David. Or Lance.

Well, this was a terrible day. For those of you who don’t read the comments, my longtime friend David Reilly, who some of you know as the blogger Lance Mannion, died unexpectedly last night. It was quite a shock, although it probably shouldn’t have been. He’s been in terrible back pain for a few years now, and was diagnosed with diabetes a while back, too.

The D will do all kinds of bad things to your vital organs, but I thought one got a little more warning.

As those who followed him online know at least a little about, David’s main job in recent years has been taking care of his wife, Adrianne. She had a huge benign brain tumor removed a few years ago, and hasn’t been the same since. She’s basically OK, but still suffers bouts of confusion and is permanently disabled. (Was getting so designated by our wonderful federal safety net easy? Oh, hell no. They had to apply multiple times.) I don’t know who will do this job now; her sons, I expect.

Everyone dies, of course, and some go sooner than they should. (Dick Cheney’s blackened machinery, meanwhile, churns ever-on.) But sometimes a death comes with extra misery, and this is one of them.

I’ve spent much of today remembering the David I knew when we were all much younger, in the ’80s, when he came from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop to live with his college girlfriend Adrianne, who was hired in Fort Wayne the same time I was. Tall, rangy, blonde, whip-smart, a die-hard Democrat to his bones — that was David. It was his idea for us all to go the Stratford Festival for a little Shakespeare every fall, and we did, for a long time. David knew all the plays forward and backward, and could, and did, explain them all over dessert and coffee afterward. He had done some acting in college, and carried himself with a certain physical confidence I always associate with actors. I once saw him leap-frog over a parking meter with inches to spare, so it was a shock to see him, years later, hobbling on a cane because of his back problems.

But he was always up for a phone call, to answer my questions when I was trying to noodle through a column or a blog or something else. “David,” I’d say. “I watched ‘The Crying Game’ and was totally fooled until the big reveal, and I tried to watch it again the other day and it’s just so obvious. How did they manage that trick?”

He’d explain that by making the audience the proxy for Stephen Rea’s character, we see Jaye Davidson the way he did. We fall in love with her, too. It’s Theater/Screenwriting 101, and then he’d deliver an extemporaneous lecture spinning off from this — David worked off and on as a college teacher — and I’d hang up 30 minutes later, smarter.

His blog was like that, too. Is like that. You can still find him there, I expect for some time. He had a great writing voice, and a keen eye for bullshit. Several times I dusted off something he once wrote about Kelsey Grammer, that hypocrite p.o.s., and I paste a chunk of it here:

Grammer doesn’t live anything like a Republican-approved lifestyle. He lives the life of the sort of big city liberal Republicans affect to despise. And as far as I know he’s quite happy with that life and has no plans to change it. He’s not about to move to any place Republicans regard as part of the “real America.” He’s not leaving Hollywood or New York for Topeka, Biloxi, or Wasilla. He’s not about to give up acting to start an oil company, become a hedge fund manager, or a cattle rancher. I don’t know if he goes to church and I don’t care, but it’s pretty hard to imagine him in the front pew at St Patrick’s, although it isn’t hard to imagine him leading the choir at the nearest Baptist mega-church—but that’s Frasier I’m seeing bouncing around in a purple robe and singing it joyfully. Grammer himself? Religion doesn’t seem to be something he’s given much thought lately, an odd thing for a Republican these days.

Now, I don’t believe that any Republican should have to go live in Topeka, Biloxi, Wasilla, or anywhere else on Sarah Palin’s short list of places that count as the real America. But I do believe that happy and contented East and West Coast elitists like Grammer—and conservative members of the punditocracy in Washington—should stop talking as if they believe that the lives lived in places like Topeka, Biloxi, and Wasilla are more “authentically” American than lives lived in Brooklyn, Brookline, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, or San Antonio and that the people in the one set of places are more American than the people living in the other.

And it’s probably too much to ask, but could they acknowledge that the lives they live in the most decadent parts of decadent Blue America have been made possible for them by liberalism?

Oh, fuck it all.

Here’s a picture of us in Stratford — David, Adrianne, Alan with me behind the camera, in the days when you had to buy a special camera to take panorama photos. I’d estimate this as the late ’80s. Justin Bieber’s hometown, although he hadn’t been born yet.

