MOLLY: DEEP IN THE HEARTS OF TEXAS
Thank you for the tribute to the late, great Molly Ivins [“Molly, in Her Own Words,” Feb. 26]. It is at times like these that The Nation means so much to us far-flung fellow travelers. Abrazos,
Molly Ivins–definitely one of the greats, and so young. Just when we need her most. I treasure my copies of Shrub and Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? and reread them as needed, which is frequently.
I was much saddened to learn of the death of Molly Ivins. I can never forget a hilarious “interview” between her and Calvin Trillin aboard a Nation cruise several years ago. What a joy it’s been to have them both in our lives.
JUDITH M. JANES
A Molly quote you left out: “Our very own dreaded Legislature is almost upon us. January 9 and they’ll all be here, leaving many a village without its idiot,” from a December 2000 column.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
I opened your February 26 issue anticipating a tribute to Molly Ivins, one of the funniest and most passionate defenders of the Constitution and the rights of the underdog. I found a half-page with five or six Ivins quotes. Ah well, I thought, her death has caught them with nothing in their morgue and no free space for an article. So you can imagine my disappointment upon opening the March 5 issue. No article on Molly. A giant has passed from the scene. Do you not feel a grave silence where her rollicking voice once rang out?
Fear not. Readers will find more tributes to Molly online.– The Editors
New York City
When are you folks going to have a memorial service in New York for the great Molly Ivins–a rip-roaring, roof-lifting, irreverent event to celebrate this powerful political satirist and to counteract all those vapid, sexist obituaries that have reduced her work to being “tart-tongued”? We’re all bereft, and we need to bang some pots in the street.
I went to school with Molly–one year ahead of her, but way behind her in life lessons. We went through the same conversion, fought the same fights, loved the same heroes, hoped for the same tomorrow. But the woman everyone called just Molly was way ahead of me because she had too much fun getting there. As she put it, “These are the ‘good old days.’ Enjoy them now. Remember the motto of all Texas liberals: ‘It could always be worse–and probably will be after the next election.'” Molly liked Texas country music, Tex-Mex food, Austin politics, parties in particular and life in general. And she wrote as often about that joy as about any outrage that cut into her generous heart.
I heard her speak at a Dallas bookstore a few years ago, where, after a few remarks, she asked, “Well, what do you folks want me to talk about?” One guy standing in the back called, “Tell us a story about Texas, Molly.” So she proceeded to tell the story of the East Texas legislator who returned home from a legislative session and was shot dead by his wife (true story). But that wasn’t the end of the story. His constituents were so ignorant, or so grateful, they elected his wife to finish his term. Later I watched as Molly signed books and conversed with the crowd, hearing their concerns, encouraging them all, one by one, telling them they weren’t alone, exhorting them to keep fighting. “Don’t be afraid to resist,” she told us. “You won’t die from it.”
Years ago, I heard her on NPR opening a convention on “The Literature of Texas.” She said you can’t say that about most states, the literature of, well, say, Florida. There really was a literature of Texas, and a Texas mind. And that was only the beginning of the unusual things you could say about Texas. What I liked best about Molly was that even when she was writing about Texas at its worst, she could make you envy the people who live here. So go on, my friends, with my favorite passage from Molly Ivins, the conclusion of a column from thirteen years and three seasons ago:
“Aside from that, we’re all fine. It’s springtime in Texas. The bluebonnets and the Indian paintbrush are out in south Texas, the ocotillo is unfurling its red flags in the Big Bend, and the whoopers are back on the Gulf Coast. The cattle have calved, the redbud’s blooming in Austin, and the little-yellows–we have more than 600 varieties of small yellow wildflowers here so no one ever bothers to learn their names–are showing up in the Panhandle. While the East Coast went through the Great Blizzard of ’93 the zone-tail hawks soared in our clear blue skies, still and steady on the updrafts and playing tag on the downs. The horses are frisky, it’s up to eighty in the afternoons, and the lush green that follows a rainy winter here carpets the Great State. May spring be upon you, too.”
