Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Ivy League Kind Of Day


Yesterday was almost completely and utterly perfect. The imperfections were minor (MapQuest screwed me in the morning and I was late for my meeting).

The perfections were big and wonderful, though. It all started a few weeks ago when my friend Dale, who is the director of one of my favorite public libraries, forwarded me an announcement that Columbia University, in partnership with the Library of America, would be hosting a 75th birthday celebration for none other than Philip Roth.

I immediately jumped on it and forwarded it to my other friend who also loves Philip. He was on board right away. What I didn't know when I suggested lunch before Philip was that my other friend is a member of the Hahvahd Club (located on 44th Street between 5th and 6th in case you were wondering).

So imagine my delight with lunch at the Harvard Club (and Hasty Pudding for dessert!) followed by a quick subway ride up to Columbia University's Miller Theater (a beautifully intimate venue) for an afternoon with Philip Roth.

Here are just a few of my impressions (I have to admit that I was furiously taking notes the whole time...):

-There's a Prada Warehouse Sale going on next door and I don't EVEN want to be there.

-The person who opened the proceedings by reading his speech withouttakinganybreathsbetweenwords was the worst.

-We're not allowed to take pictures?! That's crap.

-A big wave to the crowd from Philip as he walked in. Yay!

-We totally should have gotten t-shirts to wear that said "Phans of Phil"

-On the first panel was a woman wearing both PANTS and a SKIRT. Her shoes were great, but pants and a skirt at the same time? I can only ask WHY?

-Philip's voice was much lighter and softer than I was expecting. For someone who can eviscerate an opponent with his pen, I expected a voice that matched and was pleasantly surprised.

-His parents thought he had delusions of grandeur when he tried to prepare them for what would be coming in the wake of the publication of Portnoy's Complaint. Hee!

-Must read Sabbath's Theater and Operation Shylock immediately.

-LLL = Literary Living Legend

-Philip at the mike, "75. How sudden!"

And finally, Philip's own philosophy-
"Why would you want to read something doesn't make you feel like you've been punched in the head?"

I don't know if I'd go that far, but I can tell you that the whole experience had pretty much that effect. It was (if I can steal a phrase) a raphsody of the senses. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

It was perfection.


ETA: Click here for the full Times article.

2 comments:

Joy said...

How awesome! You totally enjoyed yourself and totally deserved a day like that.

Joan said...

What a day!! Memories last a lifetime!