I began performing in comedy shows with Scott Stiffler just about a quarter of a century ago, from the bowels of the Bowery to Caroline’s on Broadway. About half that span ago, our relationship changed in a lateral but positive way. At the very same time my ordinary print outlets (to which I had long contributed free-lance articles) were drying up, Scott became an editor at the company that published The Villager, Chelsea Now, Downtown Express and Gay City News, and gave me more assignments than I could count. Later, when that company joined the others in transmogrifying into something unrecognizable, he started Chelsea Community News, which you may have heard me plug here from time to time. For example, I first met Barbara Mayer Gustern and Austin Pendleton on assignments for him. Scott has, in essence, been my angel for a dozen years and there have been times even he doesn’t know about when he has helped me eke by, by the narrowest of margins.
That’s him in the photo above. As you can see, he’s in trouble. He had an accident a week or two ago on the subway, followed by a tricky neck operation, and now he faces a long convalescence in a third story walk-up apartment. I hasten to point out that he’s strong, so I’m confident that he’ll be okay in the end. (I stopped mouthing off to him around the time he took up boxing). But it won’t be an easy few months for him, and he is self-employed (as I said, he publishes an online newsletter). So he’ll be grappling with both medical bills and living expenses, even as he lies there for endless weeks, unable to function at full capacity. There is a Go Fund Me campaign to help him out here. I hope you will be able to kick in.
One last thing to point out. Scott enriches life in New York City. What he does is valuable, but it is vanishing. If your conception of this plea is pure charity, fine, but do you see me flood your in-box with merely charitable appeals? The fact that Scott performs the work that he does, and requires an appeal like this is a national disgrace. The kind of thing he does ought to command a six figure salary and premium insurance, and if you think the fact that he doesn’t means he has competed unworthily in a free marketplace, and is therefore somehow undeserving, you are INCORRECT. New York City once had a dozen daily newspapers, and many weeklies all at the same time, all competing in harmony, or more accurately, in cacophony, but with plenty of room for all. Now a few large corporations have monopolized the media landscape, and vital cultural and informational services are evaporating before our very eyes. Scott is a hero. But at the moment, he doesn’t need laurels, he needs lettuce. Again, please support him here.