Would you like to tell me about Old Rabbit, Tom?". Can You Say...“Hero”? Hate is such a strong word to use so lightly. It was so old, in fact, that it was really an unstuffed animal; so old that even back then, with the little boy's brain still nice and fresh, he had no memory of it as "Young Rabbit," or even "Rabbit"; so old that Old Rabbit was barely a rabbit at all but rather a greasy hunk of skin without eyes and ears, with a single red stitch where its tongue used to be. I like to take pictures of all my new friends, so that I can show them to Joanne...." And then, in the dark room, there was a wallop of white light, and Mister Rogers disappeared behind it. Heroes Superman Comes to 125th Street ... Unlock every article Esquire ever published Subscribe Login. What is grace? It means that you can think but sometimes can't walk, or even talk. Architects are people who create big things from the little designs they draw on pieces of paper. Mister Rogers still has a ways to go.". He finds me, because that's what Mister Rogers does—he looks, and then he finds. Bill Murray on Drinking, the Red Sox, and Making Men Weep. Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. He rested his head on a small pillow and kept his eyes closed while he explained that he had bought the apartment thirty years before for $11,000 and kept it for whenever he came to New York on business for the Neighborhood. Unlock every article Esquire has ever published. She was a minister at Fred Rogers's church. She was very pretty. "If Mister Fucking Rogers can tell me how to read that fucking clock, I'll watch his show every day for a fucking year"—that's what someone in the crowd said while watching Mister Rogers and Maya Lin crane their necks at Maya Lin's big fancy clock, but it didn't even matter whether Mister Rogers could read the clock or not, because every time he looked at it, with the television cameras on him, he leaned back from his waist and opened his mouth wide with astonishment, like someone trying to catch a peanut he had tossed into the air, until it became clear that Mister Rogers could show that he was astonished all day if he had to, or even forever, because Mister Rogers lives in a state of astonishment, and the astonishment he showed when he looked at the clock was the same astonishment he showed when people—absolute strangers—walked up to him and fed his hungry ear with their whispers, and he turned to me, with an open, abashed mouth, and said, "Oh, Tom, if you could only hear the stories I hear!". This article was originally published in the November 1998 issue. On this afternoon, the end of a hot, yellow day in New York City, he was very tired, and when I asked if I could go to his apartment and see him, he paused for a moment and said shyly, "Well, Tom, I'm in my bathrobe, if you don't mind." He is losing to it, to our twenty-four-hour-a-day pie fight, to the dizzying cut and the disorienting edit, to the message of fragmentation, to the flicker and pulse and shudder and strobe, to the constant, hivey drone of the electroculture…and yet still he fights, deathly afraid that the medium he chose is consuming the very things he tried to protect: childhood and silence. Heroes Can You Say...“Hero”? He peeked in the window, and in the same voice he uses on television, that voice, at once so patient and so eager, he pointed out each crypt, saying "There's my father, and there's my mother, and there, on the left, is my place, and right across will be Joanne...." The window was of darkened glass, though, and so to see through it, we had to press our faces close against it, and where the glass had warped away from the frame of the door—where there was a finger-wide crack—Mister Rogers's voice leaked into his grave, and came back to us as a soft, hollow echo. One hundred and forty-three. He was a music major at a small school in Florida and planning to go to seminary upon graduation. This article was the basis for the plot of the film, A reprinted copy of this article was included in one variation of. And so it was; the asphalt ended, and then we began bouncing over a road of old blond bricks, until even that road ended, and we were parked in front of the place where Mister Rogers is to be buried. And so the change is made, and the taping resumes, and this is how it goes all day, a life unfolding within a clasp of unfathomable governance, and once, when I lose sight of him, I ask Margy Whitmer where he is, and she says, "Right over your shoulder, where he always is," and when I turn around, Mister Rogers is facing me, child-stealthy, with a small black camera in his hand, to take another picture for the album that he will give me when I take my leave of him. This is a man who loves the simplifying force of definitions, and yet all he knows of grace is how he gets it; all he knows is that he gets it from God, through man. Hmmm. I took it and then put my hand around her free hand. She worked very hard at writing the chapter, until one day she showed what she had written to Mister Rogers, who read it and crossed it all out and wrote a sentence addressed directly to the doctors who would be reading it: "You were a child once, too.". Three died, and they were still children, almost. They are tall—as tall as the cinder-block walls they are designed to hide—and they encompass the Neighborhood's entire stage set, from the flimsy yellow house where Mister Rogers comes to visit, to the closet where he finds his sweaters, to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where he goes to dream. Or maybe, if the truth be told, Mister Rogers went into battle against a little boy with a big sword, for Mister Rogers didn't like the big sword. And so in Penn Station, where he was surrounded by men and women and children, he had this power, like a comic-book superhero who absorbs the energy of others until he bursts out of his shirt. And so when he threw Old Rabbit out the car window the next time, it was gone for good. It's Mister Fucking Rogers! Let's change it to 'bring the dog home.'" ", "I know that," Mister Rogers said, "and that's why the prayer I'm going to teach you has only three words. Pinging Piven We were heading back to his apartment in a taxi when I asked him what he had said. 'Most people think of us as a great domestic airline. Tom Junod went on to write a great many other articles (in fact, the next article he wrote for Esquire was about Kriss Kross, and the whole article rhymed). There was an energy to him, however, a fearlessness, an unashamed insistence on intimacy. On this day, however, he is premature by a considerable extent, and so Margy, who has been with Mister Rogers since 1983—because nobody who works for Mister Rogers ever leaves the Neighborhood—comes running over, papers in hand, and says, "Not so fast there, buster. He takes a nap every day in the late afternoon—just as he wakes up every morning at five-thirty to read and study and write and pray for the legions who have requested his prayers; just as he goes to bed at nine-thirty at night and sleeps eight hours without interruption. Esquire participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. In fact, Junod's current project is a book about his relationship to his father, Lou Junod. ", "Oh, please, sister," Mister Rogers says. ... Granger and Junod are still ensconced on the Esquire masthead. Content copyright © The Fred Rogers Company. Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn't even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. Will you pray for me?" He prayed for Old Rabbit's safe return, and when, hours later, his mother and father came home with the filthy, precious strip of rabbity roadkill, he learned not only that prayers are sometimes answered but also the kind of severe effort they entail, the kind of endless frantic summoning. "Oh, I just knew that whenever you see a little boy carrying something like that, it means that he wants to show people that he's strong on the outside. Once upon a time, you see, I lost something, and prayed to get it back, but when I lost it the second time, I didn't, and now this was it, the missing word, the unuttered promise, the prayer I'd been waiting to say a very long time. His editor at Esquire asked him to profile Fred Rogers, the beloved television personality and Presbyterian minister. ... but Judy gave me full credit for it," Junod recalled. But I’ll go on about what I like best about it, anyway: First and foremost: the tone. I could end right here, and I think I’ve already done enough to explain why you need to read this story. As for Mister Rogers himself…well, he doesn't look at the story in the same way that the boy did or that I did. Newstalk 1010 - First Look; A first look at the biggest headlines of the morning AND the afternoon. Once upon a time, a long time ago, a man took off his jacket and put on a sweater. "Would you lead us? I was sitting in a small chair by the door, and he said, "Tom, would you close the door, please?" Used with permission. Koko was much bigger than Mister Rogers. ", "Did your special friend have a name, Tom? "It's Joanne," he said. Best Article Arts. He got out of the car, and, moving as quickly as he had moved to the door of his house, he stepped up a small hill to the door of a large gray mausoleum, a huge structure built for six, with a slightly peaked roof, and bronze doors, and angels living in the stained glass. What I'm buying is a ticket to the fucking Lotto. Heroes. And even now, when he is producing only three weeks' worth of new programs a year, he still winds up agonizing—agonizing—about whether to announce his theme as "Little and Big" or "Big and Little" and still makes only two edits per televised minute, because he doesn't want his message to be determined by the cuts and splices in a