The first time I met Andrew in person I wasn’t quite sure what to think. It was 2010; he was slated to speak at a fundraiser at the Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago for Cedra Crenshaw, a candidate for a US congressional seat in Joliet. I’m not given to event participation, but I had done a few posts for his ‘Big’ sites and knowing he was in town I suggested getting together for a drink. Didn’t really know him from Adam, but knew he had exquisite taste in the people he chose to drive insane.
I arrived at his room at the Blackstone, an hour or so before the speech, to find him talking to a camera crew while ironing his pants and fielding interviews on his omnipresent cell phone (the filmmaker was Andrew Marcus, and I think some of the footage appears in Hating Breitbart). That was my first glimpse into the electric chaos that seemed to follow him wherever he went. He was already in the middle of what seemed like 6 different conversations but cordially added me to his processing stack. Can’t remember what it was about; possibly ACORN, or the greatness of Ace of Spades HQ (he loved Ace’s Morons), or the idiot lefty talking point du jour, or probably all of the above. If he was still here I’m guessing he would recall it in detail. I do remember those ocular synapses firing feistily and thinking that if I was ever going to be in a war I want this guy as General.
I am lucky enough to have intersected paths with Andrew several more times in his remaining days; sometimes in Chicago, sometimes in Los Angeles, sometimes with our families. Our remaining conversations grew less about politics. Despite the differences in our extroversion (the mere idea of appearing on camera sends me diving under the furniture) I considered him a kindred spirit – another guy who loved his wife and kids, happy despite being sick of the bullshit. Although I can’t claim to have known him as well as others here at Breitbart, I cherished him a friend whose passing is still personally painful.
With all the tributes and venom being churned out today it’s obvious he still looms large in the political conversation, and it’s hard to think of another figure in media or activism who would be a trending topic a year after their death. I think the reason why is that he represented a new kind of cultural/social conservative. Maybe not in the conventional sense (it’s still fun to freak my liberal friends by noting Andrew’s status as a pro-gay marriage, pro-pot decriminalization Jewish activist for women and minorities who loved of 80s New Wave), but on the value of honesty. I’ve heard him referred to as a “reactionary.” I suppose he as a reactionary – in the literal sense – against an increasingly contrived, vapid, narrative-driven news culture, one that attacks and marginalizes any non-conforming message. He studied the bullies’ playbook, called them out, and bloodied their noses. Hard as it may be for these bloody-nosed bullies to believe, it had nothing to do with their ‘liberal’ politics. If there was a parallel universe with a dominant right wing media culture as dishonest and conformist and thuggish as the left wing one here, Andrew would’ve been more than happy to rocket there and punch them in the mouth, too. If that’s what a reactionary is, then sign me up for the t-shirt.
So to commemorate his passing, I’d like to honor Andrew by being honest. I’m off to have a quiet drink and be wistful.
I miss you, big guy.