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01 February 2007 @ 03:01 pm
Molly Ivins is dead...  
UK readers unfortunately will have had little occasion to encounter the wonderful Molly Ivins, who was left-wing, progressive, feminist, and Texan all at once. She was an extremely witty and entertaining writer on all sorts of political subjects, including George W. Bush (the subject of a biography she co-authored; its examination of his time as Texas governor should have left no one in any doubt about what he was going to be like as president). She died of breast cancer at only 62.

My one hope is that now eveyone will unearth their great Molly Ivins stories so we can enjoy them. Of the ones I've heard, this is my favorite, from Howard Kurtz's book Media Circus, about an incident that took place early in her career when she was working at the New York Times:

>>...she wrote a story that described a man as having "a beer gut that belongs in the Smithsonian. The [copy] desk changed it to "a man with a protuberant abdomen". On another story, her description of a fellow who "squawked like a two-dollar fiddle" was recast as "an inexpensive musical instrument". Ivins says she felt "like a horse shut up in a very small stall."

The classic Ivins tale involves her story about an all-day community chicken slaughter in a New Mexico town. Ivins couldn't resist describing it as a "gang pluck", knowing full well the phrase would never make it past the copy desk. Ivins was promptly removed as Rocky Mountain bureau chief and ushered into Rosenthal's office.

"He said, 'You used the word gang pluck.' I said, 'I thought it was a good line. 'He said, 'Gang pluck.' I said, 'It was a play on words. He said, 'Gang pluck. Gang pluck sounds like gang fuck. You were trying to make our readers think of the word fuck.' I said, 'Damn, Abe, you are a hard man to fool.'">>

My friend Barbara observes that it's a shame Ivins didn't live to see Bush condemned to insigificance in some way. I can only say that while I doubt very much there's any kind of afterlife, if there is *any*, I imagine Ivins will be waiting with a frying pan to bonk him on the head with should he ever show up.

In her book _Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?_, Ivins had a section of advice for journalists: read widely among things you disagree with. She also thought journalists shouldn't be paid too much because they lose interest in day-to-day things that really matter to most people, like whether their automechanic is ripping them off, and start writing thousand-word pieces about how place cards are coming back in at dinner parties. She definitely had a point.

(Anonymous) on February 8th, 2007 11:58 am (UTC)
Ivins will be missed, even in the UK. Since you introduced me to her writing, I've kept regular tabs on her stuff, although obviously not regular enough, since you had to tell she'd died.

One of those people who really made the world a richer place. A real shame.

beth_wellington on February 25th, 2007 09:09 am (UTC)
Molly Ivins
If there's an afterlife, I can't imagine George Bush in proximity to the heavenly Ivins.

Beth Wellington at The Writing Corner
(Anonymous) on May 12th, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)

Molly was a truth teller we should be honor to such a great journalist and she's well known U.S