1. Thursday, February 27, 2003

    as you probably know, mr. rogers is dead. 

    even though he was super nice, and had that great smooth jazz going on in the background, i was always a little scared of mr. rogers.

    nobody i ever knew talked like him. that slower, sharper, adult-talking-to-kids-speak.

    the puppets scared me, his neighbors scared me.

    everyone was just a little too happy, a little too old, and a little too peppy. as if mr. rogers’ neighborhood was the county seat of speed and everyone was in on it except for Lady Elaine.

    his trolley was cool though.

    i cant tell you why.

    i cant remember one thing that mr. rogers taught me. i don’t remember him teaching the alphabet or numbers or geography. i don’t remember anything about him except the opening and the closing routine.

    i suppose that means the show was successful.

    i do remember a time that Stuttering John from the Howard Stern Show bum rushed a Mr. Rogers book signing and asked if he hated Barney.

    without getting the least bit flustered, Mr. Rogers said, “no, I don’t hate Barney. Do you?”

    it was a very sweet and slightly southern “you” that rose up and curled off like a trail of smoke from a doorway stick of incense.

    i suppose i will miss Mr. Rogers. he seemed to be a genuine fellow. a minister, a jazz musician, a tv innovator and producer. far as i can tell he never really cashed in on his name or on the show, and i appreciate that.

    i never saw a bunch of dolls or trains or tshirts with his logo on it. no coffee mugs. no mouse pads.

    so adios, mister rogers. you were never my neighbor, but if you were i would have waved at you if you were watering your lawn, and ignored you just like i ignore my other neighbors.

    which, i believe, is the best things neighbors can do for each other.

    sk smith + amy + jeff jarvis