Of all the editors I’ve had over the years, Ward Harkavy might just be my absolute favorite, both as a journalist and as a human being. He arrived at the Village Voice as the new sports editor in 2000 after long stints at alt-weeklies in Phoenix and Denver and a brief one at the short-lived Long Island Voice, and immediately seemed like he’d been there forever, his Oklahoma twang notwithstanding. Though he didn’t know me at all beyond my occasional Voice bylines, he greeted me like an old friend and enthusiastically assigned me countless articles on various instances of sports owner nefariousness; when the Voice sports section vanished out from under him as abruptly as the Long Island Voice had, he shifted over to news editor (and, briefly, interim editor-in-chief) and we kept up our partnership without interruption, expanding it to include state politician nefariousness and federal official nefariousness and developer nefariousness and city officials conspiring with sports team officials to siphon off public funds to pay for lobbying to extract even more public funds. (If you’ve been reading this site over the years, a lot of the reporting here was underwritten by paid articles that were commissioned on Ward’s watch.) Nothing tickled Ward more than taking down powerful people who used their power to screw over the greater public, especially when it could be done with the combination of righteous — but never self-righteous — indignation and cynical good humor that was his daily approach to our crazy world.
Ward died yesterday morning, of Covid, which he apparently contracted at a rehab facility where he was recovering from complications of dental surgery. It’s unthinkable that I’ll never hear his voice again — not just his actual voice, greeting me with a “Hi, twin!” because of one long-ago day when we both turned up at the Voice dressed in identical office garb of t-shirts and shorts, but his writing voice, which since he was summarily fired from the Voice in 2011 (everyone got summarily fired from the Voice, eventually) he had dedicated to creating a parallel universe of equally hilarious and incisive nefariousness coverage on Twitter and Facebook. A world whose absurdities aren’t chronicled by Ward Harkavy doesn’t seem like a world at all; it’s a small comfort to know that the countless people who loved and admired him will do our part to pick up his mantle, but only a small one. Goodbye, Ward — the world has too few genuinely good people in it to lose you so soon.