I am nobody.
I am invisible.
Most people couldn’t pick me out of a lineup. Not for a million dollars. I don’t stand out in a crowd. You wouldn’t recognize me if I sat next to you in a theater, or on a train, or in a restaurant. You’ve never seen me on television or in a movie, heard me on the radio, or read anything I’ve written (unless, perhaps, you subscribe to some very obscure technical journals).
I’ve spent most of my life moving around more often than I care to think about (although I did actually sit down and count once), and as a result I ended up mostly disengaged from the world around me. That all started to change when I finally decided to follow through on the recommendation of a, well, I guess I’ll call him an acquaintance (since I’m not all that great at making friends), and watch the show Chuck. (Right now you’re probably thinking “What the heck does this have to do with Andrew Breitbart?” Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. All in good time. Everything happens for a reason. You came to Andrew in your way, I came to him in mine.) I watched the first three seasons of Chuck between March and October of 2010, just in time to pick up with the rest of the world and watch the fourth season, if not in real-time, then at least as close to real-time as possible (NBC made episodes available on their website for up to three weeks after the original air date).
It wasn’t just the geekiness of Chuck that I enjoyed, or its similarity to one of my favorite childhood television shows (Greatest American Hero); I was fascinated by the similarities between Adam Baldwin‘s character, John Casey, and the course my life had taken. John Casey, for those of you who don’t know, (at least at the beginning of the series) was an active duty O4 (Major to most of you, Lieutenant Commander to me) who had devoted his life to his career (with no friends, or family, or even high rank, to show for it). Of course I know the difference between fantasy and reality, but the overlap between the fantasy that Adam Baldwin created with the character John Casey and my reality was striking.
So I did what any normal person does. I logged into my (practically) unused Twitter account to see if Adam Baldwin was on Twitter. And to my great delight he was not only on Twitter, but he was tweeting meaningful content (what I normally say to people when I’m telling this story in person is “it was at that moment I realized he wasn’t just some vapid actor”). I didn’t agree with everything he tweeted, but to my further surprise, he responded to me when I asked questions about what he was saying. I was so delighted by this fact that I actually wrote about it in my first ever blog post on November 15, 2010.
By following Mr. Baldwin on Twitter, I found a whole universe of people with whom I could interact in a way I never thought possible. One of those amazing people was @thekelliejane, and one night she tweeted something along the lines of “I’m here, click to listen/watch”. Clicking took me to The Stage Right Show on Blog Talk Radio, where Larry O’Connor, host of The Stage Right Show, was celebrating Dake-a-Palooza with several members of the Hollywood Chat Pack (to learn more about the show and the Chat Pack, check out my post). I was hooked. That night was the start of more nights than I care to think about spent staying up way past when a person who gets up at 0630 ought to be asleep. It was during Larry’s show that I learned about the existence of Andrew Breitbart, but I was still mostly disconnected from the wider world. I couldn’t really connect the lyric from The Army You Have’s Liberty Loves Company, played during Larry’s shows, to my personal reality. “Breitbart, You’re My Hero!” still meant nothing to me. I did start following Andrew on Twitter, however, and on on February 1, 2011, I sent the following tweet:
Like many things on Twitter, and in life, I didn’t realize the significance of Andrew Breitbart not only retweeting my silly proclamation, but also following me for having made it.
I first met Larry O’Connor in person on the evening of Thursday, February 10, 2011. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was taking place in Washington, DC, but as I was preparing to leave for Guam early that Saturday morning, I was too busy to attend any of the events during the work day. I was, however, able to slip away for just a couple of hours that evening to what was being affectionately referred to as “The Big Gay Party”. A glance at the admission ticket may give you a clue as to why:
That night, I met a lot of people, including Andrew Breitbart. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. To me, he was just one more person Larry was introducing me to. Remember, this wasn’t my world. The only thing I remember was being knocked over by all of the people trying to shake his hand or get a moment of his time. What I took away from that evening was Dan Choi telling me he looked forward to seeing me become the first openly lesbian admiral (for the record, I’m not a lesbian, at least to my knowledge). As a memento of that evening, I can be seen dancing like a lunatic in the background while Andrew Breitbart is being interviewed in this video (around the 45 second mark):
Time marched on. I wrote the occasional blog post. I got the (very) occasional reader. Then two things happened almost simultaneously, at least in terms of the scale of my life. Near the end of May 2011, I decided to buy a video camera. And then there was this:
It all started to come together. Love him or hate him. Agree with him or disagree with him. Andrew Breitbart had told the truth, over and over again, and was not shy about telling the world what had happened. I finally understood the lyric. I have always been an outspoken person, and have always been very polarizing because of it. People almost instantaneously either really like me or really dislike me. The world is mostly black and white to me, and (at least I have been told) I tend to speak without a filter. I thought that meant I had to live the rest of my life (mostly) alone and friendless. But no! Here was Andrew Breitbart polarizing the world. Speaking truth to power. Wow.
