“I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don’t want to meet them.” – H.L. Mencken

 

This weekend, like they do every year around H.L. Mencken’s September 12 birthday, about one hundred Mencken fans descend on Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Library to pay tribute to the man famous for his scathing attacks on religion, creationism, the middle class, politicians, countryfolk, and a host of other targets he blamed for the ruination of America. The Pratt is the perfect setting for such a celebration. There are parts that feel as if they haven’t changed since Mencken wandered its halls. The first day of the celebration, the library’s main elevator was broken. Visitors who didn’t want to climb the stairs to the third floor auditorium — and there were many, Mencken fans being on… More…

Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis had just beaten a suddenly old Mike Tyson that evening at The Pyramid, and now Dad and I were back in the courtyard of our hotel in suburban Memphis, far from the crowds that spilled from the arena and choked the highways leading from downtown. I remember thinking as we sat there how the years had accumulated on him, how he had been unable to walk even short distances in the clammy haze that June week without breathing hard; I had to drop him off at the door wherever we went. But even so it had been a busy trip, full of big meals and good cigars and long conversations punctuated with laughter. He had never been in better spirits than when he had work to do, nor happier than when he had some jingle in his kick.

He’d come to Memphis to begin a book… More…