Studs

More on Studs Turkel from The Nation:

… the Pultizer Prize-winning author, pioneering radio personality, battler against Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism, raconteur, rabble-rouser and grand old man of the American left, who died Friday at age 96, never pulled his punches when it came to politics.

Early in 2002, as George Bush was scheming in 2002 to exploit the fear of terrorism in order to steer the United States toward a new career of empire, I wrote an article for The Nation about the lonely dissents of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Studs responded, as he had to La Follette’s call eighty years earlier:

“When I finished reading John Nichols’s exhilarating communiqué from California (“Kucinich Rocks the Boat,” March 25), the bells began to ring,” he wrote for The Nation. “In his speech to the Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, criticizing Bush’s conduct of the war on terrorism, Dennis Kucinich set the crowd on its ear–one standing ovation after another. Sure, they were all liberals, but what counted was the response on the Internet. The Cleveland Congressman’s e-mail box was stuffed to overflowing with 20,000-plus enthusiastic letters. Among them was the call: Kucinich for President.”

“Kucinich is the man to light the fire,” Studs declared. “Amen.”

As it turned out, Kucinich didn’t get any closer to the presidency than did La Follette.

Studs was disappointed, but undaunted.

Politics was never a game for Studs. It was the work of a lifetime. He wrote brilliant books about the lives of working people not merely because their stories were fascinating but because he wanted to get a conversation started about class in America.

He wrote about “the good fight” of World War II because he wanted to remind new generations of Americans that this country had once united to battle fascism.

And he kept his sense of humor and his optimism, even when those around him despaired.

Not long after the invasion of Iraq, when President Bush was still enjoying the ill-gotten high approval ratings of his “Mission Accomplished” moment, Studs explained to me that one of the benefits of his advancing years was his pronounced loss of hearing.

“My bad hearing leads me to higher truths,” he quipped. “For instance, terms like ’embedded journalist’ come through to me as in-bed with journalist. My problem with the media right now is that we’ve got too many in-bed-with-journalists and not enough of the skeptical, questioning, challenging journalists who will hold George Bush and his boys accountable.”

See the rest of this article by John Nichols, here

From Dennis Kucinich, the only man in America I could have voted for, if I was an American, and could vote.  Studs’ man too:

Studs Terkel knew the real America. The America of grit and gumption, heart and soul, passion and nerve. He chronicled five generations of American history with a compassionate and deep understanding of the American character.

He was the quintessential American writer. He was our Boswell, our Whitman, our Sandburg. He was able to get people to open up and share their innermost thoughts and their deepest dreams. In the words of Kipling, “He walked with kings and never lost the common touch.”

 

Infused in each word he wrote and in his spoken word, he was a master story-teller and could regale groups for literally hours with his deep understanding of human nature its possibilities and its foibles. He was a person of great appetites and his greatest appetite was for the truth. America has lost a tribune of the people. But the power of his prose lives on.

Studs was a dear friend. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have enjoyed many visits in Studs’s home. His good humor was a constant even during a visit a couple of years ago when he was recovering from heart surgery.

I was touched by the forward he wrote to my book, A Prayer for America. I’ll never forget the encouragement he gave me to run for president in 2004.

And from Calvin Trillin’s tribute to Studs on his 95th birthday, last year:

Studs Terkel’s accomplishments as America’s pre-eminent listener are all the more remarkable when you consider that he happens to be a prodigious talker. He is, in other words, a monument to restraint. A couple of times, I’ve reversed roles with Studs–I’ve interviewed him for an hour on stage–and each time I was tempted to ask him one question, take off my lapel-microphone and join the audience. He could easily have held the audience for a one-hour answer that ranged from his thoughts on jazz to his soap-opera career playing gangsters to the dinner-table conversations at the men’s hotel his mother ran to his antic experiences with the blacklist to the happy times in his favorite Chicago saloon, Ricardo’s, where one of the waiters was cued to stroll over to the table and join him in the Spanish Civil War song “Los Cuatro Generales.” Once Studs got on his roll, in fact, he might not have even noticed that I was missing.

The rest is here

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