Bart’s Comics, John Philbrook

If you haven’t discovered the adventures of Bart and Mark, your life is missing something.  You can follow them on Twitter (username @BartsComics) and on Facebook.  Today’s cartoon appears near the middle of this post.

I find this particular cartoon touching because it reminds me of the message on an Ephemera button worn by my dear friend, John Philbrook. It said CUT THE CRAP. I’M PSYCHIC.

John’s button disappeared one day when he was at work (his jacket was left in a place that wasn’t very secure, and the button was on the jacket). He asked me to find a replacement, if I could.  John’s work schedule didn’t allow for much shopping.

I went all over North Beach, in one case sifting through a huge salad bowl of buttons, with no results. I was ready to give up when I made one last stop at a greeting card store in the Financial District. The store carried very few buttons, but they had that one. Fate?

John passed in 2009, and I smile whenever something like this reminds me of the times John and I shared a good laugh.

There’s one button in particular which reminds me of something upsetting that John and his friends went through together. It says SOMEDAY WE’LL LOOK BACK ON THIS, LAUGH NERVOUSLY AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT. The button’s message is funny only if you’re not referring to what John was dealing withBart's Comics.

Without going into specifics, John went through many ordeals in his life, and I knew him for years.  Some of my most vivid memories of him — besides the humor we shared — were instances when his moral character was tested.  I never saw him fail.  John was a strong person who didn’t take shortcuts, didn’t lie to himself or to others, and thought about consequences before handling anything delicate.

I know other people whom I respect.  However, it’s important not to set the bar too high when looking for honesty or general strength of character.  If you saw what an extraordinary role model John Philbrook was, the rest of the world might look even scruffier than it really is.

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