BARRY GRAHAM, author of books including THE BOOK OF MAN (an American Library Association best book of the year), THE WRONG THING (finalist for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE best novel of the year), WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN TO DUST (a MYSTERY PEOPLE best book of the year) and KILL YOUR SELF: LIFE AFTER EGO, an Amazon Kindle bestseller in the Zen category.

A Brief Eulogy for Charles Bowden

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I’m trying to think of something to say about my friend Chuck Bowden—in my opinion the greatest U.S. nonfiction writer of his generation—who died in his sleep yesterday afternoon.

I’ve already said some of it to The Arizona Republic and to my friend Michael Kiefer, whose articles can be read by clicking on the links, and I said a little bit in a column I wrote in 1997, when I first met Bowden. So I guess all that’s left to say is personal.

Bowden was the biggest influence on how I write nonfiction. Along with that influence, he was a breathtakingly kind, supportive friend and mentor. He recommended me to the editors of national magazines, and, sometimes, when he was offered work he didn’t have the time or inclination to do, he would ask me if I was interested. He was just as supportive of many other writers, even though he stated that writers were “worthless scum,” including himself.

He took friendship as seriously as his writing, with equal artistry and attention to detail; he was a fine cook, and when I was coming for dinner he would ask me in advance what he had cooked the last time I had visited, so he could do something different this time. Reading his books probably made me a better writer, and his friendship certainly made me a better man.

He declared:

I speak for the mongrel, the mestizo, the half-breed, the bastard, the alley-cat, the cur, the hybrid, the mule, the whore, the unforeseen strain that pounds against all the safe and disgusting doors. I speak for vitality, rough edges, torn fences, broken walls, wild rivers, sweat-soaked sheets. Who would want a world left mumbling to itself, a perfect garden with the dreaded outside, the fabled Other held at bay and the neat rows of cultures and genes safe behind some hedgerow?

Bowden risked his life to give voice to the voiceless. He said things no one else did, and he said them better than anyone else could. He was as much a prophet as a reporter, and his death is a loss to all who know the importance of bearing witness.

James Johnson, a.k.a. J.J. Johnson, Jameson Johnson and Jimmy Carroll Johnson, is not an ex-cop or ex-rescue swimmer - but he’s still an ex-armed robber

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"J.J.Johnson’s" OK Cupid photo - does the T-shirt mean another new name is imminent?

 

The fascinating thing about convicted armed robber Jimmy Carroll Johnson, later known as Jameson Johnson and, most recently, J.J. Johnson, is his mix of intelligence and stupidity - or perhaps insanity.

If you had gone to a new city to reinvent yourself and leave a criminal past behind, would you constantly call attention to yourself by becoming a public figure and telling absurd, Walter Mitty-esque stories about yourself that cast you as a hybrid of James Bond and the hero of Die Hard? Johnson can’t seem to stop himself.

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I think you are extremely insensitive about the subject of Gabrielle Giffords. She is so much more than just a survivor of a bullet. She is dedicated, hard-working, and a fighter in every way. You do not know her.

There is a difference between the public and the private self, and with Giffords - whom you’re correct in saying that I don’t know personally - I comment on the public self. She may be hard-working and dedicated, but what she has worked hard at and shown herself to be dedicated to is conservative, pandering, racist politicking.

 Her objection to SB 1070 was not that it was racist, but that it was impractical. She cheered the deployment of the National Guard to the border, to combat a problem that does not exist. Even though her being shot has been cited as an example of why guns ought to be banned, she herself supports gun rights.