February 01, 2007
The NYT's appropriate obit for Molly Ivins

Last night, I mentioned that Molly Ivins hated being copy-edited by the New York Times, because they excised every bit of color she put into her writing; the best example was when "a beer gut that belonged in the Smithsonian" was transmogrified into "a protuberant abdomen". As if determined to prove her point, the Times obituary of Ivins contains the following gems:

In 1976, her writing, which she said was often fueled by "truly impressive amounts of beer," landed her a job at The New York Times. She cut an unusual figure in The Times newsroom, wearing blue jeans, going barefoot and bringing in her dog, whose name was an expletive.

The dog's name, as we know from "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?", was Shit. She told of the times he'd escape from her on the street and she'd be standing there shouting "Shit! Shit, come back! Come back here, Shit!" to the amusement and consternation of passersby. She also said that he had "terrible politics" - back in Texas, at the Observer's office, he'd growl and snap at progressives who'd come to visit, while letting all manner of "no-account sumbitches" pet and play with him.

While she drew important writing assignments, like covering the Son of Sam killings and Elvis Presley's death, she sensed she did not fit in and complained that Times editors drained the life from her prose. "Naturally, I was miserable, at five times my previous salary," she later wrote. "The New York Times is a great newspaper: it is also No Fun."

After a stint in Albany, she was transferred to Denver to cover the Rocky Mountain States, where she continued to challenge her editors' tolerance for prankish writing.

Covering an annual chicken slaughter in New Mexico in 1980, she used a sexually suggestive phrase, which her editors deleted from the final article. But her effort to use it angered the executive editor, A. M. Rosenthal, who ordered her back to New York and assigned her to City Hall, where she covered routine matters with little flair.

That "sexually suggestive phrase" was the infamous "gang pluck", which in my mind is an eminently apt description. I suppose I should thank the Gray Lady for reminding us of this story, while still reminding us why it was a story in the first place. Somehow, I think Molly would approve.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 01, 2007 to The great state of Texas

See Molly Ivins at her satirical best in a video called �The Dildo Diaries�...here:


Posted by: Daniel DiRito on February 1, 2007 10:25 AM

I hope you have sent this to NYT.

Posted by: mm on February 4, 2007 3:57 AM