I remember reading the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when I was in grade school and high school. After returning from delivering the paper in the morning, I’d sit down at the dining room table with a bowl of cereal and read Art. He was incredible. He took me through the Nixon years, the Ford years. He explained national and world events more clearly than the front page ever did. The world is insane, and that’s all there is to it. Art was just stating the obvious, while the rest of the reporters played, “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” and took the world all too seriously.
“I never made the Enemies list, and it’s my biggest hurt to this day,” he said in his online obituary with the New York Times. Incredible. He credits Richard Nixon with making him rich. “I am not a crook made me rich,” he said.
He introduced me to satire, and I was captivated.
Somewhere in college I got too serious. I lost touch with Art. I “grew up” and tried to understand it all. I studied philosophy and flirted with the idea of becoming a Catholic priest. I wrote a very serious Master’s thesis on the Psalms of Lamentation. I left the seminary and started teaching. Theology.
And I started laughing again.
But I never caught up with Art, again. We had lost touch. Chicago papers don’t carry Art. They’re too serious. They’re obsessed with bad politicians and Silver Shovels and roped off elevators. And I never even bothered to look him up online. Turns out he was still at it:
Zeroing In on a Trillion (By Art Buchwald, January 2, 2007, Page C02)
So Many Cards, So Little Thought (By Art Buchwald, December 28, 2006, Page C08)
I’ll miss my old friend. He helped shape who I am like no teacher ever did. He first taught me to laugh at this crazy world. He made me feel good in spite of it all. The Professor of Satire is gone.
Lamentation?! Save me, Art!
He wrote this column for The Washington Post, with the intention that it be published after his death. He closed it thus:
I know it’s very egocentric to believe that someone is put on Earth for a reason. In my case, I like to think I was. And after this column appears in the paper following my passing, I would like to think it will either wind up on a cereal box top or be repeated every Thanksgiving Day.
So, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” is my way of saying goodbye.
Farewell, my friend.