Reason

New York Times Obituary for Reason Founder Lanny Friedlander, 1947-2011

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As readers of this site and the print edition of our magazine know, Reason's founder, Lanny Friedlander (1947-2011), died in March at the age of 63 from a heart attack.

Today's New York Times carries an obituary for Lanny. Here are excerpts:

Lanny Friedlander, who with little more than a typewriter and a stack of paper founded the libertarian magazine Reason in his college dorm room in 1968 and ran it briefly before dropping out of sight for the next 40 years, died on March 19 in Lowell, Mass. He was 63….

In its dorm room days, Reason never attained a circulation of more than a few hundred copies per issue. Today, the magazine is a glossy publication with a monthly circulation of about 50,000; its Web site receives four million visits a month. Reason.tv broadcasts original and archival video programming online.

As Mr. Friedlander conceived it, Reason was neither strictly right-wing libertarian nor strictly left — in modern parlance, neither red nor blue but a purple amalgam of the two. It was genuinely purple at first, as it was run off on a ditto machine.

"When REASON speaks of poverty, racism, the draft, the war, studentpower, politics, and other vital issues, it shall be reasons, not slogans, it gives for conclusions," Mr. Friedlander wrote in the first issue, published in May 1968 and peppered with typographical errors and misspellings. "Proof, not belligerent assertion. Logic, not legends. Coherance, not contradictions. This is our promise: this is the reason for REASON."…

By all accounts Mr. Friedlander was an intuitive genius of design, publishing issues in the magazine's post-ditto period that had stark, evocative graphics; coolly elegant sans serif typefaces; and layouts that reinforced the editorial content….

He fetched up in New York, where he worked as a graphic designer and appears to have driven a cab, [his lawyer Geroghe H.] Murphy said. In the early 1970s he made a pilgrimage to Paris to visit the grave of Jim Morrison, the lead singer of the Doors. There, Mr. Friedlander became agitated and was sent home by the authorities.

He spent much of the rest of his life in psychiatric hospitals and had lived most recently at a Veterans Affairs halfway house in Lowell. At times he declined to take medication, Mr. Murphy said, because he felt it made the world run painfully slowly, like a 78 r.p.m. record played at 331/3.

Read the whole thing here.

Robert Poole's memories of Lanny are here. My obituary for him is here.

One nice outcome of this sad news is that, as the Times contacted us for information, we tracked down a photo of Lanny which had appeared in a 10-year anniversary issue of Reason in 1978. It appears above, as does a cover designed by Lanny that is reproduced by the Times. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Reason again extends our deepest condolences—and thanks—to Lanny's survivors, who include his father Herbert and brother Daniel and uncle, Sherman Wolf, who was kind enough to send us word about the funeral service ("the Navy had two Honor Guards at the casket") and that Lanny's tombstone will include the following inscription:

Lanny R. Friedlander

ICFN US NAVY

Vietnam

Dec 7 1947 Mar 19 2011

Patriarch of REASON

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  1. The guy really was a hell of a graphic artist. Those covers would pass today. How many major magazine covers, much less home made ones, published in the late 1960s and 1970s could say the same?

    1. Agreed, I’d love to see an archive of just the old covers.

        1. (And then go here and scroll up.)

          1. No offense intended, but what was the reasoning on the change of title font in the 90’s? What a terrible move.

            I always thought that was an ugly font but I hadn’t realized that it was changed from the nice lower case font. I’d always assumed Reason didn’t make enough money to hire a decent designer. Had no idea that you actually went back to the old style.

        2. The December 68 cover is a very familiar theme.

        3. https://reason.com/issues/september-1969

          I like September 69 and March of 69. Just great art work. And April 69, the art work is just okay. But the topic shows that nothing ever seems to change. https://reason.com/issues/april-1969

          1. October ’69 is my favorite of the early covers.

            1. That is a good one Jessee. The guy missed his calling as a graphic artist.

  2. We still have Tibor. Not that you would know that by the lack of reference around here, but we still have Tibor.

    http://szatyor2693.wordpress.com/

    1. Tibor was mentioned on the blog less than one week ago.

  3. One of the Reason pieces on him had someone, I forget who, talking about how Friedlander once said something to the effect of the real danger is when people who have no stake in an outcome get to make the decisions. God is that true.

