icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


Danny Schechter (1942–2015)

O Danny! The smartest, most tireless, most infuriating, most persuasive person I've probably ever known has died of the horrible pancreatic cancer. Far too soon. His biography—radio "News Dissector," journalist, activist, filmmaker, author—could be that of half a dozen overly energized people; look him up. I am only going to say some personal things.

He made you feel you were part of something important, that you were important, & the work was essential. That you could do more & better & think harder. I've rarely felt as useful as I did working at MediaChannel in September of 2001. He was smart in the best way—the kind that made you smarter, encouraged you to reach & learn. He could argue rings around pretty much anybody, but he didn't; it was always a fair fight.

I loved how he would sweep me up & along—to Murray Kempton's funeral, to a Yankees game, to a meeting where he introduced me as his bodyguard, spinning some completely implausible—though somehow believable!—explanation with breathtaking spontaneity. Practically the last conversation we had, a week before he died, I said I couldn't come over on the Saturday he suggested because I had to chant Torah at my synagogue. "Will you chant some Torah to me?" he said instantly. Game. Roaringly interested.

When I edited his first book, the publisher told me under no circumstances to let Danny into my office or at my computer. And yet, in the blink of an eye, that's exactly where he was. Unstoppable. (That's where the infuriating comes in, of course.)

Too many memories, too many deaths, too sad for more now. I feel the weight in my heart. I am, as has all too often been the case, helped by these lines from Ted Berrigan:

The heart stops briefly when someone dies,
a quick pain as you hear the news, & someone passes
from your outside life to inside. Slowly the heart adjusts
to its new weight, & slowly everything continues, sanely.

— from "Things to Do in Providence"
Post a comment