Monday, December 23, 2019

A Longish Note Back To Someone About The Good, The Bad And The Ugly In The Irishman

‪I don’t recall you objecting to the film on a moral basis. If you did, then either I didn’t read you fully enough or just missed it or forgot it. ‬

‪My recollection of what you said is that it was slow, tedious, with scenes so prosaic—stopping the ride for smokes—as to produce boredom and without much meaning. Though I do recall you saying, I guess more than once, that the idea of “it is what it is,” which I say is one way of putting the movie’s theme, is nonsense or dull and or without real meaning. ‬

‪I objected to all of that, arguing while the movie moves slowly, it doesn’t move ponderously, that each scene brims with subtleties and connections to other scenes in The Irishman, and in his other movies—notably Good Fellas, and that the theme of “it is what it is” *is* meaningful within the depiction of this film’s world and its ethos.‬

‪As to the stance the movie takes towards the criminality it recounts and depicts in Sheeran’s telling, I agree with you up to a point. I originally said to you and have always thought about The Irishman that Scorsese is too complacent, too gliding over, not dramatically critical enough of that criminality, the violent inhumanness of it not in the least assuaged by his daughter’s rejection of her father.

‪But, big but, and here we reach the end of “up to a point,” are we made to feel sympathy for Sheeran or are we made to see him as an utterly abject piteous figure, like Saddam Hussein found in the spider hole, from whom we’re detached? Sheeran being an abject piteous figure is different from our  pitying him. The emphasis is on the abjectness, the lowness to which he’s reduced. He wears the insignia of his former ostensible heights, the honorific watch and the honorific ring, while he’s sitting in a wheel chair at death’s door, alone, broken, dismayed, understanding the vast emptiness of his life, fighting failingly with all he’s got, not much left mind you, for a little light, a little grace, for not complete darkness.

‪From memory:‬

‪“Father could you do me a favour?” ‬

‪“Sure Frank, what is it?” ‬

‪“Could you leave the door open just a little? I don’t like it closed.”‬

‪I say Scorsese means to evoke the latter, Sheeran’s abjectness, means not to elicit our sympathy for him. After all, all the hoods get comeuppance one way or another, dying pathetically alone in jail or not, sick or crippled, or cold-bloodedly murdered under the very codes they live and die by, or shot by accident as happens to Sally Bugs—“Someone he told forgot to tell someone. It was a bad hit.” Russell in jail is without teeth, metaphorically toothless after all that power, brought so low he can only pathetically gnaw with his toothless mouth on the bread he used to love to dip into wine and savour, the wine now grape juice, the bread and the grape juice, aping and subverting the meaning of the Eucharist. Sheeran and Russell try to find solace, forgiveness and meaning in that Christian forgiveness, with at least in Sheeran’s case the effort miserably failing. The world of this movie eats these guys alive one way or another, and “it is what it is,” their reality, comes home to each of them. The death that awaits us all is in their case fully inflected by the way they lived.‬

‪So, what you miss in your moral criticism that Scorsese wants us in the end to sympathize with Sheeran and shouldn’t is that while in and by the movie’s end Scorsese tries to, he does not convey sufficiently the depths of the horror of Sheeran’s criminality. By presenting the movie’s world largely from Sheeran’s point of view, from, so to say, inside Sheeran’s head, Scorsese doesn’t allow himself enough critical distance to dramatically take the full measure of that horror. And, too, the whole story and sub stories and the acting and other cinematic things make The Irishman so compellingly watchable that we’re so drawn in to the way Sheeran sees things such that we’re not allowed to take that very measure. The Irishman fails in that. ‬

‪Ross Douthat puts it thus about this film’s relation to Scorsese’s thug movies: ‬

‪...He wants to offer a companion piece and a partial corrective to some of his most famous which the sheer pleasure of criminality, the scenes of lawless masculine delight, were allowed to occlude the larger moral vision, to hide the skull beneath the skin...‬

‪And Armond White puts it thus about The Irishman as such:‬

‪...By the time Fox News prelate Father Jonathan Morris appears, offering forgiveness to the decrepit Sheeran (and implicitly blessing Scorsese’s perpetual, backsliding glamorization of crime), the overwrought Irishman resembles an American kabuki play about sin that also relishes sin...‬

‪White, I think, misses that Sheeran realizes that there is no forgiveness regardless of what the priest tells him. But White’s pretty close to the point. And while Douthat theorizes that Scorsese means to remediate his past thug glorification, the point is that Scorsese doesn’t succeed.

