One more party for Molly

From Molly's in Austin:

By Patrick George


Molly Ivins, the columnist renowned for her Texas-size wit and her penchant for skewering the powerful on behalf of the little guy, was remembered Sunday by her friends and family in the way they said would suit her best: by throwing a huge party.

Hundreds gathered Sunday afternoon at First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin for Ivins' memorial service, which was less a funeral and more a celebration of her life and work.

Her brother, Andy Ivins, remembered her reply when he once asked her why she always walked so fast. "She said, 'When you look up at the horizon, it makes you go quicker,' " Andy Ivins said. "I really think she did that her whole life."

Ivins died Wednesday at age 62 after a long battle with breast cancer. But there was more laughter than tears as people stepped to the microphone to share their favorite stories.

Her friend Linda Lewis brought the crowd to their feet when she shared a quip from one of Ivins' columns: "The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention."

Lou Dubose, who worked with Ivins on two books, said she was unparalleled among American journalists for the community of readers she created. "Molly didn't have readers; she had a constituency," Dubose said. "She was such a sucker for the little guy who stood up against the bullies and the bastards." Dubose recalled that being severely weakened by cancer didn't slow Ivins down. Several weeks ago, "with her voice subdued, she was grilling (a state representative) about the Democrats who flipped and made Craddick the speaker," Dubose said, referring to House Speaker Tom Craddick's victory over a challenger to his post.

In keeping with Ivins' passion for life and reputation as someone who loved a good party, her friends and family headed to Scholz Garten for beer and barbecue after the service. There, dozens of signs bore phrases like "We are the deciders," "Raise Hell" and "Stop the War," references to Ivins' last column.

In that column, Ivins decried the planned troop surge in Iraq and said that if Americans are against it, they need to get "in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!' " Outside Scholz Garten, about 40 people did just that. "A friend of mine sent me a link to her last article," said Terry Adcock, an Austinite who carried a pot and a wooden spoon. "I said, 'I'm going to Scholz, and I'll bang my pot for Molly.' "

Ivins wrote for several newspapers, including the the Minneapolis Tribune, the Texas Observer, The New York Times and the Dallas Times-Herald. In 2001, she went independent and wrote her column for Creators Syndicate, to which more than 400 newspapers subscribed. At Scholz Garten, more than 300 people arrived to trade more stories about Ivins and listen to music.

Many sported armbands fashioned from duct tape with the letters WWMD, which they said meant "What Would Molly Do?" as well as "What Weapons of Mass Destruction?"

"When we planned this, we decided that this (party) would be more Molly," said Kaye Northcott, a close friend of Ivins' and former Observer editor. "It's a whole lot of good stories and music, and no crying." Ivins wouldn't want crying. She was legendary for maintaining her sense of humor regardless of the circumstances, friends said.

"She was a passionate voice for social justice, but she kept her sense of humor always," said Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

"It's really easy to let the struggle get depressing, but she kept it funny." Billy Porterfield, a former columnist for the American-Statesman and other publications, shared a memory of when he and Ivins encountered the Harlem Globetrotters outside a bar when they both worked at the Dallas Times-Herald. "She was a good-looking woman, and one of them walked up behind her and pinched her bottom," Porterfield said. "But she thought I did it, so she turned around and punched me."

Added Porterfield: "She knocked out two of my teeth. I never had them replaced, because it was such a good story."


February 5, 2007 - 10:56am