Gene Weingarten

Gene Weingarten

Gene Weingarten in 2014

Gene Weingarten in 2014
Born Gene Norman Weingarten
(1951-10-02) October 2, 1951
New York, New York U.S.
Residence Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. U.S.
Nationality American
Education The Bronx High School of Science
New York University
Occupation Writer
Years active 1972–present
Employer The Washington Post
Children 2

Gene Norman Weingarten (born October 2, 1951)[1] is an American syndicated humor columnist at The Washington Post.[2][3] He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and is the only person to win the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing twice.[4][5] Weingarten is known for both his serious and humorous work.[6] Weingarten's column, "Below the Beltway," is published weekly in The Washington Post magazine and syndicated nationally by The Washington Post Writers Group, which also syndicates Barney & Clyde, a comic strip he co-authors with his son, Dan Weingarten, with illustrations by David Clark.[7]

Early life and education

Weingarten was born in New York City. He grew up in the southwest Bronx, the son of an accountant who worked as an Internal Revenue Service agent and a schoolteacher.[6] In 1968, Weingarten graduated from The Bronx High School of Science[8] and attended New York University, where he started as a pre-med student but ended up majoring in psychology. He was editor of the NYU daily student newspaper, The Heights Daily News. Weingarten left college three credits short of a degree.[6]


In 1972, while still in college, Weingarten's story about gangs in the South Bronx was published as a cover story in New York Magazine.[2][9]

Weingarten's first newspaper job was with the Albany, New York, Knickerbocker News, an afternoon daily.[10]

In 1977, he went to work at the Detroit Free Press. Weingarten then moved back to New York City to work at The National Law Journal.[2]

From 1981 to 1990, Weingarten was editor of the Miami Herald Sunday magazine, Tropic. In 1984, he hired Dave Barry, giving one of America's best-known humor columnists his big break.[2] Tropic won two Pulitzer Prizes, including Barry's, during Weingarten's tenure.[11]

The Washington Post

In 1990, Weingarten was hired by The Washington Post.[2]

Weingarten writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column for The Washington Post that is nationally syndicated.[12][13] Illustrator Eric Shansby contributes drawings to the column, which has been a long-term collaboration over 10 years.[14]

Weingarten created and, until 2003, edited The Style Invitational humor contest for The Washington Post. As part of the contest, he often hid his connection to the Invitational, using the pseudonym "The Czar." However, Weingarten admitted responsibility in 1999, writing, "I run a reader-participation contest every Sunday in The Post. It is called The Style Invitational."[15] He claimed credit again in 2001, acknowledging that he was editor of The Style Invitational.[16]

In 2005, one of Weingarten's in-house critique was leaked online, where he said the The Post was suffering a failure of imagination.[17] Selected passages were later re-posted on his column.[18]

Weingarten hosts a popular Washington Post online chat called "Chatological Humor," formerly known as "Tuesdays with Moron." Common topics in his online chat include the art of comic strips, analysis of humor, politics, philosophy, medicine, and gender differences. Many of his columns addressing gender differences have been written in a he-said, she-said style in collaboration with humorist Gina Barreca, his co-author for I'm with Stupid. It was during one of these chats he coined the phrase "Marrying Irving."[19] Weingarten writes that humor quality is objective, not subjective, and claims to be the final arbiter on the subject.

In 2007, for one of his "Below the Beltway" columns, he humorously enhanced his Wikipedia entry until he was caught and the edits reverted.[20]

In his live online chat on June 22, 2009, Weingarten disclosed that he had accepted a buyout offer from The Washington Post, which meant he was retiring as a longer-form feature writer.[2] The frequency of his online chat was reduced from weekly to monthly, although he provides weekly updates. His column will continue under a contract with The Post but he will no longer contribute feature-length articles. As of 2011, he was semi-retired from the paper, working on other projects.[21]

The Hypochondriac's Guide To Life. And Death

Weingarten is a self-acknowledged hypochondriac. He was diagnosed with what was then a near-fatal infection of Hepatitis C, which led to the publication his first book, 1998's The Hypochondriac's Guide To Life. And Death.[2][22]

I'm with Stupid: One Man, One Woman

Weingarten cowrote a series of humor columns in The Washington Post with feminist writer Gina Barreca about the differences between men and women. These became the basis of the 2004 book she and Weingarten collaborated on called I'm with Stupid: One Man. One Woman. 10,000 Years Of Misunderstandings Between The Sexes Cleared Right Up. The two wrote for over two years via email and on the phone without having met in person. They eventually met for the first time while doing publicity for the book.[23] The book is illustrated by cartoonist Richard Thompson.

Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs

In fall of 2008, Weingarten published Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs in collaboration with photographer Michael S. Williamson. Together they profiled and photographed 63 dogs between the ages of 10 and 17 years old over the course of two and a half years. In response to the inevitable question of which dogs remained alive, Weingarten has asserted that the answer will always be "all of them."[24] Weingarten's inspiration for Old Dogs came shortly after the death of his dog, Harry S Truman, who is also featured in the book.[25]

Barney & Clyde

In June 2010, Weingarten and his son Dan began publishing the syndicated comic strip Barney & Clyde, illustrated by David Clark.[26][27] The comic is about the friendship between billionaire, J. Barnard Pillsbury, and a homeless man named Clyde Finster.[28] The comic took over five years to develop, with the Miami Herald, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune early supporters.[29]

Me & Dog

In September 2014, Weingarten published Me & Dog, a picture book, in collaboration with illustrator Eric Shansby. The book is about a young boy Sid and his dog, Murphy.[14] It is said to be the first atheist-themed children's book. Weingarten said he wrote the book to the lack of literature geared towards children and atheism − and a counterbalance to the prevalence of books like Heaven Is for Real.[30]

Other work

Weingarten has written three screenplays, one in collaboration with humorist Dave Barry and two in collaboration with David Simon, including B Major, about a piano marathon conducted in Scranton in 1970. None of the screenplays have yet been produced.[31]


From 1987 to 1988, Weingarten was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.[32]

In 2008, Weingarten was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his Washington Post story, "Pearls Before Breakfast,"[33] "his chronicling of a world-class violinist (Joshua Bell) who, as an experiment, played beautiful music in a subway station filled with unheeding commuters."[4][34] The night Weingarten returned from accepting his Pulitzer Prize, he received an email from a librarian named Paul Musgrave from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, who told him that he had recently seen an article about a similar experiment that the Chicago Evening Post did in May 1930 where they had the virtuoso Jacques Gordon play his Stradivarius violin outside a subway station to see if commuters would notice the music. The article, entitled "Famous Fiddler in Disguise Gets $5.61 in Curb Concerts," showed commuters displaying the same disinterest as Weingarten described in his article. It turns out Joshua Bell had owned that same Stradivarius violin for over 10 years.[13][35]

In 2010, Weingarten was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his Washington Post story, "Fatal Distraction,"[36] "his haunting story about parents, from varying walks of life, who accidentally kill their children by forgetting them in cars."[5] Weingarten said he had a lucky break when his daughter was younger when he almost left her behind in the car when they lived in Florida.[37][38]

In 2014, Weingarten was awarded the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.[39]

Personal life

Weingarten has lived in many places on the East Coast, but as he and his family settled in the Washington, D.C., area, they lived for a time in Bethesda, Maryland.[40] Since 2001 he has lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.,[41] with his wife, Arlene Reidy, an attorney.[7] He has two children, Molly Weingarten, a veterinarian, and Dan Weingarten, a cartoonist.[42]

Weingarten has stated he is an atheist.[43][44] He is an amateur horologist.[45]

Works and publications

Selected articles

See also


  1. "G Weingarten - United States Public Records". FamilySearch. 1 June 2001.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Bartlett, Tom (5 December 2011). "How Do You Explain Gene Weingarten?". Washingtonian.
  3. Weingarten, Gene (2 February 2006). "Just the FAQs". The Washington Post.
  4. 1 2 "The 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Feature Writing: Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post". Pulitzer Prize. 2008.
  5. 1 2 "The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Feature Writing: Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post". Pulitzer Prize. 2010.
  6. 1 2 3 Mechanic, Michael (30 June 2010). "Secrets of a Two-Time Pulitzer Winner". Mother Jones.
  7. 1 2 Pollock, Ben (2 September 2013). "Post's Weingarten 2014 Lifetime Achiever". National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
  8. Austin, Ben (10 April 2010). "Washington Post's Gene Weingarten ('68) Wins a Second Pulitzer Prize". The Bronx Science Alumni Association.
  9. Weingarten, Gene (27 March 1972). "Are You Ready for the New, Ultra-Violent Street Gang?". New York Magazine.
  10. Kindred, Dave (2010). "Part II: "How Could Anyone Not Want to be a Reporter? Chapter 7. Gene Weingarten". Morning Miracle: Inside The Washington Post: A Great Newspaper Fights for Its Life. New York: Doubleday. pp. 85–93. ISBN 978-0-385-53210-5. OCLC 669067079.
  11. "Pulitzer Prize Winners – Florida Newspapers (1939–2000)" (PDF). University of Florida.
  12. Weingarten, Gene; Von Drehle, David; Hendrickson, Paul (12 November 2008). "Journalists in Conversation: Gene Weingarten, David Von Drehle, and Paul Hendrickson". The Kelly Writers House. University of Pennsylvania.
  13. 1 2 Weingarten, Gene; Von Drehle, David; Hendrickson, Paul (12 November 2008). "Journalists in Conversation: Gene Weingarten, David Von Drehle, and Paul Hendrickson" (Video). The Kelly Writers House. University of Pennsylvania.
  14. 1 2 Nnamdi, Kojo (18 September 2014). "Gene Weingarten & Eric Shansby on Comedy and Collaboration" (Audio with transcript). The Kojo Nnamdi Show (Interview starts at 20:27). WAMU.
  15. Weingarten, Gene (12 January 1999). "Memo: A Home Team Name Game". The Washington Post.
  16. Weingarten, Gene (18 September 2001). "Not Funny: The Rules of Humor Changed on Sept. 11". The Washington Post.
  17. Garrett (4 November 2005). "Post is Suffering a 'Failure of Imagination'". Mediabistro. Archived from the original on 25 June 2006.
  18. Weingarten, Gene (8 November 2005). "Chatological Humor*". The Washington Post.
  19. Weingarten, Gene (8 February 2005). "Chatological Humor* (Updated 2.11.05)". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012.
  20. Weingarten, Gene (11 March 2007). "Wiki Watchee". The Washington Post.
  21. Johnston, Caitlin (19 July 2011). "Gene Weingarten to speak at Mayborn conference". Dallas News.
  22. Montagne, Renee (29 September 1998). "The Cure For Hypochondria" (Includes Real Media audio link). Morning Edition. NPR.
  23. Morales, Tatiana (9 February 2004). "'I'm With Stupid'". CBS News.
  24. Weingarten, Gene (7 October 2008). "Chatological Humor: Dogs, Palin, Mencken and a Little Advice for the Lovelorn (Updated 10.10.08)". The Washington Post.
  25. Weingarten, Gene (5 October 2008). "Something About Harry: Gene Weingarten on Why Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs". The Washington Post.
  26. Gardner, Alan (24 March 2010). "Barney and Clyde to launch in June". The Daily Cartoonist.
  27. Cavna, Michael (24 March 2010). "Comic Riffs - Post comics changes: Of Barney, Clyde & Gene (Weingarten)". The Washington Post.
  28. Pierce, Scott D. (16 September 2011). "New comic strip is a father-son collaboration". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  29. Gyllenhaal, Anders (7 June 2010). "Inside the Newsroom: Barney and Clyde" (Video). Miami Herald.
  30. Garfield, Bob (3 October 2014). "Me and Dog". On the Media. WNYC.
  31. Kaufman, Anthony (25 October 2010). "David Simon on 'Treme' and Why Journalism Might Not Be Doomed". The Wall Street Journal.
  32. "Class of 1988 - Nieman Foundation". Nieman Foundation for Journalism. 1988.
  33. Weingarten, Gene (8 April 2007). "Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out.". The Washington Post.
  34. Siegel, Robert (7 April 2008). "Commuter Concerto Helps Writer Net Pulitzer". NPR.
  35. Weingarten, Gene (29 June 2008). "Fiddling Around With History". The Washington Post.
  36. Weingarten, Gene (8 March 2009). "Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?". The Washington Post.
  37. "When a Child Dies: "Fatal Distraction" - The Washington Post". Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families. 9 December 2012.
  38. Weingarten, Gene (9 December 2012). "When a Child Dies: Gene Weingarten talks about "Fatal Distraction"" (video). JCCF Journalism Center on Children & Families.
  39. "Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame: 2014, Washington, D.C., Gene Weingarten". National Society of Newspaper Columnists. 30 November 2015.
  40. Weingarten, Gene (18 December 2007). "Chatological Humor: Swiss Family pR0n". The Washington Post.
  41. Weingarten, Gene (31 January 2006). "Chatological Humor* (Updated 2.3.06)". The Washington Post.
  42. Weingarten, Gene (2 August 2005). "Chatological Humor* (Updated 8.05.05)". The Washington Post.
  43. Weingarten, Gene (8 March 2009). "Me, in a Nutshell". The Washington Post.
  44. Weingarten, Gene (21 August 2007). "Presumptions of Magic in Life" (Faxed drawing). The Washington Post.
  45. Weeks, Linton (28 February 2012). "Found Time: How To Spend The 24 Hours Of Leap Day". Around the Nation. NPR.
  46. "The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten". Kirkus Reviews. 22 December 2010.
  47. "Me & Dog by Gene Weingarten". Kirkus Reviews. 29 July 2014.

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