Topic 1744 [news]: My Turn Started by: A new pseud for a new life (mandel) on Sat, Mar 25, '95

I don't quite know how to say this. What it all comes down to is that I probably don't have a whole bunch of time left around these parts, I mean maybe I do and maybe I don't but I wouldn't throw a lot of money at at these odds.

It's bad luck to say goodbye before it's time to do so and there's no point in embracing death before one's time, but I thought maybe I'd sneak in a topic, not too maudlin I hope, in which I could slowly say goodbye to my friends here, curse my enemies one more time , and otherwise wave a bit at the rest of you until it's just not time to do so any more.

I could start off by thanking you all, individually and collectively, for a remarkable experience, this past decade here on the WELL. For better and for worse-there were a lot of both--it has been the time of my life and especially a great comfort during these difficult past six months. I'm sad, terribly sad, I cannot tell you how sad and griefstriken I am that I cannot stay to play and argue with you much longer. It seems almost as if I am the one who will be left behind to grieve for all of you dying.

So, thank you all, my best wishes and prayers to each and everyone of you. It's been a fabulous life and it wouldn't have been the same without you.

press F1 for help (bbraasch) Sat Mar 25 '95 (23:36)

Actually, Tom, you were right about the future. Lots of people here were wrong. Look where this has gotten us. When I first logged on in 1990, you were holding one side of some argument that had maybe 20 people on the other side. It seemed like an argument of what was vs what should be. Like many topics on the well, the argument, whatever it was, went unresolved as the topic reached the the 300 response limit where old topics used to roll over. In modern times, we can take this stuff well beyond 1000 responses.

True Confessions was already here, and quite the discovery for me. But for me the coverage of the on the WELL was a supreme demonstration of the power of this medium. It became my primary source of information on the war. Much disagreement between what was vs what should be, leading to Dave Hughes all caps farewell statement.

When you drive through the South and you enter the town square, you have to slow down so you don't drive your car into the statue of some confederate general. Us Northerners think we won that war, but the rebels are still out there smiling at the memories and respecting the people who stood up for their beliefs, and maybe that's the more enduring message. Mandelsdick Park will eventually get one of those statues, no doubt, but not too soon I hope.

There will be sunflowers in the park, an Akita pissing on the statue, and maybe something like the smile of the ZigZag man coming from that statue, and in the wind, perhaps, the sound of some spirit responding to the prevailing discourse, 'actually, its not like that at all'.

My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl)

It's very late here now. My home system will be down for most of tomorrow, so i'm typing now, even though I'm sleeplessly inarticulate, cuz I don't know when I'll be back online. carpe notte and all that...

Tom, i've long admired your intelligence, knowledge, and articulateness (ok that's not a word but don't I get irony points for being unable to find the right word that means 'the ability to say precisly and clearly what you mean?'). I'm having a difficult time imagining the WELL without you, in fact I can't really do it because your voice is one of the primary voices here...a brave new WELL with a million new users still seems very empty if you're no longer logging in. I think you have one of the sharpest political sensibilities around and lord knows i'm always amazed to find you continuing to post in politics... Unfortunately, I haven't yet managed to meet you f2f, I hope that I'll be able to sometime in the not so distant future. I hope that despite whatever travails you might be experiencing, your days always include joy and pleasure. I'm always up for a miracle or two, i'm sending in my prayers, although i'm an unrepentant atheist I'm not above spiritual hypocrisy, hell, i'm all for it...

I wish you peace...

Philip Elmer-DeWitt (ped) Sun Mar 26 '95 (03:13)

Tom Mandel is my best online friend. He has been feeding me stories--and gently critiquing the results--for a decade. When TIME decided to go online last year, he graciously agreed to show us how. For the past year and a half he's managed our message boards almost single-handedly. To the extent the community there resembles the WELL at its best, it is largely Tom's doing. He is chiefly responsibly for whatever success Time Inc.'s most important magazines have enjoyed in making the transition from atoms to bits.

