Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stan's Birthday

The other night, I was in Washington, D.C., and I celebrated my friend Stan’s birthday with his family.  I met his children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren for the first time.  His wife, Sara, was not there – which was a strange thing, because it’s hard to think of Stan and to not think of Sara.  But Sara passed away a few months ago.

Right after college I moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for a Congressman; and like many twenty somethings, I was intent on changing the world.

A few months after I moved to Washington, my mom visited me.  During her visit she arranged a dinner with Stan and Sara.  Stan was an editor at The Washington Post and my mom’s boss when she worked there.   We met at the Odeon CafĂ© on Connecticut Avenue near my apartment.  Stan and Sara got there before us.  Stan was wearing a sports coat.  He always does.  We shared stuffed mushrooms, and I had the salmon linguine. 

After that dinner, Stan and Sara took me under their wing.  I don’t know if that’s just the type of people they are or if they saw that I was in need of taking-care-of.  Regardless, for the next two years, every couple of weeks we would get together for dinner. 

One time, the three of us were walking out of the restaurant at the Mayflower hotel.  Stan went ahead of Sara and me to get their car.  Sara took me by the arm, leaned into me and said, “My hope for you, dear, is that someday you meet your Stan.”

Stan is an incredible journalist.  Sara was always so proud of that.  His writing is searing in its simplicity.  He’s uses almost no adverbs. 

He got the itch to be a reporter at a young age, when a substitute teacher took over his middle school class and with no lesson plans from which to work – had each of the students write newspaper articles.  Stan has had a storied career.  He was one of the reporters whom Robert Kennedy famously told that John Kennedy’s running mate would not be Lyndon Johnson, and as Stan said, “I thought John Kennedy’s brother was a pretty good source!”

Stan is one of those great men.  From a generation of men with a strong work ethic, with gentlemanly manners, and with a sense of duty.  And more than anything, I think what Sara meant is that – day in and day out – Stan is kind and he is decent.  We should all be so lucky to meet “our Stan.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

London's Macintosh Typefaces

It’s been over two months since I left London and came back home to Kansas City.   I’ve asked myself over and over again, “What was the point of my time in London?”  I haven’t figured it out yet.  I am reminded of the Steve Jobs anecdote about how he dropped out of Reed College, and then for the pure fun of it, audited several calligraphy classes there.  Years later, these calligraphy classes became the foundation of Mac computers’ typefaces.  So perhaps I will discover the purpose in the years to come.

When I was in London, I had all these grand plans for side trips throughout Europe: Barcelona, Vienna, Copenhagen. But I fell in love with London.  I fell in love with the rows of tiny chimneys atop the townhouses, with the Capability Brown designed parks, and with the winding streets that revealed a bit more of the city with each turn.  I fell in love with my long walks along the Thames, with the electrifying theater of the West End and with the inspiring programming at the V&A.

And I fell in love with the English countryside too.  The rolling hills of Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire; dabbled with white sheep and their little black faces; each view more beautiful than the next.  But most of all, I fell in love with the quiet politeness of England.  A country so thoroughly courteous and thoughtful, that I hope it stays with me forever.