October 24, 2011

Study Shows That Spending Time as a Hippie Leads to Heart Attacks in Later Life


Of course, the sample size was one, which means that the margin of error could be on the high side. But still . . . Remember the dangers of hippiedom, kids, as the "Occupier" protesters fill the parks and civic centers of America's urban areas, pretending to change the world while they issue largely incoherent position papers, rip each other off, bang on their drums, and disregard the advantages of modern sewage systems.

Why? Well, because Mr. Gerard Van der Leun, who once referred to himself (accurately) as "the f*cking Forrest Gump of the 1960s," suffered a heart attack about week ago, and is being held at an undisclosed hospital in the Pacific Northwest. All is okay, thanks to medical miracles that present-days hippies generally take for granted: a stent was placed in the offending blood vessel, and GVDL has been assured that after his recovery is complete he may even be "better than before" (cue the theme from "The Six-Million-Dollar Man," and imagine the awesome advantages of a bionic heart).

Mr. VDL did consider the upsides of simply staying at the hospital; perhaps, he mused, it might prove to be the ultimate writers' colony. There was the option of having one of his well-wishers bring his keyboard in, hooking that up to his smart phone, and cranking some copy out. A few disadvantages presented themselves almost immediately, though: for one thing, the hospital staff was extremely narrow-minded about letting him out of bed to cook dinner in his room, and if you've looked at the cost of hospital visits these days you'll be knocked over by the nurses' chutzpah. Also, the other guests at the resort weren't up to the usual standards for a writers' colony; few of them were conversationally up to snuff, and some of the others . . . well, they just didn't have either a cosmopolitan outlook, or a connection with bedrock American values. Many of 'em just lay there, without contributing any insight whatsoever. What was that all about?

The upshot here is that Mr. VDL has consented to come home, probably the day after tomorrow, and he expects to be blogging another 48-72 hours after that—or whenever he finds all those little notes he's making about truly brilliant entries for the blog, some of which may not gleam as brightly after the doctors cut down those blessed post-surgical levels of painkillers.

What that means to me is that I have precious little time if I want to really vandalize the site properly; please do drop me a line if you've got ideas for shaking this place up over the next several days. After all, the cat is away—so the mice should play. Or, just leave your suggestions in the comment box. (And pray that the healing continues to go as beautifully as it has gone.)

Some of you are probably at your wit's end, though, with Gerard out of the picture. Remember that you can always scratch that itch via Amazon. Particuarly if you want to read about the implications of the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont (the pictures are amazing), or the genius of Sherlock Holmes.

If you will, please contemplate the OWS hippies one more time, meditate on Gerard's experiments with alternative culture (not to mention that sweater and the all-too-appropriate copy of The New York Times), and sort of shudder at how all that heightened his cardiovascular risk profile. Then put on some ooky, Bach-inspired and Halloweeney music.

That concludes today's morality tale. Thank you.

UPDATE: Yes—yes, that is Telegraph Ave. How did you know? I got that one terribly wrong. From the comments: "Mr. Vanderleun would like to assure Miss Atilla that said locale is not Telegraph Avenue, but just outside Carol Doda's estabishment for the overendowed in San Francisco's North Beach." Clearly I'd hit the wine early the night we talked about that pic.

Posted by Little Miss Attila at October 24, 2011 5:47 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Prayers for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: Rich at October 24, 2011 6:38 PM

Best wishes for a total, speedy recovery, G.

Posted by: quiller at October 24, 2011 6:40 PM

Dude. Get better! Glad to hear you're at least sort of okay.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 24, 2011 7:21 PM

Miss Atilla, Please forward, to Mr. Van der Leun, my most sincere wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. I can send the prayers myself.
Thank you.

Posted by: Roger Drew Williams at October 24, 2011 7:39 PM

Thanks for the update, Miss A., and Gerard, may your recovery be swift and your nurses attractive. Get well soon.

Posted by: Julie at October 24, 2011 7:58 PM

Was great to see you today on the mend, Gerard. Other than the wires and hospital gown, you seemed in perfect form! I mean, chasing the nurses, sending the food back and telling the doctors what's wrong with our healthcare system... that's the VDL we all know and love. Get back to it soon, please.

Posted by: Beverly Z at October 24, 2011 8:15 PM

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, if they can be borne on the backs of such simple words.

Posted by: Cobb at October 24, 2011 8:55 PM

Get Well Soon Gerard.

Posted by: Fat Man at October 24, 2011 8:58 PM

I wonder what he saw perched up on the ceiling, watching himself.

