You’re Doing Magic A Disservice, Ferrett

I cannot see how you would want to publish, let alone feature on your front page, any”writer” who is such a kiss-ass, and so blatantly ignorant, as to say that three of the five best articles on Magic are Rizzo articles.

Ferrett and Ferrett readership:

Besides the fact that I think it difficult to take an editor seriously who refers to himself with a rodent name like”Ferrett,” rather than a human name, like, say,”Aaron Forsythe” or”Scott Johns,” I think that you did both the Magic community and John Rizzo a disservice with your all-Rizzo day Friday last. Mr. Rizzo, it seems to me, specifically said he wanted to fade away quietly, as per his”… but I still intend to tell no one – I wanna be a ghost” comment. Conversely, your tribute day seemed at the very least a poor decision and was at worst deliberate emotional manipulation directed at the Star City readership.

Having never met the man, I do not know exactly what Rizzo meant when he said”[f]eel free to let peeps know if you want to/need to,” but I cannot believe that he intended for you to make martyr his retirement from play. Opening up your Friday last with a line like”Rizzo Died for Your Sins” seems to me not only ridiculous overstatement, not only out of the spirit of his departure, but patently offensive to some people. If in fact you are lamenting the loss of your”best” writer, and are having problems with Brainburst”crawling up [your] ass” and the burgeoning success of a relatively well-run magicthegathering.com, perhaps you should focus on improving your editorial slant for the future rather than creating a melodrama for a player who neither asked for it, nor by simply choosing a different hobby, did anything particularly out of the ordinary.

Though I disagree with your choice, it is obviously up to you as the editor to make a decision like the one in question, to guide the direction of your Web site; at the point, however, that you decide to recruit writers legion in assistance to the task, I do think it your job and obligation as the editor to engage in some manner of quality control. I cannot see how you would, for example, want to publish, let alone feature on your front page, any”writer” who is such a kiss-ass, and so blatantly ignorant, as to say that three of the five best articles on Magic are Rizzo articles. I echo the previous respondent Toby Wachter in a rather important point: That”Schools of Magic” is not required reading for all of your columnists seems a little sad to me. The very language that we use in talking about Magic hinges on that document, it was the forerunner for any serious Magic discussion, and it is the indisputable source from which all Magic articles on the Internet, strategic or otherwise, in the last half-decade and more have emerged.

Last of all, I know that I am not the only person who shudders a bit at the continual comparisons that have been made between Rizzo and Wakefield. Wakefield was my onetime foil, but also my Cabal teammate. Jamie had a set of rules – but they were rules for winning. Rizzo, I learned only last Friday, also had rules for tournament play, but Rizzo’s rules were of a fundamentally different character. Let me clue all of you in on something: Jamie wanted you to be manascrewed. He wanted to trick you if he could. He wanted to draw two copies of Hymn to Tourach and cast them targeting you. He may have had rules that you interpret as having common ground with Rizzo’s… But even those were based on a misguided love for overweight individuals (even if those individuals were creatures), and then still not on anything else besides winning… It is just in this case, Jamie was interested winning on his own terms. Jamie wanted to win, but because he wanted to win with a certain style you seem to think that he was something other than a competitive player. Jamie qualified for a handful of Pro Tours. If he whined about green -or as a converse corollary, the quality of blue board control spells – it was for no other reason than to make his signature decks more competitive.

I have nothing against John Rizzo as a person or a player or a writer. My problem is with the misguided, forced, martyrdom you have attached to so simple a choice as his pursuit of non-Magic interests in his free time. If there is a player whose departure you all should be lamenting, it is Brian Hacker’s. Any one of Hacker’s limited tournament reports from 1997 is probably better than any tournament report not written by John Shuler after 1997. That’s right, every single one of his is better than almost any other report written after. Hacker’s presence on the Magic scene was one of character, of consistency, of integrity; and in Maher v. Davis, he co-called the best premiere event feature in the history of commentary. He was more insightful, taught more people more valuable things via his writing, and got more laughs, than any player since. He invented props and slops. He taught you, yes you, how to beat down, even if you didn’t know that until just now.

And yet Hacker’s retirement/semi-retirement was entirely without fanfare.

But you know what? That’s fine. People are allowed to pursue other interests. Magic writers don’t deserve tears and fireworks any more than anyone else with any other hobby.

Of the seven truly great and influential players from whom all Magic writing on the Internet is descended, five of them have left (or at least largely left) Magic; only one of them is talked about with any regularity, and it is generally by people who don’t know what they are saying and have no real knowledge of the man or his body of work. Where is your twelve-gun salute for George Baxter? Robert Hahn and Frank Kusumoto did more for your readers for zero boxes in the days of Usenet than every Feature Writer combined. When the guy who wrote the very first Magic tournament report, who was – yes – at one time a Star City Feature Writer, plays what may very well be his last sanctioned tournament at PT: Boston this fall, will you have another day of wailing and ill-placed religious reference? Will you even know?

I don’t normally care at all about other people’s ignorance, but when it is so loud, disruptive, full of complaints, and sadly influential, it also becomes difficult to ignore.

That is all I have to say about that.


(Just one quick note as a clarification: Rizzo wrote me on Tuesday to say,”And thanks for the tribute thing – ’twas nice as hell, dawg, and will look good in my scrapbook when I’m old and crapping in my pants at the retirement home.” I didn’t ask for Rizzo’s permission… But I don’t think I would have done a tribute day if I’d thought he would have genuinely hated it. I might have – he was gone, after all – but I liked Rizzo too much to crap all over him. I think.

(For anything else, Mike has the floor. – The Ferrett)

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