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A Farewell To A Friend
Patrick, Co-Blogger and Has Passed
People who came here from my old blog, www.popehat.com, will remember my long-time co-blogger and friend Patrick. Patrick, another irascible trial lawyer, wrote at Popehat for more than a decade. He shared our Twitter account for years, and went on to co-author the wickedly satirical @dprknews account and his own Twitter account @PresidentDawg. He died yesterday.
Patrick was about my age, but had been fighting grievous health issues for a few years. His death is a shock nonetheless. He leaves behind a newlywed wife, a father, brother, sister, niece, and many, many friends, some of which he even met.
I wasn’t one of the last category. Patrick and I “met” — as we use the word now — on a gaming forum in about 2001. Kindred spirits — by which I mean lawyers, cynics, and aspiring writers — we became fast friends, and began writing together at Popehat 15 years ago. Yet we never met face to face. We planned to. We meant to get around to it. But it never seemed urgent. Over the years we talked each other through great changes in our lives, triumphs, failures, the periodic visits of the Black Dog of depression we both knew too well. He helped reason me through crisis in 2014 and I talked him through low points thereafter. Throughout we reveled in a shared love of games, of wordplay and satire, of arguments and indignant tirades about liberty.
Patrick was versatile as a writer. His war stories from his legal career revealed an eye for observational humor and the oddities of the human condition. His talent for homage to other styles — like his exceptional riffs on the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, or his unerring ear for authoritarian propaganda at @dprknews — won many admirers. He had a keen understanding of the inanities of internet culture and a capacity to keep a straight face through satire that I’ve never matched. Popehat’s best satire was usually with his steady editing and ideas.
For all his humor, he was passionate about serious things. He cared deeply about fairness and decency and the obligations of the powerful to the powerless. His outrage could be incandescent. He was a flamboyant cynic who also cared deeply about important issues and how they hurt real people. He didn’t care what you thought of him but he’d do anything for a friend.
As a Gen-Xer, I grew up between eras. I was too late for the years of common epistolary friendships, the time of “it is fun to be in the same decade as you” of Roosevelt and Churchill, the days of the long letters my father sent home from Korea or my mother from France. But I was too young for the online world to be an influence of my youth; I was an adult, married and with a career, before I started spending a lot of time in virtual space, creating relationships there. It was strange, at first, to forge close friendships with someone I knew only from words on a screen and from occasional phone calls. Those are just words. But what else is there, but words? I was as close to Patrick as I was to people I’ve seen in person regularly.
I grieve for his family. Though I’m glad he’s free from pain now, I feel his loss deeply. Yet I am hopeful, optimistic. If such a friendship is possible, even for a couple of old misanthropes, then what isn’t possible?