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Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Mar 05, 2015

Encore: David Carr at The Moth StorySLAM, May 9, 2006

by Joshua Wolf Shenk

I met David Carr when he came to D.C. in the mid-1990s to edit Washington City Paper. He always struck me—a journalist 15 years younger—as part mentor and part co-conspirator. He had an earnest edge—D.C. was all about earnest—but with that slight turn of the lip that let you know he was a rascal. At lunch one day Carr told me his ambitions to be a staff writer at a big-time outfit. “I want to be talent,” he said. And that he motherfucking was. Like many of us, I was in awe of what he did at The Times, with his discernment, his sense of the moment, his attitude. Some writers, you feel their presence behind their words. You feel it the way you feel your own breath.

In the spring of 2006, I came to David for some advice and he gave it gamely and we talked some about The Moth, where I had been a storyteller and curator and served on the board. I invited him to a slam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. On our way into the room, he told me, yeah, it was good that this came up, he had some material he wanted to try out, part of a book proposal about to make the rounds. He was going to put  his name in the hat.

If I remember right, this is the first public airing of a seminal scene in The Night of the Gun, David’s searing memoir. After the shitty news of his death on February 12th, The Moth dug it up from the archives. So as we pour over the memorials (my own favorite was from Jennifer Senior) and click through his clips, we can add this little gem to the pile.

If you like what you hear, and you haven’t read the memoir yet, do yourself a favor.
p.s. Though this is pretty much a perfect story, Carr didn’t win that night, because there was another monster in the room— a story from Martin Dockery (below). Carr refers to it when he takes the mike. The great Dan Kennedy hosted.

Listen here.

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