Jul 16, 2014
Molly Ivins, Journalism Philosopher
When I was but a wee lass in New Jersey, earning ice cream money by working at a discount bookshop at Liberty Village Outlets in Flemington, a Texan fella came in with a big hat and cowboy boots. He and his wife were on vacation in NYC and for some reason had decided to come out to the sticks of rural NJ to get their discount shopping on. Anyway, we got into a nice chat and they told me they were from Odessa or somesuch place.
“Oh, look!” I said excitedly. “We’ve got a whole bunch of books by this author from Texas!” And I pointed at “You Got To Dance With Them What Brung Ya” or maybe it was “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?” I hadn’t cracked either book, but I was a teen and figured Texas people must like Texas people, right?
The couple (who were searching for a gluten-free recipe book IN THE NINETIES) looked at me in abject disgust.
“She’s great,” said the woman. “If you like communists.” She spat the word out like it was poison.
Molly Ivins wasn’t a communist. (Although it turns out I do like some communists, sometimes, especially when they give me jobs.) But she was a kickass, take-no-prisoners, totally rockin’ journalist who once got fired from the New York Times Rocky Mountain bureau for referring to a cockfight as a “gang pluck.” She is my alpha and my omega, my spirit animal in the sky, my role model for writing things on pages and on screens, and a wonderful person to quote today and every day. I wish she were still alive so I could write her gobs of fan mail, but she died of breast cancer in 2007, right around the time I got my first “real” writing job (at Phamaceutical Executive magazine, natch.)
Here, then, is some wisdom from Molly, circa a 1993 issue of Mother Jones (article title: “The Fun’s in the Fight”):
So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.