The one true friend I thought I’d found

It’s not corpse kicking, it’s corpse-kisser kicking:

Borges invited Hitch and me into his home, fed us tea and empanadas, and launched into a seamlessly brilliant discourse on surrealism in Latin American history. He talked for 30 minutes without stopping, during which time Hitch smoked six-dozen cigarettes. When Borges finished, Hitchens paused, spat in his ashcan, and said,

“Of course, you know, you’re wrong about everything.”

He then proceeded to refute Borges, point for point, until he reduced the blind scribe of Buenos Aires to tears.

Not quite up to the standard set by the classic of this genre, but not bad.

I do kind of wonder who the “I drank Johnny Walker with Hitch in Kabul stuff” is supposed to impress. The same people who are impressed by stories of riding the bus with Johnny Mac and debating with Pinky, I guess.

84 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Mary says:

    It kind of loses its bite when the editors feel compelled to label it as “SATIRE” right at the top.

  2. 2
    DougJ says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Yeah, I know.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    JPL says:

    let it go..

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    Still, it was hilarious. I laughed out loud at the “bird on each arm”.

  6. 6
    Jager says:

    I do kind of wonder who the “I drank Johnny Walker with Hitch in Kabul stuff” is supposed to impress.

    Let me think for a moment, got it! Themselves.

  7. 7
    DougJ says:


    People were egging me on via email about this one.

  8. 8
    (another) Josh says:

    The commenters over there who don’t recognize it as satire, and the commenter who assumes that disliking it means you don’t recognize it as satire, are cute. And yeah, David, Pollitt’s piece kind of answers the question of whom the serious reminiscences are trying to impress: those whose attraction to Hitch was based on the Maileresque machismo . . .

  9. 9
    wasabi gasp says:

    It appears he left an unimpression on you.

  10. 10
    Calouste says:

    TPM reports that Ron Paul walked out of a CNN interview after getting some questions about his racist newsletters.

    That’ll be the end of the Paul surge then, time for Huntsmania.

  11. 11
    Mino says:

    I once tried to read an essay on surrealism in Latin American literature. Jeezuz. History–I think they make it up as they go.

  12. 12
    kindness says:

    The same kind of people who agree with Sarah Palin (beware, Fox link) that the Christmas card that President Obama sent out was in terrible taste.

  13. 13
    handy says:

    Carpetdumb/Herp Derp could comment on how boring and FPer fap-worthy this post is.

    And he’d be right.

  14. 14
    David in NY says:

    I actually started reading Pollack’s piece in the middle and for a minute it almost seemed straight — then I looked at the top, saw the “mutual virility” line, and got the idea.

  15. 15
    Martin says:

    I’m looking at this Loco, Land of Chaos ad in the sidebar and wondering – how many staff meetings were dedicated to determining exactly how much boob they thought they could get away with illustrating sticking out of leather assassin bondage outfit (the preferred outfit for assassins, natch) before someone came up with the never before considered idea that if you just eliminate her nipples, there’s really no limit to how much boobage you can get away with.

    To risk two Seinfeld references in one day, I imagine it resembled the ‘menage-a-trois’ solution to the ‘how to orchestrate the roommate girlfriend swap’ problem.

    And people wonder why I stopped sleeping after my daughter was born.

  16. 16
    carpeduum says:

    I do kind of wonder who the “I drank Johnny Walker with Hitch in Kabul stuff” is supposed to impress.

    Errum….Cole of course. Is that a trick questions?

    Same as the response to who believes Saddam is trying to get yellowcake from Africa question.

  17. 17
    Comrade Mary says:

    @kindness: Oh God, why did I click? And those weren’t even anonymous comments: they all link to people’s Facebook accounts.

  18. 18
    cmorenc says:

    I can top Neal Pollack’s account of his encounter with “Hitch” and Borges…

    I once had two beers with Slim Pickens in a bar in Wyoming, after by chance one night he sat down at the next barstool. We had a wonderful hour together, him spinning tales of his days in Hollywood making various movies, his semi-retirement in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, and in me, he had a raptly attentive listener who hadn’t heard all his tales a thousand times. Pickens was one of those truly lucky men in the movie business who made a fabulous career out of playing variations on his own self…as the Buck Owens/Ringo Star song said “all I gotta do is…act naturally”. I wouldn’t have contradicted or changed a single thing about that magical hour with Slim. Frankly, I’d much rather have had that hour with Slim Pickens than an hour intimately witnessing “Hitch” tear down Borges about Latin American Surrealism.

