Dilettantes er, Generalists Unlimited

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Dilettantes er, Generalists Unlimited

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Redigeret: feb 5, 2011, 12:36pm

A thread for literary anecdotalists inspired by Roland Perkins' recent conversations in other threads in which he offhandedly quipped of running into Stanley Elkin and other Lit. Luminaries at an Hawaiian conference.

Who might you have bumped into of note? Regale us here.

Roland, I've just discovered, even though the info has been staring me in the face since the days of Brave Team Ulysses apparently, is the author of A Sense of Order: Translations from French, Greek, Spanish, and Hawaiian; as well as Greek and Hawaiian Terms of Authority and Emotion in the Hawaiian Bible.

Roland is a retired professor of Classical Studies and retired librarian as well. What a renowned RESOURCE of a writer and academic we've had sitting under our collective noses all this freaking time, untapped, unpimped, unrecognized.

Anyone with a good literary anecdote is welcome to share it here as well. Drop as many big (or little known) names as possible! It's okay.

Thanks for being so open to the idea, Roland.

Your books aren't popping up in the touchstones, so I'm going to hunt Amazon for some links ...

feb 5, 2011, 12:44pm

A Sense of Order is out of print, unfortunately.

Though an article from Oceania is available for download, Hawai'i's Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History.

feb 5, 2011, 12:55pm

I bumped into Ishmael Reed after a talk he gave at the Main Library in Detroit. A brilliant man most generous with his time. His novels, essays, and poetry are first-rate.

feb 5, 2011, 3:16pm

On #3:

I missed seeing Ishmael Reed when he was speaking in Honolulu some years ago. I havenʻt yet read the only book I own by him: The Free-lance Pallbearers which I got at a bargain price at Bank of Hawaiʻiʻs Book and Music Fair the summer before last. Reed says somewhere that he is part Irish
(1/8, I think, and Iʻm 1/2). We probably donʻt have much else in common.
At the most recent Book Fair, my wife Leialoha Apo Perkins and I were speakers at one of the many panels. There is an LT connection, in that I used a quotation from one of the members, John the Fireman that I copied from Lt online:
"One (clear theme) is concern for the poor and marginalised. Jesus is critical of those who do nothing much to help THEM, and are part of the system which makes them poor and marginalised.
Is that an attack on the rich per se? Who knows, but it does tell me something about where I should put my energy." (emphasis added).

feb 5, 2011, 5:35pm

I dunno if she counts as notable, but I used to date Larissa Lai's roommate. A prominent feature of our relationship was me hanging around in the morning hoping to catch Larissa drinking coffee in her bunny slippers. It never happened:(

feb 5, 2011, 5:56pm

Robert Frost spent a couple days at the college I was going to.
There was a sort of informal get-together with students interested in poetry. He sat in a big armchair with a girl sitting on each arm (of the chair.) Other girls were draped over the back aof his chair. I was
sitting on the floor, at his feet along with some other girls. They asked him all kinds of crazy questions and he was loving it. I'm trying to remember where the guys were. Around somewhere, I guess.

Redigeret: feb 6, 2011, 7:59pm

Robert Frost is one of those authors that I
have met formally, following a reading, but nothing
more. So if I were making a list of "Authors I have
Known" (or even "have met") I would not include
that group --which would also contain Nobel Laureate
Heinrich Boll, e e cummings, and Thornton Wilder.
Wilder was met because of his tenuous connection
with Classics (Greco-Roman) at a meeting of the
Harvard Classical Club, Cummings and Frost
(who also was something of a classicist) at meetings
of wider scope, sponsored by Harvard; Boll, because
of his being a "B.U. author"* in the Special Collections
Dept. of the Boston University Library, my longest
term employer (though not in that dept.).

As for others who would rate mention as "Knew Author"
or at least "Met Author", I'll mention them later.

*means that B.U. owns his personal papers, or such
of them as he saw fit to donate. Among others belonging
to B.U. are those of Martin Luther King. I think there
was a law suit, years ago, about that disputed ownership,
in which B.U. prevailed over the King Family.

feb 5, 2011, 8:01pm

3, 4> Ishmael Reed, whom I've never met or even almost met, is certainly worth meeting in the pages of his books. We should read one of his sometime. He's also been a prolific playwright in his day.

I'm excited to see, Roland, that your wife is a published poet. I will momentarily hunt for a link to her book and be back ...

Redigeret: feb 5, 2011, 8:13pm

Here's Leialoha Apo Perkins Amazon page.

Roland, perhaps you could share some excerpts of her poetry with us at some point, maybe?

feb 5, 2011, 8:12pm

5> roommates count! Have you read any of Larissa Lai's stuff?

6> I have a Kurt Vonnegut eyewitness account in the flesh, similar scenario to yours with Robert Frost, Marian, that I'll share the balance of later ... a doey-eyed freshman lass asked him at a meet-and-greet in his honour,

"Are you happy, Mr. Vonnegut?"

feb 5, 2011, 8:20pm

Right there with RF. Must have been exciting for you MV. I've walked Ann Arbor backwards and forwards but did not bump into the sage. Though I did have my fish dinner at 'Lucky Jims', a little place run by Kingsley Amis' first wife, mother of Martin.

Chatted with Francis Huxley after a talk he gave at Det. Inst. of Arts. His RAVEN AT THE WRITING DESK is a fine effort.

Redigeret: feb 6, 2011, 11:50am

I got to have coffee with Tillie Olsen (just the two of us). I had Lee Smith (well-known in southern literary circles) for two classes. I also attended several parties at her house. I had dinner with Stephen Greenblatt--a famous New Historicist critic. Frank Lentricchia made a pass a me at a party. Jesse Jackson kissed me. Max Steele, who wrote one book of great acclaim, a couple of minor novels, was close friends with George Plimpton, and worked for the Paris Review, hated my guts. He told me I would never be a writer. And I exchanged sharp words with Gary Waller when he came to speak at our school. I was on the interview committee of whom Lois Banner (a women's studies specialist) was the interviewee. I met Jacques Derrida briefly. He was gracious. I was incoherent. And I have met in passing Maya Angelou. That's all I can think of now.

feb 6, 2011, 11:47am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

feb 6, 2011, 11:52am

Perhaps my most touching literary moment (no, not at all like urania's Jesse Jackson moment) was when I was 10. We were driving by Farley Mowat's place in the Magdalen Islands and he was out in the front yard, so the whole family stopped to adulate. He had us (all eight of us) in for tea, taught us young ones croquet the right way, and spent a good twenty minutes on all fours on the floor showing us the various calls of the wolves.

feb 6, 2011, 11:52am

>12 urania1: - OK, what is urania not telling us.

feb 6, 2011, 12:05pm

>12 urania1: Okay, I also had dinner with Jesse Jackson, but there were lots of people there.

feb 6, 2011, 12:22pm

What led to your exchanging sharp words with Gary Waller, Urania? And please please please tell us more about Frank Lentricchia making a pass at you at a party! Woo hoo!

feb 6, 2011, 1:00pm

U, I would have thought Derrida would have been the incoherent one.

I've met all sorts of people, from the Chairman of the Retired Admirals Association in 1965 to Janice Joplin to Jimmy Carter's daughter, Amy, but nary a writer of note in the bunch.

feb 6, 2011, 1:23pm

Talked with Galway Kinnell after a poetry reading in Ann Arbor. Dudley Randall was a librarian at my college, talked with him on occasion, maybe I mentioned it before, sue me, I'm an old fart with a fawlty memory. Took a couple classes with the biographer of Faulkner, Joseph Blotner, ie. He was most generous with his time as all first-raters usually are. Most all of my 'meetings' took place after a talk or a reading of one sort or another. I waited after and had my little opportunity. At a Salman Rushdie event in An Arbor, when talk ended Rushdie made for the back door and wasted no time with his admirers. We can forgive him as he was still a little nervous about the 'religious' types that wanted his head on a platter.

feb 6, 2011, 1:27pm

May I just say that the fact that Lentricchia made an apparently paried pass while Jackson had the success of a kiss seems to show good sense and taste in men on Urania's part.

feb 6, 2011, 1:46pm

>5 MeditationesMartini: Nope! But she also teaches in my department and is supervising my new love interest's dissertation--and When Fox is a Thousand, Salt Fish Girl, and Sybil Unrest are all amazing titles, so I think I will get around to it.

feb 6, 2011, 1:56pm

Sadly, there is a moratorium on sharing my bumping experiences until 2080.

feb 6, 2011, 4:53pm

Discretion is the better part of valor....

feb 6, 2011, 11:41pm

I think I told you guys before that I once went to hear the Dalai Lama, and it was at the cathedral at Catholic Univ. in Washington, DC. I was by the aisle and he came in this procession right by me. He caught my eye and I bowed at him and he laughed. It was like being given the best present ever.

Chris, besides being an extra in Animal House, got to meet Joseph Brodsky who happened to be in Portland for some reason and his high school Russian teacher got him to do a reading for their class. He also won a poetry competition and got to take a master class with William Stafford who was OR Poet Laureate at the time.

When I was in the foreign service I met some well known journalists and TV pundits. The journalists were by and large OK. The pundits were jerks. Especially Wolf Blitzer who was such a prima donna ordering people around.

Redigeret: feb 7, 2011, 2:15am

Speaking of meeting a religious dignitary: on a visit to Tonga I heard a speech by the late Catholic bishop, Patelisio Finau. I had never met him during the years I lived in Tonga.
After the speech other foreigners and I lined up tobe introduced to him. I remembered to greet him with "Malo e laumalie!"* which is the usual greeting given to a Noble (and in Tongan protocol, bishops are supposed to be addressed by the Noble vocabulary.
The professor next to me in line, an Australian
had met the bishop before, and his greeting, in contrast to mine, was: "Hi, Pat!"

(For once Iʻm grateful to Touchstones: I see they picked up He spoke the truth in love..., a writing of ʻPat" which I didnʻt know about.)

*Malo e laumalie: literally: I commend you for your spirit, whereas the usual greeting "Malo e leilei" is "I commend you for being healthy."

feb 7, 2011, 3:07am

from the few words here, Tongan seems like a damn pretty language.

feb 7, 2011, 9:29pm

Well what can I say, Rolly... we Aussies like to feel initiated.

Redigeret: feb 8, 2011, 7:39pm

On 26:

"Pretty" isn't quite the word I would use: more "beautiful" but I basic ally agree with you.

On 27::

It's o k to feel initiated, no matter what your nationality. I didn't even have any special reason to mention the nationality, especially as I don't go in for vast generlizations about nationality or ethniciy. No disparagement intended,anyway.

feb 8, 2011, 7:42pm

I meant my comment flippantly, Roland, with particular emphasis on the 'Rolly'. I took no disparagement from it at all. :)

feb 8, 2011, 8:05pm

Finishing off my anecdote from post 10 ...

So the starry-eyed freshman hears Kurt Vonnegut sounding consistently curmudgeonly and cantankerous in his responses to student (and a few professor's) questions, Spring semester, '92, Chapman University, and asks him if he's happy.

Vonnegut's initial expression was, WTF! kind of question is that. Then he replied sarcastically, "am I happy, Young Lady?"

But he quickly recovered and answered the question by saying (paraphrased quote): "When I return to my hotel room tonight, I'll pour myself a glass of ______, and then I'll pour myself another ... and a warm glow will come over me..."

