Jeff Goodby has put fingers to keypad and penned an obit for the departed Hal Riney for AdAge.
“Riney loved characters, individuals, people who thought for themselves. I’m not so sure he loved mankind all that much in the larger sense. He was famously grumpy and irascible. But to get inside his friendship was to be in one of the most predictable places imaginable. He was able to capture optimism about this country that bordered on sentimental. In this place were all too many dogs and pickup trucks and distant harmonicas on the wind. It was an unrealistically nostalgic portrait, but I’m convinced that Hal believed this optimistic readiness was still inside each of us somewhere, even today. It was something that, as an American, you wanted to believe in so badly it ached.”
It’s really quite lovely.
“Someone asked me yesterday how Rich and I feel about having him gone, and I thought of John McEnroe saying that when BjÃ¶rn Borg retired from tennis, the game wasn’t fun anymore. Not that we’re John McEnroe; we’re more like Ray Spencer, the third man on my high-school tennis team who could surprise you now and then. But Riney was certainly the Borg of his time, whacking those hard topspin things at you mercilessly. Just try coming to the net.
I miss it already. And it’ll only get worse.”