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RIP Studs Terkel
October 31, 2008 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Studs Terkel has passed. Author, actor, oral historian, storyteller.
posted by me3dia (107 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Bummus at 2:32 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by jlowen at 2:34 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:35 PM on October 31, 2008


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No call for sadness, the man lived the hell out of every one of his 96 years. And "The Good War" (quotes his) remains one of the most illuminating studies of the nature of war I've ever read. Unless you lived it, you don't really know what World War II was actually like until you've read it.
posted by gompa at 2:38 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Take it easy . . . . but take it.
posted by ferdydurke at 2:40 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by notclosed at 2:43 PM on October 31, 2008


Ah shit. I just read this the other day and thought to myself how wonderful it will be for Studs to see a black president elected in his lifetime. God has a strange sense of humor.
posted by felix betachat at 2:43 PM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


A recent interview with Studs.
posted by garlic at 2:44 PM on October 31, 2008


Never think you don't have enough time to accomplish something. That's what I learned from Mr. Terkel.

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posted by batmonkey at 2:45 PM on October 31, 2008


"Hope Dies Last"

We'll keep it alive for you, Studs.
posted by scody at 2:46 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by eclectist at 2:47 PM on October 31, 2008


Damn, I wish he'd lived to see Barack Obama elected President.
posted by lukemeister at 2:48 PM on October 31, 2008


jinx, felix!
posted by garlic at 2:48 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by rtha at 2:48 PM on October 31, 2008


Studs Terkel is up there in heaven with Kurt Vonnegut having one hell of a conversation.

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posted by By The Grace of God at 2:49 PM on October 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


My favorite memory of him is watching him play Hugh Fullerton, counting the suspicious plays in 8 Men Out. Sad to see him go.
posted by shmegegge at 2:49 PM on October 31, 2008


Well goddamn.

Safe travels, Studs.
posted by lekvar at 2:49 PM on October 31, 2008


Holy crap. I was just thinking about him this morning. Thank you, Studs, for your legacy. Damn, but that was a life well lived.

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posted by fiercecupcake at 2:51 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by cusack at 2:52 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by Westringia F. at 2:55 PM on October 31, 2008


Aww, Studs was one of the last 20 or so people who I really admire. His interviews almost hurt to read, because they're so good and so deft.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by mandal at 2:58 PM on October 31, 2008


Shit
posted by ardgedee at 2:59 PM on October 31, 2008


Sad Halloween.
posted by sfts2 at 3:03 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by Freen at 3:04 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by interrupt at 3:08 PM on October 31, 2008


Studs is at the Pearly Gates and sees St. Peter:

"Hey, St. Pete! how do you like this gig? Ah, I figure I know that one already, but what's your take on it? Does it get harder when you have to deal with a damned soul, when he might have just been in a bind? When you have just that one moment to say, 'You're in!' or 'You're thataway!' ..."
posted by ardgedee at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2008 [5 favorites]


Damn. Oh, goddamnit. That man was a real, true (no sarcasm) national treasure.

I saw him eating breakfast once in a diner in Chicago, another time on a Chicago bus. I was too intimidated (and, yes, starstruck) to say something to him.

Shit.

Oh, and: .
posted by John of Michigan at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2008


Just to add to the chorus of praise, everyone who studied theatre in my generation - especially playwrighting - read Terkel extensively. If you want to know how real human beings talk - or, even better, talked ten, twenty, thirty (etc) years ago - you're not going to find a better source than Terkel's writing.

Terkel's work not only ensures that his influence will extend long beyond his lifetime, but that the voices of hundreds and hundreds of other people will last long beyond their lifetimes as well.

That is an amazing legacy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2008


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No quiet mourning for Studs from me. Not for a life like that.

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posted by RakDaddy at 3:12 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by seawallrunner at 3:14 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by schyler523 at 3:14 PM on October 31, 2008


He was amazing, wasn't he?

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posted by droplet at 3:22 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by the cuban at 3:23 PM on October 31, 2008


Man, what a life. RIP, dear sir. The world owes you a lot for your work.
posted by sleepy pete at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2008


A true lefty to the end and he opened the way for the importance of oral history, now so big a part of university programs and in other places. He also told folks how to do interviews when doing oral history.
posted by Postroad at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


He was in that living room last year when he said with zest that when he "checked out"-- as a "hotel kid" he rarely used the word "dying," preferring the euphemism "checking out" and its variants--he wanted to be cremated. He wanted his ashes mixed with those of his wife, which sat in an urn in the living room of his house, near the bed in which he slept and dreamed.

"My epitaph? My epitaph will be 'Curiosity did not kill this cat,'" he said.

He then said that he wanted his and Ida's ashes to be scattered in Bughouse Square, that patch of green park that so informed his first years in his adopted city.

