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William Kennedy writing on the topic of Andy Rooney

William Kennedy writing on the topic of Andy Rooney

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04/10/1994

00:52

518-574-2794

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FOR HIS SPEECH TO W.I., 9/15/95

On page fourteen of his new book, My W~£r Andy Rooney writ •• this sentence; "One of my dominating characteristics
tt

hall alway. been that I'm not strange. Mow that'. a lie.

Andy Rooney is as strange as charcoal peaches, or
pot.~o iC8 ere.. , which he invented. Oh sure, he looks

nODBal, and you can understand every word he says, and he's A Giants fan. straDgem

When I first met him I never suspected he was

We were at a dinner party in the penthouse of the

Wellington Botel, looking out at the South Mall under con.truction~ n~~n We began swapping memories of Albany, and of

we kne~, and we rea~i~ed we could carryon with for years to come+ And so we have.
We've

tu •• storie.

I have '!lUral strange! friends. Sa.e of the Albany thinss Andy and I had in common were Hag..-n's and Freihofer's, Albany y.arll ago. did I. the two most famous bakeries in

Be didn't like Hagaman's muoh and neither
We both went to public

We both liked Freihofer~s.

ecnoola, he to School 14, which fell down, and I to School
20, which i. atill standing.
We both remember our Albany

childhoods vi~idly

he on Partridge Street in an upscale

neighborhood that has come to be called the Pine Hills --

aae ..
~

in Borth Albany, which has always been called the

Bad.

ae

remembers

jumping from garage roof to garage

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2

roof when he was a kid.
boaaar.

I remember

jumping

from boxcar

to

w.

both

grfiW to ~esent In him essay Andy wrote

the mispronunciation

of our city

by outlanders. Trio.ntannial, report

celebrating the city's lilt is my unhappy duty to

this:

to you, Albanians, mind much.

that A~bany is not on the rest of It has been my e~perience that at of the place pronounce it

the world's

l... t half of tkose 'AJ. ~.
H*.

who have heard

y.'"
i. absolutely correct and I tell people who the

perpetrate poliee will

.uch pronunciation

that if they

do it again

escort them outside the city limits.
high schools, Andy to Brothers Academy.

ADdy

and I both went to military

AlbeAy Academy and I to CBA -- Christian
We· both

loved

QUr schools a major

and both hated part of them.

the military But we both wound learned
the

.l ... at that w..

up

in the ArMy, probably

profiting

from having

aaaual

of ar..., and how to take a ~ifle apart.
Bchool, Andy played
I

In high
t ...

on the Academy's never played

football but

as & guard

and a tackley

football,

I played ... en-game t

pool in high

school~

and was on the

JJavl~

t._

ia colJ.ege•

.A:nd.y reported, in that Tricentennial essay, that his

f~ll

CGAch ~as Eugene Carson pr •• id•• t of the National

Blake, who went on to Council of Churches and

bwc,..

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03

3 q... ral .ecretary of the World Council of Churches. In his

book Andy described

hiln as an "important

Presbyter ian. " dirty

"Dr. Slake, ,. wrote Andy,

"taught us several

tht..- to do ~n
Chri.tian
tfllfil!!tt.k ....

playing

in the line,

and in a very those

wort (i)f wa.y, advised

us agaj_nst using

P.~hap. this explains citfchaapion ~~DAl

why CBA~ and not the Academy, was
Andy

the year I graduated.

and Dr. Blake's

Preabyterian tactics were long gone.
for college
4

Andy and r worked
....
~1I.t IIIItll1rpants

publiaations
We went

and

't.wally we both became newsmen

into the army to

working for newapapera, both with a link to the famous military
newspaper.

S·"bu. ..wi Stripe.,

Andy

voz:okMi for Str:Lpes <turing World we. drafted into the Korean
to ~y, war,

Wa.r Two, which
and went

I missed.
but

r

not to Korea

and h.d my own newspaper

in the Fourth Division •

.. p:iRted our paper every week pl~
in ~adt. Andy really
war oorr ••pona.nt covered war.
I

a.t the stars and Stripes

covered

sports.

He was a

for Str~pes and his book

ia a memorable

and liv.ly account of what it was like doing that -- sharing
tW lIIi1t,f.t:.y

of ..!Stonewall in combat wi.th that moat famous Ernest Hemingway (whom Andy didnft like and self-

oocr.epon~nt,

_..,

.n4 fincU.nq out about counterfeit

"dtll_.':t.!.ag WIIlr journal.ism.

