Thursday, January 18, 2007

art buchwald r.i.p.

when i was a child, my father would walk down to the news-stand near the station and pick up an international herald tribune so my mother could do the new york times x-word. on the back page i think, on the left-hand side, i would read and laugh at the column by art buchwald. another person i wanted to be like when i grew up!

the ny times obit:

Published: January 18, 2007
Art Buchwald, who satirized the follies of the rich, the famous and the powerful for half a century as the most widely read newspaper humorist of his time, died Wednesday night in Washington. He was 81.

The cause was kidney failure, his son, Joel, said. Mr. Buchwald, long a pillar of Washington life, died at his son’s home, where he had been living for most of the last eight years. Mr. Buchwald’s syndicated column was a staple for a generation or more of newspaper readers, not least the politicians and government grandees he lampooned so regularly. His life was a rich tale of gumption, heartbreak and humor, with chapters in Paris, Washington and points around the globe.

But perhaps no year of his life was as remarkable as the last. It became something of an extended curtain call. Last February doctors told him he had only a few weeks to live. “I decided to move into a hospice and go quietly into the night,” he wrote three months later. “For reasons that even the doctors can’t explain, my kidneys kept working.”

Refusing dialysis, he continued to write his column, reflecting on his mortality while keeping his humor even as he lost a leg. He spent the summer on Martha’s Vineyard, published a book, “Too Soon to Say Goodbye,” in the fall and attended a memorial for an old friend, the reporter R.W. Apple Jr. of The New York Times. He gave interviews and looked on as his life was celebrated.

“The French ambassador gave me the literary equivalent of the Legion of Honor,” he wrote. “The National Hospice Association made me man of the year. I never realized dying was so much fun.”

Once described as a “Will Rogers with chutzpah,” Mr. Buchwald found enthusiastic readerships on both sides of the Atlantic. Early on he became nearly everyone’s favorite American in Paris for his satirical column in the European edition of The New York Herald Tribune. When he returned from overseas to write a new column, from Washington, he became even more popular. At its peak it appeared in some 500 newspapers.

He delighted in stirring the pot — never maliciously, always vigorously. The world was mad (or at least a little nutty), he said, and all he was doing was recording it. He did it so well that he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1982."

for the whole obituary (there are three pages of it), click here.

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