A couple weeks before Rogert Ebert died he sent a box of books and magazines from his library to Andy Ihnatko, the witty computer columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Paging through a a stack of old pulps stirred Ihnatko to philosophize about how adulthood is shaped by childhood ideals. He shares these thoughts in an article on Rogerebert.com.
I flipped through the first issue in the stack, slowing down only enough to make sure I didn’t tear any of the pages away in my excitement. These were no “collectibles” — a somewhat contemptible word used to describe mint-graded comics and magazines that are never removed from their slabbed, sealed packaging. These pulps are clearly “reading copies”; they’re of negligible resale value because over the past seventy years, they’ve obviously been handled and read and re-read… and loved.
Ihnatko says Ebert’s run of pulp magazines stretches into the 1970s – the time of his life when he was already a working film critic.
Ihnatko’s imaginative and warm prose led me to search out his blog, Andy Ihnatko’s Celestial Waste of Bandwidth, which has a post about Roger Ebert’s memorial service and more insights about his friend:
A member of the community of film critics (I’m sorry that I didn’t note his name) explained something very important about Roger very well. Roger was a special person in any group he found himself in. But rather than do what politicians often do, which is to dumb down and put on phony airs,
(“aw, shucks, they maht call me ‘Senator Cole’ up thar in Warshington. But here with you’n’all, ah’m just yer pal Jesse. Incidentally, I call your attention to the scuffmarks on my Western-style boots, which you’ll readily recognize being consistent with one who ‘clears brush’ and…well, the word escapes me but my staff tells me it a kind of maintenance that the fences on a ranch periodically require.”)
…he would elevate everyone else, pointing out their aspects and achievements that made _them_ special as well. Every time Roger introduced me to a friend of his, I shook their hand thinking that this was one of the most incredible people I’d meet all year. Roger’s enthusiastic introductions were genuine. He was as excited as I was when I got to tell millions of people how awesome this new “iPhone” or “iPad” thingy was. He’d made this fantastic discovery and he wanted to share it.
[ Thanks to Bill Higgins for the story.]