I haven't spoken to this man in long years. We used to be pretty good chums in the days when we both schlepped heavy boxes around and dealt daily with the public. But, in the years since I moved away from that neighborhood, I've seen indications that his angry and depressed nature (much angrier than my manic states ever got, but not too much deeper than my depressions) has darkened.
I haven't learned this from family and friends near him, but from what he writes.
No, we don't correspond much, any more. Our common ground seems to have eroded to a slim thread of history only. I read his blogs, though. I sneak in, from time to time, skim his pages, and leave feeling as though I've been an anthropologist peering in on a completely alien culture, where rage is celebrated and refined and to the purest flame imaginable and turned into a religion.
He's gone back to playing with the ilk of the nastier Kos kidz and DU, those who think that Christians are the only people to blame for all mankind's faults and failings, who think that the Bush administration is to blame for the collapse of civilization, who think that, after the election, the conservative base will mobilize and take over the streets, and all who disagree with the conservatives will be slain and served up as sandwiches, or some such stuff and nonsense.
For some reason, he's allowed himself to be led by the nose into believing that a person who owns a gun, for example, must automatically intend to use it on humans who disagree with his world view. He's come to believe that virtually every person who believes that Jesus is planning a comeback tour is going to guarantee it happens tomorrow, by causing Armageddon today. He's come to believe that all our nation's military might is used only to bully people into... I'm not sure. Something to do with the apocalypse, I think. He can't seem to imagine a soldier being sent to defend the innocent against tyrants and their savagery. He can't imagine using force to create freedom. He can't allow himself to believe that the people of Iraq might actually be better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein's sadistic reign.
He is waiting for the end days, with dread, expecting my neighbors with the five children and the pleasant garden to suddenly take up their crosses and plunge them into the hearts of the rest of us sinners. He is waiting for me to rise from reading the hypnotic, serpentine words of Victor Davis Hansen and Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh, and mindlessly burn down the cathedral of academe, the local college -- and all those leftists and their acolytes within it.
I'd ask him if he projects much, but I think he really wouldn't see my point.
Once upon a time, when the world was light and full of faeries, I had a reasonable conversation with him, in which I asked him to swap out a few labels, and see if, just maybe, he was showing himself to be a little on the prejudiced side. Where he talked of Christian conspiracy, I suggested he try "Jewish conspiracy," and ask how his in-laws would take that (oy!). Where he raged against Christian fanaticism, I asked him to try Jewish fanaticism, or black fanaticism, or any other group ostensibly oppressed in America. He might find, I said, that the language was ugly and hateful, no matter what name you inserted. I asked him if he really believed the people he worked with would rise, en masse, to destroy their friends, simply for the sake of a political ideal. Because, you know, those Lutherans really have it in for the rest of us, for not eating lime jello salads at Sundy dinnur.
For a while, he seemed chastened, subdued, rational.
That is gone, now. His rage has returned, it seems, tenfold. I can only hope that he is writing these fevered dreams only as a lark, as a way to boost the number of visits to his website. The thought that he has come so far unhinged in reality... well, that kind of illness is too much for me to bear to think about, especially as his birthday has just rolled around, again, (if memory serves, and if I haven't rotated his with another friend's natal anniversary). I wish him happiness, peace, but I worry he will not accept such gifts.
I also worry that there are too many like him, but different in that they act upon their rage, as they have tried and done at the national conventions. It is not healthy.