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Not Painless, or "There’s no way I could tell you/What he meant to me"

UPDATE: NYT Obituary here. Some book cover images added.

Two years ago at Readercon, I found myself doing some hero-worship in the Green Room.

Friday, we had discovered that my piece on Jorge Luis Borges was the first of the appreciations of that year’s Memorial Guest of Honor. (I assume this was because of its length.) Saturday, Shira and I had interviewed living GoH Jim Morrow. Sunday afternoon was going to be for seeing old friends.

Sunday morning, I came out of a panel, and there was Tom Disch, sitting alone in the Green Room.*

So I got five minutes—maybe ten—of getting to bubble over about “The Cardinal Detoxes” and On Wings of Song and Black Alice and The Castle of Indolence.

And he asked about why I was there, and I mumbled something, and Shira pointed out that I had written reviews for The Washington Post—to this man who had been the best reason to read The Nation for much of my early adult life.

And I asked about the rumors that he had stopped writing due to depression over his partner’s death (possibly not that directly), and he said he was still writing, and a few week’s later I found that he did indeed have some works scheduled to come out. And I believed him.

But apparently, that stopped being true.

If I’m at all qualified to have the politics of an Angry Bear, On Wings of Song should get much of the credit. (The excesses are mine.)

Subtitle reference (YouTube link).

*We had seen him on Friday night, having a pleasant dinner with Pamela Zoline, but that’s not a conversation one interrupts to hero-worship, even if you’re not trying to ride herd over two children in a dark bar.

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Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest Gives the Lie to the "Hillary is destroying the party" meme

He’s more of an optimist than I am—but that isn’t difficult.

Then again, he is also well aware that, were Hillary to drop out today, it wouldn’t be all peaches and cream from now until after the nominations are in place.

People are saying that Hillary is “race-baiting” because she mentioned “blue-collar whites.” Save the racist accusations for what’s coming — because it surely IS coming….

It is the old way, and it worked for a long time, and it stopped working and the 50-state strategy is what we need now. But is isn’t racist and isn’t intended to divide us. Is going after “soccer moms” or “NASCAR dads” as a demographic voting block a sexist tactic? Yes and no, but it isn’t intended to divide. She is just saying that voting patterns show that she is bringing in more of certain groups — and confirming her unfortunate entrenchment in the old-style “big state” view.

Let’s talk about real racism. Look at what has already started from the right. We already have seen them using “boy” and “darkest Africa.” As November approaches you will be hearing about “our women.” There will be stuff about how Obama wants the While House so he can lure in white wives of important Senators, etc. There will be a lot of “us” vs “them.” And much, much worse. Believe me, much, MUCH worse. THAT is when you want to talk about people using racism as a campaign tactic. And when that happens you really don’t want the right saying “well that’s what you said about Hillary, too.” [boldface and italics his]

As I noted at Thomas Palley’s blog a few days ago, “If Obama can’t take punches from the HRC campaign, he’s got no chance of doing so against the professionals of Ari Fleis[c]her and the RNC.” And while many appear to believe that the Dems could run anyone with a personality this side of Harry Reid after eight years of Bush-league rule, it’s a long way to November. And the more Hillary-punches Obama can take, the better off he’ll be when the real goons, not just Rocky Balboa, start swinging.

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