RIP: Goodnight Mr. Carr Wherever You Are

NYTCREDIT: Earl Wilson/The New York Times5-15-2012

DAVID CARR: “I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Carr collapsed in the Times newsroom, where he was found shortly before 9 p.m. He was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. MORE

DAVID CARR ON BRIAN WILLIAMS: We want our anchors to be both good at reading the news and also pretending to be in the middle of it,” he wrote on Monday in the wake of revelations that the NBC anchor Brian Williams had lied about being in a helicopter under fire in Iraq in 2003. “That’s why, when the forces of man or Mother Nature whip up chaos, both broadcast and cable news outlets are compelled to ship the whole heaving apparatus to far-flung parts of the globe, with an anchor as the flag bearer. We want our anchors to be everywhere, to be impossibly famous, globe-trotting, hilarious, down-to-earth, and above all, trustworthy. It’s a job description that no one can match.” MORE

DAVE WEIGEL: I don’t have Carr’s facility with language, and I didn’t get to know him as well as the people who are going to mourn him right. All I want to say is: Fuck this. Life is short, but it shouldn’t be this short. Least of all for someone who understood so delicately and elementally how people lived. MORE

DAVID CARR: A lot of times, when you lift up the blankets on modern media brands, what you see is algorithms. I think media is about people making stuff with your own two dirty little hands.DavidCarrLife copy

VOX: “This is the bio he gave to students of his Boston University course:

‘Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech.’

Carr, who was 58, reportedly collapsed in the New York Times newsroom. The Times’ write-up is here. But the problem is the only write-up I want to read on this is Carr’s. Fuck.“ MORE

NEW YORK TIMES:  The question took Carr back to a harrowing moment. ‘In the hours after the attacks of Sept. 11,  he said, ‘I was at the corner of Church and Chambers. Building 7 was on fire and then fell. A wall of debris and smoke came rushing up the street, and I dove under a car. I found myself looking into the eyes of a pigeon there and having an interspecies moment. ‘Are we O.K.? Is the world ending? Are we, um, birds of a feather?’ When the moment and wall of crud passed and I collected myself, I noticed a copy of Strunk and White’s ‘The Elements of Style,’ the ur-text of our profession, under the car. It was marked in ink as a Port Authority copy, and I knew it had blown out of their offices at the World Trade Center. I observe none of its edicts — I am a turgid, digressive writer — but love its aspiration and clarity. I put it under glass still containing the dust of that day along with a copy of something I wrote for New York magazine that was the only decent thing I wrote out of all that confusion and mayhem. I treasure its presence in my home even as I leave its advice under glass.’ MORE

DAVID CARR, ADVICE FOR JOURNALISTS: Keep typing until it turns into writing.DavidCarrLife copy

JAKE TAPPER: Having him as an editor, a friend, and a mentor was a tremendous blessing. In those Washington City Paper offices on Champlain Street NW in the late 1990s, those of us who worked for David—Erik “Coach” Wemple, Michael Schaffer, Amanda Ripley, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jason Cherkis, Eddie Dean, Shawn Daly, Neil Drumming, Jandos Rothstein, Jelani Cobb, Brett Anderson, and on and on—knew when we did good and we knew when we made a mistake. This was not always a pleasant experience. It was always an important and meaningful one. Sometimes the mistake was in not bringing our best to the table. Our weekly pitch meetings could be brutal if the notebook dump produced nothing that piqued his interest. Items we had discovered that we thought were new were usually not, and he let us know that we were standing on a foundation of cliché.

“What else ya got?” he would ask.

He stood for excellence in journalism. That did not mean he thought our job was all about boring lectures; quite the contrary. He wanted our prose to pop and crackle (his edits made me appear a much better writer than I was). He wanted our stories to grab readers by the ears and drag them into our pages. He wanted journalism to engage and entertain, and mostly he wanted it to matter. He continued to be a compass of journalistic ethics after he left WCP and went to New York City, where he landed as one of the most important media columnists of the era. In addition to standing for what was right in journalism, he also stood for the need for humility. He publicly second-guessed himself, was nakedly open about his struggles with drug addiction, and was never above bringing his errors to light. It only made him of more value.  MORE

MEDIAGLUTBLOG: I spend a lot of my time thinking about media and journalism and how it’s changing and how to keep it alive – and I get worried and stressed and scared and excited and inspired and frequently don’t know what to do about it all. David Carr and his Media Equation column provided a small amount of clarity in this heaving industry, identifying trends and directions in an overwhelming storm of information. As much as I want to give up on journalism sometimes, seeing hope in his columns cemented my belief in the necessity and sustainability of quality media. I don’t know how to start navigating it without his insight. MORE

NEW YORK TIMESWhen David Carr Went To Neil Young’s House

WASHINGTON CITY PAPER: Carr was a passionate fan of music, too. I liked to drink in his stories of wild times with the Replacements, Soul Asylum and Husker Du in Minneapolis. MORE

GAWKER: It’s true that Judd Apatow didn’t decide to work with Dunham because of who her parents were. Instead, he chose to work with Dunham thanks to David Carr. In 2010, Dunham had a blind script deal for HBO. What she was missing was the imprimatur of a Hollywood heavyweight. Meanwhile, Apatow, who is friends with Carr, was asking the Times columnist if he knew of any promising up-and-comers. Carr did know one. Carr also knew, with his eye on the angles, that the director/writer/producer had a woman problem. Dunham was someone who could make Apatow’s then-checkered track record with female characters disappear. Carr told Apatow to get a look at Tiny Furniture asap. MORE

