Studs Terkel would have been 100 today. I had already been obsessed with him for many years when I finally got to meet him. I shook his hand after a speaking engagement he did with Howard Dean. I leaned in close to his ear and said, “STUDS, WE HAVE THE SAME BIRTHDAY.” He was very deaf, so I had to speak loudly. He said, “MAY 16??” I said, “YES.” He said, “THAT’S GREAT! WHAT DO YOU DO?” I said, “STUDS, I’M IN THEATRE, AND I KNOW YOU WERE IN THE THEATRE ONCE.” He gave me a big smile and said, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” It was great.
He means a lot to me. He means a lot to me because he listened to people and because he liked them. He means a lot to me because he believed things, and you know what he believed when you read his interviews. I like that he never hid that.
So I’ll say the same thing I say every May 16: When I grow up, I’d like to be a short, bald, gravelly journalist who believed in work so much he wrote a book about it. And I hope my life work values humans as much as he did.