I forget what else he said, as we all started chuckling in the room. But it was clear that Kurt was not happy.

feb 8, 2011, 8:10pm

I had a friend who spent a year as the personal assistant to Reynolds Price while I was an undergraduate at Duke. I met him a couple times briefly, but I can't claim I had an actual conversation with him.

Redigeret: feb 8, 2011, 8:18pm

Well, the Rolly thread here is starting to get a few more anecdotes. I think we're letting the dictator down if we don't keep this going. I'll share another one, in hopes of bringing the shy ones forth.

Here's a literary anecdote about meeting someone I didn't know whether I met (all too appropriate in this case).

I was out walking the neighborhood one day and there was unusual activity from our two local predators: a hawk that lives in the woods to the west of the neighborhood and an owl that lives in the Cemetary to the south of the neighborhood. They were alternatively up in the air, circling and hunting - not both at once, but one after the other. A somewhat elderly gent I did not know was out walking with one of the neighborhood children, and we and a group of other kids soon assembled at the corner to observe and discuss the skies. We talked for maybe 10-15 minutes before he went on his way, I turned back to my garden, and the kids generally dispersed. The fellow had an interesting command of literary references sprinkled in his conversation, very nonchallently and really apparently automatically.

A couple of days later, the child accompanying the gent informed me that the name of the person I'd been talking to is the same as a certain reclusive literary man who titles books for rockets and rocket parabolas. And she told me that he writes books. This came up because I had one of the books in my hand. The girl also happens to share his last name, though I don't know what the connection might be, and her mother just smiles when asked.

Of course, it may have been an elaborate ruse. But that won't prevent me from glancing through new books for a reference to our hawk and owl.

Redigeret: feb 8, 2011, 8:25pm

Vonegut spoke at my sister's graduation. I was nowhere near the fellow, but he was indeed quite inebriated. I was about 12 at the time, and learned something.

feb 8, 2011, 8:29pm

Oh good, I meant to ask whether Vonnegurt really was happy or not.

Redigeret: feb 8, 2011, 9:25pm

I don't think it's possible to be happy and creative. Creativity, or so it would seem, stems from internal turmoil and emotional pain. Happiness, on the other hand, stems from having a devil-may-care outlook. Not conducive to the backbreaking labor of creativity. I can imagine birthing a book is in many ways a lot like birthing a baby, except that it takes considerably longer. A writer like Vonnegut will be always chasing perfection. Not an activity that leads to much happiness, particularly since perfection is singularly unachievable. Not to mention the fact that it must be hard to maintain a sense of optimism for your own future when you know that your best work is behind you and you will never rise to that level again. I expect for the true artist early success is not a friend.

feb 8, 2011, 9:51pm

32> how absolutely cool would that be if indeed that were Thomas Pynchon!

35> agree completely. Has there ever been a "happy" literary writer ever?

That'd be a good thread, Gene: Writers who's early (if not first) work was their best: Richard Yates, Mailer ...

Redigeret: feb 9, 2011, 12:23am

"...early (if not first) work was their best. ..."

Yes, Richard Yates was one of those authors
whose next work I couldnʻt wait to read. And then, of course it was --not bad-- but somehting of a disappointment, which it almost had to be, given my pre-formed attitude and expectations. Francis Pollini was another who fell in this category. After Night (terrible title, but a great novel) his next works were --good but not THAT good. (A little off-topic: Iʻve also found it hard to find out anything about Pollini in Google, other than his movie-writing
Mailerʻs second (Barbary Shore) was i m o, great, but very neglected. I wasnʻt familiar enough with The Naked and the Dead to think of comparing them, but I could see that barbary Shore was very under-rated*. It may be the best novel that has a political theme written in the early post-WW II era.

*under-rated: This word, to me, does NOT mean
"deserves at least a Pulitzer Prize, and why am I the only one who realizes it!?" Just as "OVER-rated does not mean ʻmediocre" or "no good". (In fact, I think a work has to be pretty good to BE over-rated.)

feb 9, 2011, 2:23am

I bumped into Kenzaburo Oe . . . literally. He was coming out out of a men's room as I was attempting to enter it.

I interviewed and chatted with Gary Snyder at an event at a Tokyo ryotei in a beautiful garden which, though I've lived in the greater Tokyo sprawl for a long time, I had no idea existed. He was as gracious, sharp, intelligent, and witty as one would expect from his work. (The event, oddly enough, was sponsored by Swatch.)

feb 9, 2011, 3:28am

Not related to literature, but I served on a committee with Mary Costa who did the singing for Snow White in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and my 11th grade English teacher did all of Jane's swimming stunts in Tarzan Goes to New York -- a least I think that was the Tarzan movie for which she did the stunts.

feb 9, 2011, 9:56am

I took a statistics class with Laurie Notaro, "with" in the sense of "both took the same class". Does that count? And Diana Gabaldon did several book signings at the small chain bookstore I worked at in high school and university. I felt sorry for her sitting alone at the table, so I bought her first book. She was genuinely kind and fun to hang out with (in that she was sitting at a table people were actively avoiding and I was chatting with her instead of shelving books). I don't think her publisher knew what to do with her at the beginning since they would periodically put her in with the local romance authors for a group signing--including one in which she had been convinced by the other authors to dress in historical garb--she looked unhappy throughout and kept saying that she would never do that again. Fortunately, given the ages of the other authors, their costumes were much more modest than their book cover illustrations.

feb 9, 2011, 3:23pm

35: I think Mendelssohn is an example of a happy person who had great creative output.