And as long as we’re doing photos, a couple more. We had snow Tuesday night, a rare more-than-flurries late-April snow, and the juxtaposition of bright spring sun, flowering trees, emerald-green grass and snow was a little disorienting the next morning:

Wendy says hi. Later that day, I took her for a mani-pedi. I don’t think she was saying hi here.

I think I might need to eat pizza tonight. I sure as hell ain’t cooking. The hell with that, tonight.

Posted at 4:41 pm in Friends and family, Same ol' same ol' |

40 responses to “David. Or Lance.”

  1. alex said on April 22, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    So sorry to hear the news. He was a great writer. In fact, I don’t know how he ever had such a misimpression but at one point he included my old blog in his blog roll in the section categorized as “Smarter Than Me.” If he only knew.

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  2. jcburns said on April 22, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Glad you wrote this, Nancy.

    David was (and Adrianne is) interesting people to talk to. Or just listen to.

    We appreciated the chance to meet them in Fort Wayne on at least one of our Trips Through. Take care of yourselves this evening.

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  3. LinGin said on April 22, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you so very much for this appreciation, Nancy.

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  4. Cathie Fornssler said on April 22, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    Such terrible news. One of his boys posted on his Twitter and I came here to share the news. I wish I had known him but somehow I felt that I did just by reading his blog.
    There is a Go Fund Me set up already, by Susie Mandrak.

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  5. Mark P said on April 22, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    I can’t believe it. I felt like an observer to his blog rather than a participant as I do to some extent here, but I still felt as if I knew him. I sure admired his knowledge about so much. I’ll miss him.

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  6. Dorothy said on April 22, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your dear friend. I hope you get your feet back under you soon. When you lose someone unexpectedly, it has the unnerving feel of being upended and unable to find the floor for awhile.

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  7. Cathie Fornssler said on April 22, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    FYI, the link for the Lance Mannion Go Fund Me is https://gofund.me/218ab8f7

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  8. Deborah said on April 22, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    So sorry to hear this. Lance Mannion’s blog led me to nn.c and I’m so thankful for that. Sudden deaths are so sad and traumatic.

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  9. MlBerry said on April 22, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Condolences to his family and friends.

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  10. 4dbirds said on April 22, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    I saw it on Twitter. My condolences to family and friends.

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  11. Suzanne said on April 22, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    Heartfelt tribute for a good friend, Nancy. May he Rest In Peace.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on April 22, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    Oh, Nancy, I’m so, so sorry; for you, his other friends, and most especially his family. The Jewish expression “may his memory be for a blessing” seems fitting here. You have vividly described what a great friend and partner he was.

    Hope you enjoyed that pizza, and maybe some wine or something a little stronger.

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  13. A. Riley said on April 22, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    I am so very sorry to hear this. I’ve been reading and enjoying his blog for years. Deepest sympathies.

    Fucking diabetes.

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  14. ROGirl said on April 23, 2021 at 5:17 am

    Condolences to the family and friends. The loss of friends and loved ones never gets easier, no matter what the circumstances.

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  15. Alabn Stamm said on April 23, 2021 at 7:20 am

    Touching tribute and a reminder to live fully and meaningfully, as David clearly did.

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  16. JodiP said on April 23, 2021 at 8:56 am

    My deepest condolences. Not only smart, he sounds like a wonderful friend and husband.

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  17. 4dbirds said on April 23, 2021 at 9:23 am

    I never met Lance much less David but so admired his writing. I remember in the days of Danny, I would clumsily say something to take point with Danny and never felt as if I could express just how wrong, fake and mentally lazy he was. Lance came along a couple of times and made my point with such finesse putting the troll Danny in his place and I would fist pump and say “Yah, what he said!”. I loved him for that.