    1. Isn’t having to follow the rules set up in the decisions stake enough?

      1. No. When you make a decision for someone else and you have no stake in it, meaning your life will not be affected by it, you are more likely to make a bad, uncaring or ideologically driven decision. Somehow I am not surprised that idea went right over your head.

        1. What I was getting at is that in a polity we are called upon to make decisions that will impact many people more than it will impact us. I’ve heard many people say things such as that only people that pay taxes should be able to vote on decisions because they are the only ones that have a stake. I don’t agree, everyone who is asked to follow the rules that are the result of the decision has a stake in them, with, of course, some exceptions (aliens, children, etc).

          1. At the macro level, of course people get a say in things that they don’t have a direct stake. Some of that is unavoidable. But the more power you give people who do not have a direct stake in things, the worse decisions they are likely to make.

            1. “But the more power you give people who do not have a direct stake in things, the worse decisions they are likely to make.”

              Keep your laws off our bodies!

          2. Let me put it in terms even a liberal can understand. Think of imperialism. A lot of imperialists were very well meaning. They really did want to improve the lives of their charges. And in some cases they did. But ultimately, they were doomed to do more harm than good because it wasn’t their country. Imperialism is the ultimate example of those without a stake in the outcome making decisions for others.

            1. I think this is a telling example because it is about trying to decide things for people outside of the polity doing the deciding.

              The entire idea behind consent of the governed is that people are going to make decisions that impact you, but it is ok as long you had a say in the making. It’s when you get people who have to obey the rules but can’t participate in the making that things get much more problemattic.

              1. Imagine this scenario referencing some Policy costing X per capita and it’s impact on 3 people, A, B, and C:

                A: Pays 1.5*Cx, receives 0.5*Bx benefit

                B: Pays Cx, receives Bx benefit

                C: Pays 0.5*Cx, receives 1.5*Bx benefit

                Even though in the aggregate, the society pays only X per benefit X (assuming 100% efficiency of converting cost to benefit, which never happens), some pay significantly more for significantly less benefit. Can you explain why it is fair to give each person equal say in whether to implement policy X? What about in a system where some pay Cx, but receive 0*Bx?

                I think it is fair to give each person a stake based on the net impact on his or her situation, not merely on the average.

                1. My head hurts based on this example, and I do math all the time.

                  Of course, just because you parse votes out based on net impact on situation doesn’t mean you parse VOTING POWER based on net impact.

    2. Except for when it comes to drawing up electoral districts.

    1. One of his classmates was Robert Poole, but not the Robert Poole of course.

  4. And thank God the New York Times doesn’t enable comments on obituaries. The trolls would be out in force.

    1. Print it, and they will cum.

  5. Why is it that this poor guy is cursed with mental illness and dies of a heart attack at a relatively young age while ignoramuses lieke Pauli Krugnuts win Nobel prizes and live to old age still yammering on? The world really does belong to the Devil.

    1. Are you wishing a heart attack on the Krugster? How very Julianne Malveaux of you!

      1. No. The world would be better if no one had a heart attack. But that doesn’t change the fact that Krugman is an awful person and seems to live a charmed life while other much more morally admirable people live cursed ones.

        You really don’t understand much do you?

        1. You think Krugman is an “awful person?” Just from reading his column and disagreeing with his economic and political views? WTF? For all you know he is a nice guy who treats those around him kindly, helping out those near him, etc., who just happens to disagree with you about political and economic philosophy.

          1. Krugman’s policies have devastated the lives of miilions. They have resulted in destruction of property and of lives. What is not to like?

            1. They’ve devastated the lives of millions and resulted in the destruction of property and lives? WTF?

              1. I mean, where does this kind of thinking go?

                Let me give you an example I feel passionately about, the WOD. I know people close to me harmed by it. i think it harms a lot of people. But I don’t think most people who push for the WOD are evil and that they are in the same category as other people who also harm people, say the Mafia. People will disagree over the way to tackle societal ills, hell they will disagree over whether something is a societal ill or not, that cannot make everyone who disagrees or is ultimately shown to be wrong Tony Soprano or Pol Pot.

              2. Yeah. Literally. His influence is legendary – even British schoolchildren know who the guy is.

          2. I know an economist who has interacted with Krugman personally.

            Not surprisingly (if you read his vicious blog), Krugman is an STD-ridden penis (with oozing sores and boils and oily, discolored discharge).

            Fuck Paul Krugman.

        2. I agree. Good ones die, and too many evil people live charmed lives. 🙁

    2. Why is it that this poor guy is cursed with mental illness

      Humankind is a creature of habit…the societies it creates even more so. The dark ages lasted nearly a 1000 years and Egyptian art and culture changed little for even a longer span.

      It is only the mad that can show us the way to a different world.

    3. Mises died at 92, Hayek at 93, Milton Friedman at 94.

      I was starting this post with examples of freedom loving people who lived a really long time, but maybe there’s something in the economics kool-aid.

  6. It is irony that a man who believed in freedom refused to take his meds that would allow his mind, and body to have some liberty.

    I am not for forcing medication but it is a waste of life to not be able to live but for a pill

    1. It is not that simple. Those pills have terrible side effects. I can understand why people don’t want to take them. Mental illness is just horrible.

      1. I concur.

        1. ditto. Those damn things just make me tired. Fucking Christfags are behind them I think.

      2. Yes, it is but sometimes it is the lesser of two evils. I lean towards families having some say, and yes I know that isn’t libertarian.

        1. No one can make you take your meds, rectal. But we’d all be better off if you did.

          1. Why don’t you two just admit that you’re in love?

            1. Why don’t you just post under your handle, rectal? Being an anonypussy is just pathetic.

              1. It wasn’t me and I always admit to posting when asked.

                1. Except no one asks because no one cares.

                  1. epi, I hate you
                    and when I don’t care about someone, I ignore them.

                    Try it!

                    1. Love and Hate are two sides of the same coin. To hate means to care. Apathy is the greatest insult, not hatred.

                    2. love is cruel, hate is kind

              2. Being an anonypussy is just pathetic

                There’s no crying in anarchy.

                1. There’s no passive aggressiveness, either. Thank Jeebus.

                2. Not fair? Who the hell are the nihilists here?

        2. When faced with a choice of two evils, I pick the one I’ve never tried before.

          1. My father always warned me about booze and men. But he never said a word about cocaine and women.

    2. For all we know, those pills made whatever condition he had (if he even had one) worse. A lot of those psychoactive pills are dangerous.

  7. Proof, not belligerent assertion.

    Earth to Tony.

    Are you listening?

    1. That could be applied to every troll on the Internet.

      1. As well as every other non-troll.

        1. And every anonypussy. How’s that passive aggressiveness working out for you, buddy? Does the nagging and whining make you feel better? It doesn’t, does it. Nothing does. Good.

          1. It’s working out for me. I’m a charter member of anonyhero’s fan club.

            If you send me a picture with my membership card, I promise to kiss it every night before bedtime, and I don’t give a damn if you’re a boy or a girl.

          2. “Episiarch” proves my point.

            1. Nag powers, activate! Form of…an anonypussy!

              1. Shape of… a dildo!

  8. Wow, that is pretty impressive indeed. Wow.

    http://www.anon-toolz.at.tc

  9. This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.

  10. Funny how the Times mocks Friedlander’s “typographical errors” and then fails to italicize “Reason.”

    1. He was just stating a fact and refers to him as an intuitive genius of design

    2. Technically, DRINK!

    3. Not only that, but the Times calls the magazine “Reason” and “REASON”, when even on the very first cover the name was an e.e. cummings-like reason.

  11. This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.

  12. This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.

  13. This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.

  14. This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.

  15. May he rest in peace and the best aspects of his work live on.

  16. Actually, The Jacket’s write up in the current print issue was really good. It sounds like this guy had no idea the monster he would create.

    1. He created STEVE SMITH?

      1. Of course Epi. In a lab with federally funded embryonic stem cell research. This is what makes Nick a cosmotarian Epi and Reason report favorably on this issue, do your research for crying out loud.

        1. STEVE SMITH NOT CREATED IN LAB! STEVE BORN OF RAPE AND VIOLENCE! MAKE STEVE WHAT HE IS TODAY! STEVE RAPE HIS OWN MOTHER TO CREATE HIMSELF! STEVE NOT MAKING SENSE BECAUSE STEVE HAVE TOO MUCH CAFFEINE THIS MORNING!

          1. “STEVE RAPE HIS OWN MOTHER TO CREATE HIMSELF!”

            This may be the funniest thing written on H&R in years.

  17. (“the Navy had two Honor Guards at the casket”

    IIANM, the correct wording for this would be “the Navy had an Honor Guard made up of two sailors at the casket”.

    Honor Guard is singular, no matter how many personel make up the unit forming it.