  19. 19
    DougJ says:


    Great story.

  20. 20
    Martin says:

    @kindness: I think in a survey, the teatards voted that the White House xmas card should have re-enacted the Abu Graib photo with Lynnie England holding the leash on the naked prisoner, but with Jesus illustrated in for Lynnie, and Mohammed as the prisoner.

    You know, peace on earth, goodwill to men, and all of that fucking CHRISTmas bullshit. It’d have been properly American, at least.

    If I were President, the xmas right before I knew I was leaving office I would be so sorely tempted to put out a xmas card with Jesus, wearing a Santa hat and holding a shotgun and riding on a velociraptor in a WalMart parking lot, that I think the Secret Service would have to put one in my kneecap to force me down. Either that or commission Matt and Tre to do another holiday video – definitely with Brian Boitano.

    If I ever run for office, never ever vote for me.

  21. 21
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    they all link to people’s Facebook accounts.

    That, along with Bullshitico, shows that moving to Facebook comments really doesn’t raise the discourse when the discourse is already populated by fuckwits.

    If you never read Neal Pollack during his “Neal Pollack” era, it’s a nice reflection on the post-911/warblogger crazy.

  22. 22
    David in NY says:

    @Comrade Mary: I kind of liked the comments, clueless or not. Even, or especially, when they wandered off on the grammar of the which/that distinction, and whether the comma matters.

  23. 23
    Hungry Joe says:

    By far the very best reminiscence of a recently deceased author is James Thurber’s “Something to Say,” on the brilliant, misunderstood misanthrope Elliot Vereker in the 7/30/1932 New Yorker. I came across it decades ago and ever since have been unable to read a fluff-the-obnoxious-dead piece with a straight face.

    That “Something to Say” is fiction is, of course, beside the point.

  24. 24
    Valdivia says:

    I once slept across the hallway from Hitch at an Orwell conference and saw him drink scotch or whatever that was for breakfast. Not satire.

    I also saw 3 different women show up at his room each night of the conference.

    This thing was hilarious though

  25. 25
    Ken says:

    @Calouste: Is it just me, or are these surges getting shorter? Bachmann was around for weeks.

  26. 26
    KG says:

    @Martin: I find your ideas interesting, do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to? Or perhaps a campaign I can contribute to?

  27. 27
    Joel says:

    Anything that kicks these dick-swingers in the balls is good by me.

  28. 28
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @kindness: I wish someone would point out to Palin the Ignoramous that the “Christmas” Tree is a pagan symbol and has absolutely nothing to do with Christ or Christmas. Same as wreaths, mistletoe and the Yule Log, as well as the whole gift giving thing. I hate dumb asses like her with a passion.

    That having been said, Happy Winter Solstice to all us Hethens.

  29. 29
    some guy says:

    reading one Iraq War cheerleader reminisce about another Iraq War cheerleader, both foreign twits taking away jobs from American wingnut twits, seems somewhat pointless.

    why can’t assholes like Pollack just sod off, already?

  30. 30
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Why don’t I have permission to edit my comment? Of course I meant HEATHENS. Fan chew very much.

  31. 31
    Hethen Mary says:

    That having been said, Happy Winter Solstice to all us Hethens.


  32. 32
    rea says:

    Isn’t drinking Johnny Walker illegal in Kabul? Islamic country and all that . . .

  33. 33
    Comrade Mary says:

    Fine, FINE, I can’t even change my handle without getting maudit-moderated.

    [reading generously]Nice meta-satire, some guy [/reading generously]

  34. 34
    David in NY says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Yeah, that happens to me occasionally, and I want to ask, “What do you mean permission? It’s my damn comment!”

  35. 35
    Mark K says:

    Here’s the best one about Mr. Hitchens:,26890/

  36. 36
    Brian R. says:

    I once saw Hitch in the CNN Studios. I remember it like it was yesterday. I just changed the channel, and BOOM, there he was. Amazing.

  37. 37
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @DougJ: I knew it! Please let the record reflect that I was not among them.

  38. 38
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I thought it was Hessians with a lisp.

  39. 39
    LesGS says:

    @Martin: Martin, I’m coming out of mostly-lurk mode to go completely OT on this post simply to say how glad I am to have seen your recent comments here. Maybe I just missed your posts, but it seems like I haven’t seen you around for weeks, and you almost always add something positive, measured and educational to a thread. The pondering of an assassin’s nippleless boobs being a case in point… :D

  40. 40
    GregB says:

    Sarah would have had a gutted deer with the star of Bethlehem atop.

    I am so tired of these thin skinned religious fanatics who are upset by anything and everything that isn’t exactly as they want it to be done.

  41. 41
    Hill Dweller says:

    What was wrong with the card? I’m not clicking on the Fox link.

  42. 42
    GregB says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Insufficient amounts of Jeebus, Christmas trees and scripture.

  43. 43
    Raven says:

    Eat the apple and fuck the corpse!

  44. 44
    Suffern ACE says:

    @kindness: so first we get some bozo reporter flagging on about how Bo gets a 24.99 toy for Christmas, and then Fox whines that he’s on a Christmas card. Palin can’t see family represented in that picture because she’s never been able to love a dog. Just saying.

  45. 45
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Hill Dweller: It didn’t seem to show Jeebus as a northern European blue eyed guy wrapped in a American flag wishing the reader “Merry Christmas,” thus persecuting christianists everywhere. In fact, it was a lovely photo, updating and improving on the study with a fire blazing scene painting used as card by St. Ronnie of the mythological strapping young bucks.

    ETA: I got the info from Mother Jones as I won’t click a Fux link either.

  46. 46
    Calouste says:


    Physical phenomenon I think, waves get shorter and higher as you get closer to the shore. Or it could be that the Republican primary voters are really getting desperate in search of their ideal candidate who is not in the race. I think if Pawlenty had hung on, he’d be doing well now. Baptist/Evangelical, unlike Romney, Gingrich and Paul, and manages occassionally not to look like a complete dunce, unlike Perry, Bachmann and Cain.

  47. 47
    taylormattd says:

    Fucking awesome.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Martin says:

    @LesGS: I’ve been wicked busy. Budget cuts are wiping out my staff left and right – oh yeah, and we’re growing 10% per year, so do more with less, get more efficient, blah blah blah. Lately has been a fairly epic effort to make sure we do this without going off the cliff – “Get me a quarter of a million dollars and you can save one position” so I go and do that, and save one, and the next one requires half a million dollars to save.

    It’s been interesting. Lots of 16 hour days to stop layoffs. Lots of convincing everyone to do everything completely differently – and get it implemented for no dollars and in no time and seamlessly. Today I’m taking an 8 hour day because I’m struggling to switch gears on some stuff and I need to unfocus some. The stress has gotten … concerning. I need to blow off some of that, and this is where I do it.

    But the nippleless assassin does suggest an interesting thought experiment. Since the nipple is the FCCs no fly zone, as it were, could we go topless on broadcast TV simply with a little CGI magic? We indeed have some insanely stupid conventions and limitations in this country.

    You guys can only imagine what it must be like to be my kids – we have discussions like this at dinner all the time. In fact, I might have to raise this issue this evening. My daughter will be rightly horrified by half an hour of nipple discussion. Last night she had to endure me trying to convince her to change her name to Bubba, which I contend is a fantastically good idea for a little girl. What teenage boy would date her? I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.

  50. 50
    JGabriel says:

    I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to mock my own team, but when I saw this photo of Obama and Angela Merkel, the first thought that popped into my mind was a thought balloon over Merkel’s head that said: “Why do American presidents always want to touch my shoulders?”


  51. 51
    Raven says:

    @Martin: We’re at a decade of record enrollment and record budget cuts in Georgia.

  52. 52
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Calouste: Pawlenty couldn’t raise money to pay voters be competitive in that tacky crucial Iowa Straw Poll. Je was not going to be able to hang around to win Iowa.

  53. 53
    Calouste says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Gingrich had 2.3% in that poll and his campaign was pretty much dead for a few months. He came back for a while. Can’t really blame TPaw for not understanding the fundamental find-the-non-Romney-who-doesn’t-selfdestruct nature of this race a few months out. Few did.

  54. 54
    JenJen says:

    I intimated that sometimes women could be funny on purpose.

    He was probably making it up, but I didn’t see much of a point in reading past that line since I imagine Hitch actually had conversations about that subject. Not halfway through the first paragraph, even!

    Oh, just kidding. Pretty funny piece, honestly. :-)

    As an aside, I really enjoyed the piece right below this one, at the link, titled “The Most Insufferable Christmas Song Ever” which involves, of course, “Do They Know Its Christmas.” FEED THE SQUIIIIIIRRRR-ELLLS!

  55. 55
    Arundel says:

    It really is funny how many Beltway pundits and writers wrote fondly of being invited to Hitchens’s house. Apparently, all of them, every single one, was invited at some point. Someone even more cynical than I am suggested this was a clever tactic for ingratiation, as well as ensuring a measure of protection from blowback when he went, “controversial”. I’m not knocking that, just that it seems he charmed and flattered them all with his invitations.

    And he was an expert dealer in Beltway currency, which is gossip. And oh how much he thrilled them with it. Appearing the same day in Salon as the satire above, Michael Lind posited that that was Hitchens’s true genius. Not as an “intellectual” , but as a gossip coIumnist par excellence. I preferred this rather scathing evaluation to the Pollack satire.

    “He invited me to a dinner at his Washington apartment, where he introduced me to his friend Sidney Blumenthal, the journalist who had become an aide in the Clinton White House. Blumenthal and I discovered that Hitchens was remarkably ignorant of American history for someone who earned money writing about American politics. We spent much of the evening explaining the differences between Whigs and Jacksonians to the British expatriate, and I was not surprised that reviewers found his later book on Tom Paine to be riddled with mistakes. That particular evening ended with Hitchens cornering me at the door on the way out with a boozy harangue about how he was going to come to the defense of David Irving, a right-wing British author who had been denounced as a Holocaust denier. I was grateful to escape.”

    The parts in bold remind me of Sully, his devotee. Anyway, not to speak ill of the dead, but it’s a good pointing-out of Hitchens’s worst, most self-promoting aspects, and the lack of any true ideas at the core of his work.

  56. 56
    Veritas says:

    The end of Paul’s campaign?

    Ron Paul walks out during a CNN interview when asked questions about racist newsletters.

    It’s looking more and more like none other than Mitt Romney will win the nomination with a one-two knockout punch of an Iowa-New Hampshire win.


  57. 57
    eugene says:

    I still think Dennis Hopper had the best take on Hitch’s legacy:

    Of course he was talking about Kurtz, not Hitch, but they’re pretty similar when you think about it.

  58. 58
    Anya says:

    For the love of God, DougJ, let it go.

  59. 59
    J.W. Hamner says:

    I know I’m being super pedantic for no real reason, but I would call the linked article parody, not satire. It just seems a little too hamfisted to trick anybody into challenging their assumptions/preconceptions.

    Still funny though.

  60. 60
    pete says:

    My favorite line from a Hitch obit comes from Victor Navasky, who is to blame for hiring him at The Nation, and apparently considered him elegant, witty and brilliant:

    ‘Drink?’ asked the deep, richly accented baritone voice that accompanied all of the above. If it is possible in one word to convey an upper-class sensibility attached to a heart ostentatiously identified with the toiling masses, Christopher Hitchens succeeded.

    Yeah, right. I’m with Katha P on this one.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anya: This comes to mind.

  62. 62
    creature says:

    Regarding the shorter duration of exaltedness in the Rethuglikkkan spotlight- “It’s getting down to short strokes, baby, you can feel it cumming!”
    Too bad the spooge will be Mitt!

  63. 63
    honus says:

    As Nero Wolfe said of his best friend, Marko Vucik:”I pay him the tribute of speaking of him and feeling about him precisely as I did when he lived; the insult would be to smear his corpse with the honey excreted by my fear of death.”

  64. 64
    JGabriel says:


    It’s looking more and more like none other than Mitt Romney will win the nomination with a one-two knockout punch of an Iowa-New Hampshire win.

    Are you from another country, Veritas? I ask in all seriousness. Because anyone from this country who follows politics knows that the GOP nominee gets decided in the South Carolina Primary:

    The South Carolina primary historically been more important for the Republican Party, being considered a “firewall” to protect frontrunners in the presidential nomination race. It was designed to stop the momentum of insurgent candidates who could have received a boost from strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. From its inception in 1980 through the election of 2008, the winner of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary has gone on to win the nomination.


  65. 65
    Anya says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: LOL. You can always find a Simpsons’ clip for any situation.

  66. 66
    Liberty60 says:

    @Hill Dweller:
    “What was wrong with the card?”

    It showed Obama sodomizing Santa bent over the creche.

    Or so I gathered from the comments.

  67. 67
    priscianusjr says:

    I do kind of wonder who the “I drank Johnny Walker with Hitch in Kabul stuff” is supposed to impress.

    People with a sense of humor, perhaps?

    I was with him until “The credit belongs to she.” Obviously the credit doesn’t belong to she, it belongs to we — all of we. We the people, that is.

