FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Charles M. ‘Chuck’ Young (1951-2014)

by

CounterPunch has lost a perceptive and witty analyst of the American political and cultural scene, while Rock& Roll has lost one of its leading critics. Charles M. Young (Chuck to his friends), has died, following a year and a half battle against an aggressive brain tumor.

Back in the Spring of 2010, Young and three friends and journalistic colleagues–John Grant, Linn Washington, Jr. Dave Lindorff, teamed up to establish a new collectively run online news site, ThisCantBeHappening.net. When Lindorff initially proposed recasting his long-running blog of the same name as a collective news operation, Grant, Washington and Young all immediately jumped on the idea. But Chuck’s response was classic Young. His lip curling up in a sign that cued those who knew him that he was about to crack a joke, he said, “Wait, let me get this straight: a newspaper that has no editor? It sounds like a dream come true! Sign me up!”

Chuck, whose consistently brilliant and usually painfully funny articles on Rock & Roll graced the pages of Rolling Stone magazine for years, went on to write some of his best work, and especially his best work on politics, for ThisCantBeHappening! Most of these pieces were picked up and run at Counterpunch, to Young’s delight.

Chuck was in the right place at the right time when, one year into TCBH’s little journalistic adventure, the Occupy Wall Street action began and then swept the country, and much of the world, shining a piercing spotlight, for the first time in the US since at least the fall of the Berlin Wall, on the rapacious behavior of modern capitalism.

Recognizing the significance of the Occupy Movement before it even became a movement and well before the corporate media, or even most of the alternative media, saw it, Chuck made his way down to Zuccotti Park right on the evening of day one, and gave TCBH and CP readers at a street-wise, on-the-pavement view  of what was happening and how it was developing. His reportage on Occupy, in its entirety, is available atwww.thiscantbehappening.net/young.

As a journalist, Chuck was a perfectionist — both reportorially and stylistically. He favored the live-in approach, where he would spend seemingly inordinate amounts of time with his subjects to really get to know them (including once a full year on the road with the Eagles), instead of just dashing up with a notebook or making a phone call to cadge a few choice quotes. He also labored (and here the word is used advisedly) over every word he wrote. His writing reflected a perhaps excessive perfectionism that brooked no editing, and it’s a tribute to his ability as a reporter and writer that he could continue to write at a publication like Rolling Stone, where he regularly drove his editors crazy fighting their work on his pieces at every step of the way (including at one point attempt, interrupted by a summary kick to the groin by his hero Hunter Thompson, to strangle editor/publisher Jann Wenner at an office party!).

There was no such strife at ThisCantBeHappening, because we have no editorial hierarchy (ditto at CP). These two publications made were the perfect home for Chuck: No editing, no pressure…and no money!

When a close friend and journalism school classmate, Hillary Johnson, realized early last year that something was wrong with Chuck and made him go with her to the emergency room to get checked out, and it was discovered that he had fourth-stage glioma blastoma that required aggressive surgery and radiation treatment, after the initial shock, Chuck took it all in stride — even the brutal once-a-month chemo treatments. He said on a number of occasions, with evident sincerity, that brain cancer was “not the worst thing that has happened to me.”

What he meant by this seeming straight line that never had a punch line follow it was that he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern and love that appeared at his door or bedside from everywhere — from bands and performers he had reviewed over the years (even some he had panned), from friends going back to grade school in Madison, Wisconsin, from college and journalism graduate school classmates, from his beloved Upper West Side, NY neighborhood, from others in his building on West 92nd Street, and even from among his tens of thousands of readers over the years. Just keeping track of and making time for all these people who wanted to see him or phone him was a chore that was beyond his ability to manage and required assistance. “I guess I needed to get brain cancer to find out how many friends I had!” he quipped on more than one occasion — again with a disarming sincerity.

Now Chuck is gone, although his high school garage band, the Schmoes, with whom he still played at annual get-togethers until this year have, in his honor, renamed their now rock threesome “Forever Young.”

There’s nobody to take his place, either as a friend or a journalism comrade, but as TCBH! colleague and comrade Alfredo Lopez put it:

“In this life, you get two basic things: you get to live and then you get to die. Not just the moment of death but whatever leads up to it. Chuck did both these things wonderfully well. He lived a full and productive life and he died a courageous and dignified death.

“He did our collective proud.”

So here’s to our friend and comrade Chuck Young. Presente!!!

A memorial is being planned to be held in New York City. When it has been organized, it will be announced here.

To see a collection of Chuck’s articles at Rolling Stone, click  here.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail