Monday, May 28, 2007

What's Fitting and Proper

The recent publication of the presidential journals of Ronald Reagan has once again brought voice to the notion of doing something more for his memory than naming a cheesy airport after him. 

 Even John Wayne has an airport named after him, the argument goes, and with the exception of that notable gaffe in which an airport was named for JFK, the naming of airports should be left for Republicans. The Baghdad Airport, for instance, is ready made to be renamed for the forty-third President of the united States, a somehow fitting tribute

Those who truly regard Ronald Reagan as though his journals were a hagiography want nothing less than the empty space on Mt. Rushmore as a fitting memorial.

I had not meant to wax so political, but I did not particularly care for Ronald Reagan even when he was a Democrat. Besides, the Mt. Rushmore real estate at issue should, in my opinion, be accorded to a beagle named Snoopy, who is a greater icon, a more representative relic of America than Ronald "Where's the rest of me?" Reagan.

Because of my long acquaintance with Snoopy's creator, Charles Schulz, I was invited to contribute to a book, Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life, which is in its way a lovely tribute to Snoopy and the man who chronicled the beagle's adventures. 

 Thirty-two of us were invited to take a favorite Snoopy comic strip and write our reflections on the message embedded in the strip. I think all of us did pretty well. My own favorites were the late, lamented Ed McBain, and Jerry Freedman, and Fanny Flagg.

What could have been one of my favorites--and wasn't, because it didn't appear in the book--was from John Updike, who wrote a longish letter explaining why, although a fan of Snoopy (wasn't everybody?), he was busy and didn't have the time. 

 He didn't have the time for three or four pages of letter, which I suggested should go in the book because making a long, elaborate excuse that could just as easily have been the piece itself is such a writerly thing to do. Or not.

I would in fact be mortified if Ronald Wilson Reagan's bust made its way onto the slopes of Mt. Rushmore. Come on! But Snoopy is a lovely alternate.

1 comment:

Pod said...

silly john! did you know they farm snoopies to eat in japan? yes mr lowenkopf!