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The State of The Partial Observer Address
Transcript from the First Anniversary Gala held at the Hotel de Grandeur's Virtual Ballroom in Chicago on November 5, 2001

by Mark D. Johnson
November 10, 2001

The State of The Partial Observer Address_Mark D. Johnson-Transcript from the First Anniversary Gala held at the Hotel de Grandeur's Virtual Ballroom in Chicago on November 5, 2001 ...and now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the editor of The Partial Observer, Mr. Mark D. Johnson...
[ audience stands and applauds ]
Thank you… Thank you very much!
[ more applause ]
Thank you… You know, I was actually worried for a while this morning that I wouldn't make it here tonight, because when I arrived at O'Hare I immediately heard the rumors about some guy getting past the checkpoint with seven knives, a can of mace, and a stun gun in his bag and assumed that I'd be spending the rest of the day on the run from our advice columnist Dear Jon.
[ laughter ]
But of course all is well, and you may have noticed that Dear Jon and I were seated at the same table this evening and enjoyed a pleasant conversation, though judging from the frown on his face right now, I think it's time to ask the hotel staff to remove all sharp objects from table five.
[ laughter as two servers approach Dear Jon's table and remove all the knives ]
Thank you. Now then, I've come back to Chicago where The Partial Observer began to commemorate our anniversary and to deliver the very first State of The Partial Observer Address, fictional though it may be, and I'm pleased to report to you that the state of The Partial Observer is strong!
[ standing ovation ]
Since our launch in November, 2000, Partial Observers have witnessed events that were unfathomable a year ago: incredibly complex presidential election results, massive destruction of innocent life in the U.S. by foreign terrorists, and now a bizarre war full of uncertainties. We have been through a lot as a nation in the past twelve months and continue to struggle mentally, financially, and some of us even physically. Through all the turmoil and the lighter times in between, has been a place for its readers to debate, critique, expound, vent, muse, provoke, poke fun - a place for creative or philosophical expression as the mood strikes.

The inaugural year of The Partial Observer exceeded my expectations in many ways, and surely I would not be here tonight were it not for those who took the time to write articles, movie reviews, Dear Jon Letters, and forum entries. To all of you who contributed with your thoughts and talent, without receiving so much as a dime (I'm sorry to say), I wish to extend my sincere appreciation.
[ Johnson leads the audience in applause ]
There are a few gentlemen in particular that deserve the utmost gratitude, and they happen to be here tonight: our loyal columnists, who never cease to amaze me with their brilliant and prolific writing, James Leroy Wilson and Dear Jon, and also a regular contributor whose writings have shown up in just about every area at the PO, Mr. S. E. Shepherd. Would you three please stand?
[ Resounding applause and cheers ]
And thank you to former columnist Jon Deer for suspending his own horoscope column so that I wouldn't have to.
[ laughter ]
I would also like to extend thanks to Everett Wilson for allowing us to be the first to publish his novel Real Things in serialized form. If you haven't read Real Things yet, I encourage you to do so. This is a well-written book by a man who knows a lot about people, especially when it comes to matters of faith, and whether you are a person of faith or not, this novel will challenge and surprise you. Thank you, Everett, for your fine contribution.
[ Wilson stands and acknowledges applause ]
And thanks must also go out to jazz pianist Hal Galper, who so graciously granted an interview with me last December and responded with such thoughtful and eloquent answers, while allowing me to masquerade as a journalist. To Hal, who could not make it here tonight, to Multicorp Solutions in St. Paul, Minnesota for providing our hosting needs, and to all of our readers who took the time to entertain our partial observations, please accept my heartfelt appreciation.
[ applause ]
We live in such a remarkable time and have such amazing technology available to us that a shy guy like me can start up his own electronic magazine and get others to write for it and hundreds more to read it on a regular basis. And because we have been so enabled I fully expect far more participation in the year to come. Throughout the past year, many people have had good intentions to write something for us, but never found the time, which is understandable considering that we run completely on a volunteer basis. However, I suspect that there are many out there without a good excuse for non-participation, and you know who you are.
[ scattered chuckles ]
Just last Saturday in his weekly radio monologue on A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor said a couple of things worth repeating here tonight. In describing how the Lutherans in Minnesota don't take advantage of the one day of the year they can get away with dressing up and acting strange, on Halloween, he said, "Freedom that goes unused tends to atrophy and wither away." Our right to a Freedom of Speech has been used to defend some terrible things that exist on the Internet, but I believe that The Partial Observer embodies the true spirit of our first Constitutional Amendment. At The Partial Observer, you have a vehicle through which you can exercise that freedom and express your opinions without having proven writing credentials or a certain ideology. We welcome diversity in thought, race, age, and gender, but if Partial Observers stop observing, then it will indeed wither away. We can continue only as long as we have participants, and while I'm thankful for what we've got, there is room for many more!

Keillor also said this: "There is no Freedom of Speech where people are terrified of being wrong." I know that some of our readers don't write because they are afraid that their opinion is not worthy enough, or well-informed enough, or might possibly be considered by others as wrong. I plead with you to conquer that fear, find some time to write, and share your thoughts at There is no better time to share your opinions, whether they relate to war or to the movies, than during a time of crisis, such as our nation faces now. We need to both ponder with seriousness our place in the world as well as seek relief in trivial matters like entertainment and sports. Let us be bold and celebrate this freedom like never before!
[ applause ]
Now that The Partial Observer is a year old, some of you might be wondering what's in store for the coming year. What new features and surprises will turn up in the months ahead? While the design of the website has been well-received by our audience, it can no doubt be improved upon, and as time permits, we will be gradually rolling out some subtle graphical changes. Though the site's structure will remain mostly intact, we are making plans for a new navigational menu to make it easier for our visitors to move about the site.
[ applause ]
As always, your feedback will be essential in evaluating the success of these changes. And we are always open to new ideas, which can be sent to me at

In the near future, be on the lookout for our third Reader Invitational. In our first invitational, Musical Milestones, readers ranked their top five musical experiences that shaped their musical tastes. This was followed by Film Faves, in which we listed our top five movies. Several have expressed to me the enjoyment they get from seeing the varied tastes within our online community through these invitationals, and we are excited about continuing with them. But you'll have to visit the site later this month to find out what the third topic is, and I hope you will all participate!

In closing, I just want to say that The Partial Observer, as small as it is in the vastness of cyberspace, has been one of the most exciting and rewarding projects with which I have ever been involved, and my enthusiasm for it is as strong as ever. And I leave you tonight with the hope that the partial observations found at our site will inspire you to share your own, for it is inspiration that has carried us this far and will spur us forward toward new discoveries in the year ahead. Thank you, and drive safely.
[ audience stands and applauds ]

This event was sponsored in part by the Hotel de Grandeur, "Where Illusions Become Reality."

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