P.J. O’Rourke – An Ivy Icon

“Seriousness is stupidity sent to college.” – P.J. O’Rourke

Out my window this morning are trees shedding snow.  In Bedford we are three inches deep but it is already starting to warm.  Today will be in the mid 40’s.  The trees will shake the snow the way a dog shakes the rain.

You get to a point where you start asking, “How many Christmases do I have left?”  I am not there yet, but I can see it coming.

The years bring sore knees.  But they also round off the edges, and that is for the better.  As the knees creak, as the trees creak, as the edges round off, a few things become clear.  Dogs are people on a higher plane.  By the time all cars are electric they won’t be called cars.  And petty political arguments are about the dumbest thing on earth, especially when they spill over.

I always loved P.J. O’Rourke for his clothes.  We dress alike.  I am sad that he is gone, more than anyone else in the public eye, I always thought P.J. O’Rourke was my fashion spirit animal.  Almost always with the ocbd, sometimes an unbuttoned top collar, sometimes facial hair, sometimes hair too long, sometimes sneakers with his tie.

Mr. P.J. O’Rourke

P.J. O’Rourke and I are apart politically, and it so makes no nevermind.  I never voted based on what he wrote, and he never voted based on what I wrote.  But I always thought it would have been a good thing had he run for office.  He had a healthy skepticism, he was hilarious (writing funny is the hardest type of writing there is – you need so many other things to be funny than what pure writing can provide), and he was thought out.


Above all else, because he was funny and not dogmatic and took as many shots at his party as he did at mine,  he would have been able to broker things.

I would have liked to have been friends with P.J. O’Rourke on a personal level.  We did exchange some emails, but I never met him in person.  Even in correspondence he was even tempered, always made points with humor, was able to laugh at alternative views made with humor as well, and was kind.

Rest in peace, Mr. O’Rourke.

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

13 Comments on "P.J. O’Rourke – An Ivy Icon"

  1. I will miss his writings. So much fun to read.

  2. Frederick Johnson | February 16, 2022 at 9:27 am |

    My heartfelt condolences to his family, his wit and wisdom and his sense of style will be sorely missed.

  3. Andrew Summar | February 16, 2022 at 12:17 pm |

    Just read about P.J.’s passing here. Fortunately, he left a lot of written work which will always be relevant to politics and our society. And he made me laugh. (a hard laugh) Sorry to see him go.

  4. Charlottesville | February 16, 2022 at 1:18 pm |

    A truly great man and terrific writer. Like Tom Wolfe, he leaves a hole that there seems to be no one around to fill. I did not know him, but he once autographed a book for me, “To the only honest lawyer in Washington.” A tremendous loss. RIP.

  5. This JB introduction to a witty writer is much appreciated – did I know nothing in detail about Mr O’Rourke (probably not a lot has reached European soil, which is not meant derogatory at all). Chiefly the citation at the end of the article leaves me sympathetic.

  6. “A truly great man”– oh c’ mon, C-Ville. No one would laugh harder at that claim that “PEEJ.”

    I started reading PJO’R in college and maintained a steady diet of his work(s) throughout the decades. A Reagan-Clinton era wit who may stand the test of time, unlike too many authors who are no longer read or remembered. He drank, smokes, and extolled excess — until later in life, when he had a few second thoughts.

    He was never Purist Ivy. His vibe was 70s/80s preppy yuppie — typically upscale Boomer stuff. Oh well.

    Don’t we all.

  7. * smoked

    ‘Don’t we all’– have second thoughts, that is.

  8. Lung cancer. Of course it was.
    Somewhere, as he takes his place among the Communion of Saints, he must be chuckling. Poetic.

  9. “If you are young and you drink a great deal it will spoil your health, slow your mind, make you fat – in other words, turn you into an adult.”
    – P. J. O’Rourke.

  10. Marc Chevalier | February 16, 2022 at 4:29 pm |

    Oh no! I always enjoyed his dry wit as a guest panelist on “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

  11. Charlottesville | February 16, 2022 at 4:55 pm |

    S.E. – He would definitely laugh, but that is part of what made him great.

  12. I always looked forward to his missives in Rolling Stone where he was a political contributor for many years. Loved his style in both writing and manner of dress.

  13. “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P.J. O’Rourke
    As a writer in my seventh decade, I’d better heed his advice.

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