I worked with David at a magazine in Minneapolis in the late 1980s. I was a lowly editorial assistant; he was a staff writer. It was my job to type manuscripts into a fancy new Tandy computer and print them out for the editor to read. Even though David was battling a drug problem at the time, his brilliance came through in his work. I have never seen anyone more gifted at stringing words together than David, especially when describing people or scenes. He also was like a Pied Piper, always leading a gaggle out to drink after work. Sometimes he’d be with his buddy Tom Arnold, who’d come into the office from time to time. I’d occasionally tag along. David never wanted the party to end.
In the first chapter of his memoir, The Night of the Gun, David wrote about getting fired from the magazine. I was sitting right outside the door when the editor gave him a rehab ultimatum. David wasn’t ready and walked out. Eventually, of course, he was ready, and his talent and perseverance led him to become one of the most respected and successful journalists in the country. He loved, loved, loved what he did. Here’s one of my favorite quotes of his:
Journalism is “a grand, grand caper. You get to leave, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories, edit the tape. That’s not gonna retire your loans as quickly as it should, and it’s not going to turn you into a person who’s worried about what kind of car they should buy, but that’s kind of as it should be. I mean, it beats working.”