YAM Notes: September/October 2007

By Rich Banbury

Two Books to consider when adding to your current reading list.  I recently received a complimentary copy of Bart Giamatti, A Profile, by Robert Moncreiff, Yale ’52, published by Yale University Press.  This 200-page volume appears to be a splendid biography of Bart, with an emphasis on his legacy as a dynamic teacher and as President of Yale.  Although I have yet to read the book, I noted on the final page a reference to “… that unadorned black granite bench in a corner of the Old Campus … commissioned and paid for by Giamatti’s college classmates …”, with the inscribed quote from Bart:  “A liberal education is at the heart of a civil society, and the heart of a liberal education is the act of teaching”.  For those who have not yet read Joe College by Tom Perrotta ‘83, it is a well-written, very funny and somewhat racy novel centered on undergraduate co-ed life at Yale, circa 1980.  Perrotta is a competent and successful novelist, though his work is not of a kind to be taught in any 20th century literature class.  The main characters reside in Jonathan Edwards, sometimes wandering over to a Wall Street eatery across from Silliman, which in our days flew the banner of George & Harry’s.  Here’s a teaser:  “Naples at that time on a Tuesday night seemed like the hub of the universe, in one of the few scenes at Yale that actually approximated stereotypical images of ‘college life’ – crowds of more or less rowdy students gathered around dark tables littered with beer glasses and pizza crusts, laughing, arguing and occasionally bursting into song, though the general aura of medieval revelry was softened by the presence of numerous violin cases stowed under the tables, as well as the healthy population of loners scattered throughout the restaurant, holding folded pizza slices in one hand and open books in the other”.

Bart would have been proud to see his friend Harry Mazadoorian receiving an honorary degree in May at Quinnipiac University.  The citation for the Doctor of Laws degree reads in part as follows:  “An avid baseball fan, you were a close friend of Fay Vincent and the late Bart Giamatti, the former Commissioners of Major League Baseball”.  As a member of the Quinnipiac Law School faculty, Harry concentrated in the area of alternative dispute resolution, a field in which he gained national recognition prior to entering the academy.

Poised and eloquent as always, Steve Baruch accepted a Tony Award on national television last June for the category of Best Revival.  Company, an energetic musical starring Raoul Esparza, was brought to the bright lights of Broadway by Steve as lead Producer.

Also starring in Gotham is Bill Ellis, recently recruited as senior counsel by McKenna Long & Aldridge.  Bill’s luminous career as general counsel to a number of major corporations included a hitch with Guinness during its muscular period of acquisitions, giving us a pretty good idea of what kind of suds Bill keeps in the fridge.

Moving to the core of the Big Apple, The Wall Street Journal featured commentaries from two classmates within three days in May.  Jim Ottaway, lamenting the impending change of ownership, offered a powerful and thoughtful statement supporting the principled journalistic standards which Jim and Dow Jones have long represented.  Two days earlier Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte authored an optimistic assessment of political and economic developments in Iraq.  Thanks to John Levin for pointing out these important contributions to the public discourse.

Try to catch the big screen version of Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Ultimatum, where you might just spy our guy Peter Wells doing a stand in for Albert Finney.

Whatever you wanted to learn about the wine industry in Oregon, encompassing more than 300 vineyards, can be answered by Jeff Lamy, who has written extensively and enthusiastically on that subject.  Jeff is currently working on other vino-related projects, including a study on the impact of solar radiation and a thesis on the microeconomics of the wine business.  There are several dimensions to Jeff’s life as an author, including a germinating historical novel set in Burgundy during the French Revolution.

Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, according to Yogi Jensen’s latest communiqué, is the point on our planet “closest to the sun”.  Yogi attributes this conclusion, obviously dependent on the time of day, to the anomaly that “the Earth is somewhat flattened at the poles and has an equatorial bulge”.  He has been spending time recently in South America visiting with his brother Bob, Yale ’63, and exploring the Iguacu Falls at the convergence of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

A perfect June evening in Bethesda was the setting for a splendid dinner at the stunning home of Tazuko and Chuck Schmitz.  The Zen Modern design of the commodious accommodations includes a cantilevered bistro, surrounded by glass, which gives the feel of dining in the high pines.  Included in the convivial assemblage were Jean and Randy Barry, and Lana and Doug Guiler.  Nicki and I were invited to join while camping in Bethesda for a conference.  Randy and Doug, decommissioned after long careers in the Navy and Army respectively, have both been working for the benefit of Uncle Sam as senior military and arms control analysts.