Former AAN President and Alt-Weekly Veteran Clif Garboden Dies at 62

Clif Garboden, former Boston Phoenix senior managing editor and former AAN president, has passed away at the age of sixty-two, according to a family member.

In 2004, Garboden began chemo and radiation treatment after a tumor was discovered in his throat. He addressed the situation in a typically lighthearted manner, writing an AAN blog post that answered such questions as, “Why do bad things happen to people like Clif?”

Although he successfully fought off that initial bout, the cancer returned this past month, an event that was dutifully reported in his blog.

His daughter Molly sent out an email today which said that Clif ultimately succumbed to complications from the cancer and the recent onset of pneumonia.

Garboden’s long tenure at the Boston Phoenix ended in May 2009 as part of a round of layoffs by parent company Phoenix Media:

Garboden’s roots at the Phoenix and its various predecessors go back to 1970. He’s worked as a photo editor and a section editor, among other things, and helped the Phoenix launch papers in Worcester (since closed) and Portland (still kicking).

While it doesn’t quite trace back 39 years, Garboden also has a long history with AAN. He began on what was then called the Admissions Committee (now the Membership Committee) in 1995. He then joined the Board of Directors as Admissions Chair in 1999 and held that position until 2002.

As Admissions Chair, Garboden transformed the admissions process by creating forms that committee members used to rate each applying paper on a number of editorial factors like writing, reporting, design and listings.

. . .

In addition to his official capacities, Garboden was also instrumental in the conception of and one of its most active and vocal users. He was an active participant on the editorial listserv, generously providing advice (and humor) to those who needed help.

“Clif was a real workhorse,” says AAN’s former executive director Richard Karpel. “He also was a constant burr in the saddle; that’s how he got things done. I have to believe the angels are already hearing from him about their inadequacies.”

Garboden’s family plans to hold a memorial service on April 9 in Framingham, Mass.

Updated 3:31 pm: Phoenix editor Carly Carioli writes:

The fight never went out of Clif — nor did his sense of humor. He was blogging from his hospital bed earlier this month, even after he got the news that the cancer returned. In the hospital he fell and gashed his head. Later he posted a camera-phone photo of himself post-fall, and joked that the heart monitor on his finger was making it hard to type.

Carioli points out the final paragraph of Garboden’s article, "Off the Press! My life and good times in alternative journalism," which was written for the 40th anniversary of the Boston Phoenix:

The alternative press — the Phoenix, the Bay Guardian, and the hundred or so alt weeklies toiling in the red states — is anything but obsolete. It’s something to cherish, something proud to be part of. Something invented out of restless outrage to propel the cutting edge of things. It survives in a state of perpetual self-contradiction, a permanent instrument of change — something forever new and necessary. As I tell the youth of today who venture into our offices, we’re the good guys. We never got rich, but we are going to heaven.