Posted by: Jewel at October 24, 2011 9:05 PM

As a witness to the festivities at Harbor View Hospital today, I object to health care funds being used to fund a bacchanal in the ICU. Don't you know that actually sick people need that bed? And don't think I didn't notice the moves you made on my wife in that rigged hospital gown of yours, Gerard. Anyway, for what reason I can not presume to know, the world might be a better place if and when you get back home to resume your typically troublesome behavior. Get better soon...

Posted by: Michael Gersh at October 24, 2011 9:07 PM

Wow... glad to hear that Mr. VDL is still with us, hope he is feeling back to his old self soon.

Posted by: Crazy Bald Guy at October 24, 2011 9:12 PM

Yes, best wishes for a quick turn-around, Mr GVDL. Heart surgery has come a long way since the '60's, but recovery still takes a while...don't rush things. There'll be no splitting of logs for firewood for at least 10 days after you get out... )

Posted by: serr8d at October 24, 2011 9:34 PM

Yes, get well soon, Gerard.

Oh, and nice sweater.

Posted by: rickl at October 24, 2011 9:35 PM

My "itch" will gladly stay an itch, until my teacher returns, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: Patvann at October 24, 2011 9:37 PM

Best wishes for a quick and full recovery, and DON'T DO THAT AGAIN.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at October 24, 2011 9:44 PM

Wow... worse than I thought.

I'm glad your still here, Gerard. Vanderlizing the libtards would never be the same without you.

Posted by: cond0010 at October 24, 2011 10:32 PM

OUCH! I was thinking it was a bad case of pneumonia.

Heart surgery has come a long way indeed. I had a procedure done to correct an irregular heatbeat a few years ago and could not believe the technology and the skill of those using it.

Hang in there, Gerard. The world is a much more interesting place with you in it.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at October 24, 2011 10:33 PM

The New Gerard will be better than the old Gerard (as witnessed by the photo!) Wow, wish I was a nurse in the ICU, he,he. Seriously, we are talking about a severe cardiac event but cardiology has evolved incredibly. Prayers for your better-than-new recovery, and we will await your return.

BTW, is that really you pictured here? Red is just not your color!

Posted by: insomniac at October 24, 2011 10:55 PM

I could swear I dated that guy in the sweater sometime around '65 to '67. LOL

Gerard, get well. I've lost two of my favorite bloggers in the last three years, I refuse to lose you too. I shall pray for you twice as hard. I think it is clear that you are well-loved around here and very much missed by all.

Posted by: Sara (Pal2Pal) at October 25, 2011 12:24 AM

Mr. VanderLeun
Would like to assure Miss Atilla that said locale is not Telegraph Avenue, but just outside Carol Doda's estabishment for the overendowed in Sa Francisco's North Beach.

Posted by: vanderleun at October 25, 2011 12:56 AM

Gerard, thank God you made it to the hospital and are doing better now. A friend at work had a heart attack, quickly received his stent and was soon back home. We are all wishing you a comfortable and speedy recovery.

You mean a lot to us so concentrate on following doctor's orders while we wait patiently your return.

Posted by: Scott M at October 25, 2011 2:13 AM

Velociman was way ahead of you, Gerard. Now you two can swap war stories of another sort.

Get well soon.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at October 25, 2011 4:15 AM

My worst fears were confirmed....you really WERE a long haired, dope smoking, plastic banana, good-time rock 'n' roller. Whether or not you were maggot infested I can't tell judging from the sweater. Did they even HAVE fabric softener in those days? I will say this. You had Breck Girl hair, man.
Get well, old coot.

Posted by: Jewel at October 25, 2011 5:28 AM

A guy at work recently had a heart attack and was back at work 2 days later with a stent already inserted. Modern medicine is remarkable. Here's hoping for the Mr. Wizard type medicine being used on Gerard.

Get better. And stay well.

Posted by: physics geek at October 25, 2011 5:38 AM

Ah yes, the dissipated lifestyle of one's youth does have a way of biting one's butt.
With this medical excursion, you certainly can hold forth with VP Cheney on the efficacy of stent varieties.
Now, I look forward to information to what awaits me.

Get here well and surfeit with vim. The vigor comes later.

Posted by: Peccable at October 25, 2011 6:10 AM

Get well, Gerald

Posted by: narciso at October 25, 2011 6:16 AM

Only one stent, Gerard? Hardly worth the time and the effort, although based on my own experience, your role was pretty much just to lie there and let them do their miracle stuff on you, then watch on a computer screen a coronary artery look like it had gone back to what it looked like, and how it functioned, when you were a 16-year-old. But I ended up with seven of the little tubes inserted in my coronary arteries, and based on what I knew of you, and the content of the meals we shared, I would have thought you would readily top that. Be well, my friend; stay thirsty to the extent they will let you.

Posted by: Ed McCabe at October 25, 2011 6:16 AM

Recover quickly before you see the bill!

