We Never Got Rich, But We Are Going To Heaven: Farewell, Clif Garboden (1948-2011)

UPDATE: In lieu of flowers, the Garboden family has asked that donations be made in Clif's name to the Dana Farber Cancer Center, specifically to the treatment of head and neck cancers.

If you knew Clif Garboden, who for many years was the managing editor the Boston Phoenix and a guiding spirit of alternative press, then you'd know he wouldn't want us making a big fuss about this. But we're going to make a fuss anyway. Clif died yesterday afternoon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. His daughter, Molly, broke the news to us today:

As many of you know, my father had an epic battle with cancer about six years ago. While the quality of care at Dana Farber Cancer Institute was excellent, I can't help but believe he frightened the disease into submission with sarcasm and guile.

Unfortunately, last month, the "evil Mr C", as my father called it on his blog, returned for another round. Due to the illness, he developed pneumonia and because of my father's weakened state and other health complications, his condition deteriorated rapidly. He died yesterday afternoon at Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston. My mother, brother and I were all able to be with him. He died peacefully and the doctors assured us that my father felt no pain.

The fight never went out of Clif -- nor did his sense of humor. He was blogging from his hospital bed earlier this month, even after he got the news that the cancer returned. In the hospital he fell and gashed his head. Later he posted a camera-phone photo of himself post-fall, and joked that the heart monitor on his finger was making it hard to type. 

Frankly, we're still in shock and in no way prepared to write the tribute to Clif that he deserves. We'll do that soon. For now, thankfully, there's an even better tribute: the one he wrote himself, on the occasion of the Phoenix's 40th birthday -- his one-man manifesto and memoir about a life lived in alternative media, and why it was worth fighting for. 

It's worth reading in full, but this afternoon we're remembering the way it ends: 

The alternative press — the Phoenix , the Bay Guardian , and the hundred or so alt weeklies toiling in the red states — is anything but obsolete. It’s something to cherish, something proud to be part of. Something invented out of restless outrage to propel the cutting edge of things. It survives in a state of perpetual self-contradiction, a permanent instrument of change — something forever new and necessary. As I tell the youth of today who venture into our offices, we’re the good guys. We never got rich, but we are going to heaven.


If Clif is in your thoughts as much as he is in ours, please share your stories. 

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