I've been meaning to put up a "why" page. Reading this post over at Peoria Pundit got me thinking about things I've left buried in the subconscious, waiting for release. This post will have to suffice until I get around to it. Why do I blog? Why do I write? For those readers from the Peoria area, I can say two words and you'll understand immediately – Rick Baker.
Baker was a columnist for the ratty-ass Peoria Journal Star for several years. He died in a tragic accident after the SUV he was driving flipped over in 1988. I still remember the day after, when the PJS ran his column header in the usual spot with blank space in the area his words would normally have occupied. It was heartbreaking to see and I'm tearing up a little now thinking about it.
I had to stop reading the paper after that. It just felt wrong. There was a great big void of nothingness where Baker should have been fileting Mayor Maloof or DCFS or UAW or Caterpillar or District 150 or Diamond Star or whoever. While he was at his peak, you just knew that Peoria was a better place because of it. Someone was watching, waiting and reporting. The facts would come out and the guilty would see their dirty laundry exposed to the harsh light of day. The thing about Rick Baker was you either loved reading him or hated him, but you weren't lukewarm about the guy. He got under your skin and made his presence felt. He kicked ass, took down names and left no doubt about were he stood on a given issue.
His legacy continues on through the children he fathered, the woman he loved and people he helped or inspired. And it's a crying shame he's gone, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one out here doing my thang as a result of his work.
R.I.P. Rick, you're gone but not forgotten.
Update: Bill Dennis has a new post on Rick Baker here.
The only writer I've read who comes close to possessing Baker's drive and spirit of sticking up for the little guy is Vin Supyrnowicz. You can read his columns here.