a writer’s job is to tell the truth

Tonight I happened to be at home with my parents for Andy Rooney’s final 60 Minutes episode. Being at home is significant, because chances are if I’d been anywhere else, I wouldn’t have been watching 60 Minutes. (Sorry, 60M. It’s not you; it’s me.)

It was a delight. If you have time or interest, watch the full segment. It’s a cool little history of his career and of TV news writing in general. (I remember watching this pill-bottle-cotton segment in the 80s, btw.)

If you have no idea who Andy Rooney is…school yourself, son! And maybe just skip to the 3-minute video below. It was a lovely little end to his 30-year run as the last word on 60 Minutes and 70-year career as a writer. (70. Not a typo. Homeboy is 92. NINETY-TWO, you guys!)

I got a little schmaltzy over it, honestly, thinking about my hypothetical children having to watch some other cynical old man as he maligns or misunderstands their culture…but that probably won’t happen. I imagine there won’t be another Andy Rooney, or at least maybe not another one as skilled at screed or crafty at curmudgeonliness. He was a pre-internet blogger of sorts, sharing his opinions on everyday American life, but now the world is full of opinions. Anyone can be a critic, whistleblower, quibbler, commentator, or writer…all the things Andy Rooney became for us behind his disheveled desk every Sunday.

I guess the hope would be—for those of us who truly want to be lucky enough to make a life out of writing, too—that there are more 70-year careers to go around.

Bonus round:

A strange little moment just now, one that Binx Bolling might call “a successful repetition”: while at home, I also unearthed my senior scrapbook from high school, in which I’d pinned some favorite buttons, (yup.) including one that says: “Vegetarian – an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter,” (hahaha, right?) which I’d completely forgotten about. (A lot can change in 10 years.) Well. Imagine my surprise and delight when some googling just now revealed whose quote that is…

(That’s right. My button failed to properly cite its source. Minus 5.)

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