Sunday, February 04, 2007

Missing Molly Ivins

CJ Janovy writes:

this news breaks my heart bad. over the last few days i've been wanting to write about how i met her at a bar in austin back in, i think, 93--it was at a convention of the association of alternative newsweeklies, and the bar had an outside stage under a long, corrugated tin roof, where lucinda williams was playing--that was the first time i ever saw lucinda, and i was blown away by her live version of "change the tracks underneath the train" (or whatever's the name of that song). inside, molly was holding court at one end of a long oval table. when i spotted her, i thought: oh my god, there she is. i hung around at the bar for a long time, watching her and hoping she'd get up so i could say something, and chatting with kit rackliss. finally he said "just go up and interrupt." so i did, bending down next to her and introducing myself. she smiled real big and patted me on the back--rubbed my back, actually--and told me to keep up the good work.

a few years later, the greater kansas city coalition against censorship managed to bring her to town to be a keynote speaker for a big event they put on. coincidentally, that was the same year they gave me the award for first amendment defender of the year (an award previously bestowed upon danny alexander and david cantwell). before molly's speech i had to go out and accept the award, so we were both backstage for awhile. molly stayed off in the shadows, pacing sort of, and seemed unapproachable. i couldn't bother her to remind her how much that moment years before in austin had meant to me--actually, it had been one of those moments that kept me going in a sometimes very difficult career (another one of those moments was with dave at folk alliance in albuquerque, but that's a different story). finally i just introduced myself again, told her i was that year's first amendment defender, and that it was an honor to meet her. again, she smiled warmly. "oh, you're doing such good work." but she seemed distracted, thinking about her speech i guess. it didn't matter--to this day i'm blown away that i was on the same stage with her.

she's influenced my own column writing more than anyone. i'm going to miss her bad.