Joel Silberman died this morning. On the first day of Netroots Nation, where thousands of progressive writers, activists, and candidates are. There’s symmetry in that. In any other year, he’d be right in the middle of it, like he was at PCCC candidate training, being his bubbly, menschy, show-businessy self.
For the last year, he’s gathered his people in to walk the cancer road with him, for better or worse. We were – no, we ARE #TeamJoel.
What I will always remember about him: His trainings, his counsel and advice, was all about helping progressive people step up, take leadership, look out for each other, and be the strongest, bravest and most effective we can be.
Tonight at Netroots Nation in New Orleans, there will be a memorial for him in the event’s first plenary session. Of the several thousand people there, hundreds knew him and loved him. Tomorrow, if somebody can find a piano (I have every faith they will), there will be a singalong. It’ll be like Joel is still there, and maybe Bea Arthur too (he adored her). Just a few months ago, as he was also dealing with chemotherapy and hospital trials for his pancreatic cancer, Joel taught several hundred candidates at the PCCC training in Washington, including several from New Jersey. He was already weak – had been weak, but squeezing every bit of productivity and joy from the things he loved to do. His husband Michael, he told us, watched him like a hawk, making sure he got through his sessions, but didn’t touch anything or anybody he didn’t need to, being as always his protector.
We all carry him forward. #TeamJoel ❤
This was Joel. And this. And this. At Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit – I was at this session. And being the “Piano Man.” And what it is to conduct an orchestra. And his birthday party years ago (video from Matt Stoller, who helped Blue Jersey get our start). And this; Joel really loved great broads who could sing, and who were funny – like Madelaine Kahn. And below, back at Netroots Nation (2013) talking big hair and being gay: