Mister Rogers Goes to Washington

:: What Do You Do ::

:: or the whole damn album ::

This very moving video clip has been making the rounds on various blogs over the past few months. It’s a clip from 1969 of Fred Rogers appearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, testifying in support of increased government funding for Public Broadcasting. Within seven minutes, Mr. Rogers succeeds in warming subcommittee chair Senator John Pastore’s heart, enough for Pastore to acknowledge that he has goosebumps and remark, “I think you just got your twenty million dollars.” Indeed, after the Pastore committee hearings, funding for PBS increased from $9 million to $22 million.

Mister Rogers secured those funds by speaking passionately, in his own slow and quiet manner, about the social learning and emotional care that children need to develop in a constructive way, and how programming on PBS nurtures those needs. Along the way, he recites the lyrics to one of his songs, “What Do You Do?” to drive the point home.

The song appeared on Let’s Be Together Today, from 1968, though my copy is a 1981 reissue. It’s a song that offers solutions to controlling one’s behavior, though apparently the lessons offered are lost on some folk. Today, after ripping the album, I spent a good 10 minutes maniacally moving my apartment furniture around in a rage, looking for one of those damn Netflix envelopes to return a dvd. I’m sure Mister Rogers, as well as Freud, would say there was more at work there than a missing envelope. After the fruitless search, I looked up to see my girlfriend staring at me, and then she calmly asked, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” Ah, how we laughed.

Anyway, I’ve decided to post the song by itself for your pleasure, or, if you’d like the whole album, it’s all zipped up and ready to go. Why have I posted the whole album for you? Because you always make each day a special day, by just you're being you. There's only one person exactly like you in the whole world. And that's you yourself, and I like you.

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Monday, October 02, 2006 12:17:00 PM

Of course, it could be argued that when children grow up to realize that they aren't necessarily "special" that we are not ALL winners, that that disappointment causes them to go out and brutally beat bums and approach the world with a chip on their shoulder.
The sentiments are nice and all, but isn't it possible, just possible that this road paved with good intentions, has brought us to the hell we are in now?    

Thursday, October 05, 2006 3:43:00 PM

What a truly bizarre thing to say.    

Thursday, October 05, 2006 4:36:00 PM

Man...I wish I would've had this the other day before my crabby sister called the neighbor and told her to stop parking her goddamn car in front of our mother's house.

Now I keep expecting Mr. McFeely to deliver a letter bomb.    

Friday, October 06, 2006 1:31:00 PM

Mr. Rogers freakin' jammed, didn't he? We miss you, Fred. Just cuz U waz U.    

Friday, April 20, 2007 1:45:00 AM

Is there any way that you could re-post the Mister Rogers' LP? I would absolutely love to hear it...Thank you very much,


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