I’m sure many readers know or know of Jamie Wakefield. Personally, I’ve only read but a little of Wakefield’s writing, as I was just getting into internet Magic wholeheartedly when he stopped. But from what I know, he wrote for the average player, detailing his experiences in a fashion that anyone can enjoy. Doubtless his writing warranted the fame he received, though I can’t testify myself.
The man for whom I can testify, is the man I consider to be Jamie Wakefield replacement: John Friggin’ Rizzo.
I’d been writing for Star City for about six months when Rizzo came on the scene as a featured writer. Totally out of the blue had come an excellent writer who wasn’t afraid of (indeed, made a point of) voicing (loudly) his opinions. Sometimes he was right, and sometimes he was wrong. But it didn’t matter to him – as long as he got his readers to think, he was happy.
Now, I can’t speak for the man… But this seems like it could have been Rizzo’s sole goal. I often play the devil’s advocate with my comrades, simply to get them to think about their opinions. Living in the South, I’ve come in contact with many close-minded and unthinking individuals who I wish would just take a moment to consider their position instead of blundering through life blindly. Apparently, Rizzo’s a man after my own heart. One of his most controversial articles, Bringing Out the Dead, got people talking for weeks! Anyone who can inspire such introspection and philosophy questioning has my respect.
But, Rizzo did more than give his readers a topic with which to run; he gave plenty of his own thoughts as well. Despite trying long and hard, Rizzo just can’t win when it comes to Magic. Blame it on Bruce or just an inability to play well, but he just can’t get the game to work for him. But did he let this discourage him? He sure did! Rizzo, like anyone else, likes to win. Because of this, he strove to build better decks, to playtest incessantly, and to achieve the level of greatness he’d never dreamed before. But, he never got there. The Ferrett said he’d win a PTQ in a year, and he ended up doing so very quickly… But as far as I know, Rizzo never attended a Pro Tour.
Now, it’s quite possible that Rizzo could have attained his dream by playing a "netdeck." But, he wouldn’t allow that. Which brings me to my next point of admiration about Rizzo: Unswerving conviction of morals. When he promised to the public that he would play a deck that they built for him, he quickly realized that his Grand Experiment, well, sucked. However, he carried his promise through, standing by his word. Another controversial issue surrounding Rizzo is his inability to intentionally draw. As I don’t often attend tournaments, I can remember being in only a few situations where I’ve been asked to ID. On one such occasion, occurring shortly after reading Rizzo’s stance on the issue, I refused the offer, proclaiming that I would follow Rizzo’s example of earning my position in the Top Eight.
As you can see, Rizzo’s affected me personally in addition to the thousands of others who must have been affected by his words. But, Rizzo’s more than just a Magic writer – he’s a man. And a darn good one, too.
I’ve talked to Rizzo several times via email, about either his or my writing. At a time when I was feeling very pessimistic about my writing, Rizzo stepped in and gave me the boost of confidence I needed. It turns out I was seeping my insecurity into my writing, and Rizzo just didn’t like it. Being Rizzo, he darn well let me know about it! And, it’s what I needed to hear. He told me to friggin’ bring it. Although I still keep my articles rated G, I think that they carry more of an air of confidence than once they did. And believe me, there have been a few occasions where I felt it needed to be brought, and I stepped up to the task of the bringing. I thank Rizzo for my internet spine!
As you can tell, John Rizzo’s had a sizable impact on my life as well as the life of my friends. My friend and fellow author, Israel Marques*, found a foily Carnival of Souls in the mail from John Rizzo that was sent to him randomly as far as I can tell. Rizzo is not a stingy man. When speaking about internet Magic even around my friends who don’t participate in that community, I know I can talk about "Rizzo" without having to explain the man. I’ve even been able to introduce such sayings as, "S’up, chief?" and "Bad times for Becky," even to my non-Magic playing friends! It’s hard to believe that one man whom I’ve never met can have such a great impact on the life of so many people I know.
But there are so many more people that he’s reached. Take for example last year’s Writer War. John Rizzo was the winner. So far this year, he’s made it to the Sweet Sixteen. For the most apparent piece of evidence, refer back to Star City’s homepage to see all the articles dedicated to this living legend. I know that in years to come, John Rizzo will be talked about in the Magic community at least as much as the legendary Jamie Wakefield – and for good reason!
* – Believe me, he really does write! (Not friggin’ enough – The Ferrett)