There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity -- like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule -- that's what I do.
American newspaper columnist (1944-2007). She was born in Monterey, California but raised in the wealthy River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, Texas. She wrote articles for the student newspaper at St. John's School and later served as co-editor of the arts and culture section of the paper.
She attended Scripps College in 1962 and transferred to Smith College the next year. She attended the Institute of Political Science in Paris during her junior year and got a B.A. in history in 1966. She later received her master's in journalism at Columbia University in '67. She interned at the Houston Chronicle for three summers while at college, and after graduating, moved on to the Minneapolis Tribune as the city's first female police reporter. She was apparently so despised by the Minneapolis P.D. that they got a mascot, a pig, and named it after her.
Ivins moved to Austin, Texas in 1970 to work as the Texas Observer's co-editor and political reporter, covering the Texas Legislature, which she always preferred to call "The Lege." She also wrote features and op-eds for the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as making public speaking tours around the nation. The NYTimes hired her in 1976, where she covered the Son of Sam killings and wrote Elvis Presley's obituary. She also sometimes brought her dog to work. Her dog was named Shit, which likely rankled in the uptight NYT newsroom. She was eventually promoted to Rocky Mountain bureau chief, but was recalled to the New York office after using the term "gang-pluck" in an article about what she called a "community chicken-killing festival" in New Mexico. She got an offer from the Dallas Times Herald to write a column about anything she liked, so she moved to Dallas in 1982, even though she had never liked Dallas at all, once saying that the city "would have rooted for Goliath to beat David."
So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.
Molly's writing voice -- and regular voice, actually -- was drily sarcastic, Texas folksy, very colorful, and unashamedly liberal. She nicknamed George W. Bush "Shrub," she once said one of Pat Buchanan's speeches "probably sounded better in the original German," and caused a huge uproar in the Metroplex when she said of US Representative James M. Collins: "If his IQ slips any lower we'll have to water him twice a day." In a media landscape as dull and uninspired as George Will and David Broder competing in a drone contest, Molly wasn't just a breath of fresh air -- she was a full-blast wind tunnel with razor-sharp spikes lining the walls. The only reason I reckon she didn't get published in more papers was because she made all the other columnists look like amateurs. Or idiots.
Ivins wrote columns for the Times Herald for a decade, though she was moved to the Austin bureau in 1985 because she made city leaders in Dallas so angry. Her book "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?" (named for the billboards the Times Herald put up after her crack at Rep. Collins) was published in 1991 and spent 29 weeks on the NYTimes bestseller list. The Dallas Morning News bought the Times Herald in 1991 and shut the paper down, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hired Ivins as quickly as possible.
There is one area in which I think (Camille) Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, "Poor dear, it's probably PMS." Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, "What an asshole." Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole.
In 1995, humorist Florence King accused Ivins of plagiarizing some of King's work. From descriptions of the incident, it sounds like Ivins did credit King several times, but accidentally left off attribution for a couple of lengthy quotes. Ivins sent King a letter of apology, closing it with "Boy you really are a mean bitch, aren't you? Sincerely, Molly Ivins, plagiarist." In 2001, Ivins went independent, with her column syndicated by Creators Syndicate.
Molly's books included:
I was in great hopes that confronting my own mortality would make me deeper, more thoughtful. Many lovely people sent books on how to find a more spiritual meaning in life. My response was, "Oh, hell, I can't go on a spiritual journey -- I'm constipated."
Molly was diagnosed with stage III inflamatory breast cancer in 1999. It recurred in 2003 and in late 2005. She underwent chemotherapy in January 2006 and took a leave of absence for more treatment in December 2006. She died at the end of January 2007.
I still miss reading her stuff. The lady was a champ.
From her last column, January 11, 2007: We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there.
New York Times
This highly recommended segment from "The Dildo Diaries" documentary
And this one, about art in Texas