"Scatter us there," he said, a gleeful grin on his face. "It's against the law. Let 'em sue us."



posted by nickyskye at 3:25 PM on October 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


Conversation with future Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing in 1969: Lessing: "You do still have gangsters [in Chicago], don't you?" Terkel: "Yes, but these days they're mostly in business, or politics."


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posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 3:27 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by ericb at 3:28 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:29 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by applemeat at 3:43 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by Iridic at 3:43 PM on October 31, 2008


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awesome human.
posted by gcbv at 3:44 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by OolooKitty at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by MikeMc at 4:02 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by sonascope at 4:03 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by klausness at 4:03 PM on October 31, 2008


Sorry, I can't mourn. Terkel's abject support of one of the most regressive and repressive regimes left on the planet, the Catholic Church, was most unfortunate.
posted by telstar at 4:05 PM on October 31, 2008


Not only a literary great, Studs also, to the end of his life, was one of those people who used his prominence to encourage young artists from so many fields. He would bring onto his radio program anyone who interested him. He never limited his interest to the "arrived," but also sought out and supported young talent. He was important to the careers of so many young Chicago artists, musicians, writers, researchers, historians, and more, at the start of their careers, my husband being one of them. He had a long and wonderful life, and his passing saddens me hugely. Chicago and the world will miss him.
posted by nax at 4:06 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by exlotuseater at 4:08 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by mikelieman at 4:09 PM on October 31, 2008


The radio programs on WFMT were great. He talked to everyone: I remember one show where he had some teenaged kid as guest, and he treated the kid seriously, asking him about the new music (I think it was the Beatles era), why it was important. There must be a lot of recordings of those shows around: any of them ever collected into an LP/CD/MP3?
posted by cogneuro at 4:13 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by Countess Elena at 4:18 PM on October 31, 2008


I met him in Chicago soon after I arrived in this country; he noticed my accent and bad English. He had me laugh more than I had for a long while, and he told me a couple of stories about other immigrants and made me feel like I was really a part of an exciting American tradition of new arrivals. I never saw him again. But I became a real fan, I read his books and listened to him on the radio.

I don't know about his "abject support" of the Catholic Church, or even if I should really care, because I'm sure of one thing: he gave much more to the rest of humanity than he ever could have taken from it. He made me feel special when I needed to feel noticed, and it's clear he touched many more lives than just mine. I feel sad knowing he is no longer with us.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:21 PM on October 31, 2008 [15 favorites]


I sat in front of him on a bus in Chicago once. I was too shy to schmooze since I hadn't read his books. Two or three other people recognized him and I eavesdropped. As pleased as they were to speak with him, he was clearly just as pleased to speak with them as he asked where they lived and what they did.
Thank you Studs - you are the best of Chicago.
posted by robotico at 4:22 PM on October 31, 2008


I bet he already voted, carrying on the Chicago tradition of the dead being able to vote.

An all around great guy - he was on regular voice on Chicago radio, always unafraid to be a proud LIBERAL. Recently his hearing has not been good, making it hard for him to communicate, which he was put on earth to do. He will be missed, but we will carry on his tradition of speaking our minds and letting all voices be heard.

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posted by readery at 4:23 PM on October 31, 2008


"Sorry, I can't mourn. Terkel's abject support of one of the most regressive and repressive regimes left on the planet, the Catholic Church, was most unfortunate."

Boy, you got him there. You know what else I hate? The Sistine Chapel. It'd be great art if it weren't at the Vatican, but I'm too far up my own ass to see that.
posted by klangklangston at 4:29 PM on October 31, 2008 [9 favorites]


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posted by box at 4:33 PM on October 31, 2008


I first saw him on TV a few years ago and I wanted hear more so I listened to the interviews at www.studsterkel.org. I found him quite captivating to listen to.

I haven't really seen or heard anything of him since then but when I turned the key in my car tonight, the radio came on and I heard "he loved to talk and his interviews flowed like jazz". I immediately guessed who they were talking about. I agree there's no reason to be sad but still ... :(
posted by tetranz at 4:39 PM on October 31, 2008


Studs Terkel taught me a bunch of things as a writer and as a person: that everybody's got a story even if they don't know it, and that if you want to be a writer, listening is as important as talking, and that the world is filled with a huge variety of people.

RIP, Studs.
posted by jonmc at 4:40 PM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Aw, damn-damn-damn.

I especially loved it when he did "Prairie Home Companion"; always gave the acting company a run for their money.
posted by RavinDave at 4:42 PM on October 31, 2008


One of my few remaining heroes. I miss him already.

No call for sadness

Yeah, actually there is, because he sure would have enjoyed seeing Obama elected.

Sorry, I can't mourn. Terkel's abject support of one of the most regressive and repressive regimes left on the planet, the Catholic Church, was most unfortunate.

