Sunday, March 1, 2009
I first saw him on TV doing political commentary, when he was about the age I am now. I didn't get much out of it, he seemed to be all mad about things I didn't understand. Of course it was the late 60's and they were maddening times. A lot worse than anything going on now really.
Got back in touch with him in the early 80's when I was teaching guitar on Saturdays. On the twenty minute drive to the music store, turn on the radio and sometimes I'd be lucky enough to catch new old Paul. This Paul didn't seem to be angry about anything, and he was telling "The rest of the story."
Funny thing, I bet I've heard a couple dozen of those, but I can only recall three subjects; Garfield, Coolidge and Johnny Appleseed. Maybe it's not too funny though. Sometimes when we talk with someone we really like, and who we believe likes us, we're fuzzy on topic later, but we recall how comforting it felt.
And that was just you Paul. For all I know you may have laughed at us corny yokels, but I think not. You spun your little tales not from an elevated platform, but as if you were sitting around having coffee with friends. That was part of your magic Paul, you spoke to us as equals, as one who respected us. Very few media figures have ever managed that to any noticeable degree. The best was Will Rogers, and the most recent is Oprah.
For me personally Paul, you helped in my lifelong journey to become an honest historian. You never told me about Minnie Vautrin, Tom Farrish, Dr. Goat Testicles, or Belle Gunness. But you sustained my intuition that such folk were out there hiding in graveyards. If you'd only done that for me you'd deserve my heartfelt thanks, yet you did so much more. You prepared me in advance of meeting these people, so I strain to see the human side of monsters & martyrs. Thanks Paul. You were one a of a kind dude. Now, who picked that tie for you Paul? Was it Ray Charles maybe?