YAM Notes: November/December 2006

By Rich Banbury

Mickey Mouse got lucky.  After a decade of litigation over executive compensation, and a lengthy period of intra-corporate turmoil, the Walt Disney Company has sailed into calmer waters with new Board leadership.  Disney has announced that John Pepper will assume the position of Chairman in January of 2007, following a transition period during which George Mitchell, the former federal Judge and Senator from Maine, has been at the helm of the Good Ship Disney.  Our ubiquitous classmate, having retired from his senior administrative position at Yale, joined the Disney Board in January of this year.  John welcomes the new challenge, noting that “Disney is a very exciting company and it has enormous contact with people’s lives.  It is a great force for good in the country and I am proud to have been asked to do this”.  CEO Robert Iger, who succeeded Michael Eisner, has high-praise for John’s contributions to the Board, stating that he “… has quickly immersed himself in our business and shared his broad and deep expertise in corporate management, global brand building, and leadership development”.  One inevitable result of that immersion is John’s newly acquired appreciation for animated films, influenced no doubt by Disney’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios.  Once again Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Snow White and Sneezy’s band of seven can be seen dancing in the streets of Kissimmee and Orlando.  Even Pluto, who was in a funk over his namesake’s banishment from the solar system, has rediscovered his sunny disposition and starry optimism.

If you are driving through Hartford during the early morning hours, take a gander skyward and you might see Wilse Keithline ascending from Brainard Field on his way to breakfast at some exotic eatery near another of the general aviation aerodromes.  Goes to show that not all former Navy guys prefer the sea to the sky.  There must be at least a couple of dozen licensed pilots in our Class, an intrepid group who should become  known to each other.  Let me know by email (see above) or otherwise if you belong to this select club of adventurers, so that the roster of flyers may be published herein.  Skywriters are invited to leave an altitudinous message over Lake Terramuggus in Marlborough.

The plot revolves around an American architect who wins a design competition to celebrate Mussolini’s triumph over Ethiopia and how his attempts to build the ceremonial tower affect the endangered Jewish population in Italy.  Les Epstein observes that the protagonist in his tenth novel, The Eighth Wonder of the World, is “more Ezra Pound than Frank Lloyd Wright”.  Pre-publications reviews have left the author smiling.

Certainly an inspiration to us all, Judge Barry Schaller reports that he finished first in his age group in the 2006 Madison, Connecticut triathlon.  None of the approximately 400 other competitors were born before Barry, but a good many of them crossed the finish line after our guy.

What were Pete Knudsen and Po-Wen Huang hattering about during Pete’s recent trip to Beijing?  Could they possibly be planning a secret sinological seminar for a certain cerebral class of Yalies?