Robert D. Novak Is in the Book

In the context of this sweltering Summer of Death, Robert Novak's demise was not greeted with surprise. It probably shouldn't have been anyway, since he was a 78-year-old man with brain cancer, which he had had for some time.

Little tributes poured onto Twitter and the Facebook Newsfeed, from his fellow journalists and various D.C. types. Some bid him fonder farewells than others. Lots of qualifiers about "I may not have always agreed with him..." etc. Kind of like the uncomfortable Livia Soprano wake on The Sopranos.

An ultimate Washington insider to the sword hilt, he was the catalyst for the Plame Affair, which for my money (follow the money!) was the most fascinating real-life crime mystery ever, with all the classic elements: spies, traitors, journalists sworn to protect their scumbag sources, smoking guns, powerful people up to and including the president of the United States, a sexy blond lady as the victim. For someone like him, a perfect caper and a perfect career capper. Life capper, even.

The obituaries said he lived in D.C. I was curious whether that was accurate: Did they mean he lived in Northern Virginia with the other princes of darkness? Did they mean he lived somewhere in the metro D.C. area? So I Googled "Robert Novak's house" -- nothing. "Robert Novak lives", which yielded "Robert Novak lives to drink blood another moonless night", part of a post on on some lefty blog. That doesn't help me! Then I thought, well, maybe if...

Of course he's listed in the phone book.

Or is it an "of course"? Let's break it down. He said publicly he thought he had a lot of enemies after exposing the foibles of the Washington establishment for over 50 years. Is it a tough-guy thing? "Come and get me, if you dare!" Now, look, the address in the phone book is that of a doormanned high-rise building (including apartment number). Access would depend on how strict his doorman is. Yet there's his phone number, too, just crying out "Harass me. Make my day."

Maybe it's just a matter of generations. I mean, he was of the landline generation, for sure. But he was quite famous (Crossfire and all). Or, at least, famous for D.C. Maybe that's it, maybe it's a function of D.C. provincialism. He was, after all, a born Midwesterner, and we're neighborly.

Wonder how many journo-celebrities of his age could say "I'm in the book" (if anyone still says that)? Andy Rooney probably is. Mike Wallace probably isn't. Walter Cronkite probably was. Andrea Mitchell probably isn't.

Maybe he wanted to be available for killer scoops from unexpected sources. That's probably it. He hoped some Deep Throat-type figure might drop a dime, and when they were ready, that shadowy person could find him with no problem.

I won't give his exact address and home phone number myself here. You too can easily find his contact information in a Web search. Anyway, in point of fact, he doesn't live there anymore.