Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'd love to be a Civil War buff. ... What do you have to do to be a buff?

Jerry Seinfeld? Keith Hernandez? What do they have to do with the Civil War? a very popular episode of Seinfeld - you know the one...where Jerry sort of gets a man-crush on Keith Hernandez...there is a little dialog between Jerry and George that comes close to my corner of the world. It goes like this:

JERRY: You know who that is? That's

GEORGE: Keith Hernandez? The baseball player?

JERRY: Yeah, that's him.

GEORGE: Are you sure?

JERRY: Positive.

GEORGE: Wow, Keith Hernandez. He's such a great player.

JERRY: Yeah, he's a real smart guy too. He's a Civil War buff.

GEORGE: I'd love to be a Civil War buff. ... What do you have to do to be a buff?

JERRY: So Biff wants to be a buff? ... Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day
would be a start.

Yes...Jerry's right about that. Being a buff is hard work. You need an encyclopedic knowledge of every commander (at least down to the regiment level) and of need to know the battles cold. I have to say...I love it when popular culture and Civil War history intersect. I'll bet you a buck that book sales on the Civil War picked up a bit after this show aired.

But Hernandez aside, lots of academics (not all, mind you, but lots) sort of look down on buffs. They think of them as all "drums and bugles" and no substance. They (it is suggested) don't delve into issues...they don't read all the important scholarship...they dismiss complexity.

I say lighten up a little. Civil War buffs keep interest in this historical period alive. Buffs do buy books, they watch TV shows about history and yes indeed...they (thankfully) follow my Tweets, they watch my Youtube videos, and they comment on my Facebook posts.

I love buffs. Without them, I might not have an audience at all (or at least a much smaller one). So, Mr. Hernandez - I salute you and all like you who find the Civil War fascinating above all else. We are one and the same. If you ever want to talk - just hit me up. This February, I am traveling to Yermo, California to check out a Civil War reenactment. There should be buffs there by the score. And don't you know it - the Cosmic America cameras will be rolling. I can't wait to document everything they have to day.


Keith (scholar/buff)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Keith,

    There are two additional Seinfeld episodes in which the Civil War is referenced: