There is a growing feeling that perhaps Texas is really another country, a place where the skies, the disasters, the diamonds, the politicians, the women, the fortunes, the football players and the murders are all bigger than anywhere else.
Every reporter inhales skepticism. You interview people, and they lie. You face public figures, diligently making notes or taping what is said, and they perform their interviews to fit a calculated script. The truth, alas, is always elusive.
One of the first things that helped me to understand certain things about writing was seeing 'The Iceman Cometh' in the Village when I was a kid, before I ever became a newspaperman, and realizing that the world I knew could also be the subject of some amazing stuff.
In 1962, I wrote a series about 42nd Street called 'Welcome to Lostville.' One result was that the young Bob Dylan read it and invited me to his first concert at Town Hall; the result was a kind of friendship that years later led to my liner notes for 'Blood on the Tracks.'
Everybody who went to Vietnam carries his or her own version of the war. Only 10 percent engaged in combat; the American elephant, pursuing the Vietnamese grasshopper, was extraordinarily heavy with logistical support.
In the '70s, the newspaper guild managed to get people paid what they were worth, but the reporters suddenly became middle class. It's much more respectable, more uptight, and everyone speaks in guarded tones. And the writing isn't as good. We always had guys who were failed poets and failed novelists who did it to eat.
Sinatra slowly found a way to allow tenderness into the performance while remaining manly. He perfected the role of the Tender Tough Guy and passed it on to several generations of Americans. Before him, that archetype did not exist in American popular culture.
In my experience, growing up in Brooklyn and all that, the real tough guys didn't act tough. They didn't talk tough. They were tough, you know? I think about these politicians who try to pose as tough guys - it makes me laugh.
As a master of graphic creation, as teacher, historian, and roving ambassador of comics, Jerry Robinson has ensured that future generations of talented kids will continue to imagine and then put marks on paper.
Reporters now are better educated than the crowd I knew when I broke in. We still had guys shaped by Prohibition and the Depression, so the news business still had badly paid people who loved it for the life, because every day was different.