Before too much more time passes, I want to recount a brief, wonderful personal moment from Poynter’s recent Tedx event.
Because it was the last full day of candidate qualifying for Florida’s state legislative races, I had to leave early, but so did, for his own reasons, David Carr, media critic for the New York Times.
In case you are not familiar with Carr’s backstory, do yourself a favor and read his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun, in which he detailed his past experiences with cocaine addiction. The fact that Carr was able to overcome this addiction, rebuild his career and now sits at the apex of public intellectualism testifies to the strength of Carr’s character.
Walking past Carr, who was waiting for a taxi, on the way out of the Poynter campus, I hesitated for a moment about talking him up. I just don’t like to be that guy. You know that guy, the dude who requests a jazz band to play “When the Saints Go Marching In” or a lounge player to sing “Piano Man” — you don’t want to be that guy.
But if you are familiar with what I personally struggled through and overcame — my own ‘Night of the Gun’, so to speak — you can understand when I say David Carr is a personal hero.
So, of course, I chatted him up. I had to, just had to, tell him what his story means to me. But again, I’m sure every writer who has danced with some kind of devil, and that’s pretty much every writer, and meets Carr wants to tell him their story.
I spared Carr the details, yet was still able to let him know what his story meant to me; that someone can walk out of the wilderness and become the media critic at the nation’s paper of record.
In a voice crackling like a winter fire, Carr grasped my shoulder and said, “Brother, ain’t this a great country?”
Yes, David, it really is.