I tend to think that creative greats would feel more strongly than others, so they would feel joy where normal people would feel contentment, despair where normal people would feel slightly "down" or depressed. I have no way of backing this up, but it's a prejudice of mine.

feb 9, 2011, 4:11pm

U.S. presidents that I have actually seen (other than on television: 3: George HW. Bush, 1947, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952, and Gerald R. Ford, 1976 (?). This, out of a total of 13 presidents that I can remember! Hmm -- all were Republicans, and Iʻm a
life long Democrat! Bush I perhaps shouldnʻt
put on this short list, because I didnʻt know,at the time, that I was seeing a future president: He was first baseman for the winning team, Yale, -- not for "my" team -- in a Harvard-Yale baseball game.
I never saw John F. Kennedy, although he was from my native state. Nor Robert F. Kennedy. Ted Kennedy} I saw only in a Veterans Day parade once. My tenuous connection with John Kennedy is that I received my high school diploma in Cambridge, MA from Mike Neville who was the incumbent representative whom
J F K defeated to enter Congress in 1946. I remember Mike saying that he wished "every senior in this auditorium were going to college!" I doubt that his recent opponent would have expressed such a wish I must admit that this seemed like a radical wish to me at the time.
Eisenhower I saw being driven through Union Square in Somerville, MA. His biggest Mass. supporter, *Henry Cabot Lodge, was waving to the heavily Democratic crowd. And Ike even carried Somerville -- probably the first Republican in the 20th century to do so.

*Lodge lost the November election to J F K, and was appointed ambassador to the U. N. by the Eisenhower Administration. He was later ambassador to South Vietnam under a Democratic Administration.

feb 9, 2011, 4:54pm

I got a sweet high-five from Jean Chretien! He was wearing a bomber jacket with a maple leaf on it.

As for presidents, I have seen Bill Clinton, who doesn't have a touchstone? really? speak, and be schmoozingly gladhanded by our pirate premier, Gordon Campbell, and not do a very good job of handling his bewildered disgust, which supposed me considering how smooth he's supposed to be. Campbell is truly repulsive, though.

feb 9, 2011, 6:01pm

I saw LBJ at his inauguration parade and I've seen Bill Clinton speak. Jimmy Carter and I and about 10,000 other people saw Bob Dylan and the Band in concert when Carter was governor. Most of the other Presidents in my lifetime would garner a large chunk of slobber from my mouth if I ever saw them in person, so it's probably a good idea I've never seen them. When I came into this world FDR was president, just barely.

feb 9, 2011, 6:06pm

I saw Al Gore speak in person and I think I shook his hand. It was at a campaign rally for our freshman Senator Merkeley.

Redigeret: feb 9, 2011, 6:38pm

I was a professional political operative when I was a pup back in the 80s and met all kinds of people in politics (including that guy urania kissed, whom I worked for for a bit). The politicans were usually fairly dull - there is a political cost to being interesting that few can bear, and they were practiced, studied dull. There were dull nice guys, like Mike Dukakis, and dull assholes, an honor I'd give to, say, John Kerry, just to pick on the two recent Democratic candiates from my state.

But some of the operatives were more colorful than Joseph's coat. One fellow, the guy who taught me how to make a good speech horrible and a horrible speech bearable by playing with sound and lighting, had stories about stealing a mass transit bus to get the press to a Bobby Kennedy speach. Real fear and loathing on the campaign trail stuff. These were usually people who would hop on a bus or a plane and head anywhere, make friends there instantly, and do whatever needed to be done.

Redigeret: feb 9, 2011, 6:35pm

As to politicians, I've met and spoken at length with Sen. Hubert Humphrey, Joe Biden (then a young senator who had a really cute brother who was his chief of staff), Sen. Scoop Jackson, Sen. Lowell Wiecker, Sen.Lloyd Bentson, Rep. Barbara Jordan (what an amazing pleasure), the soon-to-be infamous Caspar Weinberger (Sec. of what was then Health, Education and Welfare or H.E.W.), Elizabeth Dole (when she was Elizabeth Hanford and ran consumer affairs or some such) Mike Mansfield (Dem. senate majority leader) and Supreme Court justice Byron White.

There were more, but these are the one who stick in my memory. I also got to sit in on the Watergate hearings and saw John Mitchell walking down a hall with a scowl on his face, while surrounded by a lot of guys in black suits. All of this was when I was young, part of a small group that had been awarded a special internship/study tour of D.C., and was certain that I could save the world. As it turned out, I could not.

Redigeret: feb 9, 2011, 7:16pm

I am sure I have told this to Henri, at least, previously. I knocked over Lou Reed at an art gallery. Accident, not an aesthetic dispute. I backed into him. The guy is slight and light as a feather.

feb 9, 2011, 7:28pm

Jessica Mitford, when I lived in Berkeley and had dinner at her house in North Oakland, didn't like me much. No anecdote, just a name-drop. A very political type. A phony fire in her fireplace, though. I remember that. One of those logs that burn forever.

Paul Newman, but that's a long story.

Hank Aaron, but I already told that story.

feb 9, 2011, 8:11pm

>yeah, but you're lucky he didn't have you rubbed out! I saw the way the guy treated this poor Japanese kid at a show who obviously didn't understand him when he said "no flash photos"--it was disgusting. He was whipping up the crowd, getting them howling for this poor guy's blood.

feb 9, 2011, 8:19pm

I haven't met anyone. One doesn't, here in backwoods Australia.

Regarding the genius and happiness thing, I wrote an essay I enjoyed writing very much at uni, about how the Modernists decided that High Art was all about pain and suffering, whereas the writers before their time didn't bother much with angst, take Dickens for example, and all the English writers Porius says so many good things about. Before the Modernists, it seems that writing great literature was largely perceived as something to be worked hard on with scholarship, something difficult, yes - but not the traumatic birth of Inspiration from the labour of Genius and Suffering.

