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Some Trees, Peanuts, Two Whiskey Sours, and Fried Rice: Some Unorganized Over-Exaggerations on Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts, a Hand-Me-Down Array of Poems Related to the New York School of Poets, and Getting High and Reading Paper Rad



         Readers tend to secretly admire their own submission into the lone realm of reading.  To be a reader is, I think, to also acknowledge that one is a reader and to let all surrounding aspects of life conform to this position.  To not engage, or even chance the encounter, with those deemed unfruitful to the reader’s cause. The Non, or more importantly, the Casual reader is against the reader’s cause.  A cause established in a wealth of uncertainty and seclusion. A cause that comes not from the reader’s pink head meat, but rather from a type of third eye, an unknown gland, or a phantom appendage that the reader can cast down upon the casual reader.  A cause to open up this cemented third eye, this far too long dormant gland, and this gauze wrapped phantom appendage, all hidden underneath a cement hardened and solidified by the disregard and shunning by the all-too-close wild of the world.  This is a wild that has been paved over by the enclosed genre of mediocrity.  The casual reader is just but the mere annoyance of the reader, a rubbing of sweat on the phantom appendage.  An annoyance spawned from the casual reader’s role of not reading for the written word, but reading for the simple desire to occupy their time, rather than having their time occupied. The unknown gland rejects everything that engages the casual reader’s mind, an interest in the word only to serve as a social back dropping.  The cause of the reader’s third eye shuns bestsellers and books of the moment. While snobbery is in the air at all times, is it possible for our eyes, our glands, and our appendages to reach out to what may be waiting right in front of us?  While so easily blaming the mediocrity of the bile-laden pages of the impulse item literature as reason not to explore what the rest of society has deemed wonderful, liberating, and even inspirational – the eye will remain shut, the gland will remain inactive, and our appendages will stay folded and crossed. In doing so, the reader often misses widely accepted literature that holds a fixated spot in the minds of the everyday, casual reader. What does it indicate for the self-proclaimed reader, in which something so obvious and present in American culture is downplayed because it has not been canonized into the forced realm of popular study?
    Fucking nothing hopefully. What glorified bullshit. The bomb will drop any day now. So, please, do not glorify the written word.  Do not glorify the reader.  Do not glorify the writer.  Helplessly and hopelessly, please allow it to burn your tongue just as fried rice. And now:
     The bleakly printed baseball cap for the rainy weathered march of the pitiless, foot-to-mouth hordes of empty society unknowingly carries one of the greatest achievements in depicting the inevitable failures in the life of a human being.  Yes, it can be said that the every daily news reports of human abuse is enough to demand a sickening outcry of concern from the general public.  However, it takes something much more tame and welcoming to dig deep into the brain of a human being to expose every last feeling of pain and regret in a lifetime.  What does it take for the human being to move his or her fingers to the middle of the newspaper to get the illustrated and fantasized depictions of human life? To chuckle, to chortle, to shrug shoulders in uncertainty, to nod in agreement, and then to take the sewing scissors and to cut and to paste or to clip onto the inside of his or her cubicle? This desire rests in the comfort of illustrated thought that tends to trick the reader to downplay the issues and emotions within the comic strip.  And how could it not? If a strip of colossal magnitude is surrounded by insipid bullshit then the tone set forth by the productive strip is diminished and boggled down by the chronic display of the mendacity of everyday life.

          From a strip that has stained many fingers in its infinitive run, Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts survives post-mortem for the sole purpose of reminding the everyday newspaper reader that, yes, life will stay constant and it will stay constantly in a fixated moment – ageless and directionless.  The fears of failure and rejection that have plagued the general population since the first moment of each individual’s waking life.  Schulz’s children refuse the aging process, forever staying in a constant, endless state of rejection, denial, and pain.  A pain sparked from a carefully planned schematic of squiggly lines.

          An active engagement of the reader to the pleasurable mask of Schulz’s Peanuts exists so the reader can unknowingly relate in all comfort to a life of endless failure.  Charlie Brown and unrequited love.  Charlie Brown and the football.  Charlie Brown and the kite-eating tree.  Linus and his refusal to grow up, always clenching to his blanket – fearing that something will snatch away any remaining sign of youth and innocence. Lucy’s endless bored desire to profit from her peers’ troubles.  These reflective images of their childhood selves is a smug and selfish reassurance to the reader.
          Anyways, it took exactly two months to get over the fact that the Peanuts were not the swelling abominations of cute that adorned all of the Woolworths’ Valentine’s Day cards from my youth.  Just as usual, I didn’t care anymore and I was unhealthily infatuated with something else.  Co-workers bombarding me with books of the New York School of Poets, then another bombardment of dead-end beatniks that will eventually line my bookshelves.  John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror was given to me.  I read it and it did something for me.  So, I checked out probably seven more books by Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery, and Frank O’Hara.  I was on a roll, but I skipped James Schuyler.  Something didn’t appeal to me.

What appealed me to these poets? I don’t know.  Was it the sense of a confession unheard within every poem, muffled by the sounds of conversation and city? Was it the over-analyzed, intellectual mumbo-jumbo that boggled down every single one of John Ashbery’s poems? Was it O’Hara’s sprawling landscape of lunch breaks and news headlines that carried bored and drab undertones that mumbled ‘eh-anyone-can-do-this’? Maybe that was it, that if anyone had enough time and wasted thought, they could just sit down and spill some words out onto a page, sign it ‘Kenneht Koch’ and call it a poem. 

This was a trap for me, and my co-workers and friends knew it.  Often, I will walk into work and a book will be laying there for me, usually dealing with hatred and angst.  Of course, I am appreciative.  This time, I was flattered, but offended at the same time – is it really so obvious that I will fall to literature that is written by the bored and the directionless? Sighing won’t do anything, so I fell deep into it and went through the stack of books that I acquired from various outlets.  The gland, the eye, and the appendage immediately absorbed it. It was directionless, beautiful filth and I loved it. Every poem after the first and before the last was unable to be navigated – it was a whirlwind of cityscapes and thoughts that moved as traffic.  There was a sense of direction, but it was lost in the motion of it all.  These were passages from a certain time, maybe a time lost, or possibly just a time that ran out.  So, In Memory of My Feelings, Rivers and Mountains, Lunch Poems, sticky and filthy Carnegie Library Koch books, The Tennis Court Oath, As We Know, Thank You. Even though these poets have now dominated my interest, at the very end of it all – I still told Koch, Ashbery, and O’Hara to just go to hell and ended up staying awake all night reading Eliot’s The Waste Land.

And again, at the very end of it all, I still don’t understand what the appeal is to all of this – peanuts, poets, or what-have-you.  I will never know a Kenneth Koch or a John Ashbery, and I’m not sure if I would even want to.  I have known Charlie Browns, and many other Peanuts, and I know that I wish I would have rather not. So, in the end, what’s the difference and are they even comparable and then again, who even cares? I just know at the very end of it all, at the very end of it all, and just once again, at the very end of it all – there is absolutely no problem with just sitting around with my roommate and reading the Carnegie’s copy of Paper Rad like it’s the first time either of us discovered drugs. 

Beam Pattern


Ed Steck lives in Pittsburgh, where he drinks beer, orders feta cheese on Mineo’s pizza, writes long-ass poems, fucks with hippies and punk rockers, listens to grunge, and generally wreaks havoc.  When not doing these things, he works for Caliban Bookshop.*


Ed Steck knows that the New Yinzer already wrote up his end piece/summary thing, but he would just like to quote the Party Owls – “Piss in a cup, get locked up, get a tattoo, not much else you can do.”


*This bio written by the section-editor.