"Unfortunately this is not single malt, but it will have to do," Howard County blogger Bill Woodcock said as he raised his glass for a toast at last week's Howard County blog party at Second Chance Saloon in Columbia.
The quip, which invoked a few chuckles and some smiles from the 30 or so partygoers, was a reference to slain Howard County blogger Dennis Lane, to whom it was a drink of choice.
On May 10, Lane was found stabbed to death inside his Ellicott City home. Lane's 15-year-old daughter, Morgan Lane Arnold, and her 20-year-old boyfriend Jason Anthony Bulmer, also of Ellicott City, have been charged with conspiring to kill the girl's father and currently await trial in Howard County Circuit Court. Arnold, who faces first-degree murder and conspiracy charges, is believed to have encouraged Bulmer in the killing and is scheduled for trial on Nov. 18, according to the charging documents. Bulmer, who also faces first-degree murder and conspiracy charges, is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 29.
The Aug. 21 gathering was the first since the death of Lane and was attended by local bloggers, county officials and prospective political candidates, including State Senator and Howard County Executive Republican candidate Allan Kittleman and his presumed opponent, Democrat and County Council member Courtney Watson.
At the party, bloggers reflected on both Lane's absence as well as his enduring impact.
"I couldn't let this event pass without talking about our friend Dennis Lane," said Woodcock, author of the local blog The 53, before his toast. "To say that he just had a legacy to the blog community doesn't do the gentleman justice. But to the blog community, we certainly lost a very supportive force. ... Just encouraging, and saying everybody's voice was important."
Tom Coale, a close friend and author of the political blog HoCoRising, said Lane was the life of every blog party he attended.
"He would walk in and the waters would part and he would own the room, as was his custom," said Coale, who is running for a seat to represent District 9B in the Maryland House of Delegates. "These parties were his game."
Coale said Lane would stand in the same place all night as waves of other local bloggers or readers would come up to him and discuss his blog, their blog or just the medium itself.
"He read everybody, and he would critique you in terms of your voice," said Coale.
Julia McCready, author of the blog Village Green/Town Squared, remembered when she met Lane at a blog party.
"He sought me out to let me know he liked my blog, and that was so exciting because he was our guy. He was our Clark Gable. He was the big guy around town," said McCready, wore a red shirt in honor of Lane, whose signature was to wear a red scarf to blog parties and community events.
Brian Dunn, an original Howard County blogger, said he met Lane at one of the first blog parties organized by Jessie Newburn, author of HoCoBlogs, in 2007.
Dunn, who writes Columbia 2.0, also said it was the last blog party in February where he saw Lane for the last time.
""I've heard other people say it too, but he always encouraged other people to write more," said Dunn, a member of the Columbia Association Board of Directors. "In doing that you find your own voice, and he certainly found his in his writing and it's a voice, sadly, we won't get back."
Coale reflected on the absence of Lane not just as a blogger, but as a visible personality within the community.
"To a certain extent, that life has lost it's color," Coale said. "It's like going from high definition to regular cable. It's something that all of us are going through, and we are all going to deal with in our own ways, but I think everybody feels it."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun