More Tales of Hitchens

Reason's appreciation of Christopher Hitchens is here.

Some stories about Hitchens from around the Web:

Sean Higgins on The Christopher Hitchens Interview He Never Gave

...Hitchens was also a famous raconteur, noted for his ability to imbibe prodigious amounts of wine and spirits. His former colleague David Corn once wrote: “(I) watched in awe as he socialized around the clock and still managed to file perfect-prose copy the morning after.”

For the most part he reveled in this image but not always. I know this because I was among the few people the loquacious Hitchens ever refused to grant an interview to.

Before it sadly ceased publication, I was a contributor to Modern Drunkard, a humor magazine about, well, take a guess. The editor, Frank Kelly Rich, told me in 2006 that had he been trying to secure an interview with Hitchens for years without success. As a D.C. resident, where Hitchens also lived, I thought I might have a better shot.

My chance came one night later that year when I encountered Hitchens at a downtown bar called Buffalo Billiards. I approached him, said I was a writer and would like to interview him. As soon as I mentioned Modern Drunkard though, the deal was off.

“I don’t begrudge you asking, but I cannot do it,” Hitchens said. He had “too many enemies right now” to grant an interview to that publication. This was in the middle of the Iraq War, which Hitchens backed.

He then added that it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to be in that magazine anyway because didn’t consider himself a drunkard. He held his hand up and flat to show there was no tremor in it.

“See? Solid as a rock,” Hitchens said.

I wrote about the encounter in another now-defunct magazine (I’m beginning to sense a pattern here) called Doublethink. Some bloggers reprinted that part. Shortly after that the story was republished in the New York Post’s Page Six without any attribution.

“Perhaps it’ll shame Christopher into stepping into the ring,” Rich told me. Alas, it never did.

Higgins tells me his exchange took place at a Reason happy hour.

Whole thing here.

Ronald Radosh:

I first met Christopher soon after he came to the United States, in the offices of The Nation magazine, for which he had a regular column. A firm man of the political Left at the time, he had been hired by Victor Navasky soon after coming to the U.S. from London. Soon after, I had lunch with him in Washington, D.C., where I was writing something for The New Republic, to which he had paid a visit while I was at their office. We walked into a nearby small French bistro, where the other solitary diner, an attractive woman in her 20s, was reading The Nation. “Did you set this up?” I asked Hitch. He looked over, thoroughly amused, and rushed over to the woman: “Hello, I’m Christopher Hitchens,” he told her. “I write a regular column for this magazine.”  It could have been a scene from a movie.

Whole thing here.

Peter Hitchens:

Last week I saw my brother for the last time in a fairly grim hospital room in Houston, Texas. He was in great pain, and suffering in several other ways I will not describe. But he was wholly conscious and in command of his wits, and able to speak clearly. 

We both knew it was the last time we would see each other, though being Englishmen of a certain generation, neither of us would have dreamed of actually saying so.

More here.

Anne Applebaum:

I met Hitchens many times after that, usually in Washington but sometimes also in Palo Alto, where he spent the summers with his wife, Carol.  Their house was the only remaining 1960s split-level in a neighborhood of tear-downs and rebuilt McMansions. But he was still out of context there, what with the swimming pool, the endless sunshine, and the neighbors in tracksuits, and so his context came to him. Everyone coming through town to visit Stanford, the Hoover Institution, or Silicon Valley stopped by: physicists, journalists, historians, writers. They didn’t come for the hospitality, which might run to a couple of slices of smoked salmon, without bread or garnish, and a couple of bottles of wine. They came to talk.

More here.

Matt Labash:

We finally made it into an impoverished Iraqi border town, watching starving, elbow-throwing Iraqis battle each other in front of the food trucks in desperate displays of aggression where the strong hoarded and the weak went hungry. Hitch and I passed out Tic Tacs and Marlboro Reds to children begging for smokes as empty goodwill gestures. “Quite a burg, isn’t it?” he said.

Back on the Kuwaiti side, our minder, Yacoub, told us our bus would once again be delayed so the other buses could catch up and we could convoy in safety. “How are six more buses going to make us safer?” protested Hitchens. After a protracted tussle in which Yacoub demanded Hitchens’s press badges, then after a cooling off in which he gave them back, then after a resumption of hostilities when Hitchens  decided he didn’t want his Kuwaiti press badge back as the Kuwaitis were proving themselves the tramplers of liberty, Yacoub screamed that Hitchens would “leave Kuwait tonight!” It’s pretty hard to get kicked out of a war. But Hitchens almost managed.

Whole piece here.

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  • Jamie Kelly||

    He was, as one writer coined it, a "high-bottom drunk" -- an alcoholic who could keep it together.
    Alcohol informed Hitchens of a worldview. He was brilliant, furtive, cutting. In the final analysis, he was a drunk genius.
    I'm an alcoholic. I know what it's done to my mind and my outlook. I hang around recovering alcoholics. They are all intelligent, witty and considered thinkers. They are just without their booze.
    Hitchens never gave up the booze and because of that, never gave up the meanness and vitriol.
    He's a fascinating study in drunken genius.

  • Sevo||

    rather|12.16.11 @ 11:21PM|#
    "Do you see your alcoholism as self-punishment?"

    Uh, are you familiar with the concept of a "moral agent"?
    Or are you just an ignoramus?

  • Sevo||

    Because you're a blog-pimp who posts irritating bullshit on a public board and deserves to be called on it.

  • Sevo||

    "Sheriff Sevo,
    I skip what I don't want to read, and I don't try to control what anyone chooses to write."

    And if you don't see the blatant hypocrisy in that post, you're dumber than mud.
    What is it you've been doing the last three posts, twit?

  • Sevo||

    "I skip what I don't want to read,"
    And yet............
    So we'll add hypocrite to your CV.

  • Jamie Kelly||

    Nothing, I believe, will ever make you an atheist like booze. Over time, it will steal you of hope in humanity, and you'll begin to see nefariousness and cynicism in every interaction.
    I think I know why AA is "God-centered." It's for people who have left crazy, insane, cynical and booze-addled worlds, where God is truly dead.
    Coming out of it feels like a taste of heaven.
    I am a Presbyterian agnostic, two years sober.

  • ||

    I am an atheist who has ever only drank sparingly.

    One drink of anything is a coin toss....either it will give me a nagging headache or it won't...the second drink which I almost never venture has that same coin toss....if i ever make it to the third it is a rarity...any after that i get the spins and vomit....getting to the 3rd and beyond has not happened for years.

    Perhaps you have identified the difference between the hateful militant atheists and people like me....all the militants are simply bitter drunks.

  • Anyway||

    I went to a Hitchens memorial and an AA meeting broke out.

  • R||

    I am an atheist who has ever only drank sparingly.

    Same here, only it's generally because I'm picky. The only types of alcohol I enjoy are generally expensive as hell. Thankfully, my hangover symptoms seem to be limited to nausea; I've never had a hangover headache.

    I'm also not a militant atheist. Hell, I celebrate Christmas; while I don't believe in the reason for it, I enjoy the traditions that go along with it.

  • ||

    hangover headache

    I should note that in my above post I was not referring to a hangover when i was talking about getting a headache...

    I mean i drink one beer and even before i finish it my head begins to hurt.

    but yeah if I ever actually get to the point of being drunk i can also have a headache after I sober up as well. Though it generally is of a different kind.

  • ||

    You should try barbituates, they make you feel drunk and aren't as hard on the body. Next time you go to a party check the medicine cabinet; if they have some phenobarbital take like 4 or 5 of them (don't worry they're really weak) and you'll get a nice buzz.

    Some people will advocate that you take some benzodiazepines (valium, xanax, clonipin, etc) to relax. You will relax but they don't have the social aspect that alcohol or barbituates do. They make me tired and floppy, and sometimes mean.

    Have fun.

  • Anyway||

    I think I know why AA is "God-centered."

    So do I. It replaces one crutch with another.

  • SpongePaul||

    +100

  • Jamie Kelly||

    Another lazy, amassed retort from the volumes of dry, unimaginative dung set aside for the people who revel in not having to think.

  • Sevo||

    Jamie Kelly|12.16.11 @ 10:29PM|#
    "Another lazy, amassed retort from the volumes of dry, unimaginative dung set aside for the people who revel in not having to think."

    You seem to have a real interest in "dung". Is it your fave dish?
    Or just an admission of your stupidity?
    BTW, got any proofs of your skydaddy?

  • Realist||

    "So do I. It replaces one crutch with another."
    Yes!

  • Sevo||

    Jamie Kelly|12.16.11 @ 7:37PM|#
    "Nothing, I believe, will ever make you an atheist like booze."

    Well, logic might have something to do with it.
    So far, you've projected an amazing amount of 'stuff'; all of it self-justifying, and none of it other than opinion.
    I'll take it for that; my opinion is otherwise.

  • Jamie Kelly||

    Yes, logic has led to all sorts of bounties.
    Marx was a big fan. So was Trotsky.
    Your logic is a dunghill, shithead, on which you climb to rail against other dunghills.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, Look! Shit-stain tries guilt-by-association to justify ignorant bleefs!
    Got it.

  • ||

    I think you need to hit the bottle again, Jamie. You ain't got no sandpaper without it. You got all the acid of a menopausal harpy, which is to say not entirely lacking, but not enough to sting.

  • Sevo||

    "but not enough to sting."
    Nor enough to make sense at the same time. Both of which CH did, laughing at silly bleevers the whole time.

  • ||

    You're only saying that because you're a mean drunk, Sevo.

  • Sevo||

    Nope.
    But for JK, I'll get drunk *and* get nasty.

  • Spencer||

    Let's please not drag logic through the mud. it's all we have.

  • hazeeran||

    Missin' ya Hitch.

  • anarch||

    Modern Drunkard link has passed out.

  • Sweating Bourbon||

    Ahh... one of my favorite publications. Correct link:

    http://www.drunkard.com/issues.....arade.html

  • Max||

    Why don't you give Hitchens a rest, Gillespie? He was the opposite of everything you stand for, you slavish party-line hack.

  • Sevo||

    Max, given that you're an ignorant one-trick pony, devoid of anything like critical thought, your 'thoughts' on anything are NWS.

  • ||

    He was the opposite of everything you stand for, you slavish party-line hack.

    Hitch sure had no problem showing up to Reason functions and giving praise to the work Reason produced: "I get more out of reading the libertarian magazine Reason than I do out of many 'movement' journals'

    he even wrote an intro to Nick's book Choice:

    "It is useful and encouraging to have a magazine that approaches matters with an additional dash of hedonism. Freedom might be more efficient, but it also might possibly be more enjoyable....I find that Reason keeps my own arteries from hardening or from flooding with adrenaline out of sheer irritation, because in the face of arbitrary power and flock-like conformism it continues to ask, in a polite but firm tone of voice, not only "why?" but "why not?"

    I don't think Hitch would agree with you Max...not one bit.

  • ||

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  • ||

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  • ||

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  • ||

    My friend just met a lover on this site --casualchats.com. It's where for men or women to find intimate encounters.It's a nice place for people who wanna start a short-term relationship .No hesitation to find your true love.

  • Bugs||

    I will mourn Hitchens tonight over a bottle of....hey, there, are you feeling lonely tonight? Checkout asshats.com, the place to meet other lonely singles. It's a class site. Trust me. I was looking for a woman who wears track suits wherever she goes and doesn't talk during the commercials... and I met twins!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Come to reason.com and meet lots of single men! They love long walks on the beach...on the way to the shooting gallery, oh yeah!

  • ||

    Ever want to fuck a walking Star Trek encyclopedia?

    Then come to ReasonPersonals.com!

  • Spencer||

    Fine, we'll stick with Troy and Janeway (in a strangeway)?

  • AlmightyJB||

  • ||

    i miss him already. he was one of the reasons i was first drawn to the nation magazine, and it's lame how all his fellow travelers turned on him merely because of a policy difference vis a vis iraq war

    hitchens was a great writer, great speaker, and his debates with galloway were classic

    the world is a lesser place w/o them...

  • imhotep||

    Hitchens was a sharp mind and a sharp tongue and already the world is a less interesting place without him. Though he no doubt had a tolerance of libertarian thought, ultimately he was a statist. That is not so much to say he was an enemy of freedom, rather, as a member of the intelligentsia class, he made sure to be a true friend of the status quo. There was an enigmatic quality to his life and work - making the choice to support war in Iraq, yet rail against Mother Theresa seemed hollow and beneath him somehow. Yet there it was. Above all else he was a thoughtful Englishman who lived in the States and thoroughly enjoyed drinking and sharing his opinions. This brought him his fame and his following. For some reason there seems to be little more endearing to us yanks than an engaging chum from across the pond who never is without a glass in his hand, even if he is an atheist.

    Godspeed Christopher.

  • Vake||

    I don't know why anyone gives a damn about this guy. He wrote the same statist crap as Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, David Frum, and Paul Krugman, but in a more elegant manner.

  • imhotep||

    Ultimately you are correct. Journos like him can be remembered fondly, however, because they were never in a position of power to ruin people's lives with their misguided thinking. Directly anyway. In fact Hitchens found himself in a few situations where he could spit in the eye of a fascist - and he did just that. Besides you've got to admit that Hitchens was cooler than Brooks anyday.

  • ||

    Above all else he was a thoughtful Englishman who lived in the States and thoroughly enjoyed drinking and sharing his opinions.

    Mmmmm.... he was an American living in the States........

    I really never knew he was such a lefty. All that rational discourse. It would never occur to me that someone from the left would engage in rational thought.

    I am glad that his many debates will be immortalized through the web.

    I'm gonna cronk with some Jager on my day off in honor. I feel the same way about him as I do George Carlin.

  • davidst||

    What a joke. While I'm still more of a libertarian than anything, the idea that there are no thinking people (with good ideas) on the left is absurd. Besides, since the libertarian wonderland will probably never be a reality, the left is about as good as it's going to get for the average joe.

  • Realist||

    "....average joe."
    A shit for brains for sure.

  • Vake||

    Hitchens supports the Iraq War, which kills hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and I'm supposed to care that this chain smoking asshole got lung cancer? Fuck him.

  • ||

    If you can't learn anything from people that disagree with you, then you'll probably never know much more than you know right now.

  • ||

    I remember looking forward to Hitchen's slate articles and anything that he wrote regarding the Iraq war. Trying to overcome his arguments for the war would greatly strengthen your own arguments against the war. It's easy to crush to pieces some neocon Rumsfeldian nonsense, but to try and pick Hitch apart made you think.

    And also, the whole, "He's got stoopid politics so you can't like him!" is bullshit. If I only appreciated libertarian cultural figures I'd only be doing a great disservice to my own education. You think Hunter Thompson or George Carlin were libertarians? Hell no, but the world would have been a damn poorer place without them.

  • Spencer||

    He could sometimes straw man like a motherfucker, but he sounded so good when he did it.

  • ||

    Which I find interesting, because throughout time persuasive arguments have always beat out valid arguments.

  • ||

    Absolutely.

    And it's not like anybody's born libertarian either. We came to libertarianism because we were willing to listen to somebody who knew more about something than us.

    That's what I like about the comment section around here. We get access to all kinds of people who have expertise on things--people who know more about stuff than I do.

    I don't have to agree with everything Dunphy says to learn about how cops see things from their perspective. You want to talk to a lawyer about how they see things from a hospital's perspective? We got people around here you can talk to about that.

    There are dozens of people like that around here from time to time. Tax attorneys, indie music pioneers, ex-dancers turned journalist, people who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax attorneys, commercial real estate developers, physics professors, urban planners...

    All of whom disagreed with each other about the Iraq war or some libertarian issue or another.

    You're right about Hitch and Iraq, too. I learned a ton from Hitch about the Iraq War. There were some smart people on Reason's staff who supported the Iraq War--as I recall. My understanding was that Charles Paul Freund and Michael Young both supported the Iraq War--although I could be mistaken.

    I count several people who were in favor of the Iraq War on staff here...

    http://reason.com/archives/200.....five-years

    At any rate, my opposition to the Iraq War was better-informed for having read Freund, Young and Hitch. My best ideas are the ones that survive the most and best scrutiny. And that's what makes the Hit & Run threads so awesome when we're doin' it right. Putting my ideas under scrutiny by all those smart people that disagree with me--makes me smarter.

    Smart people that disagree with me--that's why I read Hitch. When the trolls aren't so thick around here, that's why I hang around Hit & Run, too. I don't always agree with Nick or Tim or Matt or any other staffer...or any member of the commentariat either.

    But when they disagree with me, that's when I pay the most attention. It's that way with women for me too. I can't have a girlfriend that isn't at least as smart as I am--smarter than me is even better.

  • davidst||

    hear hear

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    I fear that I drink with much the same vigor as Hitchens. I doubt it informs much on my worldview but I do think it makes a life of ceaseless fury much more manageable.

    I too am a militant atheist and am constantly enraged by the stupidity around me. I will miss Hitch terribly in spite of his leftist bent and his too-apt-to-blame-religion stance for the terrorist impulse when it is the underlying cultures mixed with envy and grievance that are at its roots.

  • Spencer||

    One might think that it is atheism that leads one to drink instead of the other way 'round.

    Of course, I think that's a good thing. Drinking is good. Atheism is good. But it's not the drinking of the milk that makes you want the cookie.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I drink a lot. Always have. I enjoy it. That's not what made me an atheist though. Studying the Bible did that.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Also, I am not a devout (militant?) atheist. If you want to believe, that's cool with me. Most people I know that attend church are pretty cool and do not fit the stereotypes people always through out about christians.

  • Spencer||

    Yep. I'm not "devout" either. I call those people "anti-theists". It's a different ballgame for them.

    I don't think anything made me an atheist. I think I was born that way.

  • Spur||

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    I think the Consumption blog one pretty well nailed it.

    From the right, a couple of oddly similar views...

    http://www.alternativeright.co.....ontrarian/

    http://johnderbyshire.com/Opin.....16.html#09

  • Mike M.||

    The Islamist ass-kisser Greenworm isn't fit to shine Hitchens' shoes, even in death.

  • ||

    I knew him slightly in my Washington days. He loved to drink but don't forget that the smokes probably did him in. A bit of an asshole at times but a fine gentleman; he never kicked the weak, just the stupid. And I sensed that he never forgot that just being strong or in the majority was not the same as being right. A voice worth listening to even when I thought he was wrong.

  • Mike||

  • Max||

  • Max||

    My point was to show how far Hitchens was from you brain-dead libertoid assholes, you fucking halfwit.

  • Sevo||

    So, as a practicing half-wit, you point out that CH had views that not all of us agree with?
    Hmmm. Yep, STOOPID!

  • Max||

  • Sevo||

    Hey, Max! How ya DOIN', man? Have you found a brain cell yet?

    Your link on CH is a defense of the Iraq war, so can we assume you defend that?

    From your link on Noam Asshole:
    "Suppose someone facing starvation accepts a contract with General Electric that requires him to work 12 hours a day locked into a factory with no health-safety regulations, no security, no benefits, etc."
    Ah, yes. Let's suppose my argument is correct and go from there!
    Are you truly that stupid? Or do you just try to convince people that you are?
    Which is it, dipshit?

  • flacid tuna||

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