I didn't like Mr. Rogers as a kid. I was a cynic from birth, developing wide-eyed innocence only later in life. But now I'm totally into him. Not out of some arch hipster impulse; it's just that after forty years of yoga and meditation, after the trippy mystical stages and the dark-night-of-the-soul stages, etc., I guess one eventually reaches stage "Fred", where the depths of Mr. Rogers become apparent. If I knew it'd all wind up so square, I'd never have gotten into that stuff.
The following Mr. Rogers quote went viral shortly after Sandy Hook. After a hurricane, a mass murder, a blizzard, and the closing of Sason Grill all in four months, I'm feeling a bit frayed around the edges, as I'm sure many of you are. This is pure salve, but only because it's so true:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."— Mister RogersIf that intrigues you, and makes you want to see more, here are some great Mr. Rogers links:
The classic profile from Esquire Magazine
Here's the Emmy speech mentioned in the Esquire piece
"Mr. Rogers and Me" is a great documentary (available for $15 from Amazon). Background info here.
A NY Times review of "I'm Proud Of You, My Friendship With Fred Rogers". Another review.
Mr. Rogers wrote a book! Great reviews on amazon for "The World According Mister Rogers"
One final thing. Fred Rogers composed all the music for his show. And I can tell you, with a jazz musician's knowledge, that a lot of it is really quite hip. Apparently he'd blow off steam after tapings by sitting down and improvising at the keyboard. I wish I could have been there.
The more I learn about Mr. Rogers, the more I believe he had a full dose of the je ne sais quoi I wrote about in this posting (which refers to "the kindness of New Yorkers on 9/12/01", dovetailing nicely with his message about "helpers").