Friday, January 19, 2007

I was about five when my father first entrusted me with the daily newspaper. I could read a bit, and watching him each morning, I learned how to turn the pages without tearing them (but because he read the paper at the kitchen table, i never learned how to fold it correctly for an unobtrusive subway ride).

I also learned one read the paper in a particular order. Of course, he had his order, and since he HAD to read the paper in that order, I had to come up with my own. An order that I still stick to: sports first, as it's the least interesting to me and I don't have to be awake. Business next - - - in the early days, i didn't think it was interesting, but as I grew older it moved up in the ranks. But that doesn't mean I could disrupt the order. After business comes Metro. And no, I don't blow past the obits. I've lived here almost all my life and pick out a couple of names a month. Then style. Today the comics are in style. They used to be in other sections, but comics always were read after style, because, well, they were. And finally the "A" or front section. That comes last because you have to be awake to read it.

Now, I can't remember what order my dad read the paper in. Probably not the same as mine, because we couldn't be reading at the same time in that case.

Anyway,because I picked up my paper reading cues from my father, I felt you needed to wrinkle your brow in order to read the stock listings, squinted at the box scores and "hmmm'd" at editorials. I also grew up thinking everyone laughed out loud at Art Buchwald. (and did crosswords in ink, but that's another matter)

Mr. Buchwald died yesterday at 81, almost a year after he declined kidney dialysis, was given days to live, and moved to a hospice. And about six months after he left the hospice, finished up another book, and enjoyed one more summer of lobster on his beloved marthas vineyard.

I've enjoyed reading the obits and the appreciations that are in newspapers today around the globe. His column was once carried in more than 500 papers, and available to readers worldwide in the international herald tribune.
I've picked out a few lines that seem to me to be perfect:

From the Guardian
"One of his skills was to link seemingly unconnected topics. In 1973, during one of the periodic scares about UFOs, he ended one column: "The final expert I spoke to was Prof Charles Simolli, a sociologist, who said, 'The most interesting thing is that most of the UFO sightings have been in the South.'

"What are you driving at?" I asked. "Has it ever occurred to you that all these poor creatures from outer space are trying to do is to bus their kids to a good school?"

And in his (adopted) hometown Washington Post
"Buchwald's 1952 wedding -- Lena Horne arranged for it to be held in London's Westminster Cathedral -- was attended by Gene Kelly, John Huston, Jose Ferrer, Perle Mesta and Rosemary Clooney, to name a few. If these names don't ring a bell with you, suffice it to say they were the sort of international superstars who do not normally attend the weddings of 26-year-old newspapermen.

As the Paris column grew more popular, Buchwald made it more and more about himself -- a comic version of himself. On the eve of the biggest wedding of the age, matching gorgeous Grace Kelly to Monaco's Prince Rainier, he wrote that the only reason he wasn't on the guest list was because the Buchwald family and the Grimaldi dynasty had been feuding for 500 years.

His invitation from the prince was hand-delivered the next day."

love it, love it, love it. Of course you couldn't expect art buchwald to go silently into the night. Go to the New York Times for "the final word."


Blogger Z said...

I didn't know some of that! I loved Art Buchwald. My favorite column of his shaped my political proclivities...he wrote the life story of a child "saved" from abortion by pro-lifers who almost immediately, upon "saving" his life, abandoned him and his welfare mother. It was definitely strong and powerful material and a stinging critique of the motivation and goals of the right to life moevment that everyone should read. I didn't save it and should have. I wish I could find it.

8:59 AM  
Blogger jk said...

i do remember that one, too. I bet it's either in one of the collections, or perhaps the washington post. I seem to think they've got them all.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Mony said...

This is one of the coolest entries I have ever read. So sweet...

10:08 PM  
Blogger jk said...

mony, you are very sweet to say that! I hope things are looking a bit brighter this week.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous lee said...

I "second" mony. A beautifully written piece, about a wonderful subject.

RIP, Mr. Buchwald. Heaven just gained one helluva writer....

7:57 PM  

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