Doug Masson reports the devastating news that Doghouse Riley, the Hoosier Sage, passed away on Saturday. I'm at a loss for words tonight, which would not have impressed Mr. Riley, and if I want to be honest (I don't, but it seems like the time for it), impressing Doghouse was one of the hoped-for goals whenever I'd sit down to write a post. His comments were usually funnier, and invariably pithier, but I always took particular pride in the messages he approved.
DR's real name was Douglas Case, but aside from that, and a few minor biographical details that leaked into our occasional correspondence, I didn't know much more about him than he chose to reveal on his own blog. But I knew he could write -- something which was obvious to anyone who read his posts and comments -- and hey, a soupçon of literary mystique never hurt B. Traven. Perhaps the biggest mystery (or maybe, considering the state of the modern media, just the greatest injustice) is why people like David Brooks and Ross Douthat had sinecures at the New York Times, and Doghouse didn't.
He was a master of the mot juste, able to poleaxe either a national brand punditaster* or a comment thread troll with a single deft blow, as though he'd spent his entire career working on a particularly urbane kill floor. He was a sly purveyor of praeteritio and a puncturer of apodictic certainty. And above all else, he was a gentleman, who didn't assume that history began when he was born, who always referred to s.z. as "our hostess," and who never walked past a question-beggar without dropping a fistful of whoop-ass in his or her tin cup.
Here's a link to his obituary in the newspaper he loved to hate, the Indianapolis Star. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association.
By a strange but happy coincidence (and I'll take whatever happiness I can get at this miserable moment), I was updating the archives last week, adding World O' Crap posts from our old domain that were salvaged by the Internet Wayback Machine (thanks, Chris V), and pausing frequently to reread Doghouse's comments. He was an O.G. Crapper, one of the first and most eloquent admirers of Sheri's original Salon blog, and I regret that the earliest of his comments were lost, like tears in the rain. But he graced us with his wit and wisdom many times over the past ten years, and once the shock has worn off, I'll post some of the more piquant quips, aphorisms, and epigrams I can find. Until then, please consider this an open thread to share your tributes and memories of the Hoosier Sage.
R.I.P. Mr. Riley.
UPDATE: Roy, Ivan, Charlie Pierce and Scott Supak remember Doghouse.
*One of my favorite Riley neologisms.