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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan.28, 2005 / 18 Shevat, 5765

Carson's death should remind us of what was good and what we've lost

By Tom Purcell


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The news about Johnny Carson hit me hard, and now I know why.

I'm going to be 43 in April. I'm not old, but neither am I young. But in my lifetime, our country has seen dramatic change — not all of it good. Johnny Carson reminds me of what was good and what we've lost.

Carson took over the Tonight Show in 1962, just seven months after I was born. Critics say the show was hip and edgy during its first ten years in New York, but when he moved to California the show became more routine and predictable.

But that's what I liked about it.

I didn't start watching the show until I was a kid in the 1970's, mostly in the summertime. One summer when I was 12, my parents took us to Washington, D.C. After a few days of touring the monuments in the blistering heat, we drove to Baltimore to visit relatives. We stayed at their house that night, and I had the basement all to myself.

I loved my temporary taste of independence — my first sense of being an adult. I turned on the television and — no cable then — the only channel I could pull in was NBC. Johnny and Ed McMahan were doing their Carnac the Magnificent act. When McMahan rudely interrupted, Johnny spoke his pre-written insult:

"May Shamu the Killer Whale relieve himself on your living room carpet."

As I got older, I watched Johnny more. In high school summers, I dreaded the daylong football practices, but when we finally got home in the evening we'd go swimming up the street in Miller's pool. We'd pitch in for pizza and talk under the stars, and then I'd head home in time for Johnny.

I don't know why, but it was reassuring to watch his show each summer night. No matter how miserable the day was, no matter how much I dreaded the next day of practice, Johnny brought perspective. There are good days and bad, he made me feel, but just take it as it comes, just as he did for 30 years.

My mother held a strong affection for him. She said he reminded her of her father, who died one month before her wedding, when she was 19 years old. She said her father had a similar warmth and wit. She didn't know why either, but Johnny comforted her.

I never thought about any of this much until he died last week. Sure, he was 79 and lived a long and interesting life. But I'm still sad about his passing.

He was a great reflection of what it is to be American. He was at once authentic and good, but also flawed. He carried with him the great values he learned in the Midwest — he was polite, unable to boast, embarrassed in many ways by his success.

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But then he had a few too many to drink now and then. He'd been addicted to smoking. He was divorced three times.

But each night all these qualities, good and bad, were laid bare for the world to see. He came out on the stage impeccably dressed — he had dignity and respect both for himself and his audience.

He often made himself the butt of his jokes, and when he went after the powerful and the mighty he always did so with class, never with malice.

I compare his show to so much of what is on television today. Where he was respectful and even embarrassed by fame, so many on television today are climbing over each other for a taste of it. They humiliate themselves on Fear Factor or celebrate self-absorption on MTV. They have no sense of perspective and certainly no sense of shame.

So Johnny is gone and that is why I'm sad. With his passing, I sense that the civility, class and gentlemanliness of my childhood are also long gone.

That's why his passing hit me so hard.

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© 2005, Tom Purcell