  68. 68
    Anya says:

    @kindness: Why, oh why, did I ever succumb to temptation to visit that cesspool of bigotry?

    So, no one heard from snowbilly grifter for a while now, but they trotted her out to comment about a freaking holiday card. She needs to have some pride. She was a governor of a state, for God’s sake.

  69. 69
    jayjaybear says:

    @Calouste: And with less charisma than Mittens.

  70. 70
    JGabriel says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    ETA: I got the info from Mother Jones as I won’t click a Fux link either.

    Danke. I have everything selected in Murdoch Block.


  71. 71
    Chet says:

    @Litlebritdfrnt: The most anti-Christmas person I know is a gibbering ultra-fundy Pentecostal aunt of mine, for those very reasons. This War-on-Exmas stuff makes for strange bedfellows.

  72. 72
    David in NY says:

    @pete: Hey, they were going to the Lion’s Head years after nobody (but me) was going there.

  73. 73
    kc says:

    Loved the Pollack piece. Don’t listen to the let-it-goers, Dougj!

  74. 74
    kindness says:

    @Hill Dweller: Nothing. It was a really nice card. Their dog in front of a fireplace in a room w/ lots of Xmas decorations. Tasteful. Sweet even.

    Fox people are idiots. They get so hopped up on their hate they loose all sense of reality.

    @Anya: yea, for half a term she was governor. Hillbilly grifter proud.

  75. 75
    Veritas says:

    So it’s looking more and more likely that Romney will win the nomination quickly and cleanly with the one-two Iowa-New Hampshire knockout punch.

    Bad news for Obambi, huh?

  76. 76
    GeneJockey says:

    Everyone loves the guy who acts like an asshole to their opponents, till the day comes when they realize that he’s really just an asshole.

  77. 77
    catatonia says:

    I once closed down the Holiday Inn bar in Danville, VA, with my brother-in-law, who’d flunked out of accounting school. At the time, I was removing handbills from telephone poles for Bell Atlantic. Wine coolers we were drinking, and chewing toothpicks. We played thumb basketball with quarters until 12 PM. Then I went back to my room, watched Jay Leno, and balanced my checkbook. People always wonder why I take such risks. To me, though, if I didn’t do it this way, I wouldn’t be me.

  78. 78
    binzinerator says:

    I went out one spring morning
    To find myself a friend
    Someone I could believe in
    Until the very end
    I found myself the Devil
    He was sitting in a bar
    He bought me fifteen Rum and Cokes
    And then he went too far

    The devil is my friend
    The devil is my friend
    Wherever I go the devil goes
    The devil is my friend

  79. 79
    dance around in your bones says:

    I drank Johnny Walker with a LOT of people in Kabul; ain’t no big thang. It was the drink of choice, and if you were savvy, you always knew where to buy it.

    Still. like a lot of people, he sometimes wrote great stuff and sometimes not. Sometimes he was a big old jerk, just like all of us. Appreciate the good, ignore the bad.

    My two cents.

  80. 80
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I drank Johnny Walker with a LOT of people in Kabul; ain’t no big thang. It was the drink of choice, and if you were savvy, you always knew where to buy it.

    Johnny Walker Black Label is basically the one Scotch that you can reliably get in any city around the world, even in places where you basically have two selections: that, or “local” whiskey, which ain’t generally that good. And that includes places like Kabul. (You’ll also find Jack Daniels in far-flung corners.)

  81. 81
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Veritas: YOU…are so….satire five!!

    @rea: When I was there (in Afghanistan), which was back in the prehistoric late 60’s and 70′, pretty much EVERYONE knew where to score the Johnny Walker. There was always a shop with a ‘secret’ drawer where you could buy all kinds of liquor. Sometimes you could get really great vintages of wine for the same price as a bottle of Thunderbird or Manischevitz. No one there knew the difference.

    I’m pretty sure this is still going on in every Islamic country; people with resources will always do whatever the hell they want to do (and most of us like to ‘alter’ our consciousness) regardless of local laws.

  82. 82
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    I cannot speak for others; but as for me, the bottle has NEVER let me down!

  83. 83
    The Lodger says:

    @Suffern ACE: You mean those postcards with Sarah Palin, the Great Danes, the Astroglide and the pile of coke were FAKES?

    I wuz robbed…

  84. 84
    The Lodger says:

    @Suffern ACE: You mean those postcards with Sarah Palin, the Great Danes, the Astroglide and the pile of coke were FAKES?

    I wuz robbed…

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