Columbo’s Appeal

Columbo Pointing

In researching links for this site, I came across an obituary for Peter Falk, who died June 23, 2011.

Learning that it had been the night of June 23 (a Thursday that year) and not the next day (my wedding anniversary) was a jolt. I really, really, really, really like Columbo.

But the bigger problem came with this statement, in the New York Times obit:

“This is, perhaps, the most thoroughgoing satisfaction ‘Columbo’ offers us,” Jeff Greenfield wrote in The New York Times in 1973: “the assurance that those who dwell in marble and satin, those whose clothes, food, cars and mates are the very best, do not deserve it.

That’s not true.

Leave it to The Times, and a review from early in The Train Wreck Decade, but that is not why we’re satisfied. It’s not why we connect with Columbo.

The point is not that they “do not deserve it.”

If we thought that, we’d be guilty of the same sin as the satin-dwellers themselves, because we’d be judging the worth of people based on their wealth.

The point is that even the rich are subject to the same laws, moral or otherwise.

By and large, Americans do not begrudge people their money. In fact, in good and bad ways, we aspire to it.  Rather, we do not want them to receive inappropriate special treatment because of it. And yes, we give it to them ourselves too often. But we don’t want to, and we don’t want others to either.

What satisfies about Columbo, on this point anyway, is that if the wealthy violate reality, they will pay — just like the rest of us.

We don’t care if they drive a BMW.

We care if they drive it off a cliff and it doesn’t crash.

Recent

Ensamples

Among the worst things about The Slap is how it has fed self-righteousness in all but the two participants, and they already had it or it wldn’t have happened. But there is Solzhenitsyn, again, with the line between good and evil that cuts through every human heart, and there is Dostoevsky, always, reminding us via

Read More »

Lipstick

Pig is revelation. Revealing is when what’s here is hidden then seen. It’s really many individual ones, though widely considered they’re the same, and all the individuals are related, perhaps only proximately at first, but also in ways they themselves don’t initially see. + Key is it’s here. Problem is we don’t see it. Action

Read More »

Not For Teacher

There’s an unfortunate instructor-y thing where the guy on stage [I’ve found it’s usually a male doing this] asks a question he already knows the answer to, one of the people in the audience … err, classroom … is the target, the answer given is wrong, and the stagehand just goes and gives the answer

Read More »

Diminishing Me

You’d think a guy’d remember if it was the first time he’d seen a body but I didn’t not at first. [Hadda chance to graduate from college into one of our acceptable wars but didn’t, into the war that is, and no shot at a medical profession: left HS Chem as it had only 28

Read More »

Random

Un Success Full

Thomas Merton was asked once to contribute to a book on success — specifically a statement of how he’d achieved it in his own life. I replied indignantly that I was not able to consider myself a success in any terms that had meaning to me. If it happened that I had once written a

Read More »

God a Day

My sister gave me a “page-a-day” calendar for Christmas. Michele’s not as fond of them, because of all the paper I think she says. For me, it seems the perfect item: you tear one off, and bam! you’re done. Though it is a lot of paper … But mine is Bible verses, and it’s a

Read More »

Whispers and Words

My dad died in my sleep. 2:35 AM in an upstate New York hospice; 11:35 PM in a Southern California house. A text saying to call and two voice mails I still haven’t listened to and speaking was as a sunrise. New but not unexpected. * Who’s the dust in this scenario? Remember, O Man, that thou art but

Read More »

Dance With Who Brung Ya

We’re observing Columbus Day with doughy, deep-fried donuts dusted with powdered sugar. It’s hard to hate old Christopher when M makes zeppole. But we are supposed to hate him, we’re told. We’re told, I say! We’re told he to do so because he was a bad man — he was a very bad man. The

Read More »

Related

On (Not) Using Words

Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words. Quick now — who said that? Me. Just now. Weren’t you paying attention? The saying is sometimes attributed to Francis of Assisi, most likely erroneously, as many are gleefully wont to revel in and reveal, should someone dare voice the view. To which the only

Read More »

Drudge Report

Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she

Read More »

Never Ending Story

For the record, such as this is, Breaking Bad won’t end. As the series has continued we’ve become accustomed to Walt doing what he wants. And he certainly doesn’t think a thing’s over until he says it is. The previous episode, ostensibly the second-to-last-ever one, ended with him heading out to take care of business,

Read More »

Do Piece — Community (Barth)

They crucified him with the criminals. Do you know what this implies? Don’t be too surprised if I tell you that this was the first Christian fellowship, the first certain, indissoluble, and indestructible Christian community. Christian community is manifest wherever there is a group of people close to Jesus who are with him in such a

Read More »