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  18. 4dbirds said on April 23, 2021 at 9:29 am

    I will shut up after this because I don’t want to steal the thread but I personally know not only the damage surgery on the brain can cause but also how hard it is to get disability from Social Security. My daughter, my cancer survivor, has a secondary brain tumor from her leukemia treatment. They couldn’t get it all since it has threaded down into areas that cause stroke and death when excised but the surgery has changed her. As with Adrianne, she is confused often and her short term memory is for shit. She will tell me things ten times a day forgetting that she told me ten minutes ago, and ten minutes before that and so on. We couldn’t get approved for SSI before but I’m applying now for something called Disabled Adult Child Before the Age of 22. I’m hoping since the tumor is still there and growing we won’t have too much of a fight. I hope Lance’s boys have the support they need to care for their mother.

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  19. alex said on April 23, 2021 at 9:39 am

    I hope it wasn’t because of an inability to afford diabetes meds that he’s no longer with us. It just isn’t right. I already surpassed my deductibe for this year just on my first three months’ worth. The medical industrial complex is committing highway robbery.

    Yesterday was kind of a double whammy as far as premature deaths go. One of my best friends from my Chicago years also passed away due to health issues. He was living in Bellingham, Washington. Only 59. Our old circle of friends has been sharing reminiscences and photos in a lengthy chain of e-mails and it helps lighten the spirit a bit.

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  20. Tom said on April 23, 2021 at 10:33 am

    I’m sorry for your loss, Nancy. I know (hope?) I was one of hundreds, and I had to pay for the privilege (donations), but it was still cool to get a post card from him, as a stranger he thought about for a few minutes, long enough to physically write a postal address and a short note. Charming and smart: a dangerous combination for some, but even more impressive from an obviously kind and good person like David.

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  21. David C said on April 23, 2021 at 10:58 am

    Yeah, David’s thank you cards were so charming and heartfelt. I helped fix his car, plumbing, and probably a couple of other things. For all he gave me with his writing, I felt like he more than earned it.

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  22. JodiP said on April 23, 2021 at 11:10 am

    I can’t remember which podcast I heard this on, but it was about the social security system needing to really change because so many people are suffering from long COVID. I didn’t know this, but once you are approved you then have to wait five more months for payments to begin. The source stated that many people (generally speaking, not COVID patients) die during this time or have to declare bankruptcy. The system is definitely set up to deny people.

    4dbirds, I am sure you already know this, but getting an attorney is usually the best bet. We refer many clients to a law firm that doesn’t charge anything up front and sometimes represent people pro bono if they are receiving other benefits. I would think there are similar law firms in your area.

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  23. 4dbirds said on April 23, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for the tip JodiP. I am definitely going the lawyer route if I get any resistance. I have a phone interview to submit her claim in a couple of weeks.

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  24. Julie Robinson said on April 23, 2021 at 11:36 am

    My sister was the poster child for what JodiP says; impoverished by her diabetes and heart meds and had to retire early due to disability. It took over two years for social security to approve disability, and by then she’d been dead for six months.

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  25. JodiP said on April 23, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Julie, that is absolutely heartbreaking. I’m so sorry.

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  26. 4dbirds said on April 23, 2021 at 11:46 am

    I am so sorry about your sister Julie. Effing social security.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on April 23, 2021 at 11:59 am

    My sister times a million others. I know there are cheaters, but one quick look at her medical file along with early disability retirement should have been enough. Everyone I’ve talked with was also denied the first time. Clearly the system is broken.

    May your daughter’s case be met with more success, 4dbirds.

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  28. David C said on April 23, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    Any state with a Republican trifecta has set up their unemployment insurance system to be a complete pain to use. At the beginning of the pandemic it was taking people months to get their benefits because Scott Walker and the Rs messed the system up. Of course, they blamed Gov. Evers for it because that’s what they do.

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  29. Sherri said on April 23, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    On the topic of the difficulty of getting government services, seems appropriate to quote Lance Mannion:

    If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributer cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk.

    And they do this so that they don’t have to chip in on gas.

    From https://lancemannion.typepad.com/lance_mannion/2005/09/remember_good_o.html

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  30. Deborah said on April 23, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    That Lance Mannion quote is perfect, Sherri.

