Won't you be my neighbor?

So my Mom called. She wants me to get off her back. She also wants to know what I think about the sad news that Mr. Rogers has passed away. I've been thinking about it for a while, and the first thing that strikes me is that if you stop any cynical, hard-bitten, world-weary Gen-Xer on the street and start singing "You can never go down, can never go down, can never go down...." we'd all know the next words ("the drain!").

The thing about Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was that it was one of the last pure places for children.

Sesame Street had celebrity guest stars and in-jokes directed to its grown-up viewers. It was (and remains) a program very much of its moment -- vibrant, fast-moving, multicultural and politically correct. It was fun and hip and fast-paced.

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was none of those things....but it was, in its own way, timeless. Mr. Rogers never talked down to children, and he never talked past them. His neighborhood always felt like a safe place, where it was okay for children to play games, to pretend, to talk about their feelings and know that the grown-ups would listen; a place where there was no hurry to grow up. A place where it was okay just to be a kid. I think there are too few places like that in the world, and on television. Sigh.

Now that I'm thoroughly depressed about the state of the world and the state of television (which is probably because I caught another few minutes of "Are You Hot" the other night, and had convinced myself that Lorenzo Lamas with a laser pointer means that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse can't be far behind), I have to go out in the snow and fetch my new glasses.