I first discovered The Daily Banter in 2013 when I landed on a post by some colorful malcontent named Chez Pazienza. As I explored the site, I quickly realized that I needed to make Banter part of my daily reading diet. Its writers were as incisive as they were irreverent. Together they produced some of the best and most unique political content on the internet, and still do. So I was thrilled when in early 2014 I started writing for the site.
But even with all that amazing talent, it was Chez’s work I admired most. His style was distinctly acerbic, brilliantly belligerent, and downright hilarious. Whenever I’d visit The Daily Banter homepage and saw that Chez had penned a new piece, I couldn’t wait to read what he had to say. His writing was truly solipsistic in that Chez was going to write what Chez wanted to write, and if people didn’t like it, that was their problem. This attitude was part of what made his stuff so great.
Sadly, however, Chez has written his final post and recorded his final podcast. He died on Saturday, high in his BMW in a Los Angeles parking lot. Certainly there are worse ways to go, but when you’re only 47 years old there is no “good way” to go. His departure comes at a time when those of us who are troubled by these dark, Trumpian days need his writing most.
In Chez, I felt as though I had found an ideological kindred spirit: an ardent progressive who nonetheless had a vehement disgust for safe spaces and millennial snowflakes, which were frequent targets of his, as well as religion. Chez reveled in attacking sacred cows and other unassailables because doing so was considered a no-no. But more importantly, when Chez set out to demolish someone or something with his precision-guided Hellfire word-missiles, it was because he genuinely loathed whatever that thing was. In a time of professional trolls and people looking to make a name for themselves at any cost, including betraying their actual opinions (if they even have any), Chez was the real deal. And while there aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to adequately describe him, he was above all genuine, for better or worse. What he said was what he thought, to the fucking letter.
I consider myself especially fortunate because I possess a trove of his wit and insight in email and Facebook Messenger. It was cathartic as hell to have those conversations with him because they assured me that there was someone else out there just as cranky and pissed off as I was about things that were important and some things that weren’t. Not a week went by when we didn’t discuss some Trump atrocity, or the PC police, or a ludicrous “body diversity” post claiming that cellulite is “sexy.” Tellingly, Chez engaged in those private exchanges in the same way he wrote his articles. His emails and messages were crisp, clear, and funny. His sentences were properly punctuated, his words properly capitalized. Not because it mattered to me (it didn’t), but because it mattered to him. Chez wrote like a man possessed, which he probably was. And he’d be damned if he was going to write anything half-assed, even for an audience of one.
We knew the next four years were going to be hard. What we didn’t know is that we’d have to endure them without one of the most thoughtful, eloquent, profane, blasphemous, infuriating, and hilarious people on the the planet. Lately I've been saying that I wish Christopher Hitchens was alive to write about the Trump circus. I still do. Now I wish even more that Chez was still here to do the same.