Thanks for dropping by to show off your childish, self-absorbed inability to see anything but your own personal hobbyhorse. And I'll bet you complain about people who vote for candidates who oppose abortion, regardless of any other issues.

posted by languagehat at 4:45 PM on October 31, 2008 [6 favorites]


One of my longtime LJ friends worked for Mr. Terkel as a videographer and was a subject in his latest book "Hope Dies Last". Studs helped fund his documentary, as well.

I've been a fan of his work for a long time now. He's been a big influence on me as far as how I blog... when a big story comes about, I try to tell it by concentrating on the firsthand accounts of bloggers out there who are personally involved in living through it, rather than caring quite so much about what some media org says that some politician is saying about what some general is saying about what his commanders are saying about what the soldiers or civilians might be saying about some problem somewhere.

Stud's life has been a constant reminder that the best, most compelling, most true stories have always been at ground level.
posted by markkraft at 4:53 PM on October 31, 2008


I just finished reading Giants of Jazz when I was in Chicago earlier this month.

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posted by sciurus at 4:56 PM on October 31, 2008


Here is a link to a 2003 interview that was almost a fpp.
posted by hortense at 5:09 PM on October 31, 2008


From an interview last year:

AMY GOODMAN: What do you want them to think of when someone says “Studs Terkel”?

STUDS TERKEL: I want them to think of somebody who remembers them, to be remembered, whether it be me or anyone else. They want Studs Terkel, maybe as somebody—I’m romanticizing myself now—somebody who gave me hope. One of my books is Hope Dies Last. Without hope, forget it. It’s hope and thought . . . That’s what it’s about. That’s what I hope I’m about.

AMY GOODMAN: Last words to young people today?

STUDS TERKEL: Last words? Oh, I always say my epitaph. I know that. Can I try, Amy? My epitaph is, curiosity did not kill this cat.
posted by markkraft at 5:11 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Pope Guilty at 5:15 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by futility closet at 5:15 PM on October 31, 2008


From an interview just five days ago at HuffPo: Studs for Obama:

I asked Studs, if he were to interview Obama, what would he ask him?
"I'd ask Obama, do you plan to follow up on the program of the New Deal of FDR?
I'd tell him, 'don't fool around on a few issues, such as health care. We've got bigger work to do! Read FDR's second inaugural address!'

The free market has to be regulated. And the New Deal did that and they provided jobs. The government has to. The WPA provided jobs. We have got to get back to that. We need more reg-u-la-tion. . .

Community organizers like Obama know what's going on. If they remember. The important thing is memory. You know in this country, we all have Alzheimer's. Obama has got to remember his days as an organizer. It all comes back to the neighborhood. Well I hope the election is a landslide for Obama. . . . He's got to remember where he comes from! Obama, he has got to be pushed!"

posted by markkraft at 5:20 PM on October 31, 2008


Lovely remembrance from Roger Ebert, who calls Studs the greatest Chicagoan: "For me, he represented the joyous, scrappy, liberal, generous, wise-cracking heart of this city. If you met him, he was your friend." That's the honest, sterling truth.

I met him once; we shared the podium at an anti-death penalty rally in downtown Chicago in the mid-'90s. It never occured to me to be nervous to get up in front of that crowd to give a speech, but when faced with the legend that was Studs, I was too shy to say much more than offer my hand and squeak, "Mr. Terkel, it's an honor."
posted by scody at 5:30 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by fixedgear at 5:36 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:43 PM on October 31, 2008


i remember a few years ago when my wife and i were hitchhiking in maine after a boating accident. when the driver that picked us up found out that we were from Chicago, he started talking abut Studs. My wife then told him that she had seen Studs once or twice on a bus on Michigan Avenue.

"Studs on a bus! Wow that must have been pretty cool." It was all he could talk about for the rest of the ride.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:45 PM on October 31, 2008


When I was in college, I read his book Coming of Age, where he interviewed people that were over seventy about how America had changed over the course of their lifetime. It was one of the most enlightening and empowering books I ever read. It gave a personal touch to a lot of events that I only had vague knowledge of, and featured a lot of wisdom, but more than that, it showed that there was never a point where you couldn't give more or do more if that was your goal. One interview was with a teacher whose main goal was to teach peace to elementary school kids - to not scold them, to not send them to the principle, but to treat them with respect and to try to get them to understand that they had to treat everyone else with respect. It turned out that he did a lot to help those kids, especially compared to other stricter teachers. And he was still doing it, at the age of 70.

Little stories like that - of a human being just trying to be kind to other people - they are just about the only thing that makes me tear up. The idea that Studs would seek out someone like that, and try to get their stories known, tells you a lot about him. And who else would interview both Kurt Vonnegut and a Crip gang member for the same book?