Redigeret: feb 9, 2011, 8:44pm

>51 ChocolateMuse: Well, the Romantics as well, right? I've been thinking a lot about how they and the Modernists were two iterations of the same thing, from one perspective.

feb 9, 2011, 8:49pm

>52 MeditationesMartini: Particularly in music. The Romantics invented the idea that great music was Art, and born of Inspiration. Before that, in Mozart's and particularly Bach's days, a composer was a kind of tradesman.

feb 9, 2011, 8:56pm

I think the Romantics completely embraced inspiration through genius, pain and suffering -- Blake, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Pushkin, Heine. Maybe Wordsworth was happy -- but his sister definitely wasn't after he got married. And Wordsworth was one of those writers whose first work was his best.

I saw Bobby Kennedy speak at a rally when I was in HS when he was running for the NY Senate race, Bella Abzug was loudly addressing a crowd in Washington Square when I was taking my doctoral exams, and my husband saw Obama here at the baseball stadium during his presidential campaign (I, unfortunately had a class to teach).

Redigeret: feb 9, 2011, 10:26pm

"...embraced inspiration through genius, pain, and suffering...Blake ...(et al.)

I get the impression (especially from Kathleen Raineʻs biography) that Blake, at least could have lived without suffering -- and felt like none the less of an artist and poet. The same, perhaps for Coleridge and Heine. For Byron and Keats, it was
perhaps a necessity. But Keats, I think, took suffering as something inflicted on him from outside, not built into his own temperament. He stood up to it courageously, without much complaining.
I donʻt know enough about Pushkinʻs life to say one way or the other,

feb 9, 2011, 10:29pm

obamas a magnumofchloroform. clinton is pure borax. 'arbusto' is a blockhead. the 'prezidents' of the post-war generation have been a MAJOR disappointment. 2 rinkydink second string lawyers and whatever 'arbusto' was? Those who call obama a radical, etc. need their heads examined. Like the other two he's pure grifter.

feb 9, 2011, 10:50pm

On 56: "the ʻprezidentsʻ of the postwar generation..."

Of course, to some one of my age (b.1931) "post-war" means post-1945.

I take it you mean post-First Gulf War? and the 3 youʻre talking about without naming are Clinton, George W. .Bush and Barack Obama? Arenʻt ALL of them lawyers, whether "rinky-dink" or not?

For what itʻs worth, the way I voted on them was:
Clinton: YES 2x; "W": NO 2x; Obama: YES.

feb 9, 2011, 11:27pm

Sorry R., I meant born after WW2.

GWB is not a lawyer.

Redigeret: feb 10, 2011, 1:19am

"...born after WW II".... (58)

Okay, I didnʻt get the "born". Thanks. I still donʻt get who is "Arbusto"? (56)

"GWB is not a lawyer. . ." (58)

Right, now that I think of it. I should have known
that: He went to Harvard Business School, his
second choice of a graduate program after U. of Texas Law School, which turned him down.
So the two lawyers were Clinton (b. 1946) (Yale Law School) and Obama.

feb 10, 2011, 1:49am

arbusto is GWB. he had a failed business by that name, as a matter of fact most of his bidnesses failed. I wouldn't have clinton, bush, or obama run a pet store. all politicians are cardboard figures, how could they not be?

feb 10, 2011, 2:15am

"Arbusto is GWB" (60)


"I wouldnʻt have clinton, bush, or obama run a pet store....." (60)

Reminds me of a common saying among my fellow-Democrats during the Reagan era: "Reagan wasnʻt EVEN a good actor!"
I didnʻt agree. If someone can convince voters that heʻs MORE conservative than Gerald R. Ford thatʻs what I call ACTING!

feb 10, 2011, 3:02am

'Dutch' was pure ham. I read where he fell dead asleep during cabinet meetings. Edward Whatshisname's biography. He looked to me every bit like the sheep with a secret sorrow.

feb 10, 2011, 9:51am

I tend to think we get the politicians we deserve. I'm not at all sure why one would run for office, other than vanity or ego. Given what we do to and expect of them, we could do so much worse.

Thea, Barbara Jordan always seemed to me one of those wonderful people for whom we should just be thankful. Someone who really stood out.

feb 10, 2011, 11:18am

Arbusto is Spanish for Bush, as in "the burning bush".

Redigeret: feb 12, 2011, 9:09am

And of course (in #49) I should have mentioned (how could I have forgotten?) that I met Henry Miller, and he fed me, that is, offered me lunch.

feb 12, 2011, 10:43am

I feel very inexperienced in this thread. But I have briefly met two Louisiana governors - Mike Foster at a roasty sketch show and Kathleen Blanco at my grandfather's funeral.

feb 12, 2011, 11:09am

Well certainly you accepted lunch from Henry Miller, I hope!

And we like long stories (i.e., Paul Newman).

feb 12, 2011, 11:59am

Henry, Henri, made a cameo appearance in I Think, Therefore Who Am I?, where he told a starving young man "Help yourself" to the remains of a picnic lunch, and that's all I'll be saying about that, except: read the book, you sluggards who haven't yet.

Paul Newman ... it's a great anecdote, but maybe a bedtime story to fall asleep by (not scary at all). I will get around to it, but not now. Maybe tomorrow evening.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2011, 2:01pm

Yeah, that's right, don't tell the salonistas anything. Hurry up and buy and read and REVIEW Piero's books, you beloved bozos and goofballs!

And perhaps, Piero, only you and I know of my cameo appearance in your second metamemoir, Digging Deeper: A Memoir of the Seventies. It's a privilege and an honor and something I don't take for granted but am grateful grateful grateful for, your including me like that.

feb 12, 2011, 2:10pm

On 65 and 68:

I never met Henry Miller and never expected to. He was of a different era*, though I must admit that he seemed, in the 1960s, to be someone that
you would take to be much younger; --more "ageless" than of a certain "generation" -while, chronologically, he was getting into his 70s.

