01 February 2007

Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins inspired me to start sending holiday letters. A while back, Politica and I spent a year in west Texas, and we liked it. We left, coming (back) to jobs in the midwest, but we liked west Texas. That's a hard thing to explain to your lefty lesbian friends in the northeast. Molly Ivins had a wonderful column on the subject, so we decided to send it to our friends, and with that, came our tradition of the holiday letter/essay (this year, it'll be a Lunar New Year/President's Day holiday letter, I estimate). As Molly put it:
My favorite place in Texas is Lubbock, mostly because Lubbock, like Popeye the Sailor, is what it is. Lubbock's a place that'll keep you honest. It's hard to be pretentious or affected if you're from Lubbock. Damned hard.....I like flat land. Land you can fall off the side of makes me nevous. In Lubbock the world is about 88.3 percent sky, which I believe is the correct proportion: It takes a while to get used to, but after you do, Lubbock feels like freedom and everywhere else feels like jail.
Another of Ivins' Lubbock columns is here (and in the photo banner there you can see the sky). Lubbock isn't much to look at, but it has personality, and it was a good place to be for a while. Texas has attitude, and growing up in New York made me like a place with attitude. The midwest, not much on the attitude.

It was impossible to read a Molly Ivins column alone--they made me laugh out loud, they made me want to talk with Politica, share them with a friend. I have two of her books in a box on my dining room table now, getting ready to be shipped to my sister (who said last summer, "Who's Molly Ivins?" We gasped).

Molly Ivins died yesterday. She's far better known for her marvelous political writing than for her Lubbock pieces. What I loved most in her writing, though, shows up in her columns about Texas local politics. Her work showed how important it is to pay attention to the politics closer to home. (When the Texas Observer site comes back up, check out their Ivins links. They've set up a great memorial.)

Lately, Ivins has been writing a lot about Iraq. Her writing was syndicated around the country; look at how the Chicago Tribune version of her second-to-last column takes the Texas out of it (using the Dallas/Fort Worth version as the standard). No Bubbas in Chicago, I guess.

She was writing, as Elizabeth mentioned, until the end of her life. Her last columns sound so hopeful, so forward looking. Ivins believed in the power of the people (even as she railed against the results of our collective actions). She was pragmatic, someone with an eye on what we could do. I often feel vaguely guilty that I'm not doing more to rid the world of its myriad problems, but I appreciated Ivins' take on what we need to do now. Here's the end of her very last column:

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.

Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and are trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge.

If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

What a voice, eh?


landis said...

Yeah, I totally agree--her writing about local politics was the stuff that got me addicted to her. Even when she was writing about some Texas legislator that I'd never heard of, I was able to relate and understand the issues. She will be missed!

Phantom Scribbler said...

This is a better tribute than most of what ran in the media. Thank you for this!

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I will really miss her.

And I wasn't aware of her Lubbock pieces! Thank you for that. One of my former co-workers and friends was from Lubbock and spoke of it often.