About a month later, I was in southern California for work (did I mention that I travel a lot?) and Larry O’Connor just happened to be taping his show live from “an undisclosed location” (as he refers to it). I had known that I might be invited to attend, so I came prepared with the cheapskate’s equivalent to challenge coins from the Office of Naval Intelligence to hand out to all of my Tweeps (not knowing how many Twitter acquaintances would actually be there, I freely admit that I was not willing to purchase $200 worth of challenge coins just to be sure I had enough). Plastic or no, everyone seemed pleased with my little token from the Intelligence Community. It was nice to finally put faces with names (and voices). The best part, however, was when Larry (re-) introduced me to Andrew Breitbart and Andrew said, with utmost sincerity, “so you’re @mosesmosesmoses!”. As one often says on Twitter: Mind. Blown.
I made it my habit not to go anywhere without my camera and video camera. I made an effort to blog whenever something caught my attention (within the bounds of DoDD 1344.10 and still reporting for duty, of course), trying to focus my efforts on erroneous use of “the race card” as well as pointing out improper use of statistics because, as we all know, math is hard. I knew I needed to temper my zeal for documenting the world around me just slightly, however, when I totaled my car on the way downtown to film Occupy DC protesters as they occupied an abandoned school.
The last time I saw Andrew Breitbart was at CPAC on February 9, 2012. From the official listing in the CPAC program:
Citizens United Productions Hosts Blogger Briefing
Andrew Breitbart, Brandon Darby, Lee Stranahan, Stephen K. Bannon and Citizens United Productions President David N. Bossie preview their 2012 films including upcoming film exposing Occupy Wall Street, with short video presentation
Credentialed Bloggers Only
After making a grand entrance in Guy Fawkes masks, the panel members spoke, showed trailers for Occupy Unmasked and Hating Breitbart, then took questions. I stood up to ask a question, and as is common practice in the military, introduced myself before doing so. At the very beginning of this video, you can hear the very last part of that introduction, “…on Twitter” to which Andrew Breitbart responds “Hey, you defend me, that’s so nice.”
Now to be completely fair, he’s glossing over that one time where I questioned whether I should follow him at all because of all of the hateful tweets he was constantly retweeting. But, hey, I’ll take it. Also, for the record, the entire video is worth watching as Brandon Darby gives an excellent answer to my question (regarding the manipulation of well-meaning protesters) which Andrew interrupts by taking a telephone call in the middle of.
The next day, camera and video camera in hand, I blended in with the “protesters” outside the Marriott Wardman Park hotel. I took photos and wrote a blog post about marching down Connecticut Avenue. I found it especially interesting how the sponsoring organization, This Is Our DC, both grossly overestimated the numbers in attendance and saw nothing wrong with the irony of busing in a majority of the crowd on Mercedes-Benz buses.
And then, just a few weeks later, Andrew was gone. No, I did not know him personally. We never had dinner together. I never met his family. I do not share the personal tragedy that many of you are feeling right now. I can sympathize (and I truly do), but not empathize. The only thing I can do that is meaningful in any way whatsoever is tell this so that you may know how Andrew Breitbart and those around him changed my life.
I will carry my cameras wherever I go. I will post photos. I will post video. I will blog.
I may be nobody.
I may be invisible.
But I will not be silent.
I am Andrew Breitbart.