I'd like to say here that I could come anywhere near the cleverness of that sharp, silvered gentleman who, for a long time, told it like it is each week at the end of 60 MINUTES. But I can't. I don't have the sing-song nasal voice, the regal eyebrows, the resolutely clasped hands, the piercing camera glare, the crumpled suit or the wisenheimer Irish attitude. And I certainly don't have the seasoned wisdom, the wood-hewn office with that impressive bookshelf, or the wildly charismatic jowls. Andy Rooney is retiring from 60 MINUTES this week, and with this, we can truly say an era has passed. Who'll be there to complain about computers, kids, grocery stores, shoes, or any other cultural atrocity one can finger?
Oh, of course, we'll always have our comedians. Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. aren't leaving our sights any time soon. But I don't think any stand-up artist can deliver the the whallop of an Andy Rooney. No one out there can point out the foibles of each and every time period like he has week after week, much less for six decades, and certainly any comer would be without his journalistic moxie. And the astonishing thing is that Andy can annoy you and endear himself to you with every snarky remark. No matter who you are, where you are, what you are, you could always rely on Andy to tell you the truth. He didn't fall back on partisan politics; he could jab a razor at either side of the aisle. Still, you always knew where he was coming from as he retained an everyman quality whether he was talking about the Iraq war or Christmas decorations. This made it hard to give in to slapping him when he said something you disagreed with. It helped that he seemed like the kind of guy that could tell you the funniest joke you've ever heard--and bourbon wouldn't even enter the picture.
Ultimately, his two minutes each week at the end of CBS' newsmagazine powerhouse could largely be seen as the two most resolutely honest moments on all of TV all week long. And, given the copious amount of TV programming buffeting us here and there every seven days, this was quite a unique gift. Andy may have long ago segued into cranky old man territory--he didn't bother with Joe Piscopo letting him in on the joke--but that doesn't mean he's ever been out of touch. On point of fact, he embraced his encroaching age, and in doing so, he touched upon everything there is to touch upon. Maybe that's why, in his ageless early 90s, he's retiring. It's not that he has nothing more to say. It's simply that he's said it all, and eloquently at that.