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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


LowerManhattanite: "The infinite bravery of the basement-dwelling, cheeto-dusted, internet tough-guy's mind"

Shhhhh! Don't wake him! He's kicking
major super-villain *ss in his sleep

Another major effort by LowerManhattanite, for which we are all the better!


My name is LowerManhattanite.

I have a wingnut, Rush-bot, GOP talking point-spewing younger brother.

(Crowd assembled in small conference room:)

"Hello, LowerManhattanite!"

My brother's back in town. Navy MCPO (Master Chief Petty Officer). Twenty-five years in. Always a contrarian, he's opted out of the family's progressive bent, and totally swallowed the wingnut bait...and the hook...about oh...four feet of line, the sinker and maybe...close to a foot of the fishing pole the GOP waggles out there at impressionable, young servicemen. He went for it--all the way. Proudly.

But he's back in town from the Gulf. Been back a while. We don't talk so much these days as his freeperism has alienated him from much of the family, save from my mom--bless her heart. I did see him Tuesday though, as our love of baseball is the one main thing that keeps us civil when we do talk. I'd gotten a couple of tickets to that night's Yankee game and couldn't go myself. So, I met him to pass the tix along. We linked up at 59th St. and Lex. And I gave him a huge hug--welcoming him home and being just generally thankful he was safe--as he'd been deployed to the volatile Persian Gulf repeatedly in the last two years.

As we embraced, I could hear the crumple of my face pressing into his nylon hoodie, and the muffled sound of bustling traffic. The cilp-clop of expensive shoes clattering past...and a New York Post barker hawing the day's tabloid wares. As we ended the embrace, we talked for a minute or two--passing the tickets, and schmoozing baseball. Eventually though, the paper-hawker's grating tone kind of...overwhelmed every nearby sound--including our attempted conversation.

The headline on the paper he was so annoyingly hard-selling, read: "30 Kids Shot Dead".

My brother looked over at the pile of papers and muttered, "Crazy f*ck. I hope nobody I know got hurt." I'd forgotten that he lived down there for years--a decade in fact--and could probably know particulars involved.

"How does a crazy f*ck like that get a gun?", he opined out loud.

Which kind of startled me, as he was to my knowledge, quite the second amendment absolutist. A borderline gun nut.

"Well...they're saying he bought it legally.", I said.

'Yeah...well..." he replied, " know what? Everybody that wants a gun shouldn't be able to get a gun. I think we see that. now."

I was kind of flabbergasted. I assiduously avoid political discussion with him because of his views, but here he was--opening the door to it--and taking, yeah...a contrarian tack to what he normally would.

"Eh...whattaya gonna do?", I said trying to move past the potential minefield with him. "I mean, he passed the background check, so..."

With a flat, even tone, he said, "I've been around weapons for the last 25 years. Bombs. Nukes. Missiles. Torpedoes. And a sh*tload of guns. Been around thousands of dudes with guns."

"And I wouldn't trust half of 'em with a gun beyond a war situation. And barely there. Stupid, crazy f*cks. And these are military people! They're scary. They walk around--these crazy military people I know...and they got gun licenses! Now you got "Joe Blow Crazies" walking around, regular people--but crazy--who can just walk into a place and get a f*cking gun--and do God knows what--sh*t like this!

I was a little taken aback--as this was my wingnutty brother. Who a few years ago would regurgitate Rush's latest screed verbatim to me--and talk of nuttiness like Iraqi WMDs hidden in "underground lakes" near Karbala (I sh*t you not). I've heard him go off on gun control many a time before, citing numerous times how this scenario and that one would have been different if "somebody there had a gun to handle that sh*t". And now he was...well, practically talking about some tighter laws on selling guns. Gingerly, I asked him as much--fearing a hard rightward rhetorical veer home for him afterward.

"I have no problem making a mother-f*cker wait a coupla' weeks. Or a month."

I was to say the least, stunned. I didn't know what to say. I just kind of blinked a few times, trying to find a decorous way to say "What the f*ck happened to you?"

"Everybody can't have a gun.", he reiterated. "If you knew how many sailors get in trouble off-base with guns at home. Dudes licensed to carry. Domestic sh*t. Threatening neighbors. Dumb sh*t. We're always de-fusing sh*t involving guns. And these are military mother-f*ckers--trained. You know I got a marksmanship medal, right?"

