On the desk before me as I write these words is a scrap of paper bearing Andrew Breitbart’s email address and phone number, written in his own hand about six weeks ago. I was walking past a coffee house and saw him seated at an outdoor table, engaged in conversation with a man who, if I recall correctly, was interviewing him for the Malibu Times. I abandoned all sense of decorum and approached, introducing myself by my pseudonym in the hope that he had heard of me and, in case he hadn’t, adding that we had a mutual friend in Rob Long.
To my astonishment he said he had enjoyed reading my work and suggested we go to lunch, then wrote down his contact information on a scrap of paper which he tore from a legal pad. There I was, the most minor of figures in the conservative commentariat, barging in on the man who was arguably its most influential, yet he could have not been more gracious, even when I barged in a second time to report that the scrap of paper he had given me had blown away within a minute my of leaving him. He wrote out the information a second time and repeated the lunch invitation, and off I went to report the encounter to my wife.
We never had that lunch. I sent an email that went unanswered, then, knowing how impossibly busy he was, pondered what to do next. I was still pondering this morning when I learned he had died.
A few weeks ago I was at the Police Academy near Dodger Stadium and saw some fire trucks and an ambulance parked outside. I learned that a fellow officer, one not much older than I, had collapsed and died while playing racquetball. He was a man who had spent more than twenty years as a cop, surviving God knows how many scrapes with death before settling into the relative safety of a job behind a desk. And he died playing racquetball.
And Andrew Breitbart died while taking a walk. At 43.
It’s true what they say: You just never know.
I wish I had called him. It would have been a nice lunch.