03 October 2011

Andy Rooney, Schlub Reporter, Says Goodbye

Photo by Stephenson Brown 
Everybody's favorite curmudgeon Andy Rooney signed off last night after 33 years having the last word on 60 Minutes.  I was grateful that a dear friend sent me a link to it (here), knowing how much I'd appreciate it.

"When I was in high school I had an English teacher who told me I was a good writer so I set out to become a writer myself," Rooney said, or wrote, he made it clear that he reads what he writes on TV. "I've made my living as a writer for seventy years now.  It's been pretty good."

That's not a bad run as writer's gigs go.  Only perhaps Studs Terkel outlasted him as a writer-broadcaster.

"A writers' job is to tell the truth," imparted Rooney, as he told the truth about his loathing of celebrity.

"I spent my first 50 years trying to become well known as a writer," Rooney offered. "And the next 30 trying to avoid being famous.  I walk down the street now or go to a football game and people shout 'Hey Andy!'  And I hate that."

I remember Andy Rooney's early 60 Minutes commentaries.  The show was a regular Sunday night staple in our house coming as it did right after football and right before Carroll O'Connor stole my father's lines on "All in the Family."

Sometimes I liked what Rooney said, even agreed with him. Other times I wondered how such a schlub got on television.

I agreed with much of what he said in last night's final word, however, especially about writing.

I have always been a writer -- it's all I've really ever wanted to be.  Sure, I do a lot of other things, always have, much of which I've stopped doing over the years. But I'll never stop writing. It's who I am. I'm a writer.

And, as Andy Rooney wrote and read into the camera last night, "Writers don't retire and I'll always be a writer."

For those of you who never saw Andy Rooney in action or want to relive some of his classic commentaries, here's a link to "The Best of Andy Rooney" courtesy of CBS.

And one final note to Jeff Fager, if you're reading this and you're looking for a skeptic to take Mr. Rooney's place, give me a call.

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