It’s not often I dish out praise of this magnitude on an author of any kind… But clearly, John Friggin’ Rizzo is deserving of such. Truly and objectively, the phenomenon that is Rizzo should have been a flash in the pan – a freak of nature dismissed among the serious players out there who are "name" or "tech.” But he has endured and has become – like it or not – the conscience and soul of Magic. How has he accomplished this?
a) Unabashed use of flesh to lure players into his article. Looking at that bald head and wrestler countenance, one is lured into the article as one would be lured into a showing of WWF RAW. Once in, there’s no going back. Yes, it’s cheesy… but if it works…;)
b) Speaking on social issues. This is something that very few authors have done lately. We could always rely on Cathy Nicoloff to have a few posts on how Magic was deleterious for the environment or even Wakefield to bring us a slice of Americana; Rizzo went farther. His article Purge Mode: On was a kick in the head while walking down a short, dark alley. Another opus of his, Bringing Out the Dead, challenged our very society and its views of how "maturity,” "normalcy" and "adult life" were so important… So important we could even sacrifice the spark of fun that is within us to attain it. Never before had a Magic author causes such a furore with a few well-chosen words. I’ve compared Rizzo previously to Beat Generation writers such as Kerouac; I think this comparison is valid in its own way.
c) Being "rogue" and being damn proud of it. Let me tell you something. I love Magic, but I get discouraged when the cool decks I build get stomped by Net decks. Regardless, love for the game and its social aspects keep me in. Rizzo built a case for himself as perhaps the most innovative deckbuilder ever by building the "Universal Net Deck,” a collection of snow-covered lands, overcosted artifacts, and funky cards. He took his deck to a tournament and played it through. Rizzo thus became a beacon for rogue players everywhere, to the point where they actually wrote "rogue" on their DCI membership cards to separate themselves from the pack.
I never wrote "rogue" on mine, but I made the effort to stay rogue.
d) Adding snapshots of the day’s events to his articles. Aside from driving the Ferrett bonkers, this appeals to the voyeuristic aspect of many Internet users, while giving us a "man on the scene" view of the many people he met… Once again, this screams of innovation, an innovation which will resurface in March…
e) Rizzo is a man of the people. Don’t even talk to me about all the snobby pros that won’t give you the time of day in real life or on IRC… Rizzo answers your e-mails, every damn one of them, and even when he sets himself up with an impossible situation he still pulls through. He is an inspiration to those of us that sometimes feel the toils of duty and life pulling us away from the writing (as has been the case for me of late). When it seems he’s lost his edge, out come the "one-liners" that cause an enormous uproar. The man is clearly one brick short of a full load – but this is precisely what makes him one of the brightest lights in Magic writing.
There it is in a nutshell, folks – the reasons why Rizzo is an inspiration to myself, and hopefully you. Don’t just read this though, go back to the Featured Article Archive and bring up his articles while sipping a brewski. They’ll be a breath of fresh air.