Sunday, October 02, 2011


Andy Rooney is retiring -- or at least retreating from his full time job -- as America’s favorite essayist and grumpy old man.  For more than three decades he has been the dessert at the end of the “60 Minutes” television show with his short segment, “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney.”

Rooney began his career as a writer for Stars & Stripes while in the Army during World War II. Along the way, he wrote for Arthur Godfrey and his Friends and The Gary Moore Show. He began writing CBS News "essays" in the 1960s, beginning with "An Essay on Doors" in 1964, proving to bigwigs that he could make anything sound interesting.

The idea that the mundane things of life could be just as interesting and spectacular events, was an idea that took root with the “beat writers.”  Most people think of Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Gingsberg or even Charles Bukowski when the beat generation is mentioned, but Gene Shepherd of  A Christmas Story fame was also in the movement .  Millions have laughed at a little boys quest for a Daisy air rifle.

While not a beat writer himself, Andy Rooney understood the concept of the mundane, even trivial as a source of wonder and humor.  He became a master of the understatement and dry wit such as, “No matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with,” and “It's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular,” and  “To ignore the facts does not change the facts.”

In a world moving at warp speed, there were those who thought that Rooney had become dated and uninteresting.  Myself, I don’t think good writing can ever be dated.  I didn’t watch Rooney’s segment every week, but I’ll still miss him.

Andy Rooney is a man with class.

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