Thursday, January 18, 2007

Art Buchwald Takes an Era With Him...

A friend just IM'd this notice on the death of Art Buchwald....

The man had an awesome life. He really took the whole bull of an experience by the horns and made his own rules....

Yet as I look over the particulars, I notice that this college drop-out, who had no formal journalism training other than working for an Army newspaper, was not only one of the finest writers of the 20th century, but also won a Pulitzer Prize....

And all I keep wondering: if "professional" journalism remains so hung up and depressed and angry at the world, will it be able to hear the voice of the next Art Buchwald?

Or will it be too busy pouring over the video resumes of top-noch spoon-fed J-school grads to bother to notice what might be roiling in the rabble?

I'd hazard a guess that the next Art Buchwald just might be noodling around with a blog right now...trying his (or her) hand at self-publishing because to do so is to play by one's own rules...

Maybe not just like Buchwald...no, those days are gone. But maybe a modern equivalent.

With Buchwald's death, we see not just the death of a great talent, but also, literally, the end of an era. Buchwald wrote by hand and on a typewriter. That's not how we do it now. Much more is expected--video, podcasts, writing. Would even a young Buchwald be able to master and keep up with the emerging demands of the e-journo landscape?

Maybe, but maybe not...

Think about it: if you're having to draw up storyboards for a video presentation, might you have the time to perfect a craft like satirical wit? Maybe--maybe not. If you're busy spending an hour or more simply editing and re-mixing a podcast, will you have time to develop your unique written voice? Maybe--maybe not.

And would Buchwald have been any better if he'd had all the gizmos, gadgets, and pods that we have nowadays. Maybe--maybe not.

They say "you can't take it with you." Depends on what it happens to be. Buchwald certainly is taking a certain it with him--an era in journalism and writing that is, perhaps, being buried under the weight of bad business and too much technology.

Say a small prayer for the passing of a great talent. And think about it....



3 comments:

Madison Guy said...

I can't agree more. He was a great writer, a marvelous comic voice, and a great, courageous spirit. This photo, taken after he miraculously improved in the hospice against all odds and returned home and went on to write another book, is how I like to remember him -- finding such happiness with his family at the end of a long, achieving life that started with a very miserable childhood.

I meant to blog about his appearance on the public radio talk show "On Point" a few weeks ago. Check out the streaming audioon their website. One of the most incredible thing's I've ever heard -- especially after his old friend, 90-something Mike Wallace, joined the conversation.

Tish Grier said...

Thanks for those great links, MG...

I think I remember him most during Watergate--he just sort of lightened things up a bit while zapping 'em at the same time. Even though I was a kid, and thought he was really weird, I could see the value of what he was doing.

Guess we've got Jon Stewart now...which isn't bad, but not the same.

Amy said...

wow, I hadn't heard the news until I saw your item in my feed reader. End of an era.

I totally fell for Art Buchwald back when I was 14. My family was spending a week at a rented house in the Poconos, and there was a copy of Buchwald's collection of essays "And then I told the President" there. I loved it so much I stole it, and I still have it.

My favorite essay was a spoof of Barry Goldwater announcing his plan to release low-yield nukes to homeowners who wanted to kill weeds in their lawn. "You'll kill ALL that crabgrass. You just have to get your neighbors to agree to stay in their basements for a few weeks..."

I'll miss him dearly.

- Amy Gahran