Death, it has been omnipresent this annum. Most humans have expired. This datum is known by Mme. Peggington Noonington, a prosemonger famous to children, and regal oligarch wordsmith for the Wall Street Journal banking pamphlet. Peggington did not faceth the Grim Reaper this year. For someone who was born in 1820’s London, in the actual Buckingham Palace, this is rare. It is rare for a human to survive into her ninth score. We know this, we feel this. Peggington: cognizant of this. Now it is Thanks-Giving time. Her Thanks are simple. Puritan. Nay. Catholic. Ahh, Catholicism. To be alive, imbibing the firewater of Bean Extract, moving one’s digits swiftly across the input buttons of a Robot: “I am grateful for a great deal, especially: I’m here. I’m drinking coffee as I write, and the sun is so bright, I had to close the blinds to keep the glare from the computer.”
Where doth the madame capture such elan vital for this seven-day’s iteration of “Declarations”? The motorcar, to be sure. The finest of motorcars, ever. She sitteth inside this motorcab and was taken down the Fifth Avenue of New York. As humans familiar with Peggington Noonan are privy to know, whenever Madame traveleth upon the Fifth Avenue of New York, she immediately understandeth everything about the current status of the United States of America. It is now wealthy. You must see this one building.
I felt it the other night, unexpectedly, in a way that reminded me of the anxieties of last year. I had been away from the city. I was in a cab going down Fifth Avenue. I hadn’t been there in months. I looked up and suddenly saw, looming in the darkness to my right, the white-gray marble and huge windows of the Bergdorf Goodman building—tall, stately, mansard-roofed. Its windows were covered, but some lights were on, and there seemed to be people inside. They were preparing its Christmas windows. Something about the sight of it caught me—proud Bergdorf’s, anchor of midtown commerce. It looked exactly as it looked 10 years ago, 20, only better. Because it’s there. New York has been so damaged by the crash, and last year at this time small shops, the ones with the smallest margin for error, were closing. And now I see more that are opening, and Bergdorf’s is preparing its Christmas windows. The sight of it came like an affirmation. We’re still here. I am so grateful.
Madame hath parodied her noble self, verily.
Peggington knoweth other humans. They too are grateful, for not Dying. This man: among the finest barristers in New Amsterdam. And his spawn, the dauphin. They are afforded leisure at times. During these times they trap Sea Monsters. I am so grateful.
What are you most thankful for in 2009? I asked an old friend, a brilliant lawyer who lives in a New York suburb. “I saw my 6-year-old son run a mile, and catch a bunch of fish,” he immediately replied. He saw his wife, a journalist, “dodge the firings” in her office. He still has a job, too. All of this sounds so common, so modest, and yet, he knows, it is everything. A child caught a fish, he ran, his father saw it. “Broadly,” he added, “I am grateful to America for its freedom, for its yeastiness and, at times, its noise. Dee Snider belting out ‘I Wanna Rock’ is so America.”
“Yeastiness.” Peggington must curtail this practice of inserting her words into her barrister’s correspondence. As for this Dee Snider fellow, she dareth not Google, but perchance she is a nice lady, and perhaps even a Mexican. (This one time, Peggy Noonan saw a Mexican.)
Peggington hath numerous other acquaintances from the Wall Streete, and they hath money again. They are grateful.
And this thing, this Robot, prospering:
And after that, after gratitude for friends and family, and for those who protect us, after that something small. I love TV, and the other day it occurred to me again that we are in the middle of a second golden age of television. I feel gratitude to the largely unheralded network executives and producers who gave it to us. The first golden age can be summed up with one name: “Playhouse 90.” It was the 1950s and ’60, when TV was busy being born. The second can be summed up with the words “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men,” “The Wire,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “ER,” “24,” “The West Wing,” “Law and Order,” “30 Rock.” These are classics. Some nonstars at a network made them possible. Good for them.
Nay: Good for everyone. Good for Humans.
The finest of things, however, involveth the convergence of one Robot with another Robot. You view the program on the First Robot. You type on the Second Robot, about the program you hath viewed on the First Robot. It is the two-part activity of God, here on this Earth:
But there is a side benefit to televisions’s excellence, and that is the number of people who follow a show so closely, and love it so much, that after it’s aired they come together on long threads on Web sites and talk about what happened and what it means. People use their imaginations and unfocused creativity to add new layers of meaning and interpretation. “You know that was a reference to ‘Chinatown.'” “Did anyone notice what it meant when Peggy told Mr. Sterling ‘no’ when he asked for the coffee? A whole revolution captured in one word!”
Those threads are golden.
Those threads are America.
We’re still here.
I am so grateful.