I nodded as I remembered that as one of his first medals he proudly sent us pictures of two decades before.

"We all handle guns. If you're active, you have to. And after 9-11, you can't help but wanna touch your gun once a week. I serve with too many *ssholes you'd call crazy. Crazy *ssholes with guns. Now, you got Joe Blow Crazy, who ain't even gonna get the training my crazies do, and he can take his psycho-*ss into a gun shop and walk out, same day with a piece? F*ck that. Make 'im wait. Check 'im close. Real close. And if anything comes up after a month--f*ck him. No gun for you.".

He ended his little rant saying, "Crazy and dangerous trumps the second amendment...every day of the week."

"Well..." I said. "That's true." This was the first time we'd agreed on a third-rail political subject like over twenty years.

So, as to not f*ck up that strange, but magical moment--I figured I'd steer the discussion toward other things we could agree on--factual shared history--in this case, instances where he and I had encountered gunplay that could've gone Virginia Tech bad. As New Yorkers growing up in the seventies and eighties, when gun crime was freakishly common, we'd seen more than our share together. We recounted the time we were at a club on Merrick Blvd. celebrating a local girl's birthday, when a disgruntled cat who was barred entry due to his attire suddenly started blazing away--"pap-pap-pap-pap-pap-pap!"--with a small automatic. My brother, sister, two friends from the neighborhood, and the girl I'd just met on the dance floor, hit the wall, and booked like fiends down a hallway, past a bathroom and through the blazing hot kitchen, upsetting trays of buffalo wings as we skidded on the flour-covered floor, and then--out the side door and down the block. Hauling *ss to the cars without looking back at the shrieks and cacophony of concrete-slapping feet behind us. Thankfully, there were only a few graze wounds to patrons--but I'll never forget the way we all wound up sitting, trembling in lawn chairs in the back yard that night, recounting the sudden potential for death. My brother reminded me of the girl I'd been dancing with, sitting there silently for awhile, sipping a ginger ale we'd grabbed from the fridge.

"That was crazy.", she said. "Um...what was your name again?"

We had a laugh about that one.

We didn't laugh about the next anecdote, which he brought up.

It was at a house party--about a hundred people strong in Laurelton--it was an engagement party/barbecue/celebration for childhood friends who were getting hitched. One partygoer, K____, whipped up a toxic as f*ck, alcoholic concoction he called "Ding-Dong-Dilly". Imagine a half-gallon of Long Island Iced Tea--on steroids. This stuff was brownish and viscous, as it contained the better part of maybe 10-to-15 different alcoholic spirits mixed together. He'd made it as a goof--a nutty joke drink for people to sip and either gag on, or get immediately buzzed and silly on. But one friend from around the way, an idiot macho nut, decided to prove how much of a man he was by guzzling down half of it in one pop. A friend came downstairs from where the idiot quaffing was happening, laughing "Yo, S_____ f*ckin' drank half of that sh*t-water K___ mixed up. He's buggin' up there right now."

And we could hear him stumbling around up there. Bumping walls and furniture around in what sounded like a blind stupor.

About two minutes later, we were dancing around to Eric B. and Rakim's "I Know You Got Soul", when a loud crash came from the upstairs, and several people came rushing down the stairs like madmen.

"Call the police! S_____'s got a gun!"

And at that moment, S_____ appeared on the steps, waving the owner of the house's gun (a transit cop) around, screaming unintelligibly about his "brother" (He didn't have one. Yikes!). Again, I grabbed family--my sisters and a brother and pushed them towards the back door where a few people were running out--at least those who weren't climbing out the kitchen window and tumbling pell-mell onto the patio and then around the side of the house and away. We hid in the bushes in the yard when I realized my brother, the Navy man, was still in the house--and I freaked out--because I'd heard no shots, and figured S_____ was just holding the assembled hostage or something, in his drink-fueled. psychotic gunplay.

So I shushed my siblings and told them to stay deep in the bushes--and to run like hell if they heard shots, as I crept back to the side of the house to peer into a window and see what was going on. As I neared the window, I heard what sounded like somebody getting the sh*t beaten outta them, and figured S_____ was pistol whipping someone. So, with the sound of my blood pounding in my temples, I quickly got to the window to see just what was happening.