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04

4 He quotas Ei.eDh<nr*r's one reporter
::,.-.,

who

described

General before the D-Day "Ike went

solitary

rwnination
II

the night

itJ,va.ion. a1o~

nThat evening,

the reporter

wrote,

to hi. tent and sat dejeotedly on the edge of his

'No.. Ike said to himself; 'I cannot do that. '

I WILL

Thi. is the kind of reporting that sank the New Journalism in the 1970&, and Andy, very properly, writ.x: retrollpectbrely
c~ian
I

asks that
)::"adio

the question

that

a skeptical

of the 1930B used to ask after listening to such a

ataxy; MV•• you dare, Charlie?"
Andy

also quotes

a CBS correspondent
about the

who began
war

a

cu:mver.at.ion

with Harry Reasoner

by saying,

NWben Eiaenhower and the Pope were
As to Ha.rry Reasoner,

in Rome

with me

"
the

from 1962 to 1968, Andy wrote

word., and produced the broadcasts, Reasoner presented on
Qlimlllltrlil..

I

.uppose Reasoner
it's like Jack

was

a nice
Or

and

a funny

guy on

his

own,

but

Kennedy
that made

Humphrey Bogart
famous, and then
by some

mouth~nq

those

great

lines

them

you di.cover ~.

the lines

were really
of.

written

strange

nobody *Vex heard
A£ter he parted quit CBS

company

with Reasoner,
they wanted

we all heard to shorten

of

~.

ae

in 1970 when
"An Essay

his

_If-lluiN-r programu

on War."
when

And he won a Writers it aired on WNET-TV

Guild award fo~ that same

program

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~J5

5

in ~

York.

BeCause he couldn't use Reasoner's voice, Andy And the rest of the Andy has won six and, since he

had to read the war essay himself.
story i •• nooa •• without end.

In all,

Writera

Guild. awards

for TV documentaries;

joined IU,HiDut.s in 1972, he's won three Emmys.
Be and. I were having dinner the other night, and before dinner I was r••dinq a book by Walter Lippmann, the dean of AMerican political newspaper punditry for three decades_
in 1929
f

The OOQki. A InfAC!!: to Morallb published inei.t. it's

and Andy

on. of the tan beat books written

in this

c.utury.
el~nt

I read further in it and revisited the wise and LippmADn ~hom I remembered from his old stand on

the He. York aerald Tribune's editorial page; and I turned up a para9raph that smacked of Andy Rooney. Herers

.1

It i. .... impassible

for the moralist to command.

He

can only persuade.

To persuade he must show that the course

of conduct be advocates ie not an arbitrary pattern to which
vitality .tU,t submit, but that which vitality

itself would

chao-a. if it WlItre clearly understood •.• The good, .said the
Gr~ JIOralist, is 'that which all things aim at'; we may
parb.p. take tRia to mean that the good is that which men

W'QU14 wish to do if they knew what they were doing." Andy Roon.y has made his reputation suggesting that
__ t

JMIiOPl. don't; know what they're doing~ and that they

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05

6 live their

liveD with a reckless
extremely

disregard gutsy

for

the good.
column

Con.id.x: his r.aent,
attacking tat: Lawrenee

newspaper

Tisch,

the head

of CBS,

the TV network

elJlltloy. A.Bdy.

U. wrote that Tisch'a only interest in making a deal to
s.11 CBS to Westinghouse
t.b. best broadcasting

wafilmoney.

And

I quote:
into

"He turned
o1'1e

company

in the businees

or

the weak.eat, and got even richer parts of th~ ca.pany
ware sold

in the process

.•• Large

off

for cash profits that

w.nt to ~i&chiS private company. than it has for CBS stockholders.1t
kicker: "La:rry Tisch

It~s been better for him And Andy ended with this
CBS is He could

i5 still my boas until
Or

officially fire

sold to Westinghouse,

someone else.

:me, but I'. part of what hers eel1i.ng, and money meane
,I

too ...-'11 for h.Ut to do. tha.t.

If you don~t think it's strange for a newsman
thAt th.n you're aa strange As potato ice cream.

to write

Andy did Another column recently about
dav.loplMltnt;: "'1 try to improve myself,"

self"I try

he wrote.

to 10.t!Iweight~

Weight is the most certain

sign of defeat.

I might think, in optimistic moments, that I'm getting to be a nioer guy: I might dream that, after al~ these years,
I

I'm

writing better t.han I ueed to ••. But when

step on the
I haven't lost a

lIIC&a,.
~.

I can't
1:

kid myself

about

my weight.

oonclude

frQU'l.his that I haven't t

become

a nicer

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07

~---

..."-.--

---~"

7

PtN:W., or

ill.

btrtter writer,

either." is that
Andy,

The .t.r4llq: •• t thing about this

who says
waS 23
t

b. a..n¥t YtMtrll old,

ehan,ed hig mind about anything since he
MC:r.tly
keeps trying.

Trying to be hetter

tryiaq to be new. S__
Oft

Listen to what Morley Safer Baid last

i9 lil"t ... ' final summer rarun.
u. nex.t. week~' Morley said, "with three brand new Andy Rooney."
brand

OIlS ••

new

"'ietI, ....a
St.mday

So now, two days before tbat vaunted program airs
on. CBS -bere

strange as it may see.m ~- is the. Andy Rooney.

..... old -- braad new

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