WASHINGTON CITY PAPER: He insisted I learn how to properly hold chopstick during an early review meal at a Vietnamese restaurant in Arlington. Later, we went to the Black Cat. The Make-Up was playing, if memory serves. MOREDavidCarrLife copy

DAVID CARR ON THE FIRING OF JILL ABRAMSON: I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain from a very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire. But none of that was as surreal as what happened last week. When The Times’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., stood up at a hastily called meeting in the soaring open newsroom where we usually gather to celebrate the Pulitzers and said that Jill was out, we all just looked at one another. How did our workplace suddenly become a particularly bloody episode of “Game of Thrones”? It is one thing to gossip or complain about your boss, but quite another to watch her head get chopped off in the cold light of day. The lack of decorum was stunning.” MORE

GAWKER:  I left a voicemail for him at his office: Hi, I’m some kid, you don’t know me, Clara Jeffery said to call, I need a job, would you buy me lunch. I didn’t hear back—and please understand that this is just an unverified recollection, because there is no one left to verify it with—for a day or two, so I tried again and left another message. A day or two after that, he calls me back.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’m calling you from a hospital in Minneapolis. My mother is dying.”

“Oh Jesus I’m sorry, I’ll just circle back in a month or so.”

“Don’t be silly. She probably won’t last the week, in which case I’ll be back next week and we can maybe do Thursday. If she lasts longer than that, we’ll have to wait and see….”

“Mr. Carr, please, I don’t want to bother you at a time like this. I’m so sorry.”

“It is what it is. I’ll call you next week.”

She died, he called. He showed up for lunch wearing bermuda shorts, bunched-up socks, and a baggy, garish Hawaiian shirt. He didn’t have a job for me, but he asked me about my life, my work thus far, how I knew Clara. I asked him to tell me how he got where he is. I was anxious. I wanted to succeed, quickly. How do you get to be the editor of the City Paper? What does the career arc look like? Where are the handholds?

I don’t recall the particulars, but it went something like: “I started out in state politics, and wrote a little bit, then I was a crackhead for a few years…”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, full-on crackhead. Welfare. Trailer park. Then I cleaned up and became the editor of a paper in Minneapolis….” MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: On August 5, 2008, Carr’s book, “The Night of the Gun,” came out on Simon and Schuster. The book is a memoir of addiction and recovery that used reporting to fact check the past. Much of the data he collected, including videos, documents and pictures, is available DavidCarrLife copyhere. (If you want to purchase the book, you can go here.) MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: As he chronicled in his 2008 memoir, “The Night of the Gun,” by the late 1980s he was addicted to crack cocaine and living with a woman who was both a drug dealer and the mother of his twin daughters. One night, shortly after the girls were born, he left them in a car while he went into a house to score some coke from a dealer named Kenny:

Kenny’s lip-licking coke rap was more ornate, somehow more satisfying, than that of most of the dealers I worked with,” Mr. Carr wrote. “His worldview was all black helicopters and white noise — the whispering, unseen others who would one day come for us. It kept me on my toes.

But tonight I had company. I certainly couldn’t bring the twins in. Even in the gang I ran with, coming through the doors of the dope house swinging two occupied baby buckets was not done. Sitting there in the gloom of the front seat, the car making settling noises against the chill, I decided that my teeny twin girls would be safe, that God would look after them while I did not.  MORE

NPR: David Carr On Fresh Air

VOX: In media circles these days, there is absolutely no shortage of doom and gloom predictions about the future of journalism. It’s common to hear wizened vets warning the young to steer clear of the profession altogether. This wasn’t Carr’s view, and he made it so beautifully clear in this column. Carr recognized that being a reporter is a ridiculously thrilling, exciting job to nab — one that was worth the chase. It’s these two paragraphs that capture so well much of the excitement I feel about journalism right now, at a moment when excitement isn’t a word that comes up too much. MORE

DAVID CARR: Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more useful. They are jaded in the way youth requires, but have the confidence that is a gift of their age as well. For them, New York is not an island sinking, but one that is rising on a fresh, ferocious wave. MORE

MOTHER JONES: Over the past few years, Carr has had a bit of a haunted look about him. He’d lost weight. His health problems seemed to be dogging him more. I think everyone who knew him well recognized, at least subconsciously, that Carr was not going to be on this earth long enough to need a rocking chair. But I think we also had some collective denial about his mortality. To use a cliché he wouldn’t approve of, Carr genuinely was a force of nature. I think maybe we assumed he could go on like that forever, pulling the all nighters, smoking, drinking gallons of coffee, working like a fiend, and talking, talking and talking. But of course, he couldn’t. And so here we are, devastated, grieving, missing our irreplaceable friend. I think Jake Tapper spoke for a lot of us who knew and loved Carr when he wrote in an anguished tweet today, “What the hell are we going to do now?” MORE

NEW YORK TIMES ARCHIVES: All 1776 Stories Wrote For The New York Times

Carr interviewing Snowden, Poitras & Greenwald just hours before his death