A new pseud for a new life (mandel) Sun 26 Mar 95

I had a motive in opening this topic, to tell the truth, one that winds its way through almost everything I've done online since last October when my cancer was diagnosed.

I figured that, like everyone else, my physical self wasn't going to survive forever and I guess I was going to have less time than actuarials allocate us. But if I could reach out and touch everyone I knew online--here, in TIME Online, on the Net in various "places"--I could toss out bits and pieces of my virtual self and the memes that make up Tom Mandel, and then when my body died, I wouldn't really have to leave...large chunks of me would also be here, part of this new space.

Not an original idea, but what the hell, worth the try, and maybe one day someone can reconstruct all of the piece in some sort of mandelbot and I can be arrogant and obstinate and affectionate and compassionate and everything else that you all seem to feel I am.

#46 of 605: jane hirshfield (jh) Sun Mar 26 '95 (10:06)

I've always remembered that when I made my first on-line post, in the Gulf War topic, you responded with e-mail that made me feel acknowledged, respected: an old-guard person (whose views were different than mine) had thought to notice, even praise, what I had so painstakingly composed. An initiation. More recently, seeing you continue on here virtually unchanged since first announcing your illness, I have been filled with admiration. You teach us how to carry on under duress, and that so long as a person is alive they are *themselves*, not their diagnosis--their complete selves, perhaps changing, softening a bit here and there, but continuing to work, to think, to be. Thank you, and good luck with what I hope will be still a long journey, breath by breath.

Gail Williams (gail) Sun 26 Mar 95 09:50

Tom, I have to tell you that I was annoyed to see you'd started this topic. It served as a reminder that except for a few brief lines, I haven't sent you the email I've been needing to send for some time.

You've taught me a great deal, in many of the ways of intentional and accidental teaching. My mind is racing, and I haven't got a lot of hope of getting it into one pithy post.

I want to tell you five of six specific ways you have touched me, and each of them has the complexity of a novela. The thing is, life changes people largely by virtue of the other souls we bump up against. It doesn't matter much how we encounter one another if the encountering is sustained over time and includes a lot of contexts. Even though I am sure I've been peripheral in your experience, and except at a few key times, you've been peripheral in mine, I feel the kinship of being part of the changed, and perhaps in a tiny way one of the changers.

I was thinking recently about all your scribbled posts, and whether it was all right to even see if they are retrievable. This was a hard thought, because I had to imagine we might lose you, and I'd just as soon be out lived by everyone here. I want that feeling of the important things going on after I'm gone.

So, I find myself seeing you as an archetypal and elemental force, as well as a specific and amazingly complex individual. I want to tell all my stories about you, now, because I want you to refute and embellish them.

I also want to say that it took me a long time to come to honor beams and blank posts, and I understand not wanting to see them, but I urge you to feel the love and respect of all the people who are reading this who poise like hummingbirds at the respond prompt, heart lumped in the throat, with nothing to say despite overflowing regard, love or simply good wishes.

More of us are with you, I can feel it. Love and oxygen to you, man.

Lee Felsenstein (lee) Sun Mar 26 '95 (13:43)

This is all bringing out the imprints of the hassidic backround of my paternal ancestors:


Tom Mandel has been among us for ten years! His spark has ben taken into our hearts and minds!

Like the Roman emperor who had his epitaph say "If you seek my monument, look about you", LOOK ABOUT YOU for the monument to Tom's brilliance. Look within you. The way the Well is for us, the way we are within it, these we owe in large part to the way Tom lived with us. And lives with us still, and will continue to live with us.

Tom, you have my highest accolade. You are someone who has made a positive difference which will propagate.

