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Molly Ivins
Born Mary Tyler Ivins
August 30, 1944(1944-08-30)
Monterey, California
Died January 31, 2007 (aged 62)
Austin, Texas
Cause of death Inflammatory breast cancer
Occupation Journalist

Mary Tyler "Molly" Ivins (August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007) was a populist[1] American newspaper columnist, political commentator, humorist and bestselling author from Austin, Texas.

Contents

Biography

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Early life and education

Ivins was born in Monterey, California and raised in Houston, Texas. Her father Jim Ivins, known as "General Jim", was an oil and gas executive and the family lived in Houston's affluent River Oaks neighborhood.[2] Ivins graduated from St. John's School in 1962. In high school, she was active in extracurricular activities, including the yearbook staff. She had her first pieces of journalism published in The Review, the official student newspaper of St. John's School, though she never wrote any of the political columns that would become her specialty later in life. Ivins later became co-editor of the arts and culture section of the student paper. In addition, she frequently participated in theater productions and earned a lifetime membership to Johnnycake, the drama club.

Ivins enrolled in Scripps College in 1962 but was not happy there, and transferred to Smith College in 1963. She spent her junior year at the Institute of Political Science in Paris, and received her B.A. in history in 1966. She earned a master's degree at Columbia University's school of journalism in 1967.[3][4]

Professional life

While at Smith, Ivins spent three summers as an intern at the Houston Chronicle. Her jobs there included the complaint department as well as "sewer editor," as she put it, responsible for reporting on the nuts and bolts of local city life.

After graduating from Columbia, she took a job in the Twin Cities at the Minneapolis Tribune, where she was the first female police reporter in the city. She later covered a beat called Movements for Social Change, where she notes that she wrote about "militant blacks, angry Indians, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers."[5]

In 1970 Ivins left the Tribune for Austin, Texas to be the co-editor and political reporter for the Texas Observer.[6] She covered the Texas Legislature and befriended folklorist John Henry Faulk, Secretary of State Bob Bullock and future Governor Ann Richards, among others. She also gained increasing national attention through op-ed and feature stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post along with a busy speaking schedule inside and outside Texas.[6] The Times, concerned that its prevailing writing style was too staid and lifeless, hired her away from the Observer in 1976,[7] and she wrote for the Times until 1982. During her run there, Ivins became Rocky Mountain bureau chief, covering nine western states, although the writer was known to say she was named chief because there was no one else in the bureau.[8] Ivins also wrote the obituary for Elvis Presley in The New York Times for the August 17, 1977 edition. Generally, her more colorful writing style clashed with the editors' expectations, and in 1980, after she wrote about a "community chicken-killing festival" in New Mexico and called it a "gang-pluck," she was recalled to New York as punishment. In late 1981, after receiving an offer from the Dallas Times Herald to write a column about anything she liked, Ivins left New York for Dallas.[6]

Ivins wrote for the Dallas Times Herald for ten years, although by 1985 the editors had moved her to the paper's Austin bureau to reduce friction with Dallas city leaders.[6] Her freelance work and speaking engagements continued to grow, and she hired Elizabeth Faulk, John Henry Faulk's widow, as a personal assistant. In 1991, her book Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? was published, and spent 29 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Also in 1991, rival newspaper Dallas Morning News bought the Times Herald and closed it down. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram immediately made Ivins an offer and said she could stay in Austin. Ivins accepted, and wrote a column for the Fort Worth paper from 1982 until 2001, when she became an independent journalist. Her column, syndicated by Creators Syndicate, eventually appeared in nearly 400 newspapers nationwide.

Ivins also remained a board member and contributor to the Texas Democracy Foundation, which publishes the Texas Observer in Austin.[9]

In 1995, humorist Florence King wrote in a The American Enterprise column that Ivins had plagiarized King's work and mis-stated a quotation from a King column in a 1988 Mother Jones article.[3] David Rubien, writing in Salon, described the incident: "In a 1995 article for Mother Jones on Southern manners and mores, she extensively quoted, with affectionate attribution, statements from Florence King's book Southern Ladies and Gentlemen. But for some careless reason Ivins still fails to comprehend, she left the attribution off a few King statements." [10] Ivins wrote a letter of apology to King, but characteristically ended it with:"...boy you really are a mean bitch, aren't you? Sincerely, Molly Ivins, plagarist." King published Ivins's apology and her own reply in a later article.[4][11]

Death

In 1999, Ivins was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer. The cancer recurred in 2003 and again in late 2005. In January 2006 she reported that she was again undergoing chemotherapy.[12] In December 2006 she took leave from her column to again undergo treatment.[13] She wrote two columns in January 2007, but returned to the hospital on the 26th for further treatment.[14] Ivins died at her Austin, Texas home in hospice care on January 31, 2007, at age 62[15].

After her death, President George W. Bush, a frequent target of her barbs, said in a statement, "I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment will be missed."[16]

Writing style

Written from an unabashed liberal perspective, Ivins's style was peppered with colorful phrases to create the "feel" of Texas, despite her upscale upbringing and Northeastern education. When outraged by instances of what she considered malfeasance or stupidity on the part of public officials, she couched her argument in an air of stunned amusement. She enjoyed telling stories about the Texas Legislature, which she simply called "The Lege." She contended that it is one of the most corrupt, most incompetent, and funniest governing bodies in the nation—a well she dipped from on a regular basis. For example:

Practice, practice, practice, that's what Texas provides when it comes to sleaze and stink. Who can forget such great explanations as "Well, I'll just make a little bit of money, I won't make a whole lot"? And "There was never a Bible in the room"?[17]

In 2003, she coined the term "Great Liberal Backlash of 2003," and was a passionate critic of the 2003 Iraq War.[18] She is also credited with applying the nickname "Shrub" to George W. Bush.

Quotations

On the subject of Pat Buchanan's famously combative "culture war speech" at the 1992 Republican Convention, which attracted controversy over Buchanan's aggressive rhetoric against Bill Clinton, liberals, supporters of reproductive and gay rights, and for his comparison of American politics to religious warfare, Ivins famously quipped that the speech had "probably sounded better in the original German," implicitly comparing Buchanan to Adolf Hitler.[5]

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war...We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'" (from her last column)[19]

"Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that."[20]

"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."—quoted by John Nichols for The Nation[21] Original source: "The Fun's in the Fight" column for Mother Jones, 1993.[22]

On Bill Clinton: "If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied. Besides, no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal." (Introduction to You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You)[23]

On James M. Collins, US Representative, R-Dallas: "If his IQ slips any lower we'll have to water him twice a day." Collins had said that the current energy crisis could be averted if "...we didn't use all that gas on school busing..."[24] Ivins' quote engendered substantial controversy, with calls and letters pouring into her newspaper, The Dallas Times Herald. The newspaper turned the controversy into a publicity campaign, with billboards all over the city asking, "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?"—which she later employed as the title for her first book.[25]

On President George W. Bush, she likened him to a Post Turtle[26].

Awards

In addition to these formal awards, Ivins said that she was particularly proud of two distinct honors: having the Minneapolis police force's mascot pig named after her, and being banned from the Texas A&M campus.[34]

In Huntsville, TX each year the Walker County Democrat Club has a Charity Dinner in honor of Molly Ivins.

Bibliography

  • Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights (Random House, 2007) ISBN 1-4000-6286-1
  • Who Let the Dogs In?: Incredible Political Animals I Have Known (Random House, 2004) ISBN 1-4000-6285-3
  • Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America with Lou Dubose (Random House, 2003) ISBN 0-375-50752-3
  • Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron by Robert Bryce, foreword by Molly Ivins (PublicAffairs, 2002) ISBN 1-58648-138-X
  • Sugar's Life in the Hood: The Story of a Former Welfare Mother by Sugar Turner and Tracy Bachrach Ehlers, foreword by Molly Ivins (University of Texas Press, 2002) ISBN 0-292-72102-1
  • The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President (2001) with Vincent Bugliosi (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2001) ISBN 1-56025-355-X
  • Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush with Lou Dubose (Random House, 2000) ISBN 0-375-50399-4
  • You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You: Politics in the Clinton Years (Random House, 1998) ISBN 0-679-40446-5
  • Nothin' But Good Times Ahead (Random House, 1995) ISBN 0-517-16429-9
  • Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? (Random House, 1991) ISBN 0-679-40445-7
  • The Edge of the West and Other Texas Stories with Bryan Wooley (Texas Western Pr, 1987) ISBN 0-87404-214-3

