"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

Charles Schultz

06 Apr 2002

13 February 2000

One of the first books I remember buying was a collection of PEANUTS strips. In fact, that may have been the first thing I bought with my very first allowance of 25. Twenty five years later, you can't even buy a paper for that much. So much has happened between then and now. I've grown up, for one, and while doing so, phrases like "Good Grief", "security blanket", and the idea of the Little Red Haired Girl have been part of the lexicon I live in. I don't think it's an overstatement to say that this one comic strip has had as much influence on my culture as the work of George Orwell, though this might say more about literacy than anything.

I think I have seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas" between 15 and 20 times. ("All I want is what's coming to me. All I want is my fair share.") I saw it again this last season, and even though I've heard it criticized for its sometimes crude style, and for its complete lack of computer enhancement, it is still charming for reasons that will take me another 20 viewings to completely grasp. There's the music by Vince Guaraldi, which is as clean and precise as you could ever ask for. There's the conflict between the secular and the sacred. And there are no animals that transform into flying robots.

But I write of things past. There is no end of snide things I could say about PEANUTS' last few years, but I have to ask: would it improve anyone's lives to hear them? Even my own brand of egotism couldn't admit to that sort of bombast, and so I'll take my lead from Gary Trudeau and give Sparky safe passage out of town.