I did figure that I would eventually meet Jack Kerouac (My hometown, Woburn, MA is about halfway between Boston and Kerouacʻs Lowell, MA.) But we never did meet. As it turned out, I met Jackʻs friend Gregory Corso -- and no one else of the Beat Generation authors -- except for seeing Alan Ginsberg doing a reading.
Gregory Corso was an interesting talker. But his listeneers were in danger of missing anything cogent that he said, due to its being lost in a sea of b.s. remarks. A very cogent remarkk of his was that "people are always talking about "RIGHT-and_WRONG", when they should be talking about "GOOD and WRONG". As a language maven, though not a moralilst, I agree. If nothing else, making "Good" and not "Right" the antonym of "Wrong" shows how
language can guide or misguide our thought patterns and assumptions.

John Updike of the Harvard class of 1954* lived in Greater Boston for years, maybe decades. He was another of my own generation whom I assumed I was eventually going to meet. Didnʻt happen and Updike died in the past year.

*I was class of 1952. The most famous member of my class is Daniel Ellsberg. Not surprisingly, I didnʻt know him in college. I was in Classics and he was in Economics (which was not a popular field at Harvard at the time.)
He deserves a few posts of his own.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2011, 2:56pm

I almost met Ginsberg. Patrick Malone, who some of you have met in my book, wanted to impress me, and so one afternoon came to my pad and said, "Why don't we go visit Ginsberg?"

"Really? You know him?"

"Sure. Tim"--Leary--"introduced us at Millbrook."

Turns out, Ginsberg's pad was on the next block, on East 11th Street, between Avenues C and D; I lived between B and C.

So we went there and were told that Allen was visiting his mother in New Jersey, but we were welcomed in by a woman who, it was said, was Ginsberg's girlfriend. Of course, everyone knows Ginsberg was gay, but I was led to believe--by the usual bullshit artists--that he was experimenting in bisexuality, so maybe not.

The woman was friendly, had taken an Indian name, Saraputtasamsari or something, and while cooking a stew in the tiny kitchen, was a gracious enough hostess to offer us drugs.

"Would you like LSD or STP?" she asked, opening a little jewelry box with a few shiny tablets inside. I declined, but Patrick, whose sole aim in life at the time was to "go supernova," opted for the STP.

Anyway, he sat down at the kitchen table across from another visitor--people were always dropping in--a guy with a beard, and I went into another room to look around. We all lived in relative poverty in the East Village then, but some of us lived well within those confines, Ginsberg especially, the bookshelves lining the walls filled with wonderful stuff--but all paperbacks, no hardcovers--and fantastic Arabic, Tibetan, and American Indian rugs all over the place.

Some lanky guy was reclining on a mattress--no one sat on chairs back then, only mattresses--a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Apparently he was always there. I said hello, he looked up from the book he was perusing and said hello back, the cigarette bobbing in his mouth, and after a while we heard shouting from the kitchen.

"Admit it, you're a narc!" Patrick's voice.

"I'm not a nark--you're the nark!"

"That's what you would say if you were."

"And that's what you'd say if you were!"

"I think you should leave."

"I won't leave unless you leave first."

"I'll throw you out of here myself!" Patrick, a former undercover agent for the FDA, was a tough mother; he would have done it.

At which point the dangling cigarette guy shouted: "I think both you guys should leave!"

I was embarrassed, felt bad for Sara-whatever, who was still cooking and trying to soothe the vibes while the two maniacs shouted at each other. So I went into the kitchen and said, "I think we should go, Patrick."

To which he responded: "I'll leave when he leaves!" and thrust a finger at the bearded guy.

"Whyn't both you guys leave at the same time!" the guy in the other room shouted.

And so they did, with me a few steps behind, in case Patrick decided to throw the bearded guy down the stairs.

I later learned that Ginsberg couldn't stand Patrick, because he thought he was a nark.

feb 12, 2011, 4:20pm

"...Patrick Moore whom some of you have met in my book... (71)

I missed "(your) book", somewhere along the way:
What is it?

Also, which, if any, of the Patrick Moores in "Search" is the one you refer to? Patrick T. ? Patrick M.? Patrick (NMI)?

And, as an alleged "beatnik" Iʻm almost ashamed to ask: What is S T P?

feb 12, 2011, 4:55pm

Patrick Malone, Roland, not Moore, and this is the book:


feb 12, 2011, 4:58pm

Fuck, thanks for reminding me about Patrick Malone, Peter. I think he was my favourite character.

feb 12, 2011, 5:05pm

On 72-73:

Sorry, I asked about "Moore", but meant "Malone", and Malone was the one I searched in LTʻs "Search".--finding at least 3, one of whom has written 2 editions of a "Drugs..." book.

So, is LT correct that (member) copyedit52 = (author) Weissman ?

Redigeret: feb 12, 2011, 5:24pm

Yes, that's me, author and copyeditor, in the virtual flesh. On your other question:

STP was a psychedelic drug whose effects were somewhat different than LSD. There were some who believed that, as powerful as it was, STP (named after the racing car additive) skipped all the ecstasy and got right down to the absolute nothingness that was the nadir of cumulative LSD tripping, and thus destroyed the wonderful world in which we were about to live happily ever after in forever.

I should probably also point out that except for my own name, all the names in the book were changed. Thus, Patrick M, who by dint of becoming a character, is now that much further removed from being an actual person. But the above anecdote is entirely true in every particular, except the guy with the beard might have also been wearing sunglasses.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2011, 5:32pm

"STP .... got down to the absolute nothingness that was the nadir of cumulative LSD tripping..." (76)

Thanks for the data. It sounds very logical that
STP is now discussed only in the past tense. Assuming that most people arenʻt interested in attaining "absolute nothingness". (Iʻm reminded of a curious quote from a member of our faculty in Tonga: On why he loved the desert: "Because nothing is more interesting than -- NOTHING!" He didnʻt expand on that -- tough topic TO expand on, anyway. I donʻt even remember his last name, though Iʻd love to give him "Credit" for the quote. He was Dennis _____, born in Moldava, lived in Israel, New Zealand and (briefly) Tonga.
His field: Veterinary Medicine.

feb 12, 2011, 5:48pm

This has become my favorite thread on LT. Keep the people and stories coming! I think I might even still have one or two left.

