Saturday, October 2, 2010

Buon compleanno Charlie Brown

Today, Charlie Brown is sixty years old. And it is remarkable how widespread his influence has been these past six decades. I had no idea when I was reading Peanuts comics in the late fifties that he was only two years older than me. As kids it seemed like he had been around forever. And by the time he was fifteen there were books being written about his philosophy on life, like "The Gospel According to Peanuts" and even television appearances.

Last Christmas while visiting our kids in Santa Rosa I located the Charles Schulz Museum, which honors the creator of this famed collection of characters. I knew he'd lived in California, but did not know his roots were in Minnesota. After visiting California during Christmas, I fully understand why someone who has a choice might choose that over this. We had several feet of snow that weekend. Santa Rosa skies were without spot or blemish.

Schulz's international reach can be seen in this article, Buon compleanno Charlie Brown, sent to me this week from Italy.

In the article the author observes how for our generation Charlie Brown and friends existed side by side with characters like Holden Caulfield. She points out that a poster of Charlie Brown is no less out of place hanging above an intellectual's desk next to the Bauhaus Manifesto as well as on a teenager's wall flanked by WWF wrestlers. "The true mystery of Peanuts," Michelle Serra writes, "...is their prodigious elasticity."

I would also suggest the longevity of this family of Peanuts characters is equally amazing, though not surprising. Each character has in him- or herself a semi-transcendent universality that we can all relate to, from the lovable Woodstock to Joe Cool to the Little Red-Haired Girl.

Charlie Brown is sixty today.... and nary a gray hair. That's something impressive, too.

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