‪Put most simply, the end doesn’t justify the means. ‬

‪But all this is different from your moral qualm about this film, which I do believe is your mistaken view of it. So, I argue you’re wrong on both counts. In a nutshell, I think you’re wrong about the movie as tedious and meaningless in that tedium and that you’re wrong in your moral criticism of the movie.‬

‪Finally, maybe in 500 years I will by historic consensus have been proved faulty about The Irishman but for now the best movie minds of our generation not destroyed by madness agree near to universally on its quality, differing only in degree.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Some Back And Forth And Forth And Back On The Irishman


‪The movie was tedious.  The conversations where one didn't say what one meant many time in various ways were simply boring, neither funny parodies nor subtle and inventive.  After "you paint houses" and the blood spattered wall it went downhill.  I was puzzled by what the movie was up to since I found the thugs thuggish, and their lives and wives and even kids boring.  I think the guy I watched with may have it right.  He said that  the "you do what you gotta do" without any moral fuss attitude that dominated makes people boring.  The wives were as boring as they guys.  Hoffa was different, but I didn't like Pacino either.  There were also in-jokes  I think, like the fish? (a red herring?) that I didn't get.  ‬

‪I was utterly unmoved by the fate of de Nero and when he offered the lame excuse he did it for his family I heard an echo of Breaking Bad where Walter says that to his wife and she says, in one word, bullshit.  As for his emptiness emotionally, right, but boring to watch.  ‬

‪I am utterly amazed at the Rotten Tomatoes rating and praise.  ‬

‪I utterly miss the glamour.  Scorcese keeps reminding us that many of the side characters were murdered, which kind of dims their achievement as survivors.  And the survival trick here (unlike in the Sopranos) is simply doing what you are told.  Where is the glamour in that?  Di Nero makes murder pretty routine, and gets away with it easily.  The cigarette business was puzzling and then it struck me that the husband and wife negotiate in about the same bored spirit as the murder etc.  They've done it hundreds of time and no-one wants to make a big deal of it.  The more I go on the worse it gets.‬
‪I liked both godfather movies and loved the Sopranos.  This film seem nothing like either to me. ‬


‪I don’t know how you escape being drawn into this story, the characters, how they talk, what they do, how Scorsese creates their world, how he creates a series of set pieces that stand on their own as scenes and yet fit together into a tight, yes tight , whole, even as the story in a leisurely, discursive yet steady and coherent way moves inexorably forward, and how there is self conscious, discussable artistry behind every scene and that very tight coherence. ‬

‪Take the impersonal, matter of fact killings for example. Routine? Sure. They're done with detachment, impersonality, done in the usual course of business. You see it from the point of the view of the murderer. It’s as nothing. ‬

‪The cigarettes? There’s a big slice of a world traced in that: from Lansky and Luciano getting chased out of Cuba, them telling Russell never to smoke, maybe in the spirit, as Sheeran speculates, of “O God, if I ever get out of here alive, I’ll never smoke again,” which sets up slyly, subtly and minutely, the end time futile shot at redemption and forgiveness by both Russell and then Sheeran before they’re to meet, or never get to meet their makers, coming down to a trifling domestic issue between Russell and his wife, also for an instant ironically, humorously inverting Russell’s vaunted power, with a single unifying strand running through all of it.‬

‪And it’s not that the slight argument over smoking reflects the boredom with which bigger homicidal decisions are made. It is that there is a quietness in the way things are—it is what it is—that the logic of situations impose themselves and those who are wise accommodate them and live to thrive. So Russell’s wife working within their personal dynamics forces a smoke stop and Russell keeps his wife happy as far as happiness in the demimonde goes—happy wife, happy life—and Russell goes on to thrive in demimonde way, until he doesn’t. ‬

‪And, so, Sheeran conflicted between Hoffa and Russell accommodates where his interest lies even as his loyalty and friendship with Hoffa press against him and he gets to live until he dies, of natural causes, as does Russell. But Hoffa unaccommodating—Sheeran to Hoffa: “It is what it is!” Hoffa: “It is what it is! They wouldn’t dare! Nobody threatens Hoffa! I know things! They don’t know what I know!” And so, Hoffa, in the ways of the demimonde, doesn’t know when, so to say, stop for a smoke break, and, so, he gets offed. “It is what it is.” ‬

‪“It is what it is.” Everything comes down to it what it is, the way things are, reality itself, a theme running through the film.‬

‪I could go on for a long time on almost every little thing. ‬

‪Me Back To R’s Back To Me:‬

‪Me: ‬

‪The impersonal, matter of fact killings for example. Routine? Sure. They're done with detachment, impersonality, done in the usual course of business. You see it from the point of the view of the murderer. It’s as nothing.   ‬




‪You’re making a massive critical error. It surprises me. You wrench something out of context, a specific thing that is paraphrased briefly simply to explain it and ask why that’s interesting. Why is it interesting that Romeo and Juliet are immediately attracted to each other? It’s a silly question. Scorsese paints an entire hierarchical world filled with any number of details and aspects and personalities. Sheeran killing those who have to get got is part of it. His war experience is the template for him doing it. So duty to country in one world becomes necessary business as usual in another. And it’s that other where this movie has a big part of its center.‬


‪....coming down to a trifling domestic issue between Russell and his wife, also for an instant ironically, humorously inverting Russell’s vaunted power, with a single strand running through all of it.  ‬




‪Another surprising comment from you in its misapprehending this bit of film business. True, she comes from Sicilian mafia royalty, but you miss how integrated they are in each other’s life. When he comes home bloodied and dazed from some bad business he’s done she steps right in domestically to direct him and accommodate him. They’re an integrated unit in this life of theirs. As as are Sheeran and his second wife. ‬

‪But to think he has more no more power than her is ridiculous and suggests a failure to have understood the simplest things about the movie. “All roads run through Russ.” No one makes a move without him unless it’s those over him, Angelo Bruno and the NYC biggest heavies. Of course, he has more power than her. But you have to contrast the way she fits in when needed, when he’s bloody and dazed and him giving in to her on a minor domestic issue. ‬

‪He loves her. They work together and accommodate each other on small things. That is what people who love each other and work well together do. Plus, the movie reflects the sanctity or family to that generation of mafia heads. Stay quiet and unobtrusive and keep your home life stable. He’s the head of a Philadelphia mafia family for goodness sake. ‬

‪Either you’ve completely failed to understand the movie or you’re merely trolling in bad faith.‬


‪And it’s not that the slight argument over smoking reflects the boredom with which bigger homicidal decisions are made. It is that there is a quietness in the way things are—it is what it is—that the logic of situations impose themselves and those who are wise accommodate them and live to thrive. ‬




‪You’re so assertive and prescriptive here. Dull to you but hardly to anyone else. The near to universal reaction to this movie is that it moves slowly but is decidedly not dull. Just the opposite, it’s compelling in character, acting, sweep of story and cinematic technique, the framing, the stories within the story, the cinematography and so on, even the integration of the music. ‬

‪Certainly you’re lord and master of what interests you but when your lack of interest is such a critical outlier, you’d need at least to distinguish between your finding the movie dull and asserting it’s dull let alone being prescriptive about what makes for dull art. But at least I’ll agree with you that the film is art. ‬