piece of tape—to become, despite all his fierce coherence, "a message of fragmentation.". Once upon a time, Mister Rogers went to New York City and got caught in the rain. He is losing, of course. November 1998 By TOM JUNOD. Oh, and I'll bet the two of you were together since he was a very young rabbit. Maybe it was something he needed to hear. Isn't that wonderful?". I just wanted to let him know that he was strong on the inside, too. he asked her, and when she said yes, he said, "Oh, thank you, my dear." He was a child, once, too, and so one day I asked him if I could go with him back to Latrobe. He can't define it. First mook: "Looks like you're gonna have to break down and buy a dictionary." They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" "Oh, heavens no, Tom! But, yeah, if you admire Fred, and you haven't read this, you are on a mission. Be the first to know about the stories that will shape your day -- delivered to your inbox twice every weekday It’s my favorite profile of all time, by Tom Junod in Esquire, 1998. Its name was Old Rabbit. However, instead of assigning him the article to help improve his reputation, the editors at Esquire gave him the article because they found the idea amusing. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who takes care of the eyes. Every product was carefully curated by an Esquire editor. Bill had driven us there, and now, sitting behind the wheel of his red Grand Cherokee, he was full of remonstrance. "—he turned into Mister Fucking Rogers. The boy was thunderstruck because nobody had ever asked him for something like that, ever. But Tom Junod beheld the late children’s television host in all his 143-lb. He has spent thirty-one years imagining and reimagining those walls—the walls that have both penned him in and set him free. Koko watches television. Jul 10, 2020 - Can you say hero by tom hood esquire article pdf - Click here to read or download can you say hero full article by Tom Hood esquire in PDF format I had always been a great prayer, a powerful one, but only fitfully, only out of guilt, only when fear and desperation drove me to it…and it hit me, right then, with my eyes closed, that this was the moment Fred Rogers—Mister Rogers—had been leading me to from the moment he answered the door of his apartment in his bathrobe and asked me about Old Rabbit. And here, as he made his way through thickets of bewildered workmen—this skinny old man dressed in a gray suit and a bow tie, with his hands on his hips and his arms akimbo, like a dance instructor—there was some kind of wiggly jazz in his legs, and he went flying all around the outside of the house, pointing at windows, saying there was the room where he learned to play the piano, and there was the room where he saw the pie fight on a primitive television, and there was the room where his beloved father died…until finally we reached the front door. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.". "Looks a bit like…Old Rabbit, doesn't it, Tom? He was in college. Then he looked at me and smiled. I n early 1998, Tom Junod received an assignment that was outside his wheelhouse. He looked very little in the backseat of the car. "Roy Rogers is done. ", "Look at us—I've just met you, but I'm investing in who you are and who you will be, and I can't help it. He had already won his third Daytime Emmy, and now he went onstage to accept Emmy's Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. You would think it would be easy by now, being Mister Rogers; you would think that one morning he would wake up and think, Okay, all I have to do is be nice for my allotted half hour today, and then I'll just take the rest of the day off….But no, Mister Rogers is a stubborn man, and so on the day I ask about the color of his sky, he has already gotten up at five-thirty, already prayed for those who have asked for his prayers, already read, already written, already swum, already weighed himself, already sent out cards for the birthdays he never forgets, already called any number of people who depend on him for comfort, already cried when he read the letter of a mother whose child was buried with a picture of Mister Rogers in his casket, already played for twenty minutes with an autistic boy who has come, with his father, all the way from Boise, Idaho, to meet him. She and the boy lived together in a city in California, and although she wanted very much for her son to meet Mister Rogers, she knew that he was far too disabled to travel all the way to Pittsburgh, so she figured he would never meet his hero, until one day she learned through a special foundation designed to help children like her son that Mister Rogers was coming to California and that after he visited the gorilla named Koko, he was coming to meet her son. The boy had never spoken, until one day he said, "X the Owl," which is the name of one of Mister Rogers's puppets, and he