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.
Oh no. I'm speechless.
Which I suppose is a bookend to all the times Riley left me speechless in paroxysms of laughter.
Godspeed, Douglas. Perhaps he can "fix" God.
I wondered why the sky looked so nasty outside when I woke up at the crack of ice this morning. Here's the explanation. And this send-off was so eloquent I'm simply going to let it be the last word on an individual who, not to put too fine a point on it, was one hell of a writer - someone who could make Mark Twain look nervously over his shoulder. (DR once called me "the last honest man on the Internet" - something I cherished then, and will continue to do so until I'm called up to The Great Blogosphere in the Sky.)
Charlie Pierce at Esquire always referred to him as "the Hoosier sage." Indeed.
Oh, god. Heartbroken. I thought he'd be around forever, like curmudgeons are supposed to. The internet has lost one of its warmest hearts and coolest wits.
I need to go light a candle for his wife. This is just so awful.
Such sad news. Your heartfelt eulogy is much appreciated.
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.
Something I didn't say often enough at his blog, but all too true.
Well this is sad news to start the day.
And yes, it is sad that a paper like the NYT will pay wankers like Bobo and the Mustache of Understanding, while ignoring a talent like Doghouse.
For the man who made it sound so eloquent when he said it: fuck.
Fuck, just...fuck. So sorry to hear this, and so sorry for his family. I read Riley religiously and always felt that I came away smarter for it.
Dog, you will be missed.
Our weird little internet family - to paraphrase Mrs. Tbogg - has lost one of its best. DR was one of the most thoughtful, moral, and humane commenters on our present fallen state. He will be missed.
I'm shocked and saddened beyond words. He was a true great.
Oh, man, so sad.
Goodbye, Doghouse Riley. I'll miss you.
This is the type of news that makes a grown man cry. As a reader of his blog, I barely knew him, and yet a feel as if I've lost a dear, dear friend. His wit, his incisiveness, his acuity, his words were all just astounding.
The world truly is a lesser place for his passing. I already miss him greatly.
No, no, no, no....
It's a hoax, right? He's gonna overload the Indianapolis Racist Tribune's obituary server, then post a pithy post laughing at them, right?
"All my friends stopped running today"
"Now what am I gonna do?"
This is awful. Sad can't describe my feelings. Oh dear.
I believe I put that in a comment to him once-why does David Brooks get a NYT column when there's a Doghouse Riley out here blogging for free? He was such a great writer; observer; and humorist. I just cannot believe we have lost him.
He was a smart, funny, cut-to-the-chase sob, who I kinda thought would just be around forever--like Santa Claus or Sonny Bono--until he just...wasn't.
A fine writer and by all indications a fine person. Miserable news.
I'm shocked to the core. Typical of Doghouse to give almost no indication that he had bad health problems. (Perhaps it was quite unexpected?) Oh, damn.
His posts always made me feel that I was too ill-informed (compared to his encyclopedic self) to say anything worthwhile in comments beyond an occasional "Wow, what you said, Mr. Riley" or "Wow, another great word I'm looking up right now," that sort of thing. I feel so badly for his Poor Wife (as he always called her) -- they obviously had one of those meetings-of-minds relationships that make marriage into a real partnership.
He had an irascible, uncompromising, scary-smart, scary-witty voice, but there was a deep humane quality that fuelled everything he said.
He occasionally posted beautiful pictures of his perennial garden. I hope someone will want to keep caring for it. I'll miss him a lot.
I don't know what else to say. What the hell.
What a revolting development this is. I'd only become aware of his blog a couple of years ago. After the first visit, it was a site I hit every day, sometimes several times a day.
Awesome abilities as a writer and observer of the political scene, and yet somehow he managed to keep his sense of humor in this feculent tsunami of blatant grifts and gibbering insanity. The older I grow, the more I appreciate what a rare feat that is.
This is terrible news. Riley was one of the first political bloggers I ever read, and I rarely commented at his blog, entirely because he always said it all, and said it so well, nothing else need be added. He should still be here. Dammit. This isn't right.
Godfuckingdammit. One of the best commenters here for years, and that's saying something. You'd see his name and know there was good stuff ahead; funny, outraged, always so human, and so spot on. Nevermore.
He was one of the best. Very sad.
But, but, I'm not ready yet, I sniffled incongruously through a couple tears.
I still can't figure out what the hell that means.
All of us are poorer for his passing. He was one of the few bloggers around that I would have liked to have known personally.
"He was a sly purveyor of praeteritio and a puncturer of apodictic certainty."
He gets to take the first of his many rollovers.
We'll miss and remember you.
Oh god, this sucks. Grief is too weak a word.
Riley touched my life by bringing the eloquence and sharing the pain. He was one of the good guys.
Well, fuck fuck fuckity-fuck fuck. Even though I gave up most of the blogosphere when my brain started markedly dying, I was always shickled-titless whenever Doghouse would grace us with his bon mots here.
I was too lazy or stoopid to properly participate in a LOT of important conversations, but even as a mute observer, I knew a gifted and wise writer when I saw one. I always was jealous as hell of Doghouse, and always will be.
Wherever you wind-up in the universe, ya coot, keep givin' 'em hell!
Doghouse was the best writer on the internets. I was always worried that he wouldn't stick around because his unmoderated comments section was always short, indicating a lack of readership. Until I realized that people were humbled by his posts and afraid that any analytical comment would look weak.
I'm pretty sure that Charlie Pierce wouldn't mind growing up to be Doghouse Riley on his good days, and wouldn't be slow to admit it. Doghouse was the best, and it's going to feel strange to give up clicking on his site every few minutes hoping he had posted something.
He died too young, and didn't get the a chance to mature into what he could have become. He thought of himself as an old guy and a weary curmudgeon, and maybe he was, for the internets. He was a little too young to know and despise Reagan like a true boomer, but he gave it a pretty good shot despite his youth, and had the best understanding of Reagan and of politics since Reagan that exists. Doghouse Riley post could tell you more about the '60's than six inches of books by Rick Perlstine.
He understood and could explain how we got here, with a few quirky detours or fixations or descents into wrong, mostly involving cats, Harry Truman, or his dislike of young blog-stars who think they know something about wine.
It's true, he was a good man. His early passing makes everything worse than he suspected it would be.
Terrible, terrible news. Condolences to the family.
This sucks. I was looking forward to many years of Riley's consummate bitching. At least the next Divine Revelation will be extremely well thought out.
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