From Sun Mar 26 18:31:47

when i first came on the well in april of 93 the first place i went was a conference called "first" because i am nothing if not a first amendment freak. and when i got there, i read many postings by somebody called mandel.

the first mail i got on the well was from somebody who read my posts in first and the first thing they told me was that no matter what anybody told me, mandel was Evil and i should avoid him at all costs. being the creature that i am, i was of course fascinated by that statement.

i found him in Weird, which as far as i am concerned is the only Honest Conference on the entire well, and his posts there delighted me; i think i admired his writing and i admired it, because it was so, shall we say, fucking irreverent, which is a quality i happen to respect. and mandel became my friend.

this morning i got a message from somebody saying that tom wanted me to call him, so i did that. and i found myself on the phone, trying to express the inexpressible; trying to say to him dear tommykins, please please do not go; but if you must go, remember that you will live on in me the rest of my life; as you live on in the lives of others.

i do not want to say goodbye to you, tom. i do not like goodbyes at all, i have, i think, said too many of them and i am here to say that it only gets harder with the passage of time. miracles, said ee cummings, are to come, and i am, like many people, hoping that you will get your miracle. you are a fine man, an honest man, a loving man, a man of simple integrity and a man of quality. and yet, tommy, we hardly knew ye...

i love you, tommykins.

that is certain.

WELL's Belles (booter) Sun Mar 26 '95 (19:42)

I don't remember fighting with Tom, although I am sure I have because God knows I have fought with just about every horse's ass on the WELL. Let me tell you about the phrase "horse's ass". Its one of those phrases you assign to someone who is cranky, opinionated, obdurate, and stubborn. Have you ever really looked at a horse's ass, though? My God, they are gorgeous, a miracle of nature. Here is a gluteal arrangement that can propel a half ton of pure animal energy at a dizzying pace over all sorts of obstacles. Its elegant and muscular and glistens in the sun. Plus, there is another end to it. It has pretty brown eyes and a soft nose and adores you if you give him some sugar.

I got to know the front end a lot better than that back end.

Only the front end likes a good single malt better than sugar cubes.

Tom bothered me not because he was the MandelWorm or whatever, but that his health was always uncertain. In my dark moments, I'd tell Bandy that Tom was a hermit and needed to get out more. (Little did I know that Tommykins was dating the prettiest woman on the WELL, that lucky dog.) Tom, I guess you were standing on line for seconds on brains and style, when you shoulda been standing on line for seconds on luck. I'll miss the hell out of you.

Not quite prodigal (farren) Sun 26 Mar 95 20:23

Tom, I heartily agree with all the sentiments about honesty, integrity, and intellect that have been said to date, and won't repeat them. You introduced me to Lagavulin, which I'm still not sure was a good thing - the drink is for the Gods, but boy, is it expensive :-)

But there's one thing I wanted to tell you about what you mean to me that you could never possibly have known. When, in the course of the Gulf War topic, it became clear that you and I were, more or less, on the same side of things, that was because I'd thought about that conflict in entirely new terms, for me. Instead of relying on long-held opinions of the nature of war, formed during the Vietnam conflict and particular to that nasty episode, I'd gone through and looked at all of the facts that I had to hand, and all of the knowledge of history that I'd gained over the years, and all of my own philosophical bases that applied to the situation. Before that, it was far easier just to recycle the old opinions, without taking the trouble to think it all out. And one of the biggest reasons that I took the trouble to think it all out then was simply that, for the first time in a long time, I had a role model who was saying, in effect, that you *had* to think it all out and make choices fresh each time. I couldn't just come into a discussion with you and wing it - I had to engage the brain first. And if that meant that some old and precious ideas needed to be cast into the midden heap, well, you also provided a great example of someone who had contrary ideas but still won, and deservedly, my utter respect, so why not the same thing for myself?

