I was shocked and saddened last night to read about the death of my favorite political writer, Molly Ivins.
The byline on her columns read, "Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings." She combined a healthy liberal outrage with a folksy but nevertheless razor-sharp wit. It was classic muckraking with a uniquely American irreverence.
Her specialty was George W. Bush. Having chronicled Texas politics since the 70s, she had closely monitored his path to power and exposed many Bush administration policies that were under the mainstream media's radar. She made you laugh, but at the end of her essays, you usually wanted to cry or scream or both.
It's no secret that one of my biggest problems with New York is life with the MTA. It's bad enough that my daily commute starts out by walking ten minutes in the wrong direction in order to get on the A train where I can get a seat, instead of using the station that's across the street from my apartment. (Sometimes even then I can't get a seat, if there are delays.) Since it's a solid 50-minute ride to Fulton Street, trust me, a seat is important.
This morning I was sitting at the end of one of the three-seater benches that faces into the aisle. Around 145th Street, I noticed that the guy sitting on the bench to my left facing me was resting his New York Post on my shoulder and using me as a desk to fill out the sudoku puzzle. Yes, he was writing on me. I was too shocked to say anything, plus he looked kinda scary. So I just let it go.
At 34th Street we sat and waited for an unusually long time. Eventually they announced that they were having door problems and asked us to be patient. (If New Yorkers wouldn't thrust anything they can find into the doors -- hands, feet, umbrellas, bags and yes, I've even seen a woman push a stroller with a baby in it into a set of closing doors -- maybe they wouldn't break. To be fair, however, *many* times I've heard "[ding-dong] stand clear of the closing doors" before the passengers have even finished getting off.) After a few more minutes, they apologized again for the delay and encouraged us to transfer to other subway lines.
No sooner had I stepped off the train did the doors close and the train continued on its way.
As I was already late, I thought I'd transfer to the 2/3 express line, since it has the closest stop to my office anyway. Wow, what an experience in social darwinism that is! Forget politely lining up on either side of the train doors to let passengers off. The minute the doors open, everyone just collides. I couldn't even get on the first #2 that came because so many people just jumped the queue and pushed their way in.
It's moments like this when I remember my investigative reports on living conditions in Portland back in November. I introduced myself to a random lady on the MAX train, told her I was considering relocating and inquired if it would be okay to ask her a couple questions about her commute. "How often," I wanted to know, "are you late to work because of train delays or because the train simply isn't running?"
She blinked and said, "What do you mean?"
Oh, my God, Joe Biden. You clown! Buh-bye-den.
Now available on Amazon.com: my personal copy of Molly Ivins' classic Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America. UPDATE: Sold! ( Thanks, G!)