I would like to add two footnotes to the brilliant two-part history of Big Table [“Naked Censorship,” September 29 and October 6].
First, Daily News columnist Jack Mabley never considered his audience to be the university but rather Charlie Six-Packs. His attempt to impune “beat writing” was a hack columnist’s attempt at narcissistic overreaching. In terms of journalism, he was just about on a par with that right-wing drunk Paul Malloy, who was the TV critic for the Sun-Times. Both were a disgrace to the profession. (Yes–profession–pre-O.J.) That the University of Chicago’s president and high-powered trustees should have taken Mabley seriously is just another example of the time of terror in the 1950s. (It would only be a few short years later when journalists like Mabley and Malloy were ignored by their younger peers. Some of us went on to form our own version of Big Table in 1968, only we called it the Chicago Journalism Review.)
Second, my only quibble with the article is its failure to offer the reader more insight into a heroic figure in this whole mess–the poet and editor Paul Carroll. Back then I had the good fortune to hang around Paul once in a while when the Chicago Review was being killed and Big Table 1 was being born. (A pristine copy of the magazine with Paul’s home phone inside sits in front of me as I type this. I was a U. of C. dropout who wanted to “write” and my carrer in journalism was six years away.) Not once did Paul make me feel the awkward wannabe. I never saw him ruffled or truly angry. He seemed to have time for everyone. Even his references to Richard Stern were with a sense of bemusement and irony, so it would not be surprising that Paul would later publish Stern. Paul whooped with joy at the writings of the so-called beats, and he was enver more than moments away from acts of true kindness.
This is from his inscription in my copy of The Edward Dahlberg Reader, which he edited and for which he wrote the introduction (1967, New Directions), “Up the Irish / Down the Feds; / We sad Irish, / Anarchists and Reds.”
In short, Paul Carroll was and is a mensch.
Lewis Z. Koch