I rose and shone at “the butt crack of dawn” to get a little work done and realized why the sky above the Classic City looked a little grayer than usual. Scott at World O’Crap has posted that “the Hoosier sage*,” James Briggs Stratton “Doghouse” Riley at Bats Left/Throws Right, has left this world for a better one at the age of 59.
I didn’t know D.R. as well as Scott or a lot of other people—in fact, it was only after reading Scott’s splendid tribute to the man that I learned his true identity: Douglas M. Case. But I was very familiar with the man’s writing—honest to my grandma, could that man write. Many was the time I’d be sitting in Count Comfy von Chair with the laptop, chortling at something Doghouse had just posted on his blog and getting that oh-so-familiar “what-in-the-Hell-is-he-laughing-at?” look from my father. Scott, who sums things up so succinctly I often wonder why he’s not legitimately stealing money as a lawyer writes: “Perhaps the biggest mystery (or maybe, considering the state of the modern media, just the greatest injustice) is why people like David Brooks and Ross Douthat had sinecures at the New York Times, and Doghouse didn't.”
I didn’t comment on Doghouse’s blog too often because it was simply difficult to follow up what preceded it (plus it’s kind of hard to reach the keyboard once I’ve been sent to the floor in hysterical laughter); the man was a modern-day Mark Twain and I’m prepared to ask anyone who disagrees to step outside and discuss the matter. He paid me the highest compliment I’ve ever received since I did the barn raising on Thrilling Days of Yesteryear nearly a decade ago—he once opined that I “may be the only honest man on the Internets.” (I cherish that, and will continue to do so until my number comes up in the Great Afterlife Lottery.)
Douglas’—I’m just not comfortable with his real identity, so I’m sticking to his nom de blog—Doghouse’s obituary is here in The Indianapolis Star (a publication that was frequently the target of his eloquent ire), and the family has asked that you donate to the American Heart Association in lieu of flowers…which is fitting since Riley had a heart as big as Fort Wayne. (In the poetic sense, I mean.) Thrilling Days of Yesteryear extends sincere condolences to D.R.’s family…and mourns the absence of one of the Great Sphere of Blog’s finest writers, razor-sharp wits and passionate political voices.
“According to Esquire’s Charlie Pierce, who’s no slouch in the “sage” department hisself.