Just got word that David Baskin, my old friend and housemate at Stephen F. Austin State University, has died.

Baskin (always known by his last name to keep the Davids straight) was, I can say unreservedly, the smartest person I have ever known. A historian by temperament and training, he had an extraordinary grasp of the fundamentals of things. He learned, and mastered, Chinese cooking. When his VW bug broke down, he set out to overhaul it by himself and mastered it so completely that the repair shop where he was going for parts offered him a job. He dug deeply into the blues. He memorized large chunks of the Iliad — and of old “Star Trek” episodes. Though he scarcely read a newspaper or watched the news, he had a deeper grasp of what was going on in the world than I ever had. He knew how to look for, and find, the oldest, the best, the most lasting, the most original, and how to cling to it.

He was, at least in those days, a great consumer of marijuana. “Why,” he would ask as we sat toking on the front porch in Nacogdoches, Texas, “does man stupefy himself?” From such questions would ensue discussions that lasted deep into the night.

I never met a guy I liked as instantly, or as well, as I did David Baskin. He was just 59, and now he is gone. Damn it all to hell anyhow.

2 thoughts on “R.I.P.

  1. David,
    I dont recall if Dr. Ken Mueller posted here, but I saw him on other blogs including Electric City and maybe MTCOWGIRL? While he was conservative leaning, his posts were always well thought out and insightful. He passed on last week. He was one of only a couple of Board Certified Forensic Pathologists in Montana for many years. I cant recall the word, but the Japanese have a word for those who carry out the unpleasent tasks of life. Dr. Mueller was one of those. He was also a Captain in the Navy Reserve

  2. Thanks for mentioning Ken, who was an occasional and welcome commenter here. We got his obit a couple of days ago, and I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was the right Ken Mueller, although I should have known: The obituary said he loved baseball and liked to blog — both characteristics I recognized.

    The obit will be in tomorrow’s Outpost. As it will demonstrate, he had quite a remarkable life.

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