‪And so, Hoffa, in the ways of the demimonde, doesn’t know when, so to say, stop for a smoke break, and, so, he gets offed. “It is what it is.” ‬




‪I thought Pacino was miscast as Hoffa, understanding what I do of Hoffa and the movie suffered in virtually equating Hoffa in his silly tics with his profound importance in American life, which the movie also makes apparent. But for all the miscasting of Hoffa and Pacino’s hyperbolic performance, the scene in which that back and forth takes place is brilliant in all what it has going on and in the acute contrast between those who in this life quietly accommodate each other and those whose loudness does them in. Hoffa, Crazy Joey Gallo. Russell’s understatedness, fabulously acted by Pesci— almost as magnetic as De Niro’s portrayal of Sheeran— measures inversely the extent of his power. And in this scene, for all his misplaced noisiness, Pacino’s flamboyance works. ‬


‪“It is what it is.” Everything comes down to it is what it is, the way things are, reality itself, a theme running through the film.‬




‪But this movie isn’t a mirror. It’s a depiction of a whole way of life over the fully lived adult life of one man as played by one of the great actors of our time accompanied, as noted, by other brilliant performances, the miscasting of Hoffa notwithstanding. “It is what it is” for all its explicitness arises as a theme rises organically from all the specifics of the film. ‬


‪I can't resist.  What of the scene where he viciously attacked the grocery store owner and made his daughter watch.   He is a thug and nothing but a thug, there is nothing at all to admire about him.  Maybe the movie is saved by Scorsese's refusing to guide our responses, and letting us have to bring the condemnation, rather than by transparently villainizing the main character. ‬
‪And I thought when we talked that you didn't like the film because it led you to enjoy brutality.  ‬


‪Who says he’s not a thug? ‬

‪Who says he’s glamorized? ‬

‪But he has his feelings, confusions, senses of loyalty, friendship and duty that jostle each other, which is to say, some intrriority. The movie conveys all that, especially with Hoffa. DeNiro’s facial gestures when Russell lays it on him in his quiet, no nonsense, lethally authoritative concise way—“it is what it is”—what he must do are a master class in conveying with unexaggerated looks such hurt, tormented, confused feelings. He can’t sleep. His bedside phone beckons him. He doesn’t call Hoffa, his temptation to do so made vivid. Russell lays it down in about as directly assertive and stern as he ever gets: “Don’t call him,” only three words that say life and death much. ‬

‪His daughter’s horror at what he does to the bullying grocer is the counterpoint, the critique of his thuggishness, which of course abides and grows throughout the film. And it shows his wrenching of family as the movie goes on, the inversion of what these thugs espouse as its stabilizing importance. ‬

‪I reject the sometimes asserted proposition that his loss of his daughter, and less so his other daughters, is his comeuppance. And it may be that Scorsese wants to suggest that. If he does, then it’s facile. Facile? Hell, it’s silly.‬

‪Me, as I said in my linked note to you, I’m torn between finding the movie very fine, compellingly watchable, for the reasons I’ve pointed to and for others—it’s one I’ll watch from time to time as I do other thug movies by Scorsese: Casino, Goodfellas, The Departed, Mean Streets even Who’s That Knocking At My Door—and in that enjoyment finding critical pleasure in its many subtleties, which I’ve only begun to point out to you, between finding that and, too, finding deep fault with its defective moral vision. That’s precisely the point of my linked note, a point I trust I needn’t repeat. ‬

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Note To Someone Being My Take At This Point, 12, 8, 19 On The Impeachment Of Trump


‪It’s this for me: we’d agree that im🍑ment has to be for something grave and profoundly wrong; we can imagine infinite instances that each would form an undeniable ground as agreed to by any reasonable person; we ought to agree that im🍑ment has to have a common bottom, that is to say, broad popular support to be something different from a mere tactical political instrument. ‬

‪But here, on what’s known, let alone specifically proved by direct evidence, im🍑ment is explicitly purely partisan save that some Ds in Congress may vote against it and not a single R will vote for it. Same thing likely when it reaches the Senate, maybe Romney excepted on the R side. ‬

‪And bigger but, the public is either on each side of a partisan divide or with those less or not partisan, the independents, by a small majority tilting against it. ‬

‪So, to my mind, the grounds asserted haven’t reached that critical mass that in principle should justify it. ‬

‪The hyperbolic instance of Trump’s getting away with shooting someone on 5th Avenue is actually instructive. For if he had done something clearly analogous to that, whether blue or white collar, whether a high crime or a high misdemeanour, there would be no issue. He’d be gone on a basis transcending partisanship.‬

‪Otherwise, we have 3 elite law professors who hate Trump, who wear their predisposition against him like a blindingly bright red cape around their shoulders, telling from on high us poor dimwits the way it unmistakably is.‬

‪Mind you, one elite law prof who also has no use for Trump takes profound and persuasive issue with his peers’ certainty. ‬

‪Tell a regular person with no predetermined view on im🍑ment of Trump the salient positive and negative proven facts of the Ukrainian issue and then ask whether it amounts to a basis for removing him. ‬

‪What answer then? ‬

‪My hunch is a “Meh, no.” ‬

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Moral Panic And Viral Falsity

‪Here is a case study in moral panic and viral falsity.‬

Law professor Jonathan Turley, expert for the Republicans at the December 4th, 2019 session of the Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, immediately after his testimony gets threatened, gets his employment put under fire, gets misrepresented, gets lied about and generally gets made the subject of yellow attacks and yellow  journalism. ‬

‪Turning and turning in the widening gyre   ‬
‪The falcon cannot hear the falconer;‬
‪Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;‬
‪Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,‬
‪The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   ‬
‪The ceremony of innocence is drowned;‬
‪The best lack all conviction, while the worst   ‬
‪Are full of passionate intensity.‬

‪It’s the worst full of passionate intensity who worry me most. ‬

‪ It’s insufficient simply to disagree with Turley, no matter how vigorously. No, he must be put to the side, stifled, vilified, attacked and destroyed. ‬

‪Indeed, this is a time in America of a kind of mass derangement, “rancors and rage,” outrage, “stifling intolerance,” “agitated passions,” hateful rhetoric, not to omit incipient violence. ‬

‪It’s worth reading his summary of what has been put against him and his summary clarification and proper statement  of his own positions. ‬

‪December 5, 2019, The Hill( The Link )‬

‪....The most dangerous place for an academic is often between the House and the impeachment of an American president. I knew that going into the first hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on the impeachment of Donald Trump. After all, Alexander Hamilton that impeachment would often occur in an environment of “agitated passions.” Yet I remained a tad naive in hoping that an academic discussion on the history and standards of it might offer a brief hiatus from hateful rhetoric on both sides.‬

‪In my testimony Wednesday, I lamented that, as in the impeachment of President Clinton from 1998 to 1999, there is an intense “rancor and rage” and “stifling intolerance” that blinds people to opposing views. My call for greater civility and dialogue may have been the least successful argument I made to the committee. ‬

‪Before I finished my testimony, my home and office were inundated with threatening messages and demands that I be fired from George Washington University for arguing that, while a case for impeachment can be made, it has not been made on this record.‬

‪Some of the most heated attacks came from Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee. Representative Eric Swalwell of California attacked me for defending my client, Judge Thomas Porteous, in the last impeachment trial and noted that I lost that case. Swalwell pointed out that I said Porteous had not been charged with a crime for any conduct, which is an obviously material point for any impeachment defense.‬

‪Not all Democrats supported such scorched earth tactics. One senior Democrat on the committee apologized to me afterward for the attack from Swalwell. Yet many others relished seeing my representations of an accused federal judge being used to attack my credibility, even as they claimed to defend the rule of law.‬

