(By Glenn Peppers)
Many a Sunday, I watched 60 Minutes and balked at, cheered and even laughed at a great many of Andy Rooney’s comments and editorials over Sunday dinner. He was a solid bank of journalistic wit, smarts and blunt smart aleck intellect, and old world gruffness; the kind of gruffness that it took to be a real newsman back in the day. Andy Rooney came from an era where you had to be able to write, produce and present the news, on air if necessary, and back then, all stone faced and Edward R. Murrow-like! Straight delivery; barely an infliction, yet displaying perfect timing like a Timex watch.
Like any of us baby boomers hoping to do so, Andy found his niche in life… Andy found his in the fine art of, “Complaining!” And boy let me tell you, Andy Rooney complained about everything! Airports, food, movies, and over many decades he commented on a cavalcade of trends and lifestyle fads and changes in America that rarely sat well with America’s Toast Master of complaints conservative palette! But you know, most times they were things that we all complained about. Ole’ Andy just had the platform in which to do it, and most times quite eloquently I might add. Other times when all charged up, Andy Rooney complained with the delivery of a narrow minded Mack Truck! Oh yeah, by the way, Andy Rooney never once started his Editorials with, “Ya Ever Notice?” That was something Saturday Night Live’s Joe Piscopo added to the bit when he mimicked Rooney in an ongoing comedy sketch.
Gosh, we all should be so lucky as to do whatever it is we love to do for a living in life, right up to the day we die. Well Andy was one of the lucky ones, for he did just that! Ya know, I liked that old complaining, furry eye browed, grumpy Billy Goat Gruff, old dude for being real about who he was, and what his beliefs were! Even though a whole host of his beliefs were not chocked with tolerance towards people of color, or folks living alternative lifestyles, yet in an odd sort of way, Andy’s more lighthearted editorials were always a kind of a distant reflection of how I felt as far as the idea of what it meant to have a voice in this country.
Andy Rooney and Erma Bombeck (as well as a slew of staff writers in and around the Detroit newspaper circle) always made me feel that “If I could write it, and if folks could read it, in my minds eye, freedom would indeed ring!” Everyone’s entitled to their opinions. Freedom of Speech, Expression, on Print and on Television (or in any electronic medium) is priceless! This freedom lead up to the emergence of one Oprah Winfrey; a game changer who made it so, whereas women and people of color could indeed get on Television and express themselves freely, eloquently, and make a difference all at the same time, adding to the greater good of humanity.
In essence, when you think about it, a great many of Andy’s editorial concerns were not that far off from our own. Culturally, Andy and I were worlds apart, but collectively as Americans, I have to admit, Andy Rooney had a lot of us pegged to a “T” as far as what we expect from our country and ourselves! So in parting I say, Rest in Peace my Mr. Rooney! Although I’m sure by now they already have a booth, a desk and a Remington typewriter with a mic all set up for you, so that you can do some heavenly commentaries; although I’m afraid you won’t have much to complain about my friend. The weather is always sunny where you are, so kick back, there be rivers of milk and honey my friend! “Ya Ever Notice?”