/musical material I covered at the fool blog.
In January, 2011, I wrote wistfully about the decline of the insurance blawgosphere in particular. In that context, discussing the blogosphere's "institutional memory" (and linking a still-good piece of that title by Scott Greenfield) I noted that Blawg Review "continues on its peripatetic way, in some sense a living embodiment of The Blawgs' institutional memory." But at that point, even Blawg Review had begun to show signs of strain: hosts grew harder to come by, Ed was obliged to write more frequently himself and to draw from a more shallow pool of material worth bringing to the attention of the discerning, intelligent reader. In August, 2011, Blawg Review #314 appeared in the Blawg Whisperer column on the ABA Journal's site—some may see irony in that—and Blawg Review fell silent for many months. As in a bad horror movie, however, it was a fake ending, the true conclusion yet to come.
In March of 2012, I received a message from Ed: he was going to attempt to revive Blawg Review, he had several experienced former hosts committed to the early going, would I assist by relaunching with the traditional April 1 double-team on my blogs? I agreed with no more than a scosh of hesitation. [The observant may observe that Blawg Review #315 was the last post of any kind on this blog until today.] Alas, the momentum could not be rebuilt: only nine more editions appeared and, for practical purposes, Blawg Review ended forever in July, 2012. This last commemorative edition, numbered collectively as #325, allows flights of bloggers to sing it, and Ed, to their rest.
Even after Blawg Review's second ending, one would occasionally hear from Ed. He maintained a presence on Twitter, in particular. It was that Twitter account that Ed's son used to announce his father's death following a battle—to which Ed himself had never alluded—with esophageal cancer.
On the 1st of October, Ed sent me a Twitter direct message. It was a link, without comment, to a line spoken by Touchstone, the one and only genuine original "fool in the forest," in As You Like It:
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
And then, within a few weeks, he was gone.
I do not know who Ed was, and I do not know much about how Ed lived. Based on what I do know, I have to believe that he did a great deal of good on his passage through this material world and that he was likely both admired and loved in many quarters. I know for certain that in shepherding Blawg Review over his last eight years Ed provided a great, if evanescent, service to the legal profession and the larger online world.
Hail, and farewell, Ed, from a fool you suffered beyond his deserving. The carnival is over, but the memory lingers on.
And now, gentle reader, let me usher you to our next Gallery, in which the continuing tribute to the pseudonymous Ed is hosted by the similarly pseudonymous Gideon at a public defender.
Now, as you enter, look to the left where the sharp-eyed among you will be able to perceive something most remarkable.....
This post is meant to be about Ed, and only about me insofar as I have known and had contact with him, or followed his influence in the blogosphere. Because the production of my twelve Blawg Review posts was the principal point of those contacts, I somewhat self-servingly list them here: