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I SAW THE MOON

April 24, 2011 1 comment

By Gaither Stewart

(Rome) Last Saturday night I saw the Supermoon. The same March 19 night that Operation “Odyssey Dawn” was launched against the Libya of Muammar Gadaffi, the earth’s star in all its glory passed its nearest point to planet Earth as it does every 19 years. This time it was a full moon. It hovered over my house. At midnight the yellow Supermoon illuminated my front yard almost as a winter sun does at midday. That same night the same moon shone also over Tripoli, 600 miles the south, illuminating all of Libya as it did my front yard.

Under that moon, French Rafale jets attacked Libya. The impatient, arrogant and presumptuous French President Sarkozy showed off his new Rafale aircraft to the Arab world where France apparently hopes to sell loads of the new fighter plane. Tactically, Sarkozy simply jumped the gun in order to get there first. To put the French stamp on the operation and to claim a slice of the post-Gadaffi Libyan pie. The Rafales attacked before Italy had time to accomplish its role of knocking out Libyan radar guiding Gadaffi’s anti-aircraft. To astonished Libyan gunners, the Rafales must have looked like a sitting duck up there against that moon.

If you are in Europe today, you would not suspect that the US Africa Command under General Carter Ham might be in charge of Operation Odyssey Dawn. Except for the rain of 158 US missiles over Libya, in Europe the US is barely mentioned as a participant. Here, it is depicted as a European operation, with US backup. In fact on March 21, three days after the start of the air strikes, European media spoke of US withdrawal from the operation. But history shows that is pure fantasy. American withdrawal from a war seems highly unlikely. And to boot a war against that good old enemy Muammar Gadaffi is highly doubtful.

However America’s position may be, it was the military anomaly of the French jumping the gun that set the stage for the dissension already dividing the ranks of the European nations supposedly adhering to the UN Resolution to establish a no fly zone over Libya and to protect Libyan civilians. Three days into the operation against Gadaffi and the Coalition of Volunteer Nations is already split. No one seems to be in command. Italy and France are at each other’s throats. Italy threatens to withdraw its airbases and go it alone if overall command is not put in the hands of NATO, preferably operating in the Naples headquarters with Italian support. NATO has said it is willing to assume command. But France wants the leadership for itself.

Not only the Italo-French controversy over who is in command, but also the question of what to do with Gadaffi, when and if he is deposed, perplexes Europe: exile abroad, or exile somewhere in Libya, or trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity, or (unspoken but intimated: his assassination). Hard to forget is that only several months ago Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi received his friend Muammar in Rome with full honors and kissed the dictator’s hand in public. Accompanied by his female bodyguard, his Amazonian Guard, Gadaffi set up his tents in a Rome park, where his horses and camels grazed while he was feted left and right. Also, though less ostentatious, Sarkozy recently received Gadaffi as a chief of state in the Elysée Palace in Paris.

Major European concerns are Libyan oil, trade and other economic considerations after the eventual deposition of Muammar Gadaffi. Meanwhile, Gadaffi’s threats to flood Europe with one million immigrants worry especially Italy and France. And Gadaffi’s “long war” threat hangs heavy over Europe and the North African Renaissance. Those who at first spoke of a Blitzkrieg, a lightning war, over in a few hours or days, are today scratching their heads in consternation. The question is, how to attack Gadaffi’s tanks and troops hidden in villages and small towns, waiting, waiting, waiting. The long war indeed seems more likely.

The ugly reality that dictators no less ferocious and corrupt than Gadaffi reign over other Middle East countries is a distasteful subject largely shrugged off: ‘After all we can’t discipline the whole world.’ Or, as someone asked, who can imagine bombing Saudi Arabia? Especially Italy is cautious in Libya both because of its own atrocious colonial record of cruelty there last century and because Libya is a major trading partner. Also, Prime Minister Berlusconi now feels sorry for his friend Muammar, who however accuses Italy of betrayal.

Also France has a bad colonial record in North Africa as a whole. Ironically, French-speaking Tunisian immigrants are pouring into the reception center on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa with a population of 5000 and only 165 miles east of Tunisia. Today there also 5000 immigrants, a majority of whom want to move on to France. Xenophobic voices in Italy and France call for a naval blockade around Tunisia and Libya to halt the flow: another act of war despite the UN definition of “humanitarian intervention” for the operation in Libya that every European knows is already war.

Europe is divided. Germany refused to participate in Odyssey Dawn from the start. Other nations followed the German lead. Turkey opposes the intervention, tout court. Russia likewise condemns it. Norway first sent its aircraft then withdrew them to wait and see who will be in command. Other participating nations demand NATO overall command. No country except France likes the so-called Coalition of Volunteer Nations because France wants to go it alone in order to reap the greatest benefits.

Italian leftwing media are perplexed. All agree Gadaffi should go. Most agree that Libya is a different story from Egypt and Tunisia. Many also doubt claims of a spontaneous uprising of Libyan people, poorly armed and disorganized. Many suspect the usual hidden roles of foreign powers and that the Libyan crisis was created artificially, something like Iraq and Kosovo. Yet, on the evening of March 21, at the end of the third day of the “conflict” (use of the word “war” is largely frowned on in Italy since Italian President Napolitano declared this was NOT a war but a humanitarian intervention, a view which many consider naïve) a major leftwing TV talk show introduced a big group of  North Africans and Arab-speaking journalists to depict the Libyan insurrection as a truly popular uprising against a dictator. An Italian Arab-speaking female journalist with long experience in the Arab world and who resides in Egypt declared with great passion: “After decades and decades of cruel oppression, people everywhere inevitably reach the point where they rise up and say “No! No more. We will take no more. The dictator must go”.

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Morale to the Left, Morale to the Right, and Not a Stop to Think

April 20, 2011 4 comments

How not to win wars


Ever wonder why the US military can’t win wars? Why a few ragtag guerillas could send it running out of Somalia (Black Hawk Down)? Why one guy with a truck bomb could chase the Marines out of Lebanon? Why the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran was such a disaster? Why the world’s most expensive military can’t win its unending wars against peasants with rifles? How is this possible?

Different jobs attract different personalities. The Mike Tysons of the world do not go into ballet, nor do the Mother Teresas become tank commanders. The career military attracts people who run from the merely abnormal to the frankly weird. For example, they place extreme value on ritual and ceremony, on ribbons and medals and colored things more appropriate to a Christmas tree than to a human being. They are authoritarian by nature, comfortable in a rigid, hierarchical, and conformist society that most of us would find equally unbearable and absurd. Suppose your boss told everyone in the office that they had to wear exactly the same clothes and stand at attention in the morning to that he could determine whether they had dressed themselves correctly. Militaries start with odd material.

Then they inculcate in themselves an exaggerated sense of their own powers, a sort of Terminator complex. This is done calculatedly in basic training when men are in impressionable late or, in the case of officers, extended adolescence. They absorb the notion of invincibility and it persists into adulthood.

Examples abound. When I was at Parris Island in a previous geological epoch, a large sign in Third Battalion conspicuously said, “The Most Dangerous Weapon in the World: A Marine with his Rifle.” This didn’t rise to the level of nonsense. Few Marines are as dangerous as a hydrogen bomb, and Marines in general are just pretty good light infantry, well-equipped as an expeditionary forces.

But you can’t tell fresh young troops, “You’re maybe a bit above average, but the Afghans are much tougher people, having been raised fighting and living on dried goat-meat, and they know the terrain, whereas you will have no idea where you are and your equipment and tactics are badly unsuited for the region, so it’s going to be hard slogging.” Not optimal for recruiting. More profoundly, men in combat arms want to feel inexorable, deadly, the best. Whether they actually are doesn’t occur to them until the war starts. A satisfying state of mind is what is wanted.

This preference for mood over reality runs through their careers. Constantly they are told that they are “the best trained, best equipped, most powerful and effective fighting force the world has seen.” This is not a statement of fact but of mandatory enthusiasm. The Pentagon’s record since WW II has been a sorry one. Further, effectiveness, training, and so on are relative to a particular situation: a force well-equipped for desert war against aging Iraqi armor is not necessarily equipped to fight guerrillas in Quang Tri or Helmand.