Posted by: Tom at October 25, 2011 6:27 AM

Okay, break time's over! Everyone back on their heads! That means you, Gerard!

I'll have you know that after you've completed your three-week vacation, during which are on the American Digest Starvation Diet, we expect copious copy to be forthcoming.

So off your butt and back to work, boyo! The blogosphere needs you!

Posted by: Donald Sensing at October 25, 2011 7:24 AM

Get well soon!

Posted by: Boone at October 25, 2011 8:20 AM

Well, Ed McCabe wins the stent count, but welcome, Gerard, to Surgeon Pooper's Stent-In-The-Heart Club Band. I'm glad to hear you're OK. I got my stent back in '06, and it actually did fix me better than new. After I got out of the hospital, Gagdad Bob told me this-

Now you're playing in extra innings. After this, every single day is a gift.

By God's grace I have (mostly) been able to keep that perspective. Once again, glad you're in the club.


Posted by: jwm at October 25, 2011 8:20 AM

Godspeed GVL, Godspeed

Posted by: Derek Cockerham at October 25, 2011 8:36 AM

Gerard - Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. Get back here soon!


Posted by: michelle at October 25, 2011 8:57 AM

Whew! That was close. A world without the great Van der Leun would be like a day without... ummm...

Glad to hear you're on the mend and soon back at the keyboard.

Your Florida Fan,

The Radio Patriot

Posted by: Andrea Shea King at October 25, 2011 9:45 AM

Thank you, Gerard Van Der Leun, for your wonderful writing and dedicated blogging. How I have missed your daily updates. Selfishly perhaps I am very grateful that the Lord jhas allowed you to benefit from modern medicine so that you may continue to brighten my days. May He bless and keep you well and safe in all ways always.

Posted by: Gandalin at October 25, 2011 9:56 AM

Heh, my father was probably rousting you, ya damn hippie...He was SFPD up until 1968, then went to the SFFD, and tells grand tales of his time in North Beach as a Cop. In fact, we just lost one of his good buddies, who was a North Beach topless-joint original, Benny Apostoli, retired SFFD/owner of The Off Broadway (back in the 60's). Perhaps you spent some time in that fine establishment as well...
Looking forward to your insights, observations, and walks down memory lane...soon...
Be well.

Posted by: Uncle Jefe at October 25, 2011 10:14 AM

Hope your stent in the hospital is short, as is the total amount of time needed to recover. Your voice and presence are needed now more than ever!

Posted by: Guy S at October 25, 2011 10:15 AM

Thank you for the update! Not what we like to hear but still slightly better than the thought of him joined the Occupiers.

Hoping for the best, wishing him a speedy recovery and praying for both.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Posted by: RedCarolina at October 25, 2011 10:20 AM

Ex-Hippies and heart attacks? YEOW! I fit the profile.

MUST get that overdue EKG, like, yesterday.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at October 25, 2011 11:00 AM

Hi Gerard - get well soon and come out swinging! :) You are in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton at October 25, 2011 11:02 AM

Hang loose brother G! Looking forward to reading what you have to say about this ....experience.

Posted by: joe buzz at October 25, 2011 11:39 AM

Does running from hippies count? OK, it was 'yippies' and I was all of 5 years old, but the memory is seared, seared I say in my mind... Prayers for a quick recovery GVDL.

Posted by: Rich Nelson at October 25, 2011 12:58 PM

Get well soon Mr. V...Now who has the key to the liqueur cabinet?

Posted by: monkeyfan at October 25, 2011 1:17 PM

Prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery!

Posted by: Merry Poppet at October 25, 2011 1:28 PM

It's not always the number but the location where a stent is needed that indicates the severity of the disease and the danger one is in. We call blockage of the left main coronary artery "the widow maker" because one never survives a total occlusion of this vessel. Whereas total occlusion of the other main arteries are not always fatal. Anyway, I'm interested in reading GVDL's impressions of his illness and his care. Very interested. I know he'll have some profound observations to report; maybe not right away.

Posted by: bilpu at October 25, 2011 1:36 PM

Best wishes for a speedy recovery - then hurry back!


Posted by: southernjames at October 25, 2011 1:38 PM

My husband, who had gorgeous blonde waist-length hair when I met him in 1969, had a massive Heart attack last December. He fortunately survived, is on all sorts of medicines probably for life, exercises like a fiend, and has lost 40 lbs. (So have I!!) ANYWAY, Gerard, it might be "going around". ;-)))

Susan Lee

Posted by: Susan Lee at October 25, 2011 2:09 PM

I thought I recognized you from the Bezerkely days. Of course we were on opposite sides - my being a Navy recruiter. Sure glad that's changed.

