Excerpts from Matt Labash
-Breitbart showed me his Twitter mug shot.
Since he knew that I despise Twitter on principle, I thought he was deliberately sticking me in the eye. But he wasn’t. “Seriously,” he said. “Take a look. Do you notice anything different about me?” In the photo, he had newly grown facial hair. He was looking off into the middle distance in a way that did not quite resemble himself.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Did you lose weight? Get a haircut?”
“NO!!!!” he exclaimed, with some disappointment. “It’s exactly like Eric Boehlert’s Twitter picture! I’m mirroring him!”
- I tried to calm Breitbart down several times, to no avail. A few years back, he told me the doctor said that he needed to decelerate his stress levels. Consequently, he wanted me to teach him how to fly fish. Then he thought better of it. The problem, he admitted, was, “Every time I see a tree, I just want to kick its ass.”
- we all doubled over as Andrew worked out his shtick during pre-game drinks as he proudly explained to us a new coinage of his – “Retrobate” – the process whereby one sexually fantasizes about aged actresses who you once had a crush on, in their younger incarnation.
Our friend, Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, had won the Ayers dinner at an Illinois Humanities Council auction, and had brought us along. Tucker and I were a little worried that we had in our possession a human grenade in Breitbart, though if we were being honest with ourselves, that’s precisely why we brought him. With Andrew, every day was anything-can-happen day.
As it happened, Breitbart was on his best behavior. “I’m here to learn,” Andrew said facetiously. It was part of the pleasure of keeping company with him. He wasn’t just a friend, he was a co-conspirator. Once we arrived at the apartment, much to Andrew’s and Ayers’s chagrin, they got along famously. Just two guys having dinner, finding commonality, even if Andrew regarded it his hidebound duty to passive-aggressively heckle Ayers as he served us plates of hoisin ribs and farmhouse cheeses. (“This is the bomb, Bill,” Breitbart said to the former explosives-rigger.)
When Ayers asked me what I was reading right now, I told him “Moby Dick,” which actually lived up to its billing. Ayers agreed, though added, as any good academic would, “You’ve picked up the gay subtext?” Breitbart nearly choked on his tofu and quinoa. “You mean in Moby Dick?” Andrew asked. “Or at this dinner?”
Several years ago, when Breitbart was in the middle of one skirmish or another – I don’t even remember which one – I told him that I didn’t know whether I should encourage him, but that he made me laugh, as always. I asked him when someone finally shot him, “Can I read a poem at your memorial service? ”
“I think I should stop,” he admitted of his latest caper. “But it’s so fun and the hate mail is something to behold….And of course you can read my favorite poem, William Carlos Williams’s ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ at my wake.” Well my friend, you mercifully didn’t get shot. But here you go anyway:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
I’ve never had any idea what the hell that poem means. And I suspect that neither Breitbart, nor William Carlos Williams, had a clue either. But it doesn’t matter. As Andrew held, sometimes absurdity is worth it for its own sake. And as he once wrote to me, “I hope people see that I’m dead serious about what I’m dead serious about, and besides that, it’s all about a good laugh.”