The Oregon Backwash?

I don’t know who put the cat in the bag, but let’s properly let it out. Next week you’re going to bear witness to a major milestone in the history of both As the State Turns and the Linn-Benton Backwash. No, not some sort of “500th edition,” obviously we don’t keep track of things like “details” or “correct numbers” around these parts. What you’re going to see is a move towards the back of the paper – it’s soft, greasy underbelly – and you’re going to witness both columns squish together into one, like some sort of cosmic thing. What has been two for so long, will be one, and it’ll be a bit shorter. Got it?

Now, before you either cheer, complain that it’s not going away completely, or just freak out because you don’t handle change so well, let me take you on a journey of truths. There will be awe, there will be wonder, their will be hope, and there will be…

A Bunch of Abrupt Bullet Points Designed to Cut to the Chase

As the State Turns began as a legitimate attempt at a state news ticker, but after just a handful of editions, it uncontrollably lurched in the direction of the abstract satire you know and love (or hate).

• In the beginning, I used my own name for the byline simply because I authored it. A genius move. As the content changed, I continued to use my name because I thought it’d be funny and inexplicably weird / self-destructive to continue doing so despite the material being written in a fictitious voice – a voice that’s admittedly a belligerent, if not well-meaning turd. I have a hard time resisting opportunities to experiment on myself in public, so there you have it.

• Sam Campbell popped on the scene a short while ago, right around the time I realized the aforementioned joke had gone on way too long and didn’t much look like a joke to the outside observer. This felt like a good opportunity to disengage my byline in order to start working on brand new, deeper content in the near future (spoilers!), but also to occasionally pit myself against my own  pseudonym. That last part worked out spectacularly well, so thank you for that.

So yes, I am indeed Sam Campbell. However, Sam Campbell is not me. Accordingly, I’m also Johnny Beaver, but not that Johnny Beaver. Something like that. And while I’m definitely not done with ATST, or whatever it might be called next week, I do plan on eventually handing things over without telling you, so let the games begin. Ideally, if Corvallis allows The Advocate to sustain itself beyond the print media apocalypse, those writers will then eventually pass on the legacy as well. Isn’t that heart-warming?

To tack on some additional dramatic perspective, let us remember that the world has grown exponentially more anxious, stressful, and sleepless since the industrial revolution. Whether you like me or these columns or not, I think that’s something we can all agree on. And that’s why they exist. I truly believe that we need something that can transform the stress of our local and regional news cycles into something we can all laugh or rage at, overlapping naturally like comedy and anger often do in our daily lives. ATST and Backwash have been crafted, however inexpertly, to serve as environments that are maybe not always completely in jest, but are definitely free from the constraints of being serious, providing details, rational arguments, or even following the most fringe rules of journalistic copy. For argument’s sake, maybe this platform makes these works something altogether different than just satire. Maybe I don’t care what it is. Maybe that’s the point?

Maybe I was trying to make that last bit sound poetic so I could avoid finishing my thought.

I Ain’t Dead Yet, But Here You Go
I’ve gotten many, many letters over the years from readers expressing their thankfulness for a weekly dose of this work, as well as some truly awkward hugs from total strangers upon the rare occasion I’ve been outed in public. I don’t see myself as super huggable, but I digress. On the other end of it, I’ve also gotten a lot of really nasty comments, complete with rather impressively creative bits of harsh criticism. Social conservatives tend to be angry with the left-leaning rhetoric by default, while others rant without realizing the work isn’t hard journalism, attacking the integrity of the information even after we started using the disclaimer. A few people have told Sam Campbell that they “suck ass” and that The Advocate should bring Johnny Beaver back, which… as I said above, thank you for that. Less amusing have been the obscenities spewed at me in public, as well as a couple of threats of physical violence. It’s okay though, I know karate.

I don’t know karate.

So now you know all the secrets, and you know where things are headed. It’s nice to have a bit of history, and this bubble has been waiting to burst for a while. Pop. All that’s left is to just thank you as hard as I possibly can. Fans of the columns and detractors alike, you’ve all done your part. Having this work both supported and crapped on for so long has been a really valuable engagement, and I’ve truly appreciated the chance to have such an intense and strange connection to the community through this work.

Even if your idea of liberalism is sometimes summed up by owning a Volvo, and you’ve got ten committees for every one citizen, Corvallis, I do love you so.

By Johnny Beaver
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