originally written july 29, 2007... reposted in honor of Marvin Zindler. Eye. Witness. News. Thank you Marvin ...
I pretty much gave up watching television news after 9/11. A couple of years ago, though, I realized that I liked to listen to Channel 13 six o'clock news while I cooked dinner. I have a tiny black and white sony TV on my kitchen counter, I think it's from 1978—looks like it was made to go on the first manned space flight, but I digress. I'd pop 13 news on while the skillet heated up, and listen as Dave Ward punched his mid-sentence delivery and Bob Brandon lilted out the weather. It felt familiar. It was comfort news.
I'm a native houstonian. Channel 13 has always felt like my hometown news—remember the millionaire movie every day at 3:00? Pre-oprah. And even though Dave Ward, Don Nelson, Bob Brandon, even cutie Bob Allen have gotten older and rounder, 13 News sounds (if not looks) as it did when I was a kid. And then there was the prime minister of the semi-circular table: Marvin Zindler.
**If you're not from Houston, or just never paid attention to the news, Marvin Zindler gained national attention for his major role in shutting down the Chicken Ranch, outside of La Grange--which was famous for being the favorite destination of college boys and local married men for a little female companionship. Best Little Whorehouse in Texas cast Dolly Parten and Burt Reynold's in a flagrantly romanticized story of the hick-madam and good ole boy sherrif. Dom DeLouise played the Zindler character: wig and all. **
While the news droned on and my work progressed from chopping and checking to setting the table and putting ice in glasses, I didn't pay attention to the screen, maybe I'd put eyes on the week's forecast, it's like your horoscope: you don't believe it, but you can't resist reading it anyway. But when it was time for Marvin, I'd stop and watch. Something about him. that he was still on the air… at his age! with that hair! those suits! those blue glasses. … after all these years, I had come to respect his adherence to the accouterment of it all. Moreover, I loved to see what he was up to. He was forever walking into dilapidated homes, holding the hand of toothless woman in a wheelchair and putting the IRS in their place—to say nothing of the roach droppings, improper temp-a-too-ur food and SLIME in the ice machine. And always with a reliable sign off. MARvin ZINDler EYE WITNESS NEWS.
Marvin died tonight. Over the years I've run into him at Pino's or Kingwood Country Club. Always cordial, he was sincerely everything he appeared to be. A flamboyant character dedicated to the little guy, in pursuit of help for those who couldn't find it, and on a quest for a clean kitchen. When Dave Ward announced his passing tonight, I teared up a bit.
Another little piece of my history is gone.
I don't miss day-glo watches or paper-sack top jeans. I don't miss Flock of Seagulls, Wham or Devo (okay, I do miss devo, a little..).
This Friday, I will miss getting my weekly sign-off fix from the man in the big white hair.
To you old man: good tennis, good golf and everything that makes you happy.
Dave said it best, "Thank you, Marvin."