Yosemite Valle from Tunnel View of Yosemite National Park, California by Photojournalist Lee Foster
Yosemite Valle from Tunnel View of Yosemite National Park, California by Photojournalist Lee Foster
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Dear Colleagues,

I realize you may consider this a ghoulish exercise, but I am writing to request your assistance in preparing my obituary. I wish to get my affairs in order.

Not one of us likes to think of our demise, but very few of us get out of this life alive. Those who have a successful strategy on this important point might wish to share this with us by hitting the Reply All.

Superior nutrition and good health habits (I work out each weekday night at the Berkeley Y) probably assure me a far longer life than was lived by my grandfather, Edwin Winfield Foster, who succumbed at age 96. But I am conservative in my projections, so I am assuming only 4 more years of life than he experienced.

So here is a start today at my obituary. I’m sure there are typos in it and errors of concept. Those of you with more vision than I have may well be able to project beyond the few short years that I see clearly ahead. There are omissions about my past also, but space is limited. I am now healthy at age 64, but, as I mentioned, I am not confident that I will live beyond 100.

Here is a first draft, your suggestions requested:

Associated Press, April 1, 2043:

Lee Foster, Travel Journalist, 1943-2043

Noted travel journalist Lee Foster passed away this week on April 1, 2043 in Berkeley, California.

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“He died as he has lived now for decades,” said one observer. “He was looking at his computer screen with a smile in his eyes. He had a toasted baguette with melted brie in his left hand and a glass of Chardonnay in his right hand.”

Foster lived for the past 30 years in Berkeley at the Home For Marginalized Travel Journalists, a national franchise of retirement residences set up by generous grants from travel industry providers in 2010, saluting “Those who created the market for travel.” (Editor’s historic note: These residences were fully funded before the terrible Green Travel Panic and Crash of 2011, which bankrupted most of these travel companies in 2012.)

It is said that Foster published words or photos, at one time or another, in every major travel magazine and newspaper of his time, from Travel + Leisure to the New York Times. His travel books won major awards. Over all, his work won seven Lowell Thomas Awards. He had been the first travel journalist ever to earn a dollar in publishing travel in an online situation, back in 1983, when he did a deal with CompuServe to put his travel writing online in return for a 10 percent royalty. He had travel photos in 225 books of a persistent brand known as Lonely Planet, which did not go bankrupt until 2015.

Speculation was widespread about, “What happened to Foster?”

“Clearly, Foster peaked about 2005,” said one observer, as he dipped into the soft Opus I Merlot on the festive boat chartered to scatter Foster’s ashes in San Francisco Bay. “By 2006 the $0 crowdsourcing tendencies in the travel media had knocked out his writing markets. By 2007 the $1 microstock intrusions had crippled his photo markets. Foster’s problem was that he continued to fight the trend. He would have been OK if he had followed the wise path of most of his colleagues, succumbed to the pervasive depression, and given up the quest for profitability. He did not know how to go gently into that good night. That was his downfall.”

A spokesman for Google, a longterm Foster partner, felt these comments were not the total story, as he savored the Asiago aged cheese and western states pine nuts in pesto, both on crackers, which Foster had specified be available for guests in his final ash-scattering event on San Francisco Bay. The Google spokesman requested anonymity, as did all the commentators on Foster, due to the animosity towards Foster that peaked in the landmark 2022 Supreme Court Case Foster vs Reason (Case # 172GCW), which can be Googled.

Yosemite Valle  from Tunnel View of Yosemite National Park, California by Photojournalist Lee Foster
Yosemite Valle from Tunnel View of Yosemite National Park, California by Photojournalist Lee Foster

“The $0 crowdsourcing and $1 microstock did not actually destroy Foster,” said the Google representative. “It was not until the Green Movement/Global Warming fully took over travel in 2008 on a worldwide basis that Foster weakened substantially. When all 192 nations in the UN endorsed the ‘Chill Out, Don’t Travel’ motto in 2009, and required that this be displayed in 16 point type on all travel product advertisements, Foster saw his last profitable web publishing opportunities diminish.”

The Google representative’s comments hushed conversation a bit, especially among the old timers aboard the farewell boat trip for Foster. Many of them recalled the terrible Green Travel Panic and Crash of 2011, which some students of history felt exceeded in scope the US Depression Crash of 1929. The worldwide travel industry was unable to respond quickly enough to growing antipathy towards all travel, which requires so much energy and emits so much carbon. Virtually all travel companies worldwide went bankrupt by March 2012, shunned by every virtuous human being on the planet.

“To his credit,” added the Google representative, “Foster did hang in there to the bitter end. We have in our archives that the last Adsense Ad related to a travel product was delivered on April 18, 2012, and it was to Foster Travel Publishing (www.fostertravel.com). Apparently, we had a little excess inventory from a small yacht cruise ship in the Galapagos, which was a few years behind the curve, and we delivered the ad to a consumer looking at Foster’s article about the Galapagos. The consumer was from Myanmar and wished to go the Galapagos, not knowing, of course, that airline travel had ceased to Ecuador. I can’t blame the consumer because Internet access in the country had been somewhat truncated at times.”

By 2012, observers report, Foster had pretty much given up the struggle and continued to persist in a vegetative state at the Home for Marginalized Travel Journalists in Berkeley.

Foster’s later appearance in the news occurred in 2022 as the long, slow legal case against Foster, mentioned above, made its way to the Supreme Court. The main argument of the plaintiffs in the aforementioned class action suit, Foster vs Reason (Case # 172GCW) was Lost Alternative Income Opportunity. This was best expressed on the final ash-scattering voyage by Plaintiff X, who mentioned also that she particularly enjoyed the Oberle San Luis Obispo County Cabernet paired with the Sonoma Goat Cheese in a radicchio salad.

“Our main argument with Foster was that he gave us hope, which was unconscionable,” said Plaintiff X. “When the system was gradually crashing, he held out the prospect of potential travel journalism profitability. This was sinful, illegal, and inappropriate behavior by Foster. In my case, he deprived me of ten potentially profitable years selling Real Estate. I could have made a bundle. But Foster sucked me in with the hope that I could survive economically as a travel journalist. It was all those professional development sessions on Travel and the Internet. It is for this that we hang him in effigy every year on his birthday, July 23.”

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