July 29, 1938 - August 7, 2005
Anyone who has known me, knew what a nightly habit "Peter" was. In our family, that name, that word, was synonymous with "news". My children even called the news "Peter". My son even "dressed" up as Peter for his first Halloween. He was only a few months old, but he did have a blue dress shirt and tie that he hadn't fussed about wearing. I wasn't about to be like so many parent and put him in one of thosefloppyy eared full body costumes that babies hate so much, so I printed up a name tag with a picture of Peter Jennings dressedsimilarlyy to put on his shirt. I never knew the man personally, the closest I have to that is an autographed photo, but knowing someone personally, for a man in his position isn't required for mourning.
An artist may die, and leave behind a catalog of work. This isn't like Stanley Kubrick dying, or even Gene Rodenberry to me. With Stanley and Gene, as artists they left behind works like Dr. Strangelove, 2001 or Star Trek. We'll always have those works at least. Both of those men in particular left works that lived on after them; A.I for Stanley Kubrick and Andromeda for Gene Rodenberry, not to mention the rest of Star Trek (an open bitching to Rick Berman here is compelling but has no place here.) This is akin to, if not worse than Jim Henson's passing.
When Jim Henson died, we felt that Kermit died to. Afictitious s character is supposed to have a quality that even artists don't, they're immortal. But, to everyone of OUR generation, Kermit will always be partly dead. There are many who can summon a likeness of his voice, I can do it well enough to please my children and those easily amused, but the true essence of him died with Jim Henson.
With artists you have art to keep. I went into this to show what a different niche Peter was in. All he did was tell the news. It doesn't sound like much. Rodenberry gave us a dream for a bettertomorroww, withoutprejudicee or poverty, but with boundless unexplored potential. Kubrick gave us intricate visions of lust, status, war...Alll perceptions of man's limitations [mostly] through arrogance. Jim Henson cultivated a spirit in a generation that could appreciate the simple, and relax in a world of ever accelerating change. A generation of kids coming up in his diminished influence arefrightenlyy uncomfortable. A vision of the future. Reflections on human weakness. Peaceful, easy going comfort in ambition and dreams. All Peter Jennings did was report the news.
How could his be the greatest loss of this group of men? He embodied what made those other three so great. To look ahead, or reflect back, you need a clarity of what is "now". Every week night, Peter provided that clarity of the world, as it was that day. Every night the news was given a purpose for how you could use it fortomorroww. It's important to pause here, and say that I stated "could use" not "should use". Many journalists are accused of having agendas, and for many intoday'ss news world, even at Peter's own World News Tonight, this is shamefully evident. With Peter, we never really knew where he stood. That was his job, to allow us to interpret the news. It is also to his credit, that he kept reigns on his broadcast to shy from the easy and the sensationalistic and appeal more than many of his rivals, to the intellect. Information to go intotomorroww, and reflection open to your interpretation. I'd like to think that Rodenberry and Kubrick would both be proud, of such a substantial day to day contribution to so many lives.
But it is in the spirit of Jim Henson that the true appeal to Peter Jennings resided. Only Kermit the Frog could have possibly delivered true anddevastatingg world events with such a calming charisma. Peter Jennings was telling you what was going on, never panicked or overtly sentimental in situations where it was uncalled for. He wasprofessionall, a calm in so many storms. No matter what he was telling me, I knew it would all be okay, even on some of the worst days in history. That, is an air of tranquility that Jim Henson, I believe, could have been proud of.
I still havecontributionss of those men, those artists, on DVD. Their art will live on, regardless ofreinventionss maintaining the integrity of their work, the originals remain as art should. The news, the events of any given day, and of the historical days...Wee have already been feeling the loss for some months. We will never again have the worlds events through such imperturbable clarity, embodied in an unmet friend. It was appreciated, and is now gone