“When [author Yunte] Huang visited Mount Airy, or Mayberry U.S.A., he learned of a Chang and Eng exhibit kept in the basement of the Andy Griffith Museum. In other words, a shrine to an American myth of old-timey homogeneity was literally built on the more convoluted reality. Huang knew that the symbolism was almost too much to bear: ‘As Sheriff Andy says, “If you wrote this into a play, nobody’d believe it.” ’ ”
— From ” ‘Inseparable’ Finds Pride, Indignity and Irony in the Lives of Siamese Twins Chang and Eng” by Jennifer Szalai in the New York Times (April 4)
Limitless seems shelf space for biographies of the brothers Bunker.
On this day in 1984: Andy Griffith puts the brakes on efforts to find a North Carolina town willing to rename itself Mayberry. He calls the campaign by John Meroney III, 14-year-old founder of The Andy Griffith Show Appreciation Society, “enormously embarrassing.”
More phrase-frequency charts from those bustling bibliophiles at Google Books Ngram Reader:
— Andy Griffith vs. Don Knotts and Ron Howard
— Moonshine vs. NASCAR
— Interstate 40 vs. Interstate 77, Interstate 85 and Interstate 95
— Moon Pie vs. sweet potato pie
— Piltdown Man vs. Marlboro Man
— Tourism insurgents: “There’s more to Mount Airy than Mayberry.”
— Barbecue Confidential: “It’s so minimalist — dressed with only a little bit of vinegar, salt and pepper. It’s hard to argue with that.”
— But really, Mr. Bourdain, for an old-fashioned barbecue tempeh sandwich you still can’t beat Asheville.
“[Critics and CBS] never saw through to the sophistication underlying the show. If the men aren’t wearing Brooks Brothers and the women aren’t wearing the latest hairstyles and fashions and they’re not discussing something terribly chic at cocktails, then it isn’t ‘sophisticated.’ Andy felt very strongly about that attitude, really resented it….
“Those other shows [‘Green Acres,’ ‘Petticoat Junction,’ ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’] were fine for what they attempted, but ours was a different type of show entirely.”
— Producer Aaron Ruben, as quoted in “The Andy Griffith Show” (1981) by Richard Michael Kelly
Ruben, credited by Griffith with “set[ting] the style of this show” in its early years, applied a crucial sensitivity to the subtle interplay between Andy Taylor and Barney Fife. (Just imagine how that could’ve gone amiss!) He died Saturday in Beverly Hills at age 95.