But soldiers, romantics pretending to be realists, do not think in these terms. And so you hear from them unending expressions of fierceness. “Crush their skulls and eat their faces,” and “Oooo-rah!” The tee shirt of the 82nd Airborne said, “Death from above.” (I saw a Marine cook whose shirt said, “Death from Within.”) “The Marine Corps Builds Men,” or did until feminists put an end to that. Now they are “The Few, the Proud.” Well and good, but morale is no substitute for victory. (You can quote me on that.)

The relentless affirmation of their lethality leads to underestimation of the enemy. Before you stick your hand into a hornets’ nest, it is well to examine the hornets. We don’t. The Taliban are primitive mountain-crawlers with AKs. “No problem, sir! We can take them. We’re the best equipped etc.” In an ancient war of classical antiquity, the Vietnamese were held in contempt as rice-propelled paddy maggots. No problem, sir. We’ve got fighter planes and tanks and endless zip-wowees. Everything but understanding and curiosity.

Of course, Saigon is now Ho Chi Minh City. In like fashion, the French also got run out of Viet Nam, and from Algeria, the Russians from Afghanistan, the Israelis from Lebanon, in each case a trained modern military losing to angry and inventive amateurs.

The norm is a wild overestimation of one’s own powers, disdain for the enemy, and inattention to tactical facts. Why? Not because soldiers are actually stupid, but because they prefer martial ardor to thought.

The compulsory belief that they are the best-trained, best-equipped etc. elides quickly into the can-do-ism of the US military. A lieutenant does not say, “Colonel, this is a half-assed idea you have and isn’t going to work. Maybe you need to think a little more.” No. He says, “Yessir! Can do, sir!” Thus the glandular optimism of “Failure is not an option!” when since World War Two it has become the norm, and “There is no substitute for victory,” when losing and going home has proved serviceable, and, “The difficult we can do today; the impossible takes a little longer.” Agreeably cocky, stirring, mindless, and rampant in the Pentagon. “Sir! Yessir! Can do, sir!”

In their elevated estimation of their powers, (which is not personal egotism) militaries routinely underestimate the difficulty and duration of their wars. The American Civil War, widely expected to end after First Manassas (or, as I think Yankees call it, Bull Run), turned into four years of ghastly bloodshed. In WW I the German general staff thought that the Schlieffen Plan, keep to the right, to the right, would end the war quickly, but it turned into four bloody and completely unexpected years. The Pentagon had no idea that Vietnam would turn into a long, ugly, losing war, nor that Iraq would present a struggle still not over, nor that Afghanistan would turn into the ten-year-and-counting monstrosity that it is. “Sir! Yessir! Can do, sir!”

Aggravating the sense of omnipotence is the possession of impressive weaponry. It is impressive, even the old stuff. (If interested) .The electronics, sensors, noises, flashes, the sheer technological mastery, the thrill of speed and roar—all appeal to the male love of power and controllable complexity. They do not elicit the crucial question, “Yeah, but how is it going to work in this war?”

In Libya one sees this touching innocence. Air power would save the day for the rebels. Can do, sir. Wasn’t Libya open desert where air power should be decisive? The assumption apparently was the usual, that Gaddafi’s forces were pathetic mugs who couldn’t adapt. So the Mad Colonel’s troops began riding in civilian cars and mixing with civilians and the war is now being called a stalemate. Who would have thought it?

“Yessir! Can do, sir!” Yeah.

By Fred Reed

Article Source

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Categories: Political Opinion

Gbagbo could face international charges, Ouattara says

April 15, 2011 4 comments

(CNN) — The former leader of Ivory Coast may have to face international charges for alleged crimes committed during his time in office, President Alassane Ouattara announced Wednesday, as he outlined his plans to bring peace and security to his nation.

Ouattara told reporters that he was setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, similar to those created after civil wars or conflicts in other countries, in order to bring to justice anyone who committed atrocities during the most recent strife or even before that.

“Reconciliation can’t be done without justice,” Ouattara said in a news conference at the Golf Hotel, where he was holed up for months in the violent aftermath of the disputed presidential election.

“All Ivorians are equal in the eyes of the law, no matter their politics, their origin, their religion or their race,” he said.

Former President Laurent Gbagbo has been moved out of the Golf Hotel, where he was held after his arrest Monday, and is now under guard in a villa elsewhere in the country, Ouattara said.