BUY HIM SOME PEANUTS AND…
Here’s my reaction to Terry Eagleton’s admonition that as a leftist, I gotta give up baseball, a point he raised in his review of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets [“Party Politics,” Feb. 12]: Don’t tell me what to do! As far as I’m concerned, leftists will gain more power when we embrace human contradictions and reject the right wing’s simplistic either/or approach to existence. We get ourselves in trouble whenever we proscribe or prescribe individual, as opposed to governmental, behavior. Personally, I can juggle a passion for baseball with a passion for politics. Besides, baseball has historically served as a vital playing field for America’s racial consciousness. So is it wrong for leftists to admire Willie Mays? Finally, does Eagleton truly imagine that if “ordinary people” (and I consider myself one of those as well as a leftist) don’t gather (in integrated groups, by the way) to collectively scream at umpires, they’ll choose instead to convene in cramped “cell meetings” arguing the minutiae of political strategy? I say, take a roll call. All leftists who love baseball (or any sport) and manage to remain politically active, stand up–and send Eagleton a box of Crackerjacks.
HIS BEEF–WELL, THAT BEETS ALL!
As a vegetarian for twenty-three years, I have long been exasperated with people who take it upon themselves to denounce vegetarianism. I’ve been told that God created animals for humans to consume; that Jesus ate meat; that our teeth and digestive systems prove we were made to eat meat; that humans have to eat meat to survive; that the savage behavior of predators justifies our own savagery; that Hitler was a vegetarian (as if–what?–a steady diet of Big Macs could have averted the Holocaust?); that slaughterhouses use humane methods; that animals don’t feel fear or pain; that nobody gives a shit if animals do feel fear or pain; that meat is too tasty to give up; that plants have feelings, too.
Daniel Lazare makes some valid points in “My Beef With Vegetarianism” [Feb. 5], but he also trots out several of these same old arguments. He ends his essay by smugly implying that vegetarians are missing out when they refuse life’s great carnivorous pleasures, such as eating “some rangy old rooster that’s had more lovers than most of us can dream of.” On the heels of such a breathtakingly ridiculous justification for eating meat, Lazare dismisses vegetarians as a frivolous group who spend their lives “wallowing in the silly defeatism of a diet of tofu and sprouts.” Sigh.
Rather than wasting precious energy trying to refute these arguments, I will say, simply, that I am at peace with my decision. I acknowledge that there are contradictions, but I stand by my choice. I will live, quite happily, as a vegetarian for the rest of my life. Where’s the “silly defeatism” in that?
THERESA M. WELFORD
New York City
Of the scores of outraged letters I received in response to my article, this one, believe it or not, is one of the least insulting. For the record, I did not argue against vegetarianism. I merely pointed out that the justifications vegetarians have served up over the years do not hold up under scrutiny. Theresa Welford acknowledges that her position is contradictory, which is another way of saying it doesn’t make sense. But I am glad she’s found peace.
HELLO, NICHOLS? GET ME REWRITE!
Thanks for John Nichols’s excellent “Newspapers… and After?” [Jan. 29] on the “demise or not” of newspapers. As someone who digests every page of two newspapers daily, I wholeheartedly agree. Television news and computer blogs have become a national phenom, but newspapers still survive. Have any of these anti-papers people tried to line their birdcage with a TV or a blog?
Your cover illustration showing Clark Kent, Lois Lane and another staffer reacting to being laid off from the Daily Planet is reminiscent of the story “The End of The Planet” in Superman Comics #79 (November/December 1952), in which a mobster buys the Daily Planet in order to shut it down. Of course Superman saved the day then, but now, more than half a century later, even the Man of Steel may have met his match. The Internet may have made newspapers obsolete.
Like the telegraph, newspapers are essentially a nineteenth-century technology that happened to play a strong role in the twentieth century as well. But now, in an age when information flows freely online, they may belong in museums. Yes, I will likely be saddened by the end of the Los Angeles Times–just as some of my forebears were sad to see the end of home ice delivery and interurban trolleys–but civilization changes, and we just go along for the ride–even as we do the things that drive those changes.