Redigeret: feb 13, 2011, 3:37pm

I met Pierre Clostermann when I was 14 years old. Clostermann was the French ace of aces during WWII. He is the writer of a handfull books of which "The big show" is best known ( at least in France )
He came to our yachtclub, because he was a keen fisherman ( like hemingway and Zane grey ). I got my autographe but he did not want to speak about his war years. Instead he engaged a discussion with me about fishing. What hooks and bait was I using? Where was I trailing ? At what speed I navigated while trailing and so on. Just half an hour with that great man, an impression which will last a lifetime.

Redigeret: feb 13, 2011, 4:51pm

A picnic lunch from Henry Miller, aye? Now that sounds like a memorable day. Time for me to throw in another.

I had the pleasure of organizing the event at which Norman Mailer endorsed Ted Kennedy for President. Rather than the usual pre-endorsement lunch with various biggy wiggys, Norman asked for a quiet lunch with the worker bees. Of course, we had a crowd of 1000 people for him right after lunch, and he'd barely given a thought to what to say, so we were a bit of a focus group for him to experiment on with speech themes.

There were four of us, all students, in a nice middling restaurant, off in a corner, and I don't know that I have ever seen a man who loved an audience and a rapt and worshipful audience so perfectly in unison. We loved hearing every word and he loved speaking every word (save the small handful elicited from us through fairly direct questioning). He was truly bigger than life, and, for those who talk about writers not being happy, the man was not just happy, he was in a state of virtual ecstasy, just soaking up the adulation.

Most of the lunch was made up of stories from his run for Mayor of New York, and, in particular, a very amusing and wonderfully told story of a meeting he had in Harlem where a resident there laid out what they saw in the city -- the big limosines carrying mayors about, the crowd of retainers following every politician, the nighly news features showing candidates emerging from swank hotels -- and she said every thing they looked at, all she could see was waste, waste, waste! She saw waste everywhere. She had just one question for him: when were the good people of Harlem going to see their share of the waste?!

Well, somehow, that wasn't the best theme for a presidential endorsement (Ted Kennedy: He'll Get You Your Share of the Waste!), and, while it was a great story, wonderfully told, we did manage to steer him away from using that as a theme. I don't remember the speech as well, though, since I think I was still basking in the afterglow of lunch with Norman.

feb 14, 2011, 6:17pm

Incredible Mailer story. Classic.

feb 14, 2011, 6:31pm

b t w, the title of this thread is owed to Ralph Barton Perry a philosopher of my parents' generation, or earlier. By the time I heard of him, he was beginning to attain his present status of being just about unknown.
Still being quoted when I was college age was
a Perry "definition" of a specialist:
Someone who knows more and more about less and less, and, finally knows EVERYTHIING about NOTHING. (Quoted, however -- and maybe still is --
without giving Perry (or anyone) credit for it.
What I never heard quoted until decades later was
Perry's continuation of it: the definition of a
"Someone who knows less and less about more nd more, and finally knows NOTHING about EVERYTHING." Hence, I mentioned to Enrique who was startiing this thread, that "Generalist" is the nice word for "dilettante".
It struck me, as soon as I heard Perry's dictum:PArt II, that if I HAD TO BE (his idea of ) either a
specialist OR a generalist, I would rather be a generalist and know "nothing about everything" than to know "everything about nothing". Because in the former case I would at least know that there is
an "everything" to know "nothing" about.

feb 14, 2011, 6:51pm

I don't think anyone really can know very much about nothing. Try defining it constructively.


feb 14, 2011, 7:02pm

"I don't think anyone really can know very much about nothing. ..." (83)

Me either. All the more reason to prefer knowing noting about everything.

But in evaluating my own intellectual history it has struck me that I was once fast approaching at least the aspiation to know eveything about nothing. About the tiime that I had left graduate school and was first working full time, I was spending a lot of time at a larger library (not the one I worked for)
"bibliographizing" -- with increased limitations on
which bibliographical items I would note down:
Literature, yes, but mostly Classics; within CLassics, Latin in preference to Greek. Within Latin, the ROman Empire rather than the Republic; WIthin the EMpir, poetry rather than history or philosophy; within poetry, EPic rather than any other genre.
Within EPic, maybe I should limit it to Lucan, Statius and Valerius Flaccus; but even at that, maybe I can get along without Statius, and concentrate on . . ..

Redigeret: feb 15, 2011, 11:14am

Flaccus's poetry is rather flacid and expansive, one could almost say gassy, isn't it?

feb 15, 2011, 3:44pm

O.K. So much for my Robert Frost story. Now let me tell you about the workshop session with Robert Bly.

It was at a 4 day poetry workshop at Ohio U. in Athens OH. It was in the summer in the 1980's & there wasn't a lot of AC. At the workshop, we all sat around a big table, maybe a dozen of us or so, all ages, & Mr. Bly had put a bunch of objects in the center of the table. He told us to each take one and just examine it for a while before he told us the next step.

I grabbed a Queen Anne's Lace flower head, which is considered a weed in those parts & then we were told to write every word that came to our mind regarding said object.
Several people had rocks, or small springs of leaves, all common stuff you see every day & don't think about. Finally we were ready to start the opening of our poems when someone came in & told Mr. Bly that the workshop hour was up. Mr. Bly did not take that kindly, & there was an outcry of "Oh, no's" from the participants, me included. But the schedule prevailed.

