Up@dawn 2.0

Sunday, December 15, 2013

St. Hitchens' Day.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers, Sisters, Comrades...Friends.

That's the line I use to start every radio show I do.  It's the line I use when introducing myself to a group of people.  I have used it in every speech I have given in the past couple years.

It's how Christopher Eric Hitchens used to address his audience.

I still remember where I was when I found out that Christopher Hitchens had died.

I was in a hotel in Birmingham, Alabama--headed home for the holidays.  I had only just, a matter of weeks before, come across some of Hitch's work--as with all great things, I discovered Hitch while mindlessly running around YouTube.  I saw his debates, and fell in love with the "Hitchslap."  I ran out to Barnes and Noble and bought god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything or, as I like to call it (because of its distinctive color), "the big yellow f**k-you to religion."

I remember falling in love with that tone of his--the vocabulary that was 10 miles long, and yet I understood every word from his mouth.  There are times I felt he was talking directly to me.
"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence." 
--Letters to a Young Contrarian
Hitch spoke to me, as I suspect he spoke to so many of us.  He's a divisive figure, to be sure, but when he spoke he was nothing less than bulletproof.  I am reminded of this particular setting of Hitch's debate with Tony Blair, known as the Antitheist's Anthem.

It's got a couple of Hitch's Greatest Hits, if you will: created sick and commanded to be well, Divine North Korea, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and so on.  But it's the line at the end that brings a tear to my eyes every time: 

"No seconds left, I've done my best, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Believe me, I have more."

That's the line that has broken my heart since his death 2 years ago.  Hitch was silenced by nothing more than a clock.  Reading his Mortality proves that beyond any doubt.

Hitch was a voice for all things good in the world.  He refused to tolerate dictatorship and he abhorred religion, but he absolutely loved people.  Hitch was everything I've ever wanted to be--intelligent, witty, funny--and more.  He lives on in his writings and the youtube videos that bear his trademark wit, and in the hearts of all those who admired him.

And so, on this, as I call it, "St. Hitchens' Day," a reference to a quote from the man himself ("atheists don't have saints and we don't have martyrs") I cope the only way I can, by watching his videos, reading some of his essays, and starting my day, as he invariably would, with a "decent slug of Mr. Walker's amber restorative."  "Johnnie Walker Black.  Breakfast of Champions.  Accept no substitutes."

In loving memory
of Christopher Eric Hitchens
April 13, 1949-December 15, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Lovely homage, Jon. It would be pleasing to think Hitch was still somewhere "slapping" an immortal, but it falls to us to do that in his memory. Cheers!