The Breakfast Table

Proust, Peanuts, and Snow Days

Oh, Harry

A snow day? It was a beautiful thing if you were a kid growing up in New Jersey, as I did: They canceled school if there was too much snow on the ground, leaving you a day to sled, drink cocoa, or profiteer by shoveling driveways. I imagine in Maine or Minnesota there weren’t too many snow days, or there wouldn’t be any school at all. But in states that are snow-prone, but not snow-drenched, they were a lovely treat. Anyway, Y2K made me a little misty-eyed for a mini-calamity like that. But I should have left that a private reverie.

I totally agree re Sydney. I especially loved the dancers on the sheer walls of the famed Opera House. Our kid woke up at 4 a.m. and we happened to catch it live on that dreaded “American TV.” It was great.

I’m trying to read between the lines of your New York years. You hated ‘em, but you also seem wistful for the pre-Rudy days. Who knows? Maybe you’d like it now without the squeegee guys and with ESPN-Zone: The Restaurant. (Somehow, I think not.)

Maybe it’s 3,000 miles distance, but am I wrong not to be too incensed by the Staples “scandal?” Of course, the Los AngelesTimes shouldn’t have split revenues with the center. But publications do a lot with advertisers all the time. In the magazine world, advertisers are given heads-up about upcoming issues and allowed to place ads in those issues. That, I realize, is a far cry from what happened with the Times, but it’s telling about the intimacy between advertisers and publishers.

I actually find the listing of names a perfectly fine gimmick. When I wrote for small, weekly newspapers, one of the tricks of the trade was to get as many local names into a story as possible. You could argue that this was shameless pandering–I bristled at it at the time–but with some distance I can see the merits: It gave a thrill for people who, unlike us, don’t see their names in print. Where’s the harm? I admit, though, the misspelling thing is hysterical.

You handling the Charlie Brown thing OK? I have to say the Peanuts thing is making me wistful, too. (Maybe that’s what triggered the Proustian snow days reaction?) Like Capra, Schulz was always a lot darker than most people thought–and the richer for it. Peanuts, with its neurosis, unrequited love, and melancholy was newsprint Woody Allen. Funny and sad, too. Like most adults, I haven’t read it for years in the papers. It was one of those things, though, you’d assumed would be there the way you assumed that, well, “the year 2000” was the future.

See you.