    RIP, Lanny Friedlander. Your creation has gone on to great things as one of the best magazines on the market today.

  18. Thanks for everything, Lanny. Among the thousand-strong ex-Soviet community in the state, constitutionalism/libertarianism has become the prevalent political stance, thanks in no small part to Reason magazine.

    Zhivy vechno.

  19. its Web site receives four million visits a month

    Wow.

    I wonder how much that has grown since i started reading around 2004 or so.

    1. 93% of those four million visits are John, MNG, Episiarch and SugarFree arguing with strangers.

  20. If that guy was around now I’d buy him a pint of Skinner’s Cornish Knocker golden ale. Very crisp, plenty of hops, balanced and delicious flavour. A great drop! 😀

  21. I wonder how many posters here have been reading this mag since Lanny F’s name was on the masthead. I’ve subscribed to the paper version since then (with, I suspect, some gaps over the years).
    I actually caught shit from a couple of the official Randroids living in Toronto at the time [names deleted to protect the weird] for writing a letter to the editor in 1970, since it was official Objectivist opinion that reading Reason was immoral.
    Olav hashalom, Lanny (I’m assuming RIP is less appropriate for Lanny than the former.)

    1. I’ve been reading Reason since about 1970. I lapsed in the middle 70’s and then picked it up again when I got a computer with internet service six years ago. I still have the print issues from the early years. I’ll have to dig them out of storage one of these days.

      It’s funny you should mention the Objectivists declaring the reading of Reason to be immoral. I considered myself an Objectivist, too, back in those days, but it never kept me from reading Reason or anything else. I suppose the high muckity mucks of Randism would have excommunicated me if I had been a member of anything they could have excommunicated me from.

      1. I actually was at the time–the Objectivist discussion group had a couple of ‘friends of friends’ of the New York crowd, so I was ordered to cancel my subscription or be excommunicated. As a timid 20-year old, what could I do?

        1. Tell the truth?

  22. NO! I am devastated. The Libertarian pioneer used to come over my family’s house where he was good friends with my older brother. I was one of the first subscriber’s to his “Reason” Magazine. It went from mimeograph copy to a fancier offprint. I remember when he took off to California for fame and fortune.

    I will always remember him fondly.

    There should be some sort of tribute to the man whose magazine I enjoyed and whose company I treasured, even if I was just sort of young.

    Impromptu No. 3 (Chopin)

    Tristesse Etude

  23. MNG|5.7.11 @ 2:40PM|#
    “The entire idea behind consent of the governed is that people are going to make decisions that impact you, but it is ok as long you had a say in the making.”

    You sorta left out the part where minorities (like the minority of one) are protected from the mob-rule of pure democracy by the thing called a “constitution”.
    So, no, having a say isn’t sufficient; the vote among a lamb and two wolves *isn’t* a moral justification for what the wolves vote to do.

    1. In before “SOCIAL CONTRACT”

    2. Who knew sevo was such a fan of Lani Guinier?

      1. MNG|5.8.11 @ 10:42AM|#
        “Who knew sevo was such a fan of Lani Guinier?”

        But everyone knows MNG is a fan of non sequiturs.
        And any gambit to ignore the issue…

  24. Wow, I still cant believe the dude is gone. Wow.

    http://www.totally-anon.at.tc

  25. I like September 69 and March of 69. Just great art work. And April 69, the art work is just okay,replica handbag

  26. I actually was at the time–the Objectivist discussion group had a couple of ‘friends of friends’ of the New York crowd…

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  28. It’s funny you should mention the Objectivists declaring the reading of Reason to be immoral. I considered myself an Object.

  29. Honor Guard is singular, no matter how many personel make up the unit forming it.

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  30. People will disagree over the way to tackle societal ills, hell they will disagree over whether something is a societal ill or not, that cannot make everyone who disagrees or is ultimately shown to be wrong Tony Soprano or Pol Pot

  31. , that cannot make everyone who disagrees or is ultimately shown to be wrong Tony Soprano or Pol Pot

  32. annot make everyone who disagrees or is ultimately shown to be wrong Tony Soprano or Pol Pot

  33. NO! I am devastated. The Libertarian pioneer used to come over my family’s house where he was good friends with my older brother. I was one of the first subscriber’s to his “Reason” Magazine. It went from mimeograph copy to a fancier offprint. I remember when he took off to California for fame and fortune.
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  34. Honor Guard is singular, no matter how many personel make up the unit forming it.

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