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What I’ll Remember About David Carr

Journalist and author Shane Snow reflects on the advice and mentorship that the legendary New York Times columnist offered him.

What I’ll Remember About David Carr
[Photos: Shane Snow]

Last summer, my life fell apart. In the course of a week, I suddenly found myself single, homeless, broke, and rather depressed. For several days, I paced New York City with a backpack, trying to process everything.

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One afternoon, I was making a loop around the fountain of the Worldwide Plaza on 49th Street in Manhattan–as I’d done a hundred times that week. I’d not yet told anyone what had happened, save my assistant and business partners. I hadn’t even called my parents yet. My cell phone rang. It was the raspy voice of Mr. David Carr.

He was on deadline, as usual. Wanted to pick my brain about his column, as he occasionally had for the past couple of years. A minute into the conversation, however, he sensed that something was wrong. He asked.

We spent the next 90 minutes talking about life– mine and his–instead of his story. His were the words I needed to hear at that very moment (“Fuck, man!” and “I’ve been there, too.”). I’m pretty sure I made him late for his next appointment, maybe even for his deadline. He didn’t care.

David was one of the toughest reporters who ever lived. And unlike most of us journalists, the high strung, the high-and-mighty, (and/or just high), he had been through enough to know that people are more important than business.

The next time I saw him–and every subsequent time, for that matter–he gave me an enormous hug.

The news of David’s passing yesterday came like an avalanche, not unlike the cacophony that clattered from the man’s crumb-filled keyboard every time we spoke. I’m going to miss him yelling at me for not getting the car door for a young lady, or for blowing up his metaphors in front of his students. I’m going to miss his advice on how to move forward when life kicks you, and how to be a real journalist. I’m going to miss his sentences.

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Shortly after I first met David a couple of years ago — when I was still nervous to even speak to the guy–he stopped by my office to interview my colleagues and me for a column. It was a new office, and we’d recently hung portraits of our favorite writers on the wall:


I was worried that David might unexpectedly see his black-and-white mug next to those of Oscar and Jane, Nelly and Frederick, DFW and Hunter S.

If he did notice, he didn’t let on. But there’s no question to me today that that’s exactly where his face belongs.

This article originally appeared in Medium and is reprinted with permission.