-By Warner Todd Huston
When Christopher Hitchens passed on not long ago, we were all treated to a seemingly never-ending stream of illiterati recounting their brush with greatness. I scoffed at their conceit, their hitching to Hitchens. Who cares about them I wondered. We want to talk about the Hitch not some lower rung journalist! Well, now I am walking in those shoes myself with the sudden and all too soon passing of our beloved Andrew Breitbart.
Unlike those that talked more of themselves than of Hitch, let me try to keep my Cancun dinner with Andrew more about Andrew in the hopes that it might give those millions who were not as lucky as I to have had some intimate moments with such a luminous figure a measure of the man. After all, no one cares about me, we want more of the man that was so cruelly torn from us.
I flew to Cancun, Mexico in 2010 to attend Americans for Prosperity's effort to expose the UN Climate Conference meeting there for the con game it truly was. I was unaware that Andrew was going to be there. On my first day there, as I exited from the elevators late in the afternoon there he was striding toward me from the lobby.
He was as surprised to see me as I him and he told me that it was a last second decision for him to make the trip. We exchanged pleasantries and he bounded up to his room to stash his luggage. Not more than an hour later I was outside the lobby finishing up a Cuban cigar… hey, it was Mexico and they are legal... and Andrew was once again suddenly there right next to me.
Andrew had this way of telegraphing the fact that he was about to let loose a great one-liner. You can sometimes see that in his frenetic, mile-a-minute, stream of consciousness performances he called a speech. Just before it was to come he'd sort of look off to the side with his head pulled back a bit, maybe giving his disheveled locks a bit of a shake. You could see the twinkle in his eye but a split second before he let loose. It was boyish and endearing.
That evening I discovered that he didn't do that for artifice. That was Andrew's puckishness in one little move. I saw that when he looked at me outside the CasaMagna Marriott and at 6PM, threw his head back, gave it a little shake, twinkled those eyes, and said, "I'm starving. Let's go eat."
It was just the two of us. What was I going to say? No? Hardly.
We found ourselves in a sports bar, me ordering a cheeseburger -- isn't that what Mexico specializes in? -- he a basket of fish. Cocktails were a must, of course.
Andrew started the conversation, as was his wont. He talked of his childhood. He talked of school. He talked of 80s pop music. He talked of late 70s punk rock. He joked with the wait staff. He laughed about all the Agentes Policiacos Federales cruising the streets with machine guns hoping to stop terrorists from disrupting the UN's summit. He talked about the day in New York when he and his kids met actor Rick Moranis. He talked about his new plans for the Big sites (for which I wrote). And, as always, he talked of the left-wing media that truly, truly wants to control the narrative and exclude anyone else from getting a word in edgewise.
After an hour and a half of some of the most fascinating conversation I'd ever heard -- my head was swimming from the constant clip of subject changes -- I began to wonder if I was ever going to get a word in edgewise? Let's face it, though, I had nothing half as interesting to add. The floor was Andrew's! And he did all this without a constant stream of name dropping (other than Moranis and that was to praise the man not hitch himself to the actor) as so many others are prone to doing.
You see, unlike Christopher Hitchens and his illiterati friends, Andrew was fascinating as Andrew. He did not need to drop names in order to puff himself up. He kept you rapt without trying to make you feel like one of the little people, dreamy eyed at all the movers and shakers that he knew.
After dinner we met with some of the other writers, bloggers, and conservative activists, we went to the beach at 10 O'Clock at night and by 1AM Andrew was hungry again, now for sushi. Naturally, sushi is what we all did, I having to admit I'd never had it before. Andrew was shocked at the admission, -- imagine, me from Chicago and not ever having had sushi -- but happy that he was going to be there for my first experience.
I had sushi. I've never had it since. I'd like to say that I am eschewing it as a memorial to Andrew, but I just hated the stuff. Which is why at 47 years of age I hadn't tried it to that point.
From there a small number of us retired to one of the rooms and talked long into the night, Andrew the focus of all four of us -- of course.
So, what is the point here? Other than me finding out what motivates people to speak of their brush with greatness when greatness falls silent it is to say to you all, Andrew's fans and supporters, that he was simply a great guy. A hale fellow well met. A reg'lar Joe. Even though he was a brilliant raconteur, he never made an effort to appear superior. He was just Andrew Breitbart, not ANDREW!
He was one of the good 'uns, folks. Sure he could charm the skin off a snake when he wanted to, but every snake he met was never happier in their lives to be naked as a jay bird when he was done.
I had many other encounters with Andrew, but this one was the most personal. I am heartbroken that I'll never get another chance to repeat it. We are all heartbroken.