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WITHOUT THE HITCH: Vanity Fair held a spirited memorial service for Christopher Hitchens on Friday afternoon, in the Great Hall of Cooper Union. Graydon Carter welcomed attendees — who included colleagues Anna Wintour and David Remnick, as well as Tina Brown, Stephen Fry, Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” and Jason Sudeikis — with a description of Hitchens as a wit, a charmer and a bit of a scalawag. “He was the beau ideal of the public intellectual,” Carter said. “He was an editor’s dream, and he was a reader’s dream.”
Those who participated in the program — including Tom Stoppard, Christopher Buckley, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Sean Penn and Olivia Wilde — chose to largely rely upon Hitchens’ words instead of their own, reading from the late journalist’s books and articles published over four decades. Penn read from a Vanity Fair piece published in 2006 on the poisonous aftermath of Agent Orange on civilians in Vietnam. Buckley chose the memoir “Hitch-22,” while Stoppard drew laughter while reading Hitchens’ description of a Prague policeman as a man “with eyes so close together he could comfortably get by with a monocle.”
Fry said, “One of the great pleasures of knowing Christopher was having him disagree with you.” He shared Hitchens’ opinion that “the four most overrated things in life are Champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics,” to which Fry, who is gay, responded, “Three out of four isn’t bad.”
During his eulogy, Martin Amis explained how their shared idea of happiness involved taking a bottle of whiskey into a film like “Dirty Beast.” He recalled how Hitchens would employ the phrase “What could be more agreeable?” to describe something he enjoyed. Ending on a wishful note, Amis said, “What could be more intimately agreeable, imagine what it would do to your heart, if the Hitch had landed, and he was on his way to join us here.”
It’s fair to say Hitchens would have found very agreeable the cocktail-fueled party afterward, held at The Waverly Inn.