The result of that has been a long struggle in which I've done a lot of reevaluation, and a lot of discovery about who it is that I am, really, after I've gotten through the layers of stuff that I *thought* I was, but which were merely old habit. That's an ongoing process, and I'm not going to pretend that it's happening quickly, or smoothly. But it's happening, and you have my utmost thanks for being, unwittingly, one of the instigators. I'll end up a better and happier person for it, and I'm a better and happier person for having known you, without a doubt. Thanks for being here, my friend, and I pray that you'll still be here a long time to come. If not, well, I'll raise a toast to your memory now and again for the rest of my life - and have tales to tell of the time I had the great good fortune to share a piece of the world with Tom Mandel. Try not to make me start telling them *too* soon, eh?

Preston Stern (presto) Sun 26 Mar 95 21:33

Integrity? Man, you wrote the user's manual. Nobody has integrity down like mandel.

Compassion, generosity, humanity -- I've seen this side of you too, Tom. And your zeal for a good give-and-take. Like many others, you initiated me here when I began to post and you made me realize the standards were high on the WELL and I had to sharpen up to measure up. We've been at crossed swords and we've been on the same side, and over the years it has given me great pleasure to call you a friend and think of you as a brother.

Listen, Tom. About four weeks ago a doctor was telling me I was dying and there was nothing to be done about it. I didn't accept that, I don't accept it now. I'm proving him wrong week by week. He was wrong. But on the road to wherever I'm going I have made a startling discovery. What happens to me in some future time is not that important. The destination is the journey. Living life, allowing room for joy and love, moment by moment as those moments are granted, is what really counts.

You are still with us and I am hoping we will get that miracle and have you with us for a long time yet. These connections you are being reminded of in this topic are part of your journey. Whatever happens, travel with us, my friend, live in the moment, and go with God. There is plenty of love around for Tom Mandel, including mine. Blessed be.

editorial comment (green) Mon 27 Mar 95 00:46

I can't believe this whole topic has occurred without anyone mentioning the fact that part of Tom's appeal has always been that he's so sexy.

It needed saying.

John Sumser (jrsumser) Mon 27 Mar 95 11:07

I guess each of us has a Tom Mandel, much like the blind wise men each had their own elephant.

Quite coincidentally, I spent Saturday installing a piece of the Mandel family's legacy in the house for the kids. I recently discovered that your father (and uncle?) were involved in the creation of Mortimer Adler's Geat Books series and that the project was housed in the Mandel building in Chicago. (I know you'll correct the errors in my recounting).

Anyhow, with you in mind, I gleefully trucked the used Encyclopedia Britannica and the accompanying great books collection to my living room. I think every dad is required, at some point, to buy the gift of his dreams for his kids. As I began to tech the kids the rudiments of research, I told them about the kind of legacy they might want to aspire to leave when they're done with this life.

"Tom's father and uncle were business people", I said "but they found the time to invest in their passion for the real betterment of people. They got no recognition in the works but left their marks nonetheless."

I told them the story of you offering me the hand of encouragement when I needed it most. "Sometimes", I said "your most memorable actions will be anonymous. Sometimes, they will be misunderstood."

The gift must always move. It rarely returns to its source. Rather, it travels down generational lines and across families.

I hope that you will take pride and comfort from the fact that your gift has entered my family and is heading out in time.

allison (ochick) Mon 27 Mar 95 12:03

hi, tom. for me, who wanders around in something of a fog, you have been one of the people who immediately comes on my radar clear and strong. and though we haven't spoken in any substantial way, i want to tell you that having good clear signals of people, perhaps becuase your kind is so rare, is an enormous gift to my foggier kind: it puts me back on track of living life, trying to live it well. (this is an ongoing gift. just because i've thanked you for being the way you are is no reason to feel any past tense.)

and, speaking of expectations. one of my favorite stories is of the surfer type in santa cruz-who was out searching the perfect wave. all of a sudden one of those big ol sharks came up and chomped his head, only becuase the guy was wearing a snorkel mask, nothing happened. the shark stopped chomping and went away. the moral of the story is a quote from the lucky dude: you think you know what's going to happen, but then you don't.