References

  1. ^ Interview with Molly Ivins from the Creative Loafing website. Ivins repeatedly described herself as a populist and, on some occasions, as a libertarian - see quote from Ivins reproduced in William H. Seewald's editorial from the Amarillo Globe-News, "We'll remember Molly Ivins for disturbing the complacent"[1]-.
  2. ^ Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life, Bill Minutaglio and W. Michael Smith, as printed in Texas Monthly
  3. ^ Syracuse U. Bio, retrieved 11/6/06.
  4. ^ NOW, Ivins' Bio, retrieved 11/6/06.
  5. ^ The Free Press - Independent Media - Molly Ivins, retrieved 12/16/2008
  6. ^ a b c d Minutaglio, Bill; W. Michael Smith (2009). Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-717-1.  
  7. ^ Salon.com, retrieved 11/6/06.
  8. ^ Hoppe, Christy.Columnist, author Molly Ivins dies, The Dallas Morning News, January 31, 2007 (retrieved January 31, 2007)
  9. ^ Joe Holley, the Columbia Journalism Review, A mid-life crisis in Texas, January/February 1995. Retrieved February 4, 2007.
  10. ^ David Rubien, Salon.com, [2], Dec. 12, 2000. Retrieved Jan. 27, 2007.
  11. ^ http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleid.16475/article_detail.asp
  12. ^ Houston Chronicle, expired link
  13. ^ Ivins Takes Leave for Cancer Treatment
  14. ^ Ivins hospitalized in ongoing cancer fight
  15. ^ "Newspaper Columnist Molly Ivins Dies at 62". VOA News (Voice of America). 01 February 2007. http://voanews.com/english/archive/2007-02/2007-02-01-voa21.cfm. Retrieved 25 December 2008.  
  16. ^ Kelley Shannon, Associated Press, Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins dies, February 1, 2007.
  17. ^ January 6, 2006, More Texan sleaze and stink, retrieved 11/7/06.
  18. ^ Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Missing Molly Ivins, February 02, 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2007.
  19. ^ alternet.com, "Stand Up Against the "Surge"", January 12, 2007. Retrieved April 3, 2007.
  20. ^ Time magazine, "Who Needs Breasts, Anyway?", Feb. 18, 2002. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  21. ^ John Nichols, The Nation, Remembering Molly Ivins, January 31, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  22. ^ Ivins, Molly. "The Fun's in the Fight." Mother Jones, May/June 1993.
  23. ^ Salon.com, "The Quotable Ivins", Dec. 12, 2000. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  24. ^ Christy Hoppe, The Dallas Morning News, Columnist, author Molly Ivins dies, Thursday, February 1, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2007.
  25. ^ Fresh Air, Remembering Columnist Molly Ivins, excerpts from interviews on Oct. 3, 1991 and Oct. 7, 2003, aired February 1, 2007.
  26. ^ Molly Ivins (2003). "Turtle on a Fence Post" (html). CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. http://www.democrats.us/editorial/ivins042304.shtml. Retrieved 2008-09-23.  
  27. ^ William Allen White Award
  28. ^ Smith College
  29. ^ a b c d Ivins Bio, Creators Syndicate
  30. ^ "List of Active Members by Classes" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. http://www.amacad.org/members/class_section.pdf. Retrieved 2007-01-31.  
  31. ^ Buzz Words (Georgia Tech Alumni Association), Columnist Ivins Wins Ivan Allen Prize
  32. ^ Harvard University, David Nyhan Prize for Political Journalism, November 16, 2006. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  33. ^ The Molly Award, Texas Observer; retrieved February 24, 2008.
  34. ^ Newcomb, Douglas (May 2001). ""The Long and Happy Life of a Political Columnist"". Information Outlook. Special Libraries Association. http://www.sla.org/content/Shop/Information/infoonline/2001/may01/ivins_may.cfm. Retrieved 2007-02-01.  

Notes

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Mary Tyler "Molly" Ivins (30 August 194431 January 2007) was an American journalist specializing in Texas politics and culture, and in national politics.

Sourced

  • All anyone needs to enjoy the state legislature is a strong stomach and a complete insensitivity to the needs of the people. As long as you don’t think about what that peculiar body should be doing and what it actually is doing to the quality of life in Texas, then it’s all marvelous fun. [1]
  • There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity... The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule. That's what I do. —quoted in People magazine interview, 1991. [2]
  • On a personal note: I have contracted an outstanding case of breast cancer, from which I intend to recover. I don’t need get-well cards, but I would like the beloved women readers to do something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done. [3]
  • My friend Mercedes Pena made me get in touch with my emotions just before I had a breast cut off. Just as I suspected, they were awful. "How do you Latinas do this—all the time in touch with your emotions?" I asked her. "That's why we take siestas," she replied. .[4]
  • Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that.[5]
  • I just finished with nine months of treatment for cancer. First they poison you, then they mutilate you, then they burn you. I’ve had more fun. And when it’s over, you’re so glad that you’re grateful to absolutely everyone. And I am. The trouble is, I’m not a better person. I was in great hopes that confronting my own mortality would make me deeper, more thoughtful. Many lovely people sent books on how to find a more spiritual meaning in life. My response was, ‘Oh, hell, I can’t go on a spiritual journey—I’m constipated.” [6]
  • 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.—quoted by John Nichols for The Nation[7]. Original source: "The Fun's in the Fight" column for Mother Jones, 1993 [8]
  • On Bill Clinton: "If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied. Besides, no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal." (Introduction to You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You)[9]
"(T)he greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? The risks of an invasion setting off reactions from a hideous civil war in Iraq to toppling regimes all over the Middle East is very real. Also at risk is the very international cooperation necessary to track Al Qaeda.
"There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now. We are brushing off world opinion as though it mattered not a whit what other people think of us." (November 19, 2002)[10]
"I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, 'Horrible three-way civil war?'" (January 16, 2003)[11]
  • "The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please, pay attention."

References

  1. Texas Observer, Notes from a rookie, March 26, 1971.
  2. "The Mouth of Texas." People Weekly, Dec. 9, 1991.
  3. Dec. 14, 1999 syndicated column
  4. Time Magazine, Who Needs Breasts, Anyway?, Feb. 18, 2002. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  5. Time Magazine, Who Needs Breasts, Anyway?, Feb. 18, 2002. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  6. October 2000 syndicated column
  7. John Nichols, The Nation, Remembering Molly Ivins, January 31, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  8. Ivins, Molly. "The Fun's in the Fight." Mother Jones, May/June 1993.
  9. Salon.com, The quotable Ivins, Dec. 12, 2000. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  10. Blast from the past, November 19, 2002.Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  11. Appalling silence, January 16, 2003.Retrieved February 1, 2007.

External links

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