Thursday, October 20, 2005

How to be Skewed:

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it." - Art Buchwald

According to NPR, today is Art Buchwald's birthday. Happy birthday Art, from your youngest fan.

When I was a kid in elementary school, we naturally had a history course each year. The only problem was we never made it past the Civil War. We'd start with the Revolution and trudge through the 18th and 19th centuries before getting totally bogged down in the Civil War. Right before school was out for the summer, the teachers would be busy trying to explain what a "carpet bagger" was without spitting. I guess it was a southern thing.

That was all well and good, but then you'd hear your parents talking about Watergate and Spiro Agnew and you'd feel a bit left out. For years I thought Gerald Ford and George Washington were one and the same person, due to my mother misunderstanding my question once during the evening news.

By the time I was in 5th and 6th grade, I was out on the streets, hanging out at the used book stores. Yeah. Ugly, but true. When I'd had my fill of kids books, I moved on to the hard stuff. That's when I found Art Buchwald.


I learned everything I know about the Watergate saga, Vietnam, and gas shortages from Art Buchwald. It was years later before I understood that Henry Kissinger was not really a funny man. And although I was old enough to experience the Reagan years, Art Buchwald explained all sorts of things about that era that my junior high social studies teachers didn't deem important.

Perhaps this is not the best way to learn about American history, but it certainly ranks among the most entertaining. So happy birthday, Mr. Buchwald!

"Mom! Mom! Who is Mary Jo Kopechne?"
(Yeah, I bet my mom thanks you too, Mr. Buchwald.)

9 comments:

jonboy said...

The reason you never made it past the civil war was because every history class in small West Texas high schools is taught by the football coach. They could always relate the civil war to Friday night's game. The fact that you made it to the civil war is itself quite astounding.

By the way, a sixth grader reaching Art Buchwald ... I always said you were a freak.

Headless-in-GR said...

Yes! yes! All the history classes WERE taught by football coaches! And yes they did spit when the used the term "carpet bagger" - as my friend Captian Wow would say:

Carpet Baggers - ptooi!

Captainwow said...

Ptooi! My history teacher was a thin weaselly man who was sleeping with one of his ex students (who had just turned 18, we were told). It gagged us all, since she was only a little older than we were and we thought he was the grossest thing on earth! No football coach he. No sirree....

funny. I thought Henry Kissinger was a funny guy too somehow. I thought he was an actor or something until I was much older.

Happy B day Art!

SplineGuy said...

You'd think jonboy has something against high school football. As for a history teacher, mine was a tennis coach. It was my driver's ed teacher that was the football coach, which probably explains my accident last weekend.

little david said...

Hey, I had a coach for history, too! I remember him talking about the "northern sinners of edjucation" like Harvard and Yale. This guy was so obtuse, when I gave him a caricature I had drawn of him in art class (emphasizing the low-slung ears and beady eyes), he got all emotional about what a thoughtful gift it was.

Patti said...

So that explains it.
I teach history her in the very rural upstate New York. Of course it's only 2nd grade, but we don't go much passed the Civil War (with the emphasis on Abraham Lincoln)! They're supposed to go further in grades 3,4,5 and 6. But what are carpet baggers? I've never mentioned them in my lessons.

jonboy said...

I knew my football coach had only a second-grade education.
Carpet baggers, and please take no offense to this, are all those nasty Yankees who headed south.

And Splineguy, yes, I do have something against high school football in general as evident by my last post at vacantstares.blogspot.com. (Shameless self-promotion.)

SpookyRach said...

Even worse than football coach history teachers are football coach English teachers. Will have to blog about that sometime.

However, I must include a disclaimer. My brother-in-law is a football coach/history teacher and rumor has it (as do his Taks test results) that he is a darn good teacher.

Pattie - no only are carpetbaggers Godless Interlopers of Northern Aggression, they were also sent to run Southern government institutions following The War. (Guess who's writing the history books, eh?)

Headless-in-GR said...

That's true, Rach...really. I know. They were sent and they were godless. Really. I know.

(blink blink)