“He is safe, and we will treat him with consideration,” the president said. “He is under house arrest in a villa.

The president of the U.N. Security Council, Colombian Ambassador Nestor Osorio, said Wednesday that Gbagbo was taken to a presidential residence in the northern part of the country.

“We must respect his rights as a former leader, and make sure that the consideration he deserves due to his former title is truly respected, and of course that his physical safety and health is also preserved,” Ouattara said.

As for charges against Gbagbo, that will be up to the Ivorian justice minister, Ouattara said, adding that international counts would be determined by an international prosecutor.

The president also vowed that even members of the Republican Forces — the troops loyal to him — who were found to have committed crimes would be brought to justice.

“All the soldiers — even those in the Republican Forces — identified as being pillagers will be dealt with,” the president said, in response to a journalist’s question about reports of Republican Forces troops participating in raids and pillaging in Abidjan.

Human Rights Watch published a scathing report Saturday about abuses perpetrated by pro-Ouattara forces on their offensive to Abidjan.

People interviewed by the monitoring agency “described how, in village after village, pro-Ouattara forces summarily executed and raped perceived Gbagbo supporters in their homes, as they worked in the fields, as they fled or as they tried to hide in the bush.”

“Ouattara should fulfill his public pledge to investigate and prosecute abuses by both sides if Côte d’Ivoire is to emerge from this horrific period,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Also under investigation is the massacre in the western Ivorian town of Duekoue, where the International Committee of the Red Cross said 800 people were slaughtered. The United Nations blamed many of the deaths on Ouattara’s forces.

Ouattara said the minister of justice has already begun a probe into those killings, the Human Rights Commission would be sending representatives in the next few days to look into the matter as well, and he has scheduled a meeting with the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court.

“I condemn this massacre,” Ouattara said Wednesday. “The people responsible for these killings, whoever they are, will be judged.”

“I am revolted, indignant at the number of dead,” he added.

As many as 27,500 people took refuge after the massacre in a Catholic mission in Duekoue, according to Amnesty International, and humanitarian conditions there are deteriorating rapidly.

“They are trapped in overcrowded and appalling conditions, having fled their homes after atrocious abuses were carried out by both parties to the conflict,” said Véronique Aubert, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.

The human rights group also warned that supporters of Gbagbo in Abidjan and elsewhere were at risk of violent reprisals following the former president’s capture.

One eyewitness reported to the group that a policeman belonging to Gbagbo’s ethnic group was taken from his home and shot dead at point blank range, an Amnesty International statement said.

“Dozens of young people are going into hiding in Abidjan out of fear for their lives,” Aubert said. “In the western part of the country, people suspected of being pro-Gbagbo are also terrified. Many are hiding in the bush after their villages were burned down. They need to be protected.”

On Wednesday, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement that rapes, sexual assaults, beatings and harassment of Ivorian women and girls by armed men had increased by “alarming numbers.”

“Women and girls are being brutally raped by armed men, often in front of their family members,” said Liz Pender, an IRC women’s protection expert, who has been meeting with groups of Ivorian women and girls who fled to Liberia in recent weeks to escape the violence in their homeland. “One woman told me she was forced to watch as several men took turns raping her sister, sometimes with a stick, and that she didn’t survive the attack.”

The refugee women who took part in Pender’s group discussions said fear of rape or sexual slavery were the primary reasons they fled to Liberia, according to the IRC statement. It provided no details on the identities or political ties of the armed men carrying out the assaults.

Ouattara has blamed much of the bloodshed in the aftermath of the election on forces loyal to Gbagbo, and said his government has begun a two-month program to root out weapons across the country.

He’s also demanded that the militia members and mercenaries who worked for the former leader surrender their arms immediately.

But he faces a daunting task in forging a peaceful and stable path forward.

Chief among his challenges, said longtime observers, will be to unite the severely divided nation and ensure justice for those who committed grave human rights violations in the nation’s political vacuum — including those in his own camp who stand accused of heinous acts.

Most of the blame for the bloodshed rests squarely on the shoulders of Gbagbo, whose refusal to cede power plunged Ivory Coast into crisis, said Jendayi Frazer of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs under former President George W. Bush.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, is now poised to investigate alleged war crimes instigated by Gbagbo.

Ouattara will have to delicately balance such a probe with reconciliation. After all, said expert Alex Vines, Ouattara did not win in a landslide.

Gbagbo won 45.9 percent of the vote and as such, Ouattara will have to reach out to his rival’s supporters, perhaps even welcome them into his government without jeopardizing justice, said Vines, head of the Africa program at the British think tank Chatham House.

But even more significant may be the way Ouattara handles his own dirt.

Though he emerged in the Western media as the good versus Gbagbo’s evil, Ouattara, too, has been accused of having blood on his hands.

In the United States, Ouattara’s critics questioned his right to rule.

“It is now clear, based on U.N. reports coming from Cote d’Ivoire, that mass killings have occurred at the hands of Alassane Ouattara,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, said earlier this month.

“This calls into question his legitimacy to lead that country,” said Inhofe, who has visited Ivory Coast nine times and made no secret of his support for Gbagbo. “Ouattara is on a rampage, killing innocent civilians, and he must be stopped before this becomes another Rwanda.”

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said Ouattara’s moment in the spotlight could quickly dim without adequate investigations into the abuse allegations against forces loyal to him.

“Mr. Ouattara should also be investigated because of the evidence that his troops did commit rapes and abuse en route to Abidjan,” said Robertson, a former president of the U.N. special court for Sierra Leone.

Such a probe could answer questions about what amount of control Ouattara exerted over the forces fighting under his name and whether he deliberately failed to stop them, Robertson said.

In his favor, Ouattara has been viewed for some time as a hardworking man, an honest politician who favors transparency.

He hailed from northern lands dominated by Muslim immigrants who came to work in Ivory Coast and eventually grew into influential businessmen and traders.

The U.S.-educated Ouattara quit his International Monetary Fund job to run for president in 2000 and might have met Gbagbo on the ballot then, except that he was marked as an outsider — his mother was from Burkina Faso — and barred from participating in the election.

The pro-Gbagbo newspaper Notre Voie accused Ouattara of backing a failed 2002 coup against Gbagbo’s government, which triggered the 2002 civil war.

Ouattara’s critics blame him for the deep split that Ivory Coast has yet to mend.

Vines said the rebels who fought in the 2002 civil war, the Force Nouvelles, formed a large part of the pro-Ouattara forces fighting Gbagbo’s troops in the latest crisis.

The United Nations has repeatedly cited the armed group for breaking the arms embargo imposed on Ivory Coast, and human rights groups have sounded alarms about its abuses.

The moral high ground in Ivory Coast, said Vines, is that the election result is clear and in favor of Ouattara.

“After that it gets gray and in the last few weeks, it’s gotten very opaque indeed,” he said about the recent spate of killings, especially the massacre in Duekoue.

Ouattara, said Robertson, must conduct a swift inquiry into the allegations and punish the perpetrators.

Otherwise, Robertson said, Ouattara will “himself be vulnerable to prosecution in The Hague.”

Categories: Africa

Bageant Moves On

April 1, 2011 4 comments

We don’t last, and there’s no warranty

Joe Bageant and Fred Reed in Ajijic, Mexico, 2008

By Fred Reed
http://www.fredoneverything.net

Jocotepec, Mexico — Joe lived awhile down the lake. We would visit him of an afternoon, Vi and I, and find him, a bear of a man, bearded mountain Buddha, writing on the porch of his one-room place in Ajijic. Always he wore his old fishing vest, in which I suspect he was born, and sometimes he carried a small laptop in one of its pockets. Usually we adjourned to the living room, which was also the bedroom, dining room, and salon. He would fetch bottles of local red, or make the jalapeño martinis he invented — there was a bit of mad chemist in him — and we would talk for hours of art, music, the news, politics, and people. Especially people. Sometimes he grabbed one of the guitars from the wall and sang blues, at which he was good. I guess growing up dirt poor in West Virginia puts that kind of music in you.

Joe could fool you. He talked slow and Southern, lacked pretensions, and you could talk to him for weeks without realizing how very damned smart he was.
 One day we dropped in and he said he had just found that he had cancer. It went fast. He died Saturday.

Most who have heard of him have done so through his books, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, and Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. Deer Hunting is a curious work, a sleeper, that you can read the first time without noticing that it deserves a high place in American letters. He tells of that huge class of unnoticed people in America, the white underclass of a thousand small towns and countryscapes, of Winchester, Virginia where he lived and by implication to Waldorf, Maryland and King George, Virginia and, well, all over the Carolinas and the Cumberland Plateau and … everywhere. America thinks it is a middle-class country. It isn’t. Joe knew.

You wouldn’t see it at first as sociology. Sociology is supposed to be written in drab, repetitive, half-literate, numbingly narcotic prose that would make an anvil beg for mercy. Joe was more Twain. Never eat cocktail weenies out of the urinal, he said, no matter how high the betting gets, while talking of people working whole lives in jobs without benefits or retirement and generally getting screwed. He had no patience for smug commentators in Washington who talked at half a million bucks a year of how America was a land of opportunity if only you worked hard. It isn’t. He knew it. So did I, having grown up in rural King George County, Virginia, where the same people lived. He was exactly right.

He lived largely, coming out of the mountains and spending a year at the Corcoran School of Art, and drifting west where his immense talent had him spending a lot of time with Hunter Thompson and the giants of the era and writing for all manner of publications. He believed deeply in booze and recreational drugs, which in those years was perhaps not a view unique to him. Shortly before his death he told Vi and me about having met some local Mexican folk here of Indian antecedents and going up in the hills one night to do mushrooms, and lying out half the night watching the stars swirl and dance. He lived for years on an Indian reservation without electricity, worked as an editor for Military History magazine, likewise for an agribusiness magazine flogging pesticides, and told horrendous stories about what we actually eat. He was miserable at Military History, but needed to live.

He went to the internet, driven to write for whatever reasons drive people to write, and got found by Dan Greenberg, the literary agent. Agents, and publishing houses in New York, are generally characterized by a lack of knowledge of writing, writers, America, and books, but Greenberg was lax in observing the traditions of his trade. He asked Joe to write a book. Which Joe did.

The consequences were odd. Deer Hunting became immensely popular in … Australia. It sold well in … England. It was translated into Spanish, twice, in Spain and … Argentina. Argentina? Joe was invited to 10 Downing Street, did countless radio interviews in Australia, a book tour in Italy. Rainbow Pie would go into German and Italian. It was by comparison ignored in America. Something is very wrong somewhere. I’m not sure what.

Maybe New York just doesn’t like rural people, or doesn’t know that there are any. And there was certainly a rural flavor to the man. Seeing a young woman with piercings in her nose and ears and God knows whereall, he commented that she seemed to have fallen face-first into a tackle box. His politics may have confused the chattering classes. Joe was the least racist guy who ever lived, but he wrote about the white poor, whose very existence runs against hallowed doctrine. He was also explicitly in favor of the Second Amendment, noting that ninety pounds of dressed venison matters a whole lot to many families. These are families that reviewers of books have never heard of.

Joe described himself as a redneck socialist, and he was. He was profoundly concerned with the fate of the people he wrote about, those who worked hard all their lives and ended up with nothing. Funny: I’ve never met a socialist who didn’t care about others, or a capitalist who did. The truth is that a great many decent people are on the wrong side of the intelligence curve, don’t come from families that send their young to university, and can’t protect themselves from the corporate lawyers and bought legislatures.

It wasn’t a pose. He really and truly, honestly, demonstrably and implausibly, had no interest in money. He lived for some time in Hopkins Village in Belize, a seaside community of black, downscale Garifuna and, when some money began to come in from Deer Hunting, regularly gave it away to help the locals. He didn’t have a sainthood complex. He just didn’t care. He wanted books, a guitar, friends, internet, wine, and occasional substances not approved of by DEA. No pretenses. Drop acid, not names.

When he had to choose between horrible surgery of dubious prospect, and just saying, “Nah,” he said “Nah.” Joe was going to start Spanish lessons with Vi once he got past the paperwork of Rainbow Pie, but I guess that’s not going to happen. We’ll miss the throaty blues and mountain ballads, the discovery that Edward Hopper was our favorite painter, the jalapeño martinis barely drinkable though they were, and swapping tales of wild times and odd places. And the sheer good-hearted intelligence of the man.

It was great, brother. Hope to see you again in a few years.

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