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  31. Kim said on April 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    Nancy, I am so sorry to hear of Lance/David’s death. He was a fine turner of phrase, insightful in ways I can only dream about and a decent human being. I know the last trait because this world, thank God, is a small place. Short version: My niece married a guy whose editor during his baby journo years (one of the first and the finest, he says) was Adrianne. He was miles from home during holidays (and, for the journos out there, probably working those days) and the Reillys would invite him to their family celebrations. When my niece moved to NYC to be closer to the guy she’d marry, the Reillys invited her, too. Like Julie said earlier, may his memories be a blessing.

    Thanks for pointing out the Go Fund Me link; I am so grateful for strangers like the Reillys and happy to be able to help a little.

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  32. Deborah said on April 24, 2021 at 9:04 am

    My favorite Lance Mannion pieces were the ones he wrote about his family vacations on Cape Cod. We spent a week on the cape at a friend’s place once and Lance/David described their experience just the way I remembered ours. Our friend loaned out her place to friends when she wasn’t there, while working in Boston. The place was in Constable. I don’t remember where on the Cape the Mannion’s vacationed but it seemed very similar. And now thinking about it makes me want to go back. Oh how I wish we could travel freely again.

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  33. Dan Leo said on April 24, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Thank you for the beautiful words and memories.

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  34. Deb said on April 24, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Devastating. That Stratford picture breaks my heart. RIP, David.

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  35. Julie Robinson said on April 25, 2021 at 10:02 pm

    Is anyone watching the Oscars? I just gave up and went to bed. Anything good will be available in the morning.

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  36. Dexter Friend said on April 26, 2021 at 1:45 am

    I tuned into the Oscars to watch a woman walk an incredibly long way to her mic and start talking about Minnesota and how if things had turned out differently she would have been wearing “marching boots” instead of heels, to thunderous applause. She prefaced this by saying America reaches for the remote when this sort of talk happens. The small group setting was odd, and while we could see masked servers and people in masks way in the back, the A-listers were ordered to not dare wear masking of any sort. Then some movies and categories were announced, and the only one I had seen was “Another Round”, the stupid drinking movie from Denmark. I decided to record it and watch later to FF the ads, forgetting the damn thing was going to go overtime, so my recording missed all the main winners. What I did see, I found to be a bore. I think Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor for “Father”, another film I had not heard of. I went to my streams and found it available for a mere $19.99 rental fee. Fuck you on that one.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 26, 2021 at 7:52 am

    With all due respect to Sir Anthony, and with regret for Chadwick not winning but more his not being able to smile and applaud as someone else wins: what little I know of the plot overview of “The Father” I’m quite certain I’m years away from being able to watch it. Living it right now makes it something less than entertaining no matter how well done.

    I would like to see “Nomadland.” All my Bethany (WV) College friends are very excited; Frances is a preacher’s kid in my denomination and went to the school that’s part of our founding mythos in this country, and one that has less than 800 students any given year, so it’s a big deal for them. She used to drop by campus more often while her father was alive and in the area, and by all accounts is a delightful human being, as one suspects from her interviews, even if she’s one of the more publicity averse stars out there . . . or maybe because of that.

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  38. Suzanne said on April 26, 2021 at 8:19 am

    I watched a grand total of about 5 minutes of the Oscars. When I turned it on, Halle Berry was presenting and honestly, she looked terrible. Her haircut was unattractive and her dress looked like crepe paper glued to barely cover her breasts. Next up, some other woman with boobs desperately trying to escape her dress. I have boobs and don’t need to see everyone else’s so I went to bed.

    I did talk to someone over the weekend who had seen the movie “Father” and said it was very good but depressing.

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  39. Deborah said on April 26, 2021 at 8:24 am

    We skipped the Oscars but coincidentally watched “The Father”, you must see it, an excellent, excellent film and Hopkins is superb. We saw “Nomadland” a few nights ago. We also saw “Ma Rainey…” A few months ago, both excellent too. Those were some of the only films nominated that we have seen, but I’m probably forgetting some that were nominated for this or that.

    In keeping with the original thread, I enjoyed reading Lance Mannions descriptions of films, always in depth and spot on.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on April 26, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Jeff, it might surprise you. We watched Iris together with a SIL during the full woes of MIL’s Alzheimers. We talked for more than an hour, cried and hugged, and had a great catharsis. That said, we haven’t watched The Father yet either.

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