Saturday, November 12, 2011


Every Sunday for the last umpteen years I’ve always gotten up early to watch my favorite TV show CBS’s Sunday Morning. With a cup of coffee and scone I could enjoy an hour and a half of interesting and well-presented stories. Some of my mega heroes including the current host Charles Osgood along with storied traveler Charles Kuralt and occasionally my ultimate champion and king of opinion and curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, would appear. That said, Andy was mostly the indispensable fixture and last word on television's favorite newsmagazine, CBS’s 60 Minutes where he regularly ran sweep for 33 years. No football game or other event (including sleeping) could keep me away from either show when Rooney was on.

Aside from speaking for me most of the time and being the voice of and for millions of Americans, Andy, first and foremost, was a great writer. In style and technique he was everything I want to be, and more. Where I am verbose and tend to wander, Andy was always concise; making his point with brief and succinct verbiage packaged in that always believable, unpretentious natural delivery from his always cluttered office. Andy was pre-tech armed with wry opinion, the keenest wit and his manual Underwood typewriter. Though he would prefer that image, he grudgingly used a computer sometimes pointing out its foibles and faults all the while admitting to its efficiency.

Andy wasn’t afraid of anybody or anything, disdained celebrity, coveted his private life and refused to give autographs. To the end he always wondered, “What kind of an idiot wants my name on a piece of paper” and held those that did in contempt. A good Friend who met him several years ago and later was commenting on the short stature of a nearby Rooney, “He’s so little.” The mostly charming though always cantankerous Rooney acknowledged the remark, “I heard that.” Then even with apologies and assurances of no ill intent the predictable response, “Yes, you did mean it…” with Andy probably relishing that moment.

Andy Rooney was a regular guy many times with tongue in cheek questioning from the trenches everything in our lives from the trivial and mundane to the most significant. He was always entertaining and like one Friend opined while paraphrasing the late Caskie Stinnett, “Andy could tell you to go to hell and you’d look forward to the trip.”

While Rooney mostly made sense to this writer he lobbed an occasional out of synch and inappropriate hand grenade that spoke to his humanity and made him even more endearing. In our sanitized politically correct world he saw his truth and to the delight of millions, offered coherent rationale for his perspectives which included a, “delicious hatred for prejudice and hypocrisy.”

Rick Cohen of the The Nonprofit Quarterly commented the other day, “Andy Rooney was idiosyncratic, argumentative, and sometimes ornery, but his grouchy commentaries were worth listening to. That we will never hear another from Rooney reminds us of the dwindling quality of public discourse in American journalism.” Would that Congress had an Andy Rooney…

Scott Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor and correspondent for 60 Minutes remarked on Andy’s passing, “The Romans had Cicero. The English had Dickens. America had Andy. He hid a philosopher’s genius behind the honest prose of Everyman. Apparently, God needed a writer.”

In his final appearance on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago Andy Rooney commented that he'd lived a life luckier than most and wished he "could do this forever." We do too Andy…..

Job well done.


Ned Buxton

No comments: