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Art Buchwald

It may be mere coincidence (although we doubt that he thinks so), but on October 20, 1925, political humorist Art Buchwald was born in Mount Vernon, New York, home of the nation's first president.  He attended P.S. 35, Jamaica High School, and forest Hills High School, but he never received a diploma.  Instead, he left home to enlist in the Marines, where he served honorably in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945.  Although he wasn’t a war hero, he "looked very good in uniform."

On returning to civilian life, Buchwald enrolled at the University of Southern California, still lacking his diploma.  After three years, he learned that he could go to Paris on the G.I. Bill of Rights.  He left USC and bought a one-way ticket for France.

While pretending to attend a French language school in the City of Lights, Buchwald landed a job with Variety magazine.  In January, 1949, he took a sample of one of his columns to the offices of the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune.  Its title was Paris After Dark.  He sold the Tribune on the idea of his writing a regular column about the Parisian restaurants and nightlife because of the food he had eaten while in the Marine Corps. They never bothered checking his credentials; and, before long, Buchwald was one of the best-fed newspaperman in Europe. 

At first, Buchwald's column covered the usual Parisian night scene, but soon he began expanding it to include a humorous column called "Europe's Lighter Side" (1952).  One of his best-known satires from the period is about a fictional American tourist who tries to win the "six-minute-Louvre race."  Buchwald wrote about him racing from the Mona Lisa to other famous artworks in the museum, making excellent time "under perfect conditions, with a smooth floor, excellent lighting, and no wind."

 In 1952, the New York-based Tribune decided to syndicate Buchwald's column nationally, which by then was being published all throughout Europe, as well as in Paris.  Although his work dealt with another continent, the columns were well received in America.  Buchwald portrayed himself as the Charlie Chaplin of the international set.  He was constantly being thrown out of parties and off of yachts.  He traveled to the Soviet Union in a chauffeur-driven limousine to let the Soviet people see what a real capitalist looked like.  He went to Africa to find a white hunter so that he could be considered a true-blue writer like Hemingway.

Buchwald began writing political satire when President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a trip to France.  His witty articles caught the attention of Eisenhower's press secretary, who called the pieces "unadulterated rot."  Buchwald shot back, "I have been known to write adulterated rot, but never unadulterated rot." 

In 1962, Buchwald decided to return to the United States, where he took up residence in Washington, D.C., in order to crank out his satire full-time.  He is currently syndicated with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and he continues to write for hundreds of newspapers from Seattle to Yokohama. 

In 1982, Buchwald won the Pulitzer Prize for his syndicated column in the category of Outstanding Commentary.  Four years later, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  His column currently appears weekly in over 550 newspapers. 

Buchwald once said, "If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it" and "People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him."  He also wrote, "The powder is mixed with water and tastes exactly like powder mixed with water" and "We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today.  I don't think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great.  If you're hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time."

To date, Buchwald has written more than 30 books--including I Think I Don’t Remember (Putnam, 1987); Whose Rose Garden Is It Anyway? (Putnam, 1989); and Lighten Up, George (Putnam, 1991).  He has also written a play, two children’s books, and two novels.  His most recent novel is Stella in Heaven (Putnam, 2000).  His autobiography, Leaving Home, was published by Putnam in 1993.  The second volume of his memoirs, I’ll Always Have Paris, was published by Putnam in 1996. Buchwald’s most recent collection of columns is We’ll Laugh Again (Putnam, 2002).

Following a stroke in 2000, Buchwald remained hospitalized for two months.  He has since recovered.  He and his wife live in Washington, D. C.

Art Buchwald is a self-confessed workaholic who enjoys "absolutely no hobbies."

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