Alex Jestrab (alexjes) Mon 27 Mar 95 23:36

Tom, you beautiful man, I guess I've "known" you for a long time...9 or 10 years ago discovering your voice, always more courageous than mine...I should probably be a bit ashamed that I let you say the unpopular truths that I often felt...your eye, your perspective, piercing to the center of the center of the one else with that eye...and so many times you've done that. Now I see it more than ever in the reverberations of your spiritual turning.

I think that when you were fencing with others in ways that drove people away or into their own rage must have been mostly in the three years I was in other parts and not part of the WELL.

I will be in Maui soon, Mandel no ka oi (is that correct usage?), trying at this point some 30 years since I last did it, to catch a wave and if I may I will turn to you for some fearlessness of the depths and for that sweet rhythm and eye that knows where the heart of the wave is piling up.

I pray for the miracle in you though I do not know what it is and I send you love like the swell of the sea. You as you...who you much in my heart and the fullness of that lifting up into tears and then into more.

Journey well, here and hereafter whenever that comes; you've crafted a fine vessel for the travel and you have the prayers of so many to nourish you. Thank you for all you have given and are giving.

Phil Catalfo (philcat) Wed 29 Mar 95 00:40

Your diagnosis came around the same time that my son Gabe's leukemia relapse was diagnosed. Without much prior/recent personal contact, without much else in the way of context, you reached out to me with a few simple words. We suddenly found ourselves in the odd kinship of those struggling with cancer (I in my son, you in your own body), a sad, tormented fraternity bound together without wanting to be. And I can say to you what I am always uncomfortable having others say to me: You are an inspiration. *Fat lot of good that does me*, I often think when I hear that, *I don't wanna inspire anybody.* But when you're faced with an impossible struggle, and you know you don't have the option of not struggling, you exhibit grace and poise that just doesn't seem possible under less demanding circumstances. You have certainly exhibited all that, in spades. It has been an invaluable teaching to me, to find it within my means to shoulder my burden, to *embrace* it, even, to allow my soul to open even as (especially when) I feel I can't bear the burden another minute. Thanks for that.

John Hoag (loca) Wed 29 Mar 95 08:58

I'll never say good-bye to you, Tom. May your suffering vanish and God show Himself to you.

My mind returns again and again to these few sentences spoken by Krishna to Arjuna on the field of Kurukshetra where a bloody and heart breaking battle was about to take place. So much suffering Arjuna knew was ahead for those he loved so dearly on both sides, he threw down his weapons on the field between the two armies, losing the heart and will to go through with it. And Krishna, who was to be his chariot driver in the battle, sat down with him and said in the space of a few seconds what comprises the book, The Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God).

I guess I'm not among the truly wise, crying as I write this. I mourn for both, even while I know the truth of these words. What an idiot!

Jim Rutt (jimrutt) Wed 29 Mar 95 09:06

Tom, my already high opinion of you has gone up. The clear and brave way you are dealing with this is a real inspiration for how to deal with what we'll all have to face sooner or late. Hang tuff, give them tumours hell! Assuming no miracles (and I'll toss out some of my Atheist prayers on your behalf, just in case) you're going to leave a huge hole around here. Frankly the Well will be a whole lot less interesting without your implacable holding of peoples' feet to the fires of reality. You are one of the most reality based thinkers I've ever encountered. And a _real_ person, never a cliche, online and in Meat Space.

Janey Fritsche (janey) Tue 4 Apr 95 13:52

My love and thoaughts are with you, Tom and Nana. It was an honor to share that precious time with you on Saturday at your wedding. So much love there, and such dear connections.

Tom, thank you for always telling me I have pretty eyes and making me feel so special, even when you were feeling so sick. Your tenderness and sweetness touched me deeply. The angels you mentioned will no doubt welcome you and make the transition a smooth one, whether now or in some miraculous distant future.

As Blake says: