Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

10.18 Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

10.18 For a Better Brain, Learn Another Language

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.20 The Ebola Wars

10.20 Amazon deforestation picking up pace, satellite data reveals

10.20 Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola

10.19 The Ebola crisis: Much worse to come [map graphic]

10.18 The Dutch boy mopping up a sea of plastic

10.18 US eyes buffet option in global climate talks

10.18 Fossil fuel divestment: climate change activists take aim at Australia's banks

10.18 Ebola 'could be scourge like HIV', warns John Kerry

10.17 Ice loss sends Alaskan temperatures soaring by 7C

10.17 Lockheed announces breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy

10.16 This Plant Gets You High and Reduces Opiate Addiction. It's Taking Off in the US and It's Legal.

News Media

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

Justice Matters

10.20 Megarich Plaintiffs, Legally Adrift

10.18 How Oil and Gas Leases for Fracking Rip Off Homeowners

10.18 Stand-your-ground gun laws 'benefit whites more than blacks', experts say

10.16 The Supreme Court Acts for Texas Women

10.15 Highly Respected Conservative Judge Rips "Voter ID" Laws--and the GOP--in Blistering Opinion

10.15 A Missed Opportunity to Find Rapists

US Politics, Policy & Culture

10.19 The Racist Housing Policies That Built Ferguson

10.18 Elizabeth Warren: 'We're All Looking at You, Colorado!'

10.18 The One Attack That's Working for Democrats: Bashing the Wealthy

10.17 Watch Jon Stewart slam Mitch McConnell as architect of government failure [2:40 video]

10.17 Republicans hard at work to stoke Ebola panic, just in time for the election

10.17 $10.10 Minimum Wage Would Save The U.S. Government $7.6 Billion A Year

10.17 Court Strikes Down Arkansas Voter ID Law

10.17 Rate of Mass Shootings Has Tripled Since 2011, Harvard Research Shows

10.17 What Would an Ebola Travel Ban Actually Look Like?

10.17 The Argument Against an Ebola Travel Ban

10.17 From 'One Tough Nerd' to Embattled Governor

10.17 Southern Evangelicals: Dwindling—and Taking the GOP Edge With Them

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.20 The Feds Just Approved a New GMO Corn. Here's Why I'm Not Rejoicing

10.20 EPA: Those Bee-Killing Pesticides? They're Actually Pretty Useless

10.17 Chris Christie: New Jersey Bill Challenges Governor's Subsidies To GOP Donors

10.17 The Mixed International Picture on Poverty and Inequality

10.17 Matt Stoller: Why We Need to Break Up Amazon – and How to Do It

10.17 "More Money Than I Could Count": Mitch McConnell's Very Special Relationship With Lobbyists

10.15 Bill Black: EU Austerity Witch Doctors Attack Each Other

International

10.20 The Mission

10.20 Deadly Ukraine Crash: German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17

10.20 Turkey to let Iraqi Kurds reinforce Kobani as US air-drops arms

10.19 Full Show: Keeping Faith in Democracy [25:20 video]

10.19 The tech innovators of the Victorian age

10.18 The Tide Slowly Turns in Kobani

10.17 43 Mexican College Students Disappeared Weeks Ago. What Happened to Them?

10.17 Isis targets Baghdad with wave of car bombs and mortar attacks killing 150 [1:12 video]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Studs Terkel: The Passing of An Icon
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Studs Terkel: The Passing of An Icon

by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 1 November 2008
"America is a better place as a result of Studs Terkel being here."
Despite his advanced age, the news came as a shock. An era had passed. On October 31, author, activist, actor, broadcaster, and mensch for all seasons Louis "Studs" Terkel died peacefully at his Chicago North Side home at age 96. Already weakened by other ailments, his health declined further from a fall in his home two weeks earlier.

His son Dan paid tribute to his father. He "led a long, full, eventful, sometimes tempestuous, but very satisfying life." He was the master of oral history. Calvin Trillin called him "America's pre-eminent listener" that was "all the more remarkable when you consider that he (was) a prodigious talker." On jazz to world affairs. His soap-opera days to the state of the nation. Interviews with entertainers, artists, politicians, philosophers and social critics. Figures like Bertrand Russell, John Kenneth Galbraith, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Zero Mostel, and Margaret Mead. Others he knew like Mahalia Jackson, David Dellinger, Nelson Algren, and Eugene Debs. The greats and near-greats but mostly ordinary people.

