The American Individualist

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Life is Good

While I love warm and hot weather (and detest the cold with each passing frigid winter), I’ve designated autumn my favorite time of year, and not just for the cozy fleeces and fireplace blazes its chilly weather inspires.

To be more specific, September and October are my favorite months because of all the many things I find myself doing this time of year. First and foremost, September marks the start of the football season, both professional and collegiate. Of course, football is my favorite sports, for reasons I’ve written about several times (write me if you’d like to read some of my football-lauding columns), and this usually draws me to a local restaurant-bar to watch my favorite team, the Miami Dolphins, on satellite. Alas, my Dolphins aren’t winning so far this season, but the faithful, of which I am one, still have some hope they can turn things around. Most of all, I just really enjoy going to social scene at the restaurant-bar, meeting up with fellow football fans, friends and coworkers each Sunday.

September also marks the start of the Ayn Rand Institute-sponsored lecture series at New York University. These ARI lectures usually draw some sizable crowds, and I always leave each one feeling there’s some hope left in our world, hope that the good and just can and will ultimately prevail. A friend and I just went to see the kickoff lecture of the series, John Lewis’s talk on the five-year aftermath of Sept. 2001 (from which I learned a lot about imperialist Japan of World War II). Of course, Lewis’s lecture was great, and afterward me and my friend enjoyed some the best pizza you’ll find anywhere on earth at a parlor on Bleecker Street. Kara, the president of NYU’s Objectivist Club, says the club plans a number of lectures this school year. Something to look forward to right into spring.

A week prior to Lewis’s talk this past Wednesday, art historian Lee Sandstead gave a lecture on his favorite works of art, called “What They Mean to Mean.” I took notes and was going to write an article on this lecture, but I’m holding off since I may attend a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum that Lee is supposed to give on ancient Greek art this weekend. Also, when I take a much-needed week-long vacation in October, I will attend a tour he plans to give on stained glass, certainly a totally new subject for me. Part of what’s great about Lee is that he can make what seems like a dull subject into something very interesting and informative. So, I may wait until I attend all of these events to write something about Lee, whose obvious passion for art rubs off on me in ways I cannot accurately describe here and now. Perhaps if and when I write an article on him and his art tours I can capture this passion and do it justice.

Meanwhile, in early October, during my vacation, I also intend to go on the “heroes” hike that I’ve been doing for a few years now with other fellow Ayn Rand fans, or, to be more specific, Andrew Bernstein fans, since this bi-annual hike was originally inspired by his novel “Heart of a Pagan.” There’s a scene in the novel in which the hero, a extraordinary college basketball player named Swoop, gets fellow students, teammates and fans to accompany him to a mountain top and profess what they are most proud of about their lives, their achievements and such. This is a counter to the churches’ confessionals, where people go beg forgiveness for their “sins.” So each spring and fall we “Heart of a Pagan” fans climb to the top of Breakneck Ridge along the Hudson, starting in a small town call Cold Spring in upstate New York, and do same. Come join us to express your pride.

Later in the month, I’ll be attending a journalism conference here on Long Island, with I hope that I can expand my horizons a bit, by networking with those in my field and discovering what options are out there for me. This will be my first such conference, so I’m eager to attend it and meet others in various fields of journalism, from top newspapers and television networks on down.

Near October’s end, I’ll head up to Boston with a friend to attend the Objectivist Conference-sponsored lecture series “Jihad Against the West,” in which Objectivists from Yaron Brook, Peter Schwartz and John Lewis will give various talks alongside non-Objectivists such as Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer, the latter of whom made a documentary on the deadly threat posed by Islam. It’s a three day event culminating with Brook giving the key lecture at the Ford Hall Forum at Northeastern University. I always love going to Boston (one of my favorite cities), and love it even more when I go to see Objectivist lecturers before large crowds.

Julia Sweeney, who played the androgynous character Pat on Saturday Night Live, will return to New York City with her one-woman play, Letting Go of God, in mid October. I plan to go to one of her shows. I saw the play earlier this year and highly recommend it. It’s a great exposition on how an average, everyday person comes to questions God and sees the irrationalities and contradictions in religion, and eventually turns toward secularism. Better yet, Sweeney has a book and CD coming out based on her play, and at her invitation I’m on a list to be among the first 500 people to receive (and review?) them. Well, I already know the play is great, so the book and CD can’t be much different. Anyway, nothing compares to going to see Sweeney in her one-act play, so go see it.

Also, on Halloween night, a friend and I will trek to Madison Square Garden to see Dweezil Zappa, Steve Vie, Terry Bozzio team up to play Frank Zappa’s tunes at the Theater, formerly the Felt Forum, where Zappa put on a show every Halloween night. This promises to be loads of fun, since I don’t go to see many concerts anymore and few at MSG.

Lastly, I’ll be going to see my favorite cover band, Wonderous Stories -- which, on a good night, plays covers of Yes, one of my favorite rock bands -- perform at a few Long Island Bars next week and in October. I hope to write a story on them for the papers I work for. Wonderous Stories did so well in its concert series this summer, drawing some pretty considerable crowds at various parks, that they were invited to play Jones Beach Theater. They’re a great cover band of what are essentially studio musicians.

Oh, yeah, one more thing, since I’m spoke of work: on top of all of this, I just got a pretty nice raise at work. What better way to celebrate and spend my millions than on all these various events and activities over the next few weeks, and hopefully many more in coming months.

Life is good.

~ Joe Kellard


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