And there I saw, my brother sitting on S_____'s back, handing the gun to a fellow partygoer, while screaming "What the f*ck is your problem, S_____! You could've killed somebody!". The dining room table was upended. The place reeked of alcohol, as the table holding that had been upset as well, and there was a large hole in the drywall under the staircase where S_____ lay with my brother atop him. What had happened?

Turns out, as I came back inside, the story unfolded. A few people were kinda trapped under the steps as S_____ made his whacked-out way down. My brother was one of 'em. And as S_____ staggered by them waving the piece around, my brother hit him on the arm with a bottle from the drink table, while another guy tackled him low, putting the hole in the wall from the impact and knocking over all the alcohol. The "beating" I heard was the two of them bashing S_____'s hand on the wooden floor repeatedly to make him release the gun--which he did eventually--right about the time I'd gotten to the window.

We were able to laugh about it then, maybe to blunt the overweening sense that we'd all dodged something awful that night. But my brother and I didn't laugh yesterday when we recounted it.

"What the f*ck was I thinking?", he said. "He could've killed me. Hitting him with a bottle of Champagne like a f*cking battleship."

"But you got him.", I said.

"I was young. And stupid. And a little drunk myself. It was stupid.", he said ruefully. "I used to think about it sometimes. What if I missed? Or if he saw me and suddenly swung that gat around. You don't f*ck with a psycho with a gun. Even in the Navy. You know what we do on the ship if somebody bugs out with a weapon?"

I shook my head "no."

"You secure your station and get the f*ck off the boat. Get your people off the boat. That's if you're in port. Under weigh, there's a different 'protocol'. But even then, you don't play that Jack Bauer/Die Hard sh*t. Unless they're real slow, or you're real close. Still stupid. Psychos with guns. Don't f*ck with 'em."

We parted ways a little after that. Him to the stadium with a cousin, and me on to a meeting. I thought about our brushes with near-massacres. I thought about his odd shift on the gun issue. Thought about all kinds of sh*t that night, until I got home and hit the interwebs...and came up stinking as if I'd crawled through a dumpster full of discarded chit-lins from my visits to wingnut sites, post-the VA-Tech shooting. There was the reflexive "more guns woulda got fewer people killed" bleats from the likes of a certain dirty-overalled perfesser, and a mis-located Johnny Reb wannabe. I don't link to snuff films and I won't link to them. Sniff the air and where you catch the stink of moldering carrion, you can find their prattlings.

But worse yet, these inane, Jack-sh*t-Bauers were but the tip of a iceberg of frozen, crazyf*ck piss. The talking-point whores for hire who stroll "The Corner" took things to their usual syphillitically insane extreme. These clowns actually opted to take the poor victims to task for not rushing a two-gunned nut with enough ammo to take down a hundred people. Took them to task--for not being faster than bullets. For a lack of bravery in the face of a fusillade of automatic gunfire--hurled by raw, naked crazy. Here's a taste. And kids...get the ipe-f*cking-cac.

"As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy"--Derbyshire

I haven’t weighed in yet on Virginia Tech — mainly because, in a saner world, it would not be the kind of incident one needed to have a partisan opinion on. But I was giving a couple of speeches in Minnesota yesterday and I was asked about it and found myself more and more disturbed by the tone of the coverage. I’m not sure I’m ready to go the full Derb but I think he’s closer to the reality of the situation than most. On Monday night, Geraldo was all over Fox News saying we have to accept that, in this horrible world we live in, our “children” need to be “protected. Point one: They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men." --Steyn

Yeah...our brave "Sir Robins" got the *sshole bus there...all the way to the last f*cking stop--happily...and with no money for fares home. These utter cowards, who a shooter would have to fire through a wall of sh*t and 'cross an ocean of piss to kill, have the gall to criticize the poor targets for not concocting fantastic, Neo/Matrix, bullet-time counter-attack ballets, and failing that--then question the relative masculinity and maturity of the victims. Even Michelle "I run from tough questioners and people who retaliate in-kind to my creepy postings" Malkin hopped aboard this square-wheeled bandwagon of runny bullsh*t. The screeching twit did so, using the students' deaths as a stalking horse for a screed against an effete focus on education in school (!), instead of classmates sitting there as pistol-packin', two-fisted, steel-coiled "John Does" at the ready at all times to whoop *ss on a dime.

Kids. Some of 'em just outta high school. Some not old enough to drink.

