The Day the Whistling Stopped: The Short, Tragic Life of Harriet Zwindel

6 June 15

Most of the time, celebrities are junk. Disposable, discardable, and eminently ignorable. There are sparingly few that have actually achieved anything worth carrying with you through your life.

The shows that David Letterman put on the air marked a real, identifiable, tangible change in the world I knew. Up until that point when it debuted in the early 80’s, as far as my mind had been able to discern, life was run by the bean counters. Creativity was an ingredient in their recipes for success. If you wanted to get anywhere in this world, you had to have one great idea and build upon it to make your fortune.

What the Late Night show taught me was that creativity wasn’t just an ingredient, nor did you have to limit yourself to one idea in your life.

When you watched an episode of Late Night, you hung on to something that was nailed down, because you were going to have an hour where you were fighting against a tidal wave of creativity. On that show, ideas weren’t coming out of a eyedropper – someone had lopped off a fire hydrant in the street and creativity was spraying 75 feet in the air. I remember being grateful for commercial breaks so I could catch my breath.

Creativity was more than an element in a life of toil. You could make a living on creativity. You could get where you wanted to go in your life just on your ideas. If that was what you were good at, and it brought you joy, you could dine on your ideas and survive. That’s what that odd little TV show taught me, and it’s provided the best possible guidance in my life.

David Letterman was just the face of a larger group of people who put his shows together… I don’t know the details. I don’t know what happened behind the curtain. Whatever it was, it changed everything for me and, I suspect, it truly changed the world for a lot of people. For them, and me, that show meant everything.

So even though a lot of people deserve recognition, all I can do is thank David Letterman. Thanks for everything.