This is the end.

This is the end.

We are hours away from The End, and you could easily spend the hours between now and the final broadcast of the Late Show with David Letterman reading every fond farewell penned on the subject. But if I were you right now, I'd begin at the beginning -- with Peter Kaplan's Esquire profile about The Ascendancy of Dave penned while Letterman was still working the stand-up circuit with best pal Tom Dreesen. The best piece ever written on the subject.

There's also Emily Nussbaum's New Yorker adios, which says it's hard for kids today to understand how revolutionary he was now that Letterman has become "a flinty codger, an establishment figure." Here's the Los Angles Times' history of the Top 10 List. And here's a tribute penned by Bill Carter, who wrote The Late Shift, about Letterman and Jay Leno's battle over The Tonight Show. And here's one by my long-ago Dallas Observer colleague Matt Zoller Seitz, who now writes for everyone east of these parts. And you can't leave out Merrill Markoe's essay on her favorite Late Night bits. Essential. Or this, for all those who can't crawl out of the rabbit hole (or out from under the damp, sweaty sheets of denial) this afternoon.

Or you could just twatch he fifth anniversary Late Night special that aired in 1987. Do that.

We've certainly compiled quite a few Letterman moments in recent days -- because, hell, everyone needs one more Top 10 list, right? And one more look at those haircuts on the Old 97's in 1999. Nothing super about those Supercuts.

You do know YouTube's a Letterman highlight reel, right? Strange -- and they said Jimmys Kimmel and Fallon invented the format, which is why it's time for Dave to go. Tell that to Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler ...

... and Zsa Zsa ...

... and Larry "Bud" Melman ...

... and Crispin Glover ...

... and, last on our list but No. 1 in our hearts, Dr. Ruth and the Monkey-Cam.

A few weeks ago I thought maybe I'd write one of those pieces about How Dave Changed Everything and Made My Teen Years Bearable. But at this point, either you were there or you weren't, either you know or you don't. And if you don't know at this point, well, odds are you don't care. 

So instead Chris Vognar and I went into the studio yesterday to cut this little video in which I try to convince Chris that this really, really matters. He always has to me, far as I can remember. In fact, until a friend told me the morning show never aired in Dallas, I could had have sworn I saw it when it originally aired. Guess not. But he's the reason I was always tired in high school (I devoted a chunk of a page to Dave in the 1986 Thomas Jefferson High School yearbook); and when I was homesick at UT my freshman year, he made the dorm room feel like home. He made everything funnier; he made everything better. And after tonight, it's all gone.

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