About the only other writer whose work has even come close to me as being so inspirational has been Jonathan Kozol.
posted by Kiablokirk at 5:48 PM on October 31, 2008


One of my Heroes. What a scrappy old coot he was!
posted by a_green_man at 5:51 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by talos at 6:01 PM on October 31, 2008


Ah damn. Seriously. Damn.

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posted by jeanmari at 6:02 PM on October 31, 2008


> It was all he could talk about for the rest of the ride.

That's my new catchphrase when witnessing anything remarkable.

"Hey, the Cubs won the World Series!"
"Studs on a bus!"

"Hey, a black man became President!"
"Studs on a bus!"

"They're giving away your favorite beer at the brewpub!"
"Studs on a bus!"
posted by ardgedee at 6:35 PM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


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posted by genehack at 6:45 PM on October 31, 2008


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in so many ways

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posted by kozad at 6:57 PM on October 31, 2008


I've spoken to him on the phone in the course of my job... what a charmer, Studsey, what an intellect. What a good man, an exemplary American, an excellent human being, what a giant, what a tremendous soul. I'll never forget you sir, thank you for all you did and all you stood for and all you taught me.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:03 PM on October 31, 2008


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Crack an Old Style with Royko, man.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:26 PM on October 31, 2008


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Wow. His work shaped me so profoundly.

Now that was a pro-American.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2008


S'long, Studs. Thanks for everything.

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posted by Herodios at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2008


Loved your work, man.

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posted by Wolof at 7:35 PM on October 31, 2008


No doubt he and Royko are finally grabbing a long-delayed beer at the Heaven branch of the Billy Goat, run by "Billy Goat" Sianis himself.
posted by WCityMike at 7:37 PM on October 31, 2008



Sorry, I can't mourn. Terkel's abject support of one of the most regressive and repressive regimes left on the planet, the Catholic Church, was most unfortunate
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You should call your cable company and tell them you're only getting the John Birch Society channel, you can probably get a credit on your account. Also you've got about fifty years of TV watching to catch up on, hold tight because shit gets real nutty right around 1963.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:49 PM on October 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Huh. I knew Studs' name prior to this thread but never really anything about him or his work. Having read this thread, his memorial will be me reading his work for the first time.

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posted by stet at 8:23 PM on October 31, 2008


A man comes from New York. He says, "These petitions, your name is on all of them: anti-poll tax, anti-lynching, friendship with the Soviet Union.... don't you know the communists were behind them?" And he said, "Look, you can get out of this pretty easy. All you got to do is say the communists duped you. You were dumb. You didn't mean it." I said, "But I did mean it!" To this day people say, "Oh, Studs, you were so heroic." Heroic? I was scared shitless! But my ego was at stake. My vanity. "Whaddya mean, I'm dumb?"
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:24 PM on October 31, 2008


Studs Terkel spent his life gathering the story of the people of this country.

If you want to know what America is and who Americans really are, read his books.

He had an extrordinary gift for drawing people out, and getting them to tell their stories, because he was truly interested in them and listened to what they had to say - even people who nobody else listened to.

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posted by louche mustachio at 8:33 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by Smedleyman at 8:57 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by LobsterMitten at 9:57 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by librarina at 10:01 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:31 PM on October 31, 2008


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posted by edgeways at 11:34 PM on October 31, 2008


I kinda feel bad that I had absolutely no idea who this guy was. Still don't, really, but I do grasp that he meant a lot to a lot of people...

In any case, always a . worthy moment when someone dies, so


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posted by agress at 11:48 PM on October 31, 2008


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I discovered him with this documentary.

Missed my chance to see him in real life about 10 years ago; he was supposed to be on a panel in LA but canceled because his wife was ill.


"Studs" for Studs Lonigan.
posted by brujita at 12:14 AM on November 1, 2008


Damn.
posted by orthogonality at 2:19 AM on November 1, 2008


A great man.

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posted by Outlawyr at 4:54 AM on November 1, 2008


If you don't yet know him - or even if you if do - spend an hour with this most wonderful man (2004)
posted by madamjujujive at 5:18 AM on November 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by pilgrim at 6:05 AM on November 1, 2008


I saw him speak at the Chicago Public Library in 2001, he was incredible and interesting.

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posted by bustmakeupleave at 8:33 AM on November 1, 2008


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posted by scottymac at 12:03 PM on November 1, 2008


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posted by Smart Dalek at 1:46 PM on November 1, 2008


Highway 61 Radio, with some Terkel videos and links, as relate to Terkel's love of the blues.

RIP, Studs Terkel.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:55 PM on November 1, 2008


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posted by Snyder at 11:49 PM on November 2, 2008


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posted by Capt Jingo at 1:34 PM on November 3, 2008


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