We did have one thing in common - we were both seen hanging out in North Beach. I liked Doda, but Yvonne D'Ange was the pride of the Seventh Fleet. She sent a clip of her famous act to the ships at Yankee Station. Memories, we share a few.

Good news from the hospital. Now all you have to do is rest and get better. You're missed by many and that should be quite an incentive. God speed.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at October 25, 2011 2:42 PM

Looking forward to your return Gerard.

Posted by: David McKinnis at October 25, 2011 3:04 PM

Heal up and get back to work.

One thing: Take the damned blood thinners! Based on observation of my wife, microclots mean major strokes. I'm here to tell you that profound aphasia isn't pretty, and it doesn't look at all like fun for the sufferer.


Posted by: Ric Locke at October 25, 2011 3:15 PM

Best wishes for a complete and quick recovery.

Posted by: Debbie at October 25, 2011 3:40 PM

We live in troubling times.

But they are truly filled with miracles.

Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery, sir.

Andy in Orem.

Posted by: TmjUtah at October 25, 2011 5:38 PM

Gerard, I almost (almost!) envy you.

See, inasmuch that I'm a Heartless Bastard, I can but hope to not suffer the toils of yourself or Velociman.

Still, it runs in the family, it most certainly does.

The medical miracles are real. I'll write to you of 'em soon.

Meanwhile.........YOU get well, sir. Get real and truly well, don't hurry a damn thing.

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim at October 25, 2011 6:49 PM

Awfully glad to be getting good news along with the bad. So sorry for the heart problems, and so grateful for modern medicine. Looking forward to your return.

Posted by: shoreacres at October 25, 2011 7:04 PM

Best wishes for a rapid recovery, Gerard.

Posted by: Borepatch at October 25, 2011 7:08 PM

If we all knew what the future held for us, we'd seldom do anything to learn anything. Imagine if you'd never been that hippie. Imagine all of the things you wouldn't have learned if you hadn't taken that path, instead going for something considered "safe," in that time and place. Stick around a little longer--you describe this lovely world, and all that you've learned living in it, in a unique way, a way quite a few of us love to read. And don't let the fog of recovery discourage you going forward. Be good to yourself!

Posted by: Kerry at October 25, 2011 7:26 PM


How did you harass your heart to the point it attacked you?

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at October 25, 2011 7:31 PM

Thank God you're ok Gerard.

That new stent should ensure you maintain your (obviously) well deserved title of "the world's most interesting man."

I suspect next year you'll be competing in the "world's most interesting bionic man" contest?

You've got my vote!

Posted by: Dewey From Detroit at October 25, 2011 8:41 PM

To borrow a phrase: You’re very beautiful, very sweet, and we do love you madly. As we say good night, we want to give you our best wishes, and hope---that you will feel better soon, because we miss you terribly. (Edward Kennedy Ellington) and Deborah

Posted by: Deborah at October 25, 2011 8:57 PM

Praying for you Mr. Gerard.

Posted by: Laura S. at October 25, 2011 8:58 PM

I was a bit worried last week when your site didn't change. Good to hear you are on the mend!

Posted by: John Lien at October 25, 2011 9:05 PM

I was scared for you, man. I thought you were gone to meet your namesake... and that would have not been fun.

From a Gen Xer who never met a hippie (ever!), I pray to God for a full recovery.

Posted by: newton at October 25, 2011 9:35 PM

Ah, those were the days when Doda's tits were considered large. Maybe we have been irrationally exuberant? As for content changes, I'd like to see more tits. I'm confident that Gerard would not mind.

Posted by: Casca at October 26, 2011 7:04 AM

Bah, only the good die young.

You're gonna be damn near immortal!

Posted by: pdwalker at October 26, 2011 8:40 AM
Okay, break time's over! Everyone back on their heads!

Heh. I used that at work recently and received only blank looks from people.

Posted by: physics geek at October 26, 2011 9:28 AM

Get well soon. We miss you.

Posted by: Maureen at October 26, 2011 9:30 AM

Way cool that you survived. Some folks don't. And I'm sure you'll have some funny hospital stories. Make ya a deal, you tell me yours and I'll tell you mine. Since you were in hospital in whitebread Seattle and I was in hospital in an ethnically diverse community in the Central Valley of California my stories are better. And funnier. 'K?

Posted by: glenn at October 26, 2011 12:32 PM

Andale, chico...

Posted by: Dex Quire at October 27, 2011 5:11 PM

Get well. We missed you

Posted by: Campesino at October 29, 2011 8:29 AM

Gerard, my father's last words to me on his deathbed were, remember Ron, It's ALL about Love.


From Ron in Melbourne Australia

Posted by: Ron Robertson at October 30, 2011 12:05 AM