I had a bit of a car crash yesterday when I heard on the radio that Molly Ivins had died. I careened into the curb, narrowly missing the most popular heroin-nodding spot in town, Foster's Freeze.
Today I feel tearful, and have read many moving memorials. I liked John Nichols' tribute the best so far— but hell, even her arch nemesis, "Shrub" himself, sounded a little choked up. He will never meet a sharper tack to nail him to the wall.
I realize I'm upset at more than Molly's departure. I never dreamed when I began this blog that I would write so many heartfelt obituaries. Too many of my heroes are dying, especially outlaws, hell-raisers, and tough women who can read beads.
I remember as a child in the mid-60s feeling like all my inspirations were all being gunned down. True enough. Then, as I began puberty, there was the Janis/Jimi two-week nightmare, when I began to realize how things under your skin could destroy you. All these deaths were premature, the fresh skin of barely-grown disbelief.
Most of the beloved artists and activists who've passed away in recent years are dying from cancer. Let's not bullshit anymore about that. They're often choosing the check-out date themselves. The papers don't tell you the last bit, because of course it's still a crime to plan your own death, however reasonable an objective.
I don't mourn their youth, but I do feel the freefall into the gaping hole they left behind. It's a line of giant empty boots, a twig snapping where there used to be thunder.
What kind of women reporters do you hear about the most today? Let's see, there was the "big excitement" about Katie Couric, a TV broadcaster. I can't think of one original thought that woman has ever expressed. And who's the most famous woman in politics these days? Why, it's Hillary Clinton, the woman whom Molly Ivins pointed her finger at last year and said: Enough.
Some of our greatest radical thinkers have hung on to their publishing niche through staggering talent and and the tenacity of old age— no one had the nerve to push them off their perch. But with their departure, you won't see their publishers rushing to enlist a remarkable new voice. My god, Erma Bombeck would be too radical for them now.
The kind of female columnists we're seeing recruited around the country these days sound like this:
"Oh my god, I'm bad in bed and I can't figure out the tip! I'm late for my vaginal rejuvenation! I'm consulting a Child Whisperer and I've spilled my drink on my Choos!"
The syrup of feminine infantilism has never been so spread so thick.
I have an idea for the next great woman news columnist! She might take a little dusting off, but I've seen worse-looking corpses any evening at Foster's Freeze. My candidate, in fact, was a role model for Molly Ivins— I bet you'll think you're reading Ivins when I quote a few of her best lines. They both share the same nickname, and an Irish wit that could bury you:
I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.
Whatever your fight, don't be ladylike.
I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there, and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad, he would be a United States Senator.
I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser...my teachers treated me as a diamond in the rough, someone who needed smoothing.
I am Mother Jones. The Government can't take my life, and you can't take my arm— but you can take my suitcase.
—Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
One more thing: before I posted this tribute, I searched and listened to several recordings of Molly Ivins speaking on radio and TV. They were all good, but none of them held a candle to her pants-wetting critique of why the Texas State Legislature has a giant rubber dick up their ass.
I posted the above link— That's Right You're Not From Texas, Sodomy Loves You Anyway— just last December. But if you missed it for some reason, you must see it now. It's from Dildo Diaries, an under-rated political documentary if there ever was one.
I think Molly's terminal diagnosis made her more frank in saying what she really felt about sex and hypocrisy— a wolfish sexpert she was, in wicked sheep's clothing! I'll miss her so much.
The beautiful invitation to Molly's "BBQ" is designed by MattoMoHundro, and you can see more of it here.