Robert Bly gave one of his famous readings that evening where he literally jumps into the performance of his poetry. The crowd was right with him, everybody yelling & cheering & clapping & joining him in song. That performance alone was worth the price of the workshop. He left the next day.

My #2 son attended Ohio U later, he majored in music & played in the band. Robert Bly gave a reading while he was a student but he couldn't see what all the excitement was about. They had to read Bly's poetry in class & he was unimpressed.

feb 15, 2011, 4:38pm

"The Slapper Slapped: a trivial Margaret Mead anecdote"

At a U.of Pennsylvania conference, back in the 1970s, my wife an I were attending a session at which the noted anthropologist Margaret Mead was
one of the audience.

One of the speakers a young woman of graduate school age, was about to start her presentation, and explalined that it had been written by a colleague of hers -- the scheduled speaker -- who was unavoidably unable to attend. She (the present speaker) had promised to read it for the writer.
Before she could begin, Margaret Mead, sitting in the front row said,
"Listen: DON'T read it! I've seen this happenn before, and it never works -- to
read someone else's paper." I think the first 4 words of Mead's outburst were just as above -- in a perempptory tone of voice, and more like a command than
a suggestion.
The substitute speaker seemed surprised --as i was, too, I was, in fact, shocked -- but not overawed. She said, politely, but with signs of irritation, "I agreed to read it, and I think I had better go ahead as planned." And she did, M M having grunted a grudging approval.

feb 16, 2011, 7:58pm

86,87> enjoyed these stories tremendously.

I've always enjoyed whatever Robert Bly poems I've come across, or "acrost" as my Grandpappy would say.

and Margaret Mead, how weird. What the hell got stuck up her gluteus maximus?

feb 17, 2011, 1:07pm

I've heard that Margaret Meade was something of an arrogant, pompous ass. That may not be true, but I've heard that.

feb 17, 2011, 7:42pm

that Margaret Meade was. . .a pompous ass..."

I can see why you heard it. I wouldn't on the basis of one incident --the only time I saw her -- make the designation
myself. In fact, it's kind of depressing that one's only memory of a great anthropolgist (or great researcher, anyway*) is the only thing one remembers about her and points in that direction.

*I suppose it's still debatable whether she was great AS an anthropologist.

feb 17, 2011, 11:05pm

Didn't the natives have her on about this and that here and there, etc?

Redigeret: mar 8, 2011, 11:28am

"I have never had much to do, in the course of my life, with men of the sort that other men call great. They have not sought me out. For my part, I have shunned them, saddened to find them, for all their renown, already on the wane, already anxious to fit their niches, to live up to their reputations, a little strained, a little broken down, secretly begging for mercy and determined to "put over" charm by exploiting their weaknesses, when not attempting to dazzle by a forced display of their declining light."

My Apprenticeships
translated by Helen Beauclerk

mar 8, 2011, 12:02pm

re: # 92

Wow, caught out before I was born.

Redigeret: mar 8, 2011, 7:35pm

(Robert Bly) . . .ilterally jumps into the performance of his poetry . . ."

About 160 degrees removed from that temperament was Robert Lowell by whom I heard a few readings. If there is such a thing as "low-keyedness", Lowell was that, personified.

Preparing to read the poem he wrote on the inauguration of President Dwight Esienhower in Jan. 1953, he give a little background info. The basis of it is rather obscure, and requires a knowledge of some Indo-Euopean philology, as it
makes a sort of Joycean play on words between "IKe" the inaugureeʻs nickname, and "iCe" (what Robert Frost said the world might end in). The affinity between these two mono-syllables is really far-fetched -- unless you know how medial consonants sometimes evolve in Western languages. He gave a background -- which DID not include the philological connecton--sounding as if these things were just now coming to mind.

Just before starting the reading, he murmurred ʻHmm. This may well be a PRO-Eisenhower poem!" Most of the audience laughed politely, but I had a feeling he wasnʻt joking.

mar 9, 2011, 1:11pm

I learned what good scotch was from James Alan McPherson, who I matched glass for glass, 5 or 6 healthy ones. He had had a stroke and wasn't supposed to drink or smoke and we both did far too much of both. But my favorite writer contact was with Wallace Shawn, who was tagging along with Deborah Eisenberg. I sidled up to Shawn just to see how short he was, and he is, he definitely is.

mar 9, 2011, 7:38pm

Deborah Eisenberg ... wonderful writer. Only recently "discovered" her. James Alan McPherson's name comes up a lot in the stuff I read. Wasn't he a professor/mentor to Breece D'J Pancake? I'll check when I get home, but I think he wrote either the foreword or afterword to Breece's story collection. I hope it's him because it was a moving piece. If not, oooops.

mar 10, 2011, 4:06am

yeah, eisenberg, the great writer, in the background--even in My Dinner with Andre, she's sitting in the restaurant.

maj 23, 2013, 11:06am

Thread revival! I used to serve on a steering committee for a small college that brought a number of notable authors to town to speak. We typically had a pre-lecture dinner for them, so I met quite a few interesting anecdotes, but the one that stands out the most was Seamus Heaney. A large out door dinner party was given in his honor. Lots of beer, mainly of the Irish variety, was flowing. He spied me drinking Guinness from a bottle and rushed over to guide me in the correct way to drink a Guinness. From a mug, of course.

maj 23, 2013, 11:37am

So did he insist that it has to be room temp? This is a thing that is debated here in beer heaven.

maj 23, 2013, 12:09pm

Room temp is better, but we don't always need to stand on ceremony, do we?

maj 24, 2013, 11:18am

Recently, in London, at a pub, guinness was served - cold.

The host, very british, originally canadian, most humbly apologized.

Apology shamefully stammered, eyes to the ground.

maj 24, 2013, 11:30am

He didn't mention the temp. It was a warmish day and the host had all the beer in an ice chest.

maj 24, 2013, 12:06pm

And I used to admire Seamus.