The Smiths and Charlie Brown: A Match Made in Miserable Heaven

| August 16, 2013
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Certain things just go together. Nutella and banana. Ryan Gosling and feminism. Morrissey and Charlie Brown? You better believe it. Lauren LoPrete, an Oakland designer (and full disclosure: a friend of mine), shot to internet fame this week with her brilliant blog, This Charming Charlie, which pairs Smiths lyrics with Peanuts characters. I caught up with Lauren to talk about her inspiration for the blog, how it feels to be tweeted by Aziz Ansari and Snoopy, and which instant internet celebrity she enjoys most.

KQED Pop: Pairing The Smiths with Charlie Brown is one of those so genius, yet so simple ideas, like Post-Its and sporks. How did the idea come to you?

Lauren LoPrete: I have been looking at a lot of old punk posters lately and I came across this great old Smiths gig poster with Charlie Brown on it asking, “why? why? why? why?” It stuck in my head and during a Smiths listening binge, it just came together.

This Charming Charlie has been featured on Slate, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Gawker, and everywhere else in the past few days. What’s the weirdest bit of internet fame you’ve experienced since this blew up?

I have a huge blogger/designer crush on Anna Dorfman from Door Sixteen. She was one of the “first responders” on Twitter and it made my day when she emailed me saying the Tumblr made her smile. Aziz Ansari tweeting about the Tumblr made me feel all kinds of strange, nervous emotions. Snoopy giving me a “beagle hug” via Twitter made me feel pretty smitten too.

Tell us a little about your obsession with both The Smiths and Peanuts. What drew you to them initially?

The first time I ever heard The Smiths, I was a middle schooler at YMCA sleep-away camp. My counselor had “How Soon is Now” on a mix tape. I ended up taking home the tape at the end of summer and wore that thing out.  The words of Charles Schulz and Morrissey share such universal feelings of despair and malaise and, since middle school, those feelings have stuck with me.

Time to pick favorites! What Smiths song and which Peanuts character most resonate with you?

I would say “There’s A Light That Never Goes Out” is my end all favorite Smiths song. It was the song on repeat during a very dark period of my life after my mom’s death. I’m still deeply attached to those lyrics. I think they are beautiful. But I’m always finding new favorites as well, most recently: “Rusholme Ruffians” and “Reel Around the Fountain.”

I think Charlie and I share a very similar sentiment, weighed down by dread while still having a strange, pathetic sense of optimism. I was Lucy last year for Halloween. I had a lot of reservations about being such a bossy-pants. I don’t think I’m like her at all, but I still love her for who she is. I also love Snoopy — he reminds me of my own dog, Harry. All the lines I have Snoopy thinking about, I picture Harry thinking.

Which instant internet celebrity (other than yourself) do you enjoy the most?

Hah! Well, I love CoonRippy (free REBEKAH!) and the little Japanese boy and his best friend, the French bulldog. I also love the boy who reshot Beyonce’s Countdown video wearing a blue snuggie – I am envious of his fearlessness. Those are just a few…

How do you spend your time professionally when you’re not making the dreams of Smiths and Peanuts fans come true?

I spend my days on staff at California College of the Arts as a Graphic and Web Designer. It’s really a dream job for me right now; there are few things more satisfying than getting young people excited about making art. I love being part of a community that fosters creativity, free thinking and innovation.

When I’m not there, I’m running a record label out of a loft in Oakland with my boyfriend, Jason. We focus on releasing music by people who consider themselves to be equally musicians and artists.

What’s next for you?

I really just want to dance like a Peanuts character to some loud sad music. Smithsfits night anyone?

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About the Author ()

Emmanuel Hapsis studied creative writing at University of Maryland, College Park and went on to receive his MFA in the field from California College of the Arts. After a few years of odd jobs, he landed at KQED, where he worked his way up from an intern to being the lead producer of a literature podcast and then the creator and editor of KQED Pop. In his free time, he teaches yoga and sings his heart out at karaoke.

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