Think on that for a second. This group of braggodicious loudmouths--full of bluster, and slam-bang, Mickey Spillane-ish rhetoric via dead trees and the bits and bytes of their cyber-battlefields--while exhibiting in actual practice, all the physical courage of Don Knotts' Barney Fife at a Crips convention, would dare...would f*cking call out a bunch of young people--facing bullet-after-death-dealing-bullet from automatic weapons fired by a maniac.

"Shoulda shot 'em." "Shoulda tackled 'em." "Shoulda stood up and been big 'ol d*ck-swingin' manly men instead of education-obsessed, p*ssified snobs." "Ah-rooooooooo-aaaah!"

Look upon all its majesty, people. The infinite bravery of the basement-dwelling, cheeto-dusted, internet tough-guy's mind. Beautiful thing, isn't it?

It's dipped that low for these "Last Inaction Heroes". They've pushed our fighting forces into the teeth of a grinding, senseless war, and then bitched when the blood spattered their cuffs. Talked tough on ripping the fingernails out of people we've captured to get bogus intel, then called our "good guys" p*ssies when they found themselves on the soppy end of waterboarding. So this new, beneath a maggot's heel nadir should be no surprise. And yet? We're like CSI cops. jaded from seeing all manner of death--until the day we see something new--like a guy strangled with his own intestines. And then we blink back the shock of the sick, new twist on something old as time. Be it death. Or be it rank cowardice and hypocrisy, there's always the opportunity to surprise, I guess.

Color sane folk momentarily slack-jawed with awe over this one.

But you don't have to have been face-to-face with uncaring nuts with guns like I, or many others have. Use your brain like these unfeeling, unthinking losers opted not to. Imagine facing down a hail of automatic gunfire from two weapons. Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop! Only faster. And echoing.The loud blasts echoing in your head, as you see people falling all around you--because in real life, people when hit by bullets tend to fall like stones, and not stagger around with gritted-teeth heroism like John Wayne in the third reel of a western. There's blood everywhere. People rushing to aid friends. Screams. Of confusion, pain and soul-burning fear. Screams. The shooting claims victims instantly. .22 caliber shells bounce around in people, tearing up tissue, bone and everything. The 9mm ones just blast through you--and hit the poor f*ck behind you too. The shooting seems to never stop. Chewing through doors. Shattering glass. Soft human flesh. And when it does stop for the few seconds it takes to drop spent clips and ratchet in fresh, metallic death, there's shock. People frozen as they take in the grisly tableau rendered by a splatter-painting lunatic. Others perhaps thanking God the carnage is at last, over. And then--f*ck!--it starts... all over again.

"Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop! Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop!" And so on.

Taking that sensory description into account, repeat in your head, the idiocy of the aforementioned internet "tough guys", and tell me you don't wish you had a time machine, so you could send them to...say, the Tate and LaBianca homes, circa August of '69--just for f*cking kicks.

Yeah, it's rough justice. But that's the price of screaming misanthropy, disrespect for the dead, and hatred for your fellow man's not living out your egomaniacal death fantasies. Tough sh*t, bully-boys.

And that's where it stands, folks. What's the old saying? "A fish rots from the head down?" Start with the standard-bearer--a known-cowardly President play-acting the warrior for self-aggrandizement and fawning cameras. His right-hand ducks duty's call five times, but questions the heart of anyone who challenges his sending others into a joke war's deathly maw. A craven crew of elected enablers of the same insane war--combat cowards in life, Rambo in mind and speech against those who question their fecklessness. Filtering down at last, to a soft-handed pundit class for whom no one is as tough as they--the wielders of the mighty cyber-fist.

A fist comprised of four oh-so-mighty fingers: Cheetos, Grape Kool-Aid, Hubris, Bluster--oh yeah, and a thumb wrapping over 'em: Hypocrisy. Hammering away. Raining bits and bytes on people actually experiencing life's blows. Raining bits and bytes , while dancing the "It's-About-Me" shuffle, all from the safety behind a monitor.

Fighting the good fight, from mommy's paneled basement. And then, standing there...proud, in piss-yellowed costumes, with tears streaming down, mock Lukes, Solos and Chewies at the end of "Star Wars". Awaiting their medals for hard-typed cyber-valor. Let sound the fanfare, from the sh*tty, old Dell's tinny speakers, and let us recognize these...heroes.

For the infinite bravery of the basement-dwelling, cheeto-dusted, internet tough-guy's mind.

- posted by LowerManhattanite

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