Critic and author John Leonard died last night after a long battle with cancer. Leonard, whom Kurt Vonnegut once called "the smartest man who ever lived," was 69. A brilliant but not flashy stylist, an unapologetic liberal, and a mentor to countless younger writers, Leonard worked at various times for a wide range of publications but was best known as New York magazine's TV critic and a commentator for CBS Sunday Morning.
The title of Leonard's most recent book—When the Kissing Had to Stop: Cult Studs, Khmer Newts, Langley Spooks, Techno-Geeks, Video Drones, Author Gods, Serial Killers, Vampire Media, Alien Sperm-Suckers, Satanic Therapists, and Those of Us Who Hold a Left-Wing Grudge in the Post Toasties New World Hip-Hop—exemplifies the "cascade," which New York's Vulture blog defines as a "headlong, run-on, signature stream of excited enthusiasms and furious complaints that gave us a glimpse of the jam-packed Coney Island of his marvelous mind." To see a tribute in the form of an example, click the first link at left.