Saturday, November 01, 2008

R.I.P. Studs Terkel, 1912-2008

The city of Chicago and indeed, the nation, has long another one of its unique voices. An everyman for everyday people. A friend and defender of the underdog, who always managed to find a way to tell their stories as he heard them and as they needed to be told. A raconteur, a jazz man--whose instruments were his voice and his pen. He was the very definition of 'old school'--with his rumpled look and gangster-style voice, he was someone you wanted to have a beer with at the local bar and then have over for dinner to meet your family, because you knew he'd be interested and would be interesting. When one thinks of Chicago, if you truly know the city, you can't help but think of Studs. Like the Cubs and the Bears; like the river and the downtown skyline; like the Picasso in front of the Daley Building and the Art Institute, Studs was very much an indelible part of that city.

He's a reason why we can remember the Holocaust; a reason why we know the people who were affected by the Great Depression; a reason why the working man has been celebrated and his dignity has been esteemed; a reason why we can appreciate the people we meet; because he helped us to do that, through his long running radio show, broadcast from his adopted home in the Windy City; and also through his many books, including one of his most seminal, "Working".

He once said in an interview that he wanted his epitaph to say that "curiosity didn't kill this cat". Here's to one of the coolest and most curious of cats that ever lived. Take it easy, Studs, but take it.

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