« Restitution Round-Robin | Main | The Architect of Khufu »

July 13, 2007

Farewell to Art


My dear friend Art Buchwald was buried on Sunday in Martha's Vineyard, at the century-plus cemetery a short walk from his house. It's the spot where his wife Ann was already laid to rest, and where three plots were bought together for bosom buddies ("the blues brothers") to stay close -- Art, Mike Wallace and Bill Styron. Art's longtime friend Cathy Crary wrote me this account of a ceremony where I had hoped to be: "It was a beautiful sunny, breezy Vineyard day. There were about 75 people there. As the family and I walked up Main Street to the cemetery, we were joined one by one by Art's friends--the Wallaces, the Hackney's, the Styron family. Rose read Art's favorite poem, "Flanders Field." Mike Wallace tearfully said goodbye to his "best friend." Then every other speaker proceeded to share lovely thoughts about Art and they all said they thought THEY were Art's best friend--because that's how he made everyone feel. At the last minute Carly Simon appeared. She had told Tamara that she could not sing the song she wrote for Art ("Too Soon to Say Goodbye.") But she apparently changed her mind because she did sing and it was a lovely moment.The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps came with seven Marines who opened the American flag over the grave and played taps. The commandant then presented the American flag to Joel. I asked Joel later what the commandant said to him. He could not remember a single word because he was busy trying to figure out if he was supposed to kneel too, with the commandant. Art's four-year-old son Corbin supervised everyone pouring a small shovelful of soil into the grave. It was really touching. At the end he even took the tamper from the groundskeeper and tamped down the earth himself." (Joel and Tamara are Art's kids.) Farewell to you Art, a rare human being who I miss and will always cherish. (For those who missed it, here's an account of my last visit with Art at the Washington hospice.)