Monday, January 24, 2005

Johnny Carson, R.I.P.: Johnny Carson died, which you certainly know by now. Personally, I blame Johnny Carson for my utter failure as a morning person. Throughout my early childhood, I remember staying up to see the monologue, so it was near midnight before I went to sleep, even at a very young age. The pattern was set. Not that I completely understood everything. But that was Johnny Carson's special appeal. He really wasn't that funny or thoughtful, apart from a few clever quips now and then. He was somewhat magnetic and utterly genial, like a dependable neighbor. My Mom used to tell me that she thought one of the reasons FDR kept getting re-elected was that he had a most profound, fatherly quality of making it seem like everything was going to be all right. I'm guessing Johnny Carson was similar. He was there every night (at least until the later years), everybody loved him (including all those famous Hollywood types), and despite always playing it safe he never seemed out of touch or square. The golf swing, the "How hot was it?", the Tea-for-Two dance step -- you knew that the day was a day like any other, and you were about to go to sleep and have another one tomorrow.

I'm guessing his appeal was part and parcel with his personality, which manifested itself in him simply calling it quits and never reappearing. No matter how rich and famous he got, he was really still the dependable neighbor. So when he stopped doing his show, he just stopped being famous. Probably his greatest quality was understanding that fame is the most empty of achievements. Show me another celebrity who understands that.

As for me, I still stay up later than I should, but now it's to watch Family Guy reruns on Adult Swim. Sidesplitting.