Chistopher Hichens passed away last night. Despite our differences of opinion on a wide range of issues, I will miss his wit, his charm, and his troublemaking.
Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair and editor-in-chief of the NY Observer when I was Associate Publisher, wrote:
He was a man of insatiable appetites—for cigarettes, for scotch, for company, for great writing, and, above all, for conversation. That he had an output to equal what he took in was the miracle in the man. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who could match the volume of exquisitely crafted columns, essays, articles, and books he produced over the past four decades. He wrote often—constantly, in fact, and right up to the end—and he wrote fast; frequently without the benefit of a second draft or even corrections. I can recall a lunch in 1991, when I was editing The New York Observer, and he and Aimée Bell, his longtime editor, and I got together for a quick bite at a restaurant on Madison, no longer there. Christopher’s copy was due early that afternoon. Pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his intake. After stumbling back to the office, we set him up at a rickety table and with an old Olivetti, and in a symphony of clacking he produced a 1,000-word column of near perfection in under half an hour.
I first saw (and met) Hitch at a debate between him and the vile naziphile George Galloway back in 2005. His ability to articulate and subsequently eviserate the arguments against the war in Iraq was thrilling. I was a relatively new blogger then, and I covered it with the excitement of a Mets fan at the World Series in'69. It was exhilerating cheering an unmatched articulate intellectual bat for our side. Those were the days.
.........it was an embarrassment, an intellectual battle with one side missing -- a vaudevillan in its place, a poor one at that. And the Brown Shirts were out in full, spewing their hate. The left wing moonbats in attendance were so unstable and disturbed that when Mr. Hitchens made his opening request for a moment of silence to remember the 160 Iraqis who'd been brutally murdered in Baghdad earlier that day, one man immediately shouted "No!" as comrades began jeering and booing the journalist. America, meet your "antiwar" activists.
Among the apparently many bloggers at Wednesday night's "Grapple in the Apple" (the debate between Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway in New York) was Pamela "aka Atlas" who writes the blog Atlas Shrugs.
As most of you know, I was also there, but up in the right side of the balcony surrounded by the
forces of Darknessevident supporters of George Galloway. From up there, you could hear the faint sounds of boos through the applause when Galloway denounced Israel, but I couldn't see where the boos were coming from. It was therefore only upon reviewing the TiVoed broadcast of the event did I identify the source:
Not only does she blog, ladies and gentlemen, but she heckles! Given the fool in the row behind obnoxiously clapping over her head, I'm only surprised Pamela didn't turn around and whack him one.
UPDATE: September 20th, 2005 [by Hitchens]
Galloway update: Thanks to all who wrote to take my side after the debate last Wednesday. I wasn't actually on very good form and was feeling a bit hot and, after awhile, a bit sick. For example, when told I was a butterfly who had metamorphosed back into a slug, I ought to have been able to summon lepidoptera correctness and reply that butterflies pupate from sturdy, furry caterpillars. But others did notice this for me--and a man who can' tell a slug from a caterpillar is liable to miss the difference between an Iraqi dictatorship and an Iraqi democracy.
I don't know how Galloway felt, but he failed to show up two nights later when we were billed to appear on Canadian television, and he has since had Jane Fonda cancel her two promised appearances with him in Madison and Chicago this week. She claims to be recovering from hip surgery, and I hope she feels better soon, but I know she didn't have hip surgery between the time the debate was transmitted and the time she bailed.
I could never reconcile Hitch's position on Gd and Israel, but that for another day. He was an original.
Rest in peace.
UPDATE: Spencer has this: Christopher Hitchens debates Tariq Ramadan