A couple of posts ago (Dekookification), commenter Gaylord wrote:
I only read this for amusement. One of these days, Mr. Talton, I surmise you will burn out on covering Phoenix and AZ because it's too far gone and you have moved on in so many ways. I have done this: moved to L.A. after having lived in PHX for 18 years. It's such a downer to think about what the city and state could have become, if only there had been more enlightened leadership or at least those that would listen to and heed wise people such as yourself. All we can do now is shake our heads, be glad we are no longer living there, and remember how much destruction the Republicans wreak when they're given the upper hand.
It's a fair question or perhaps prediction. Soleri, whose sparkling, intelligent comments I always looked forward to, has withdrawn. On the other hand, I wonder if Gaylord really just reads for amusement. In my experience, once Phoenix gets under somebody's skin, it's a lifelong condition.
I started this blog in January 2008 primarily as a service to the readers left behind when the Arizona Republic ended my column. They weren't getting the commentary, context, accountability-seeking and history I provided anywhere else. Since then, traffic has grown substantially and although Arizona constitutes the biggest block of readers, Rogue is read in all fifty states and some foreign countries. Only a fraction of readers go on to make comments, but every time I am back in Arizona, I hear from appreciative readers in person. If someone else provided this kind of journalism, I would happily bow out. As I've written elsewhere, between my Seattle Times columns and blogs, and novels, along with 30 years (?!) in journalism, it's not as if I need to see my name in print. Burn-out is always right on my tail.
I don't promise to write Rogue forever. My stamina is not what it once was, nor is my hunger for 17-hour workdays. I don't make a dime on this blog. It is my pro-bono work. Growing up, I was continuously reminded of the hard work for the common good done by the generations of Arizonans that came before me. Just one example is the ability to turn on the tap and get water without even thinking about where if comes from, or whether the water will appear. So I always felt as if I owed. This was why I turned down offers from several excellent newspapers to return to Phoenix in 2000, and why I didn't use my column to spread lies and poofery but rather to seek the truth and join the fight to save Arizona. Maybe I was a fool, but there it is. I owed.
I still believe that, after all the defeats suffered by moderation, facts, social justice, competitiveness and decency. After all the trolls and thugs and threats and being thrown out of the state (landing, to be sure, in a wonderful place). Of having one's heart broken again and again — just a drive along Baseline Road is enough. Despite all that, I love Arizona and I especially love Phoenix. Both also matter in a larger national and global sense, a critical issue that receives almost no attention. Finally, I want to continue the Phoenix 101 series, so some accessible, albeit interpretive, history of this fascinating place can perhaps outlive me.
Defeats have been served up in plenty. But the Resistance continues. Central Phoenix, which most matters to me, is making genuine, if halting progress. Between ASU downtown, the Convention Center, the oasis of the historic districts and the tenacity of the arts community and small-business owners, there is much to celebrate. And we did build light rail, you bastards.
Remember, I left Arizona when I was twenty-two and never expected to return. But I always carried it in my heart. Not as a "retirement destination with championship golf" or a disposable product, but as home. Three generations of my family before me fought for this place even though it broke hearts, and in a couple of instances, spirits. So I'm still in the family business.