TINY TOWN, USA – Lando the Lion Hearted, is dead.
Four legged creatures everywhere weep -- for a Great Friend among the Two-Legged has passed into extinction.
Lando was a lot of things. To the writer of this short memento, he was The King of Drama Queens and a character who will no longer strut across the boards of any human stage ever again. Not on this man's planet.
Lando was more than a character study and an interesting man, he was a great man. Great to the things he loved, where our greatness is most in evidence. He was a good man and for that, leaves the world loved and beloved.
Some will remember Lando as no more than an Opera-fag and a cranky jackass who hated hunting. I don't think Lando would give a flying fig what any amateur weekend up-from-Jersey hunter had to say about him. For those who hunted for food, he gave little thought. It was the assholes who littered the woods with beer cans, made a hell of the hillsides with random gunfire and staggered back to their 4-wheelers and weaved back Downstate -- those were his enemies. For these slobs, he reserved his bitterest literary gall in his annual Anti-Hunting column.
And he had gall galore. Lando was a kickass writer. No one so far interviewed has been quoted saying so but he was a topnotch journalist, a real wordsmith. He could write in any style but was most comfortable with a lofty tone, the grammar exact, the logic precise even when being silly.
We've been thinking a lot about him since his great good heart expired Sunday night. Simple things mostly and sad to think they are no more:
He never went out of fashion. When suspenders, bow ties and Indiana Jones hats became popular items, Lando must've sensed the world closing in on him.
He once lost a front tooth and seemed in no great hurry to replace it. When he cackled – and he had a good stage cackle – that missing tooth added a wonderful dash of the dastard to his demeanor. He had very English manners up to and including a healthy Medieval fear of dentistry. He loved clotted cream. Devonshire, we seem to recall.
He was from Cleveland and his highbrow tone must've been a trickle-down effect from Shaker Heights or too much time rubbing his pate against Gibbon's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, or maybe it was the Annals of Tacitus, the essays of Montaigne, Shakespeare and company, etc. He was one of those guys who had leather bound volumes on his shelves and actually cracked the bindings.
He could do a mock-up of Hemingway's style like nobody else. He was a romantic, we think, who was not big on the post-modern literary stuff. But he knew it.
He was addicted to Neosynephrine long before it was popular to get addicted to OTC medications.
His pipe seemed to be a snobbish prop, and was an easy target for those who thought he was a phony. They were wrong. It was all genuine. When cigar smokers got their own magazine, Lando kept to his pipe. He was no friend to smoking laws.
Dogs. Cats. My gosh. What a sucker for those furry four legged critters was he!
Clever, quick with a comeback. He appreciated talent especially if it came with a heaping dose of irreverence and belligerence. In his Lando way, he was as radical as any anarchist-freak on the street. His fondness for opera was an expression of his passion for life, the comic-tragic mostly, the inherent hilarity of the parade of fools who compose the bulk of human doings, he reveled in the evergreen irony and joy of bearing critical witness firsthand to the grand procession of le comedie humaine from the press box and, when needed, jumping into the ring to fight for the underdogs, hand-to-hand, all the while cursing the outrage of it all. The "all" being whatever offense had unleashed his furor from petty to profound.
At a time when we need more of his kind, nature nabbed him. She can be that way. Lando would understand.
– C. Penbroke Handy, back from another Long Story