World·Point of View

Columnist David Carr: Brilliant, compelling, one-of-a-kind

Media columnist David Carr, who wrote the Media Equation column for The New York Times and penned a memoir about his fight with drug addiction, died Thursday. CBC's Mary Lynk shares her personal memories of this remarkable man.

CBC's Mary Lynk shares her personal memories of journalist David Carr

New York Times columnist David Carr is shown at an event on Thursday evening, just hours before he collapsed in the newspaper's newsroom and died. (Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)

David Carr, media columnist for The New York Times and author of a memoir about his fight with drug addiction, The Night of the Gun, died Thursday at his office. The 58-year-old was hailed as a remarkable journalist and a remarkable man. CBC’s Mary Lynk produced the final major piece Carr did with CBC, the 2013 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism. These are some of her personal memories of David Carr.


David Carr was a journalist’s journalist. A critical thinker in a time when fewer and fewer are in the media.

David died suddenly last night after collapsing in the New York Times newsroom. He was 58.

An accomplished flirt. A devoted family man. He also felt dangerous.

But beneath his crusty exterior was a tender heart.

David was the acerbic, funny and brilliant media columnist for the New York Times. He was also the unintentional star of the documentary on The New York Times, Page One. Nobody could steal the spotlight from his searing wit, intellect and razor sharp B.S. meter.

David Carr, seen here in 2008, wrote The Night of the Gun, a memoir that traces his rise from cocaine addict, to single dad raising twin girls, to sobered-up media columnist for The New York Times. (Stephen Chernin/Associated Press)
I wept when I heard David had died.

A little over two years ago, I had vigorously pursued him to do a lecture for CBC Radio’s Ideas. David gets lots of requests. And forget saying "no," he often doesn’t even respond.

At first I wrote rather straightforward emails. No response.

Then I thought, heck, this is the man who wrote the best-selling memoir, The Night of The Gun. An absolutely riveting account of his life, about his desperate struggle with addiction, including crack cocaine, and his spectacular recovery.

This is a guy who doesn’t like straightforward.

So I started writing irreverent, saucy emails, and he finally replied.

In an email where he agreed to do the lecture, his last line warned of an upcoming ski trip and his love of the most difficult runs - black diamonds:

I ski black and steep, so I may not live to our proposed date.

David

I wrote back:

I will book that. I will get in touch in a few months to give more detail.

Try the bunny hill next time…

Mary

He replied:

You try the bunny hill next time. Not how I roll.

David

No, that’s not how David rolled.

To the end, despite outward fragility, he remained a rogue. I can just imagine his skinny body, twisted from brutal cancer treatments, flying down black diamonds with absolute pirate glee.

And that passion extended to his friends, family and journalism.

I will miss his critical and insightful eye on the world.

Journalism has lost one of its best.

And I have lost a mentor, a fellow cancer survivor and friend.

Mary….

Inquiring after your health and well being. And sending a note to let you know that I laugh my balls off when I think of our time together. You are a f….g pirate of the best kind. So glad to share a planet with you.

Your friend,

David

The sign-off on his email always read:

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. -- Hunter S. Thompson


In memory of David Carr, CBC Radio's Ideas presents a rebroadcast of his 2013 Dalton Camp Lecture called 'The Next Big Thing Has Already Happened.' It airs tonight at 9 p.m. 


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