I first met Dennis Lane, the famed Wordbones of Tales of Two Cities, almost exactly two years ago, over a beer at Victoria. We were brought together by fellow blogger Tom Coale after I had, in Tom’s words, taken Dennis “to the woodshed” over his pro-CSX stance on the proposed intermodal in Elkridge.
Thirty minutes ago, I found out he was killed in what is being called “a domestic homicide”. I decided there was no more fitting tribute to the man I called The Godfather of HoCo blogs 1 than to post something.
I had, of course, been religiously reading Dennis before meeting him in real life. You can’t be even tangentially interested in the Howard County political scene and not read Dennis. His posts were frequent, funny, and required. His take could be…slanted, but he never wanted to be mistaken for a journalist. He wanted to help. I always felt like he just cared for his community so much that that love needed some constant outlet and, to our benefit, that outlet took the form of blogging. Others would have planted trees or worked on their golf game, but Dennis decided to perform a true community service, illuminating otherwise missed issues and keeping all of us informed.
He didn’t take disagreement personally, even when I described his writing as a “self-indulgent Donald Trump ramble”. That was part of the fun for him, the back and forth. He relished debate. He loved to kick back with a beer and get deep into deeply local issues that 90% of the population preferred to ignore. He cared, and he wanted to help you care with him. Disagree, fine; just come to the table and dig in.
I was depending on his coverage of the 2014 races, and I do mean coverage. His incredible local networks and commitment to attending every political event he could made him the eyes and ears of thousands of Howard Countians without his access, time, or writing ability. (I fall under all three categories.)
I never understood his penchant for links to New Yorker cartoons and goofy YouTube clips. It always made me mad I couldn’t just hover over the link and figure out what it was, I had to click through and see what silly semi-related joke he had found. I never knew how he found all of those. Google, I guess. Wish I had asked his method.
He emailed me last week, and I put replying into the “to-do” pile that, now, will never get done.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no one to fill the void he leaves behind in this little blogging community. I can only guess at the pain his family feels today; he wrote about his daughter with such unabashed pride and joy.
The time will come for deep mourning, for full remembrance, for justice. For now, for today, though, it’s worth reflecting on the measure of the man: how many people will miss his daily posts on classic cars or local supermarkets, the tributes he’ll receive from local politicians he routinely skewered, the family and communities he leaves behind as a true and lasting memorial.
One last wag of the Wordbones tail for you, Dennis. You will be missed.
- I also called him “True OG”, meaning “Original Gangster”, but he interpreted as “Old Guy”. ↩