‪Indeed, Rachel Maddow lambasted me on MSNBC for defending the judge, who was accused but never charged with taking bribes, and referring to him as a “moocher” for the allegations that he accepted free lunches and whether such gratuities, which were not barred at the time, would constitute impeachable offenses.‬

‪Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank expanded on this theme of attacking my past argument. Despite 52 pages of my detailed testimony, more than twice the length of all the other witnesses combined, on the cases and history of impeachment, he described it as being “primarily emotional and political.” Milbank claimed that I contradicted my testimony in a 2013 hearing when I presented “exactly the opposite case against President Obama” by saying “it would be ‘very dangerous’ to the balance of powers not to hold Obama accountable for assuming powers ‘very similar’ to the ‘right of the king’ to essentially stand above the law.”‬

‪But I was not speaking of an impeachment then. It was a discussion of the separation of powers and the need for Congress to fight against unilateral executive actions, the very issue that Democrats raise against Trump. I did not call for Obama to be impeached, but that is par for the course in the echo chamber today in which the facts must conform to the frenzy. ‬

‪It was unsettling to see the embrace of a false narrative that I “contradicted” my testimony from the Clinton impeachment, a false narrative fueled by the concluding remarks of Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York quoting from my 1998 testimony. Notably, neither Swalwell nor Nadler allowed me to respond to those or any other attacks. It was then picked up eagerly by others, despite being a demonstrably false narrative.‬

‪In my testimony Wednesday, I stated repeatedly, as I did 21 years ago, that a president can be impeached for noncriminal acts, including abuse of power. I made that point no fewer that a dozen times in analyzing the case against Trump and, from the first day of the Ukraine scandal, I have made that argument both on air and in print. ‬

‪Yet various news publications still excitedly reported that, in an opinion piece I wrote for the Washington Post five years ago, I said, “While there is a high bar for what constitutes grounds for impeachment, an offense does not have to be indictable,” and it could include “serious misconduct or a violation of public trust.”‬

‪That is precisely what I have said regarding Trump. You just need to prove abuse of power. My objection is not that you cannot impeach Trump for abuse of power but that this record is comparably thin compared to past impeachments and contains conflicts, contradictions, and gaps including various witnesses not subpoenaed. I suggested that Democrats drop the arbitrary schedule of a vote by the end of December and complete their case and this record before voting on any articles of impeachment. In my view, they have not proven abuse of power in this incomplete record.‬

‪However, rather than address the specific concerns I raised over this incomplete record and process, critics have substituted a false attack to suggest that I had contradicted my earlier testimony during the Clinton impeachment. They reported breathlessly that I said in that hearing, “If you decide that certain acts do not rise to impeachable offenses, you will expand the space for executive conduct.” ‬

‪What they left out is that, in my testimony then and again this week, I stressed that the certain act in question was perjury. The issue in the Clinton case was whether perjury was an impeachable offense. Most Democratic members of Congress, including Nadler, maintained back then that perjury did not meet the level of an impeachable offense if the subject was an affair with an intern.‬

‪I maintained in the Clinton testimony, and still maintain in my Trump testimony, that perjury on any subject by a sitting president is clearly impeachable. Indeed, as I stated Wednesday, that is the contrast between this inquiry and three prior impeachment controversies. In those earlier inquiries, the commission of criminal acts by Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton were clearly established.‬

‪With Johnson, the House effectively created a trapdoor crime and he knowingly jumped through it. The problem was that the law, the Tenure of Office Act, was presumptively unconstitutional and the impeachment was narrowly built around that dubious criminal act. With Nixon, there were a host of alleged criminal acts, and dozens of officials would be convicted. With Clinton, there was an act of perjury that even his supporters acknowledged was a felony.‬

‪While obviously presented in a false context, the quotation of my Clinton testimony only highlights the glaring contrast of those who opposed the Clinton impeachment but now insist the case is made to impeach Trump.‬

‪I have maintained that they both could be removed, one for a crime and one for a noncrime. The difference is that the Clinton crime was accepted by Democrats. Indeed, a judge reaffirmed that Clinton committed perjury, a crime for which thousands of other citizens have been jailed. Yet the calls for showing that “no one is above the law” went silent with Clinton.‬

‪As I stated Wednesday, I believe the Clinton case is relevant today and my position remains the same. I do not believe a crime has been proven over the Ukraine controversy, though I said such crimes might be proven with a more thorough investigation. Instead, Democrats have argued that they do not actually have to prove the elements of crimes such as bribery and extortion to use those in drafting articles of impeachment. In the Clinton impeachment, the crime was clearly established and widely recognized.‬

‪As I said 21 years ago, a president can still be impeached for abuse of power without a crime, and that includes Trump. But that makes it more important to complete and strengthen the record of such an offense, as well as other possible offenses. I remain concerned that we are lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. Trump will not be our last president. ‬

‪What we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come. These “agitated passions” will not be a substitute for proof in an impeachment. We currently have too much of the former and too little of the latter.‬

‪Jonathan Turley is the chair of public interest law at George Washington University and served as the last lead counsel in a Senate impeachment trial. He testified as a Republican witness in House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Trump impeachment inquiry. Follow him @JonathanTurley.‬


I’ve buffed up something I wrote two years after my best friend died. I’ve republished it because it may give some of the flavour of one part of my life, the part with my friends outside of family. ‬

‪....Someone, doesn’t matter who, wrote this: ‬

‪...For the past forty years, Richard Levinson has spoken on the phone with his friend and fellow trial lawyer John every single day...‬

‪I had such a best friend, my law partner in fact, James Rose, who died too young two years ago and a bit, in December 2010. From September 28, 2004 to the day he died, December 23, 2010, to be exact, he practiced law in Bracebridge, Ontario, and I practiced law in Toronto, both under the banner, Basman Rose. Before that for about 15 years, we were partners in a larger downtown Toronto law firm, where our friendship formed and cemented itself. ‬

‪What didn't we do together but everything, traveled--an annual tradition inaugurated by a last minute decision to fly from Toronto to Little Rock to be there for Clinton's winning the presidency first time round, fought cases, quarrelled with each other, drank too much too often, sat that out in too many bars, ate a million meals, listened how many times and where not to the blues, saw each other through all our relative crises, got pissed off with each other, laughed about it after. ‬

‪It's said people are as sick as their secrets. Well on that score we were healthy. We talked about everything and everyone, the glorious and the shockingly inglorious. No secrets. ‬

‪From the time we became friends till the day he died, we kibitzed about and laughed at everything. Always, and more than anything else, we were laughing. ‬

‪The trial lawyer daily phoning his friend put me in more intense mind of my friend--he's always on my mind, more or less. I had dinner with one of my best friends last week and told him a long story about certain experiences I'd been having.‬

‪He asked me who else I'd told or would tell this story to. I mentioned a few people who were our mutual friends and ruled some in and some out and said the reasons why. He then asked me if I would have told this story to James Rose. "Oh my God," I said, paraphrasing, "in a heart beat. We thrived on sharing these kinds of stories with each other. This kind of story was so us."‬

‪And in thinking about it, though I've had the same thought innumerable times, as I lived through the experiences forming the story, complicated, bittersweet, enlivening, making-life-worthwhile experiences they are, I was again struck but even more forcefully, like a hammer to the head, how much of each other's lives we shared and in a way lived, and how we in our friendship lived a certain life together, like a marriage but it was a friendship between two men who believed at bottom they were forever kids.‬

‪Him dead is like living without something, say one of your senses, or an arm or a leg. It's living with a certain kind of irreparability. You keep on. You keep having a relatively full life. But too you live that life with a sizeable hole in it and there is, ultimately, nothing to fill it in. But at least there is the poignant and intangible concreteness of memory and the deep thanks to the way things sometimes go that I had such a friend.‬