Monday, June 22, 2009

cool and courageous

I've spent most of the last few days designing and laying out a book for one of my clients. (Key West is replete with authors)
So it follows that while I was doing the work, I had books on the brain. Books I've designed, books I hope to write, books I've read and, books I owe it to myself to finish reading.
(that last thought brings me to the point of this post)

I did a little homework to find out who May Hill Russell was or is but came up empty. If anyone has a clue, I'd like to know.

Some time back in history, in a reality far far away, I was a 9 or 10 year old kid and among the other Christmas presents my parents (or Santa, depending on your point of persuasion) gave me was a new book.
That book was "Profiles in Courage", written by JFK and published by Harper and Row in 1955, when I was 3. Each chapter is a vignette of "cool and courageous" political personalities from American history. A heavy bunch of stuff for a kid, but all the same I dutifully dove in and struggled through the first chapter or two.

Where else but in Key West would you find a library with an outdoor reading room? A quiet garden for concentration, meditation. . .

Well, none of it was making very much sense to me and I decided that what "cool and courageous" meant to a then 40 something year old author/president was a world away from whatever it might have meant to me. (The most "cool and courageous" dudes I knew at the time were my uncles Gene, Jack and Andy. They all had cool cars and really good looking girlfriends) So when it snowed a few days later, I took it as a sign from the Almighty that it was time to ditch the book and pitch some snowballs. I ran for my life and never looked back but over the years have always remembered that book as a bit of unfinished business.

. . .and a few hours of undisturbed sleep. I let this guy fleece me for a couple of bucks because, after all, "there but for the grace of God. . ."

Well, with all that in mind and the first draft of my book project back off to client for proofing, I had a little time to kill and headed down Fleming St. to the library to put my once and future boy-ish boring book issue to bed for once and all.

Yes, yes I know. This sculpture is not in the library's outdoor reading room. But it fit so well with the set, I had to keep it in.

These few days later, I'm a third of the way through the thing and, you know what? It's not a bad read. John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster and Sam Houston were pretty interesting guys but, at the end of the day, they're still not as "cool and courageous" as my uncles.

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