Whose lives and experiences he documented in his oral histories. Guerrilla journalism he called them. What he's best remembered for. In books like Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. The Good War. The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream, and his 2007 book, Touch and Go. His memoir. Of a professional listener, talker, author, actor, and "conscience of long memory" as The New York Times described him. Beloved by many and by his friends. A final book coming out in November. PS: Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening. It includes a collection of radio show transcripts, short essays and other writing.

Studs was for the little guy. Our voice of America. Against war and "in-bed-with" journalists. For a New Deal kind of country. More "reg-u-la-tion" as he said. To reign in the kind of abuses now rampant. Hold the powerful accountable. Support the public interest. Do it as our "quintessential American writer" as Congressman Dennis Kucinich called him. Our "Boswell, our Whitman, our Sandburg." Our one and irreplaceable Studs.

His Background

Born in New York in 1912, and as Studs put it: "As the Titanic went down, I came up." In 1922, his family moved to Chicago. From 1926 - 1936, they ran a rooming house at which he credits his worldly knowledge. From its tenants and people who gathered in nearby Bughouse Square. A meeting place for workers, labor organizers, dissidents, the unemployed, and all sorts of others of many persuasions. A place to speak publicly. They did and still do today. A few blocks from this writer's home.

In 1934, Studs got philosophy and law degrees at the University of Chicago but chose other endeavors. He worked briefly in the civil service in Washington. Then back to Chicago in a WPA Writers Project's radio division. It got him into soap operas, stage performances, and a radio news show.

After one year in the Air Force he was discharged with perforated eardrums. A condition resulting from childhood surgeries. Back home, he wrote radio scripts. Then did news and sports commentary. A show of his own followed, and a television program called Stud's Place. Another radio show called The Wax Museum primarily for jazz, but it also included opera, gospel, country and folk music. He promoted artists like Mahalia Jackson, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Burl Ives. Interviewed jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Wrote about them in his Giants of Jazz book.

Interviewing came accidently on his award-winning Studs Terkel Program. It led to his "transforming oral history into a popular literary form....a serious genre" as New York Times writer William Grimes put it. He had a remarkable ability to get others to talk about themselves, their lives and work. That combined with his diverse knowledge of many topics gained his program widespread popularity.

In the late 1930s as an actor, he dropped the name Louis and decided on Studs. From another Chicagoan. Noted author James Farrell from his fictional Studs Lonigan character.

In the 1950s during the McCarthy era, he was blackballed from commercial radio but found work in the theater. In 1952, he joined Chicago's WFMT. The city's preeminent, and today only, fine arts and classical music station. Its "radio legend" in its words as it devoted all weekend to his memory. To "remember(ing) Studs Terkel in words and music....talking with those who knew and loved him, and (to) listen to some of the vast body of work from (his) many years at WFMT" - 45 in all.

He was honored with many awards. A Peabody Award for excellence in journalism. The National Book Foundation Medal for contributions to American letters. The Pulitzer Prize for The Good War. The Presidential National Humanities Medal. The National Medal of Humanities. The Illinois Governor's Award for the Arts, and the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Award among others. Until his death, he was the Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Chicago Historical Society.

Tributes and Eulogies

After his death, praise followed. The London Guardian called him a "master chronicler of American life in the 20th century, veteran radical and vibrant soul of the midwestern capital of Chicago." Calling him a "writer and broadcaster" would be like calling Louis Armstrong a "trumpeter" or the Empire State Building an "office block."

Chicago mayor Richard Daley said he "was part of a great Chicago literary tradition that stretched from Theodore Dreiser to Richard Wright to Nelson Algren to Mike Royko. In his many books, he captured the eloquence of the comment of men and women whose hard work and strong values built" the nation.

Chicago Tribune writer Patrick Reardon called him a "voice (for) the voiceless" and said he was the only white writer to be inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at Chicago State University. By unanimous approval after being nominated. The man who did it called "America a better place as a result of Studs Terkel being here."

He "was Chicago and everything good about the literary world...make that the world in general, said Chicago Tribune's literary editor, Elizabeth Taylor, one of Stud's good friends. Toward the end, he was aware "the shadows were closing in" but rarely used the word "dying." He preferred the euphemism "checking out" and said he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes mixed with his wife's (in an urn in his living room). Then have them scattered in the Bughouse Square he loved. "Scatter us there," he said. "It's against the law (so) let 'em sue us." It was pure Studs to the end. We'll miss him so. An era has passed.


Steve Lendman

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2008 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on November 2, 2008.
 



Public Service Ads:
Verifiable Voting in Maryland