My David Carr story

David Carr died yesterday. He was a great writer, a fearless critic, and by all accounts, a great friend and mentor.

I’m not going to say I knew him. There were a lot of people who did, including some friends of mine, and as Hamilton Nolan writes at Gawker, Carr apparently had the gift of making everyone feel he was their close personal friend.

He could also be incredibly kind to complete strangers. When I was a reporter just starting out at Boise Weekly, I sent roughly a million résumés out into the ether, looking for my next job. One of them went to Carr, who was then the editor of the Washington City Paper. (This was back in the previous century, before you could read any paper in the world on the Web. Alt-weeklies used to send copies to one another as a courtesy, and I remember how much I looked forward to tearing through the City Paper when it showed up.)

He was one of the few editors who called me back. Many smaller papers ignored me completely, but Carr took the time. As I remember it, he told me right off he wasn’t going to hire me. I needed more experience.

But he still spent an hour on the phone with a dumb kid in Boise, Idaho, giving me advice and encouragement, when he could have been doing literally anything else.

So like almost every other writer in the world, I am mourning Carr. There are a lot of great writers and outsized personalities in journalism. But he believed in the craft and the calling of the job, even now, when it looks more endangered than ever. And he was generous.

That’s so goddamn rare. And it just got a little bit rarer today.

Robin Williams, RIP.

Robin Williams is dead.

By this time tomorrow, there will be thousands of remembrances, and I am certain that adding mine to the pile won’t mean much. But I used to listen to “A Night At The Met” with my friends Randy and Joe the way other people listened to Bon Jovi. Comedians were my rock stars. Robin Williams was Springsteen.

Williams struggled with depression and addiction his entire life. There was never enough fame, never enough money, to heal that anxiety and insecurity inside him. This is from Wired, Bob Woodward’s biography of John Belushi, Williams’ friend. It’s 30 years old now, but it could have been written a week ago:

Robin Williams in Wired.jpg

 

That’s the thing about working in what we call Hollywood, or anywhere in the arts: there is always the pressure to prove yourself, to perform again, to repeat the lightning-in-a-bottle trick you pulled off the last time. For some people, it is almost a physical weight, and it crushes them.

I’m not going to claim I have some special insight into what went through Robin Williams’ mind. This is just to say that I will miss him despite never knowing him, because I still have the greatest admiration for anyone who can be funny on demand, over and over. We need people who can make us laugh, and the world is missing another one today.