“Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche.” ~ Lewis Grizzard
One morning a few weeks ago, Dana gave me one of the highest compliments I could imagine, though she did it quite unknowingly.
Prompted by a national news story about a black couple who’d been refused a wedding ceremony at a “white” church in Mississippi (and a number of other personal experiences) I’d gone on a three-day blogging tangent about religious segregation in the South.
I asked Dana to read the post before it was published and give me her reaction.
“You’re not afraid to write about anything, are you?” she asked.
I’d never really thought about it that way, but, no, I suppose. What’s to fear in the truth, and why don’t more of us write about and discuss the things that make us most uncomfortable. What’s to be gained from the silence of injustice and human prejudice?
By the time I was old enough to read a newspaper, (a ritual I formed daily by the seventh grade), my immediate attention went to the op-ed page where Lewis Grizzard’s syndicated column was published three times weekly.
If I could emulate the style, tone and message of any writer in the world, it would be Lewis Grizzard, who’s probably as responsible as anyone for my career in journalism.
Known for his regional demeanor and commentary on the American South, Grizzard, at 23, was the Atlanta Journal‘s youngest-ever sports editor, and later went on to become executive sports editor of the Chicago Sun-Times.
But Grizzard’s career was defined by his work as a columnist, and at the peak of his career, he was syndicated in 450 newspapers across the U.S.
Grizzard was an eccentric man. In all his career, he never typed a word on a computer. He favored the typewriter.
“When I write, I like to hear some noise,” he said.
The author of thousands of columns and 25 books, Grizzard was the quintessential Southern writer. And he was fearless. Head on, he addressed politics, feminism, race, guns, Russians and anything else that would push the hot button of thousands of readers.
That’s why I love Grizzard. He never took himself too seriously, but he said what he damned well pleased.
Grizzard’s life gave him a plethora of writing topics to which so many of us can relate. He was married four times, born with a defective heart valve which ultimately took his young life at 48, highly opinionated, a recovering alcoholic and he loved sports.
“I finally figured it out. I finally figured out how to have some peace and happiness. I sure would hate for the man upstairs to take me now, but at least I figured it out.” ~ Lewis Grizzard
My favorite Grizzard line comes from a column he wrote about his first hole-in-one. Watching the ball leave the tee he said, “it was as if it were a white missile against the azure sky.” Every time my best buddy and I hit the links, we cite the line at least a half-dozen times.
Grizzard wasn’t a hero to everyone. His behavior wasn’t always that of the Southern gentleman.
Many labeled him as “the author from hell” for his behavior on countless book tours.
But his writing was pure heaven to me. Grizzard would have had a field day with this thing we call the “blog.” I miss him every time I pick up the paper.
A few of his books you might enjoy:
“Chili Dogs Always Bark at Night”
“My Daddy was a Pistol, and I’m a Son of a Gun”
“Does a Wild Bear Chip in the Woods”
You may enjoy some posts on my secondary blog at www.latitudeone.wordpress.com