Thursday, June 22, 2006


When promoting a product, timing is crucial and tie-ins a must -- what the pros call cross-branding. At the serious marketing level, nothing is an accident. So it happens that the very month Christopher Hitchens waxes rhetorically about blowjobs in Vanity Fair, Hitch himself receives an audio version of same from NPR. Correspondent Guy Raz can't gobble Hitch hose fast enough; but even in his excitement, he performs adequately enough, all things considered.

What brings me to this usually verboten topic (Hitchens, not blowjobs) isn't the free pass Raz gives Hitch, nor the ongoing lies, delusions and devolving justifications for imperial violence and corporate looting (what Hitch considers "civilization"), but this photo of Hitch and wife Carol Blue, snapped by Annie Leibowitz in their DC apartment in 1990:

I've been staring at this all morning, and the feelings it raises in me are unexpected but not unknown. It's from the period when I spent a lot of time in that apartment, either alone (going through Hitch's book collection, taking phone messages from his famous friends), or with Carol, or with Christopher, or with both. It was a wonderful time for me; I learned a lot about writing and arguing political points, and experienced even more. Hitchens/Blue were extremely gracious, friendly and giving, and I'll always treasure the many hours and days I shared with them. Looking at that photo, I feel warmth and a very real and deep sadness. However angry I get with Hitch for the deceit and bloody chaos he's helped promote, I'll never be fully able to shake the fondness I have for him, nor the gratitude for his guidance. When Tariq Ali wrote that the Christopher he knew was killed on 9/11, I understood what he meant, but until this morning, I never truly shared his emotion. The Christopher Hitchens in that photo is long gone. It is like looking at a dead man.