Pimping Up Where Molly Ivins Left Off

OK, so anyone who has been paying serious attention will know that I’m late: the Texas Observer‘s Molly Ivins Tribute issue was published in February. But I just got mine in the San Francisco mail yesterday — via Pony Express from Austin, I guess — and, just in case you missed it too, I am telling everyone I know: Do yourself a favor and get a copy while they last. Even if you don’t need a pick-me-up today or tomorrow, the day will surely come that you do, and this issue has some inspiring and potent juju.

Of all the stray and stringy indy journalism dogs that Molly adopted (and Mother Jones was one), The Texas Observer was the one closest to her heart. She was co-editor there from 1970 to 1976, and more to the point of this story, she was in these last few years driven to get this feisty, important and perpetually strapped publication on its financial feet. Last fall, she even subjected herself to a Molly Ivins “barbeque” (AKA, roast) to raise some important money. The Observer had been challenged to match a $500,000 grant to ramp up their reporting and, indeed, with Molly inspiring large gifts and small, they made the match: The money will support a serious expansion of the magazine’s investigative reporting for the next two years. (Anyone who reads the business pages should have already noted that the total amount raised there — huge by the standards of indy media — equates to 1/300th of Larry Ellison’s yacht and is 1/54th what Goldman Sachs’ CEO took home last year. I suppose the justice is that getting paid even measly wages for doing butt-kicking journalism is just more damn fun.) But I digress.

The Molly Tribute issue has contributions from lots of people you’ve heard of (Bill Moyers, Maya Angelou, Jim Hightower, Garrison Keillor, and Dan Rather among them) and lots that I hadn’t, and it’s all really, really good, that sweet combination of tears and laughter and Texas that truly honors Molly’s life and spirit. Typical of us bleeding-heart liberal publications, the Observer has gone and underpriced it: It’s available online for a mere $5. But you know what you need to do: when you go to the Observer‘s site to get your copy (and do it now — I’m told they’re down to fewer than 1,000 copies), also click on the button to make a contribution to the Molly Ivins Investigative Fund.

Help those heroes and heroines at the Observer keep fightin’ for freedom! (I’m telling you, you’ll love that Tribute issue.)

— Jay Harris