April 7, 2009
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Ebert's Comments

Roger Ebert has a wonderful reminiscence of the newsroom in the best damn job in the whole damn world.

There were no cubicles. We worked at desks lined up next to each other row after row. Ann Landers (actually Eppie Lederer) had an office full of assistants somewhere in the building, but she insisted on sitting in the middle of this chaos, next to the TV-radio critic, Paul Molloy. Once Paul was talking on a telephone headset and pounding at a typewriter and tilted back in his chair and fell to the floor and kept on talking. Eppie regarded him, reached in a file drawer, and handed down her pamphlet, Drinking Problem? Take This Test of Twenty Questions.

Just as wonderful – and twice as remarkable – are the comments. First, there’s a regular parade of experts: famous writers, columnists, descendants of newsroom legends. Second, even the idiots are terrific: when one pseudonymous poster complains that Ebert “used to be a loud mouth drunk, insulting everyone”, Ebert handles it brilliantly (and instructively) by recalling the Billy Goat Tavern.

Ebert: Thanks for that! It felt for a moment when I was back at the Goat’s.

The other newspaper drinking spot in Chicago was Ricardo’s. They made the best green pasta I’ve ever had.