Red Hot Patriot—the Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins

Whether you agreed with her political analysis or not, you had to admire Molly Ivins. She never, ever held back on any injustice, whether the responsible party was the President of the United States, the Texas legislature, or her own father.

Being a liberal newspaperwoman in the Lone Star state is akin to being a hen in a fox den, with attempted dismemberment lurking at every turn, unless, like Molly Ivins, you could dish it as well as any of the boys.

Rhonda Brown as Molly Ivins
Rhonda Brown as Molly Ivins
In the current revival of her heralded 2012 performance as Ivins, kindred firecracker Rhonda Brown once again lights up the theatre with the syndicated columnist and best-selling author's inimitable wit, wisdom, and wild ways.

Playwrights Margaret and Allison Engel deftly capture Ivins' broad range of commentary with a topical approach that begins with writing and newspaper work and spring-boards into societal, political, familial, and personal circumspection. And what a kaleidoscopic life it was! For those of us who thought it was challenging to protest the Vietnam War in the northern U.S., consider what it was like for Molly being an anti-war journalist in oil country. As the six-foot tall redhead describes it:

"My epitaph should read: She Never Made a Shrewd Career Move."

But that's why we love her: she never shrank from calling a spade a spade:

"Mostly, we're spitting in the ocean. The best you can do is puncture some balloons, make the assholes sleep a little less at night, make 'em look in the mirror and know they are frauds."

For a time, the Texas legislature bore the brunt of her wrath:

The Austin Fun House. I call it the "Lege," home of the laziest, most corrupt, most incompetent, most entertaining bunch of lawmakers on earth. Love at first sight. Heaven on a stick.

What fueled Molly's lifelong crusade against injustice was the war in Vietnam:

"The Vietnam memorial. I was not prepared for the impact. To walk down into it was like the war itself, like going into a dark valley. Damned if there was any light. Just death. When you get closer to the two walls, the sheer number of names starts to stun you. It is terrible, there in the peace and the pale sunshine. ... Stupid, fucking war! ... Gave me life-long issues with rage."

She had plenty to rage about, too, including a succession of Presidents whose contempt for the masses was exceeded only by their contempt for the law:

"Don't know if you noticed this, but from the beginning of the Iraq war, anyone who spoke up and said, "This is like Vietnam: had right-wingers land on them and screech: "THIS IS NOT LIKE VIETNAM."

"Of course it is. We just haven't wasted 57,000 American lives—yet. This is the second war on my watch based on a lie. A war fabricated to make money and to make careers. Including the press. Where is the outrage?"

Molly passed away in 2007 from breast cancer, so we'll never know what she would have said about an African-American President who presides over a so-called "endless war on terror" across Asia, Arabia, and North Africa, a stepped up assault on the what remains of the Constitution, and fraud-as-a-business-model by the "too-big-to-jail" banks that run his cabinet, but I suspect she would be ready to stop coddling the Democratic Party, as if it were not equally responsible and owned by the same folks who own the Republicans.

The LIDA Project's presentation of Red Hot Patriot—the Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins has been extended through November 30th at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder. For tickets, visit or call 303-444-7328.

Bob Bows

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