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Painted Brain | David Carr, Journalist, Author And Recovering Addict, Dies At 58
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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  • February 13, 2015

David Carr, journalist, author and recovering addict, dies at 58

Redemption

David Carr, media reporter, author, and sometime mascot of the New York Times, died in his office last night.

At the time of his death, David had just moderated a conversation between Poitras, Greenwald and Snowden about the 2014 documentary, Citizenfour, and no doubt ran back to the office to post comments or file a story about the newsworthy discussion. Though he always looked as if he were leaning up against death’s doorframe, he also seemed to have a staying power that would keep his scrawny neck swiveling and turtle head poking into the tech divide for decades to come.

I loved David Carr’s writing, his voice, his attitude, and I simply fell over when he laid into Shane Smith of Vice, taking justified umbrage at Smith’s offhand and insulting remarks about the content of the N.Y. Times in the 2011 documentary, Page One: Inside the New York Times. On Carr’s weekly video show, The Sweet Spot, he discussed the week in Western culture with Times film critic, A.O. Scott. The show was always a week-ending highlight for me, back when The Painted Brain shared an office (ironically) with FIDM in downtown L.A. several years ago. Sadly, the show ended prematurely.

A steadfast and tireless advocate of journalism, he was always a true believer.

In my opinion, David Carr deserves to be memorialized here in Painted Brain News because of his remarkable recovery. He got his life together after decades of heavy alcohol and drug abuse, and wrote about his experiences in the dark and personal memoir, Night of the Gun. Ever the reporter, he took on the task of exploring his alcoholic and addicted past by tracking down and interviewing past lovers and old enemies, those he betrayed and those he fucked over, inviting them all to describe how he had hurt them. In the course of this cathartic journey back through time, he was forced to confront his own flawed recollection of a traumatic argument involving his best friend. He discovered that, contrary to distorted memory, he had held the gun referred to in the book’s title, the gun that, for many years, his clouded mind had placed in the hand of his friend in order to make Mr. Carr the victim rather than the perpetrator.

Honesty, owning up to one’s flaws, even flaunting them, is something we celebrate here at The Painted Brain.
David Carr, as such, deserves to be an honorary member. He said it best himself, “I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end soon.”

Dave Leon is a licensed clinical therapist and founder/director of The Painted Brain. He writes a weekly editorial column for Painted Brain News.

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