Rex offers his take on veteran journalist Andy Rooney, who is leaving 60 Minutes at the age of 92.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode
The wonderful Andy Rooney, after -- what is it? 800… 900 years? -- no actually it’s an almost as impressive 62 years, is leaving CBS. The real milestone for most people, however, is that the man who brought the "mudgeon" to curmudgeon -- who groused, griped, grunted, grumbled and kvetched about the modern world better than anyone else in America --- is unhitching his mournful dingy from the mighty battleship 60 Minutes.
Tonight was his last lamentation on that program.
Andy – sorry, Mr. Rooney – is a mere 92-years-old and has been flailing America and all its wonders, from Peanuts to Presidents, from Lady Gaga to all those pins in new shirts, since 1978. He signed off tonight having delivered about 1100 jeremiads, about the horrors of the modern world.
What to say of Mr. Rooney? That he could be like a really grumpy version of an Old Testament Prophet, who’s run out of locusts for supper and had a particularly trying day in the wilderness, and in addition the most threatening set of eyebrows outside of Mount Olympus.
When Mr. Rooney raised one of those ominous ocular outcrops, it was like watching an avalanche in reverse. When the great bushy thickets combined -- as it was almost impossible from their abundance for them not to -- it was like a great white fort had been erected on his forehead to keep out all the nonsense of this nonsensical age.
Those little talks of his, the 60 Minutes Post Scripts, are many of them devilishly clever in all their seeming artlessness. He had a kind of genius for wild observation, as his comment that you think short shoes would be less expensive than long shoes -- "less in them" and then concluded that "people with short feet are subsidizing people with long feet" -- the injustice. Dig up his verbal mugging of Bill Gates on the internet it’s a classic.
And please don’t call his pieces rants -- they are all fragments of one melancholy aria about modern times, from a man born in an age which has passed, an age tougher, wilder, more free and rightfully anxious that the virtues and joys of that gone day are lost forever.
A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney every Sunday night, it wasn’t quite going to Church, but there were similarities. Anyway, Andy, at 92, is laying down the cudgel.
Well done, thou good and faithful Curmudgeon.
For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.