It wasn't long after I moved to OC that I got the news that Cathy Seipp had died. I got it almost instantaneously — Cathy was so hooked into the blogosphere that her last moments, much like many of her days, were obsessively chronicled online by friends and colleagues.
That was a year ago today.
Born in Canada but raised in OC (Los Alamitos, to be precise), Cathy was a conservative pundit of sorts, but not the predictable kind. Yes, she wrote for National Review Online, but also L.A. CityBeat, at least until they stopped paying her what she felt she was worth.
Cathy was slower to join the blogosphere than some of us, but she was one of the first to champion it, and frequently hosted parties for online journalists of all stripes, possibly the only get-togethers where you'd see the likes of Matt Drudge-sidekick Andrew Breitbart and conservative L.A. prosecutor Patrick Frey mingling with outspoken gay film critic David Ehrenstein and Wonkette's Ken Layne. And, well, me. People are occasionally surprised how many right-wing friends I have, and I'd say Cathy's responsible for most of that. You meet folks at parties, you like 'em, and by the time you get around to checking their ideology, it's too damn late; you're already friends. Bringing disparate groups of friends together to mingle is always what a great host aspires to.
Cathy was very complimentary of my writing, though I'm sure she disagreed with a lot of it, and once suggested I had brain damage for wearing a “Fuck Bush” T-shirt. She is survived by her father Harvey and daughter Maia, both of whom extend the same wide acceptance of all kinds of strange people.
Like Andy Kaufman, Cathy mysteriously contracted lung cancer despite hardly ever being around cigarette smoke. It's a brutal way to go, but she dug her heels in and outlived the standard life expectancies long enough to see Maia off to college (and hold a high school graduation party for her to which Slate's Mickey Kaus showed up with Ann Coulter).
Even in death, Cathy still managed to influence the blogosphere, as “The Festering Swamp” was established by and for some of her regular blog commentators who felt like cyber-orphans with no more Cathy columns to argue over. I was offered a chance to write for it, but declined. Too much to do here.
Like her pal Moxie, I'm sure Cathy would have been amused at the notion of a weirdo like me down here in conservative ol' OC. I'm also quite certain she'd be supporting McCain for president, though I think she'd respect Hillary's ball-busting chops just a bit.
The L.A. journalism scene hasn't recovered from her loss, I don't think. But don't mourn her too long — she'd likely be the first to say “Oh, get over it already!”
Cheers, Cathy. It's been a long year.