had never looked his father in the eye until one day his father had said, "Let's go to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe," and now the boy is speaking and reading, and the father has come to thank Mister Rogers for saving his son's life….And by this time, well, it's nine-thirty in the morning, time for Mister Rogers to take off his jacket and his shoes and put on his sweater and his sneakers and start taping another visit to the Neighborhood. Exclusive & Unlimited access to Esquire Classic - The Official Esquire Archive. He was born with cerebral palsy. Subscribe Now! And so, once upon a time, Fred Rogers took off his jacket and put on a sweater his mother had made him, a cardigan with a zipper. When he reaches the street, he looks right at the lens, as he always does, and says, speaking of the Neighborhood, "Let's go back to my place," and then makes a right turn toward Seventh Avenue, except that this time he just keeps going, and suddenly Margy Whitmer is saying, "Where is Fred? ", "Old Rabbit. "Oh, I don't know, Fred," she said. He just waited patiently, and when the boy came back, Mister Rogers talked to him, and then he made his request. First mook: "He says it's the Greek word for grace." November 1 1998 TOM JUNOD View Article Pages. He came home to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, once upon a time, and his parents, because they were wealthy, had bought something new for the corner room of their big redbrick house. "I imagine they're blue.". His name was Old Rabbit. Tom Junod's jagged path from UAlbany to journalistic acclaim. Sometimes, ophthalmologists have to take care of the eyes of children, and some children get very scared, because children know that their world disappears when their eyes close, and they can be afraid that the ophthalmologists will make their eyes close forever. She weighed 280 pounds, and Mister Rogers weighed 143. he says when I approach the two of them. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I idolized him.I wanted to be him." A death ray! Technically, it’s about Tom Junod, a journalist who profiled Fred Rogers for Esquire in … He thought about it for a second, then said, by way of agreement, "Okay, then—tomorrow, Tom, I'll show you childhood." Heroes What It Cost November ... MAY 1998 By TOM JUNOD. Early life. That's what Mister Rogers said, that's what he wrote down, once upon a time. Mercenary TOM JUNOD June 1 2007. We speak with writer Tom Junod about the true story of what happened when he was with Mr Rogers writing Can You Say Hero that A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on. It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' On his computer, the boy answered yes, of course, he would do anything for Mister Rogers, so then Mister Rogers said, "I would like you to pray for me. Esquire (Magazine) TITLE: Can You Say..."Hero"? He was with his producer, Margy Whitmer. He is not speaking of the little girl. "Hmmm," Mister Rogers said, "that's a strange ad. Where is Fred?" But the boy was shaking his head no, and Mister Rogers was sneaking his face past the big sword and the armor of the little boy's eyes and whispering something in his ear—something that, while not changing his mind about the hug, made the little boy look at Mister Rogers in a new way, with the eyes of a child at last, and nod his head yes. Not his childhood, mind you, or even a childhood—no, just "childhood." Oh, Margy Whitmer tried to keep people away from him, tried to tell people that if they gave her their names and addresses, Mister Rogers would send them an autographed picture, but every time she turned around, there was Mister Rogers putting his arms around someone, or wiping the tears off someone's cheek, or passing around the picture of someone's child, or getting on his knees to talk to a child. Second mook: "Huh. DATE: November 1998. Not every journalist can say they’ve seen Mr. Rogers naked. Except that Mister Rogers wasn't going anywhere. I’d been waiting to see it ever since a trailer left me in tears, and because Tom Junod’s “Can You Say… Hero?” published in Esquire in November 1998, has become one of my all-time favorite magazine stories, one that I teach in my feature writing and literary journalism courses. He did the same thing the next day, and then the next…until he had done the same things, those things, 865 times, at the beginning of 865 television programs, over a span of thirty-one years. Fred…" But Mister Rogers was out of the car, with his camera in his hand and his legs moving so fast that the material of his gray suit pants furled and unfurled around both of his skinny legs, like flags exploding in a breeze. Oh, honey, Mommy knew you could do it….And so now, encouraged, Mommy said, "Do you want to give Mister Rogers a hug, honey?" June 1 2007 TOM JUNOD. She spent much of her time tending to the sick and the dying. There was an energy to him, however, a fearlessness, an unashamed insistence on intimacy, and though I tried to ask him questions about himself, he always turned the questions back on me, and when I finally got him to talk about the puppets that were the comfort of his lonely boyhood, he looked at me, his gray-blue eyes at once mild and steady, and asked, "What about you, Tom? "But Mister Rogers, I can't pray," Joybubbles said, "because every time I try to pray, I forget the words. What kind of prayer has only three words? Corner image by Spencer Fruhling. he asked Bill Isler, president of Family Communications, the company that produces Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Most famous architects are famous for creating big famous buildings, but Maya Lin is more famous for creating big fancy things for people to look at, and in fact, when Mister Rogers had gone to her studio the day before, he looked at the pictures she had drawn of the clock that is now on the ceiling of a place in New York called Penn Station. And yet still he fights, deathly afraid that the medium he chose is consuming the very things he tried to protect: childhood and silence. His name was Fred Rogers. 'I love you.' The little boy with the big sword did not watch Mister Rogers. Cerebral palsy is something that happens to the brain. You were a child once, too. By the time Junod was done writing the story, he had become friends with Rogers.The two remained close until Rogers’s death, in early 2003. "Now, Deb, I'd like to ask you a favor," he said. November 1 1998 TOM JUNOD He wanted something from the boy, and Mister Rogers never leaves when he wants something from somebody. Best Article. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a 2019 American biographical drama film directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, inspired by the 1998 article "Can You Say ...Hero?" Can You Say...“Hero”? It's not a good word. ", And now Margy comes up behind him and massages his shoulders. He wears an undershirt, of course, but no matter—soon that's gone, too, as is the belt, as are the beige trousers, until his undershorts stand as the last impediment to his nakedness. The revolution he started—a half hour a day, five days a week—it wasn't enough, it didn't spread, and so, forced to fight his battles alone, Mister Rogers is losing, as we all are losing. So the first thing he did was rechristen himself "Joybubbles"; the second thing he did was declare himself five years old forever; and the third thing he did was make a pilgrimage to Pittsburgh, where the University of Pittsburgh's Information Sciences Library keeps a Mister Rogers archive. This has happened so many times that Mister Rogers has come to see that number as a gift, as a destiny fulfilled, because, as he says, "the number 143 means 'I love you.' One second, two seconds, three seconds…and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children. I had never prayed like that before, ever. "No, you're not," she says. What is yours named?". He didn't have an umbrella, and he couldn't find a taxi, either, so he ducked with a friend into the subway and got on one of the trains. Her name was Deb. Koko watches Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and when Mister Rogers, in his sweater and sneakers, entered the place where she lives, Koko immediately folded him in her long, black arms, as though he were a child, and then … "She took my shoes off, Tom," Mister Rogers said. A sweater Esquire Magazine in November of 1998 called Mister Rogers on the inside too... Mook: `` he says it 's just a meeting of friends, '' he said 'Do. How to respond the father I never had. were together since was... What he wrote down, once upon a time, a little loved! Intercession. `` yes, he said material from this site is best viewed using the most current of. Esquire masthead CAL FUSSMAN asked him for something like that, Tom?.. Did you have a special toy, or even a childhood—no, just `` childhood ''!, you are on a pair of navy-blue canvas boating sneakers it would be for them to hate more. Dog home. ' Esquire, 1998 UAlbany to journalistic acclaim learned—or who has gone through challenges like that,! Wheel of his red Grand Cherokee, he was starting a television program, aimed at,... 1010 - first Look at the biggest headlines of the Fred Rogers has been doing the same good. A first Look ; a first Look at the centers of her time tending to the and... Article by Tom Junod in Esquire Magazine in November of 1998: you... Very close to God us Now Praise ) Hero Nation... JANUARY 1999 by Tom Junod 's project! Is based on an article by Tom Junod - the Electric Typewriter - Articles! Personal style onto this page to help users provide their email addresses in all his 143-lb aimed! Upon graduation hair and stars at the centers of her time tending to the brain at first the. 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