Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dare to Eat a Peach

I got an e-mail this morning from my friend Lee, who lives halfway to Iowa, practically. Every so often one of us makes the long trek on the suburban bus to visit each other, and Lee's subject line read,
"Do I dare to eat a peach--on the bus into town--sometime next week?"
I was amazed because I had heard that phrase about a peach, really recently--yesterday?--but couldn't remember where.

Could it have been Downfall, which I rewatched last night? Surely that wasn't something anyone would have said in Hitler's last days.
Nor does it seem likely it's anything I've read about Slovakia under Communism, though it wouldn't have been a bad slogan for the Velvet Revolution.

So that leaves one other option: Stephen Colbert.
Aside from research, movies, and walking Karla's little dog, who doesn't talk, that's been my main pursuit lately--watching bits and pieces of the Colbert Report. (Since I never heard of it until the other day, I have a lot of catching up to do. Jen has been assisting me by sending me links to her favorite clips.)

Just last night, I watched Colbert's fireside chat on the topic of Leap Day (2008). This day doesn't really exist, he says, so moral laws do not apply. On this day, he suggests, "Blow off your job. Sleep with that forbidden coworker. Dare to eat a peach."

I wrote back to Lee, asking him if that's what he was thinking of.

Why, no, he replied, he and Colbert were both ripping off that master of rip-offs: T. S. Eliot. Specifically "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which, when I re-read it just now, seems to me must rank among the Most Ripped Off Pieces of Poetry ever, though it won't even celebrate its hundredth birthday for another eight years (2017).

Eliot himself said, "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." ( Alas, one can't turn that sentiment around and claim stealing proves one's maturity as a writer. Or we bloggers would all be ripe peaches indeed.)

Anyway, just for fun--a break from researching Slovakia (not that that's not fun--in fact, it's taking over my brain, which is always fun, in a weird way)--I googled "colbert peach images" and found the other famous Colbert: Claudette (and the peach shortcake, above).

Rather unlikely she and Stephen are closely related, though they look a little bit alike (uh... well, they part their hair on the same side, anyway), as he's of Irish ancestry, not French, and she was born in France. I checked.

Wow, it's hard to find a photo of this guy when he's not making funny faces. This one's from the Vanity Fair article about him, Oct. 2007.

So, this blogpost GNDN (goes nowhere, does nothing), but there you have my Venn diagram for the day.

Oh, no--there's a gap here, next to the photo. OK, one more random overlap, courtesy of google:
Baked chicken stuffed with peaches is a Slovakian dish. If Mr. Colbert comes to dinner, say next Leap Day (2012), that's what I'm serving.
P.S. [two hours later] I just got home from Target, and the guy in the line behind me was buying Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Coincidence? I think not! Surely a Cosmic Message. Please let me know if you can decode it.


poodletail said...

I love this photo of Stephen Colbert looking freshly tumbled. Sexy!
Geez. What a lame comment to a darn good post. I'm sending it anyway.

Rudyinparis said...

Most ripped off line from poetry, oh, I am sure... But on cosmic connections, you mention that Claudette and Stephen have in common that they *part their hair* [on the left]... and, of course, the question "Do I dare to eat a peach? is immediately preceded by "Shall I part my hair behind?" (Apparently behind-hair-parting was a signal of trendsetting youth in Eliot's day, much like white flannel trousers). There are, truly, no coincidences. And I [heart] your friend Lee for the reference! I used to have this poem memorized and would recite it at parties, but oddly no one else was as dazzled by this accomplishment as I was.

fresca said...

Cat: "Freshly tumbled" indeed! Hardly a lame comment, you naughty thing. : )

R: My brain has jumped out of the fish bowl, in wonder at the connection you pointed out. The correlation of the peach, the hair-parting, and the two Colberts is truly of Astral Significance! Can this be the famed objective correlative?

I tell you, if I met someone at a party who quoted this poem, I would fall down and worship... if I recognized the quote that is, which I have just proved I would not. I would make a fool of myself by asking, "Isn't that Stephen Colbert?" and they would think, what a dope.

deanna said...

This is peachy stuff (sorry; couldn't resist). We watched Stephen Colbert every evening until the satellite signals went digital a few years back. My hubby's a dedicated conservative, but he and a few others I know appreciate (is that the word?) Colbert's ways. Humor is a great tool. None of us ought to take our politics too seriously.

bruceplo is the word verification. Do you know him?

momo said...

On the relations of the French to the Irish, and why a French surnmae might be Irish, see this page about the history of the Normand ("Anglo-French")invasion of Ireland and the establishment of power in the 12th century.
The Irish would later turn to France for support in their attempts to throw off English rule.

fresca said...

Deanna: That's interesting that your conservative husband likes (likes?) Colbert. In reverse, I can well imagine liking a politically conservative comedian who was super smart and funny and silly and sexy, like S.C. Are there any? Maybe Bruce Plo?
Humor is a saving grace, all right!

Momo: Well, there you go! That explains the French/Irish hair-parting similarities! Thanks. : )

Jennifer said...

Oddly, RIP (uh, that's Rudyinparis! I had no idea her name became a tombstone acronym) recently discovered we both loved that poem in high school and can still recite long swaths of it from memory. I never knew that about her, it was like finding a soul mate and realizing you grew up with her. :)

Also, I'm wondering if "Momo" is named after the Japanese word for "Peach." :)

Also also, Colbert looks peachy there. Yum. Why is it comedians so often either look goofy or deeply sad, with little middle ground?

fresca said...

How curious, Jen, that you didn't know that you'd both memorized the same poem. What was it about it that so caught you, I wonder. (I like it, but it's never been a big favorite of mine.)

SC does look sad, doesn't he. Also wary, and maybe angry? Comedians are sick puppies.

momo said...

Momo is how my daughter used to write mama, but it is also momo-taro (peach boy) in my memory, and the name of a Tibetan dumpling!

Jennifer said...

I can't speak for Rudy, but I always loved the language of it, which I found accessible and yet evocative. The rhythms of the it, which weren't quite the poetry I was learning in classes and yet weren't free verse either. And although Prufrock's condition is fundamentally different from an American high school girl's, I empathized with his social awkwardness, the going back over and over again on interactions, wondering what one did wrong, how to fix it next time...all the while feeling at some level this is a waste of energy. The feeling of being peripheral, of trying to accept that heroically ("No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be./ Am an attendant lord, one that will do/ To swell a progress, start a scene or two...") and knowing that heroically accepting insignificance is just ludicrous...

Well, it was high school, lol, and all the stresses and strains of wanting to be central and kind of hoping to be ignored at the same time.

"I should have been a pair of ragged claws/ cutting across the floors of silent seas." Ah, the beauty of self-pity! It rang true. :) I loved Eliot (another case where learning more about the writer isn't really a good idea) and can still quote nearly the whole first part of "Ash Wednesday" as well--which leads us neatly back into Catholicism!

fresca said...

P.S. Jen: thanks for your thoughts on the poem.
And I realized what that look is on Stephen's face: painkillers! He'd just broken his wrist.