The Big, Mawkish Adios

Behold a disastrous attempt to avoid last-column sentimentality. Also: Goodbye.

I am leaving. Fleeing the Express, California, the West Coast. Regretfully and abruptly. This will be Down in Front’s final installment, alas.

Please do not take it personally.

As to why and/or where I’ll be going … let’s not get into it. A subject rife with unpleasantness and unease. Suffice it to say my editor has created Google Alerts for both “Rob Harvilla and fucking” and “Rob Harvilla and asshole,” as well as an Excel spreadsheet to monitor their activity, using his own name as a control group. He has three more “asshole” hits than I do as of April 18. Justice. I really hope he’s enjoying himself.

The Farewell Column is a foul, debasing trap poisonous to all involved. For the writer — regarding his/her departure with sadness and trepidation, Bruce Springsteen’s “Bobby Jean” stuck in his/her head — there is grave danger of self-aggrandizing oversentimentality. Oh, Reader, Ain’t We Had Fun. It’s awfully tempting to indulge in some sort of greatest hits retrospective: pulling shivering baby seals from the muck of oil spills to the strains of Matthew Dear, beating E-40 at Ping-Pong with a devastating backhand, bedding a Donna.

I don’t think so. Let us resist the urge to regard these last three years of columns as comprising an epic, panoramic literary narrative, as in reality they were primarily half-read by folks snarfing burritos while on lunchbreaks from real jobs. This space has spilled far more sour cream than blood.

So. The final third of one of my favorite songs (“Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit”) consists entirely of shout-outs, highlighting allies as disparate as The whole Texas mob and My boys in Ohio, comin’ through with the crazy why-o why-o. I’ve half a mind to unfurl an effusive roll-call of my own — Eric Arnold has proved invaluable in the pursuit of keeping it “t’real,” while Rachel Swan is a staggering talent deserving of her own reality show and/or Cabinet position. But perhaps it’s best to skip right to the end and simply take a quick moment to profusely thank Norman Dog, tireless illustrator of this column, a splendid and sophisticated cohort who gamely agreed to slum here for awhile and draw pictures of, say, Bono dressed as the Pope. Hunt down his science blog and learn fascinating tidbits about horsepower.

I leave you, incidentally, in good hands. Mr. David Downs will officially succeed me here, a former Express intern and freelancer of excellent character, vintage, and hygiene. I have asked him to prepare a few words of introduction:

Uh, I’m

Unfortunately I don’t have space to include the entire intro, but look soon for fantastic things from David in his own column, perhaps to be entitled Downs in Front.

His inaugural column will hopefully improve upon mine. The very first Down in Front dispatch was a half-obnoxious, half-sheepish little thing, a skittish mixture of brownie jokes, Midwestern apologist banter, a brief interview with the licentious proprietor of a magazine for tall people, and unwarranted cracks directed at Deerhoof, iconic Bay Area avant-noise weirdos I have since come to hesitantly embrace, though certainly not understand. (I hearby disband PAD THAI — People Against Deerhoof That Have Average Intelligence — which will involve e-mailing the one publicist who requested membership.) That I will now quote them warmly and earnestly is an indication of just how wuss-assed this whole enterprise has become:

Pirates on an odyssey, odyssey


Ask the captain ‘What will be, what will be?’


The Farewell Column is a foul, debasing trap poisonous to all involved, and we have clearly become hopelessly ensnared. I apologize. I am in no state to be clever or postmodern. This is a dazzling and fascinating place to live, but perhaps lyrics suggesting unease and disorientation are appropriate for a region that made Mac Dre’s “Feeling Myself” the feel-good hit of last summer. Revel in your surface beauty but gleefully concealed inscrutability, oh mighty Bay Area. And kick out any doofus who gets too weepy about it.

I did my best. But Ain’t We Had Fun?

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