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The World Is Our Oyster, We Shall Not Want


I feel overprivileged, sometimes, when I consider the way the world comes to the Davidson  campus. There is just something about seeing and hearing eminent speakers, thinkers, artists and other cultural luminaries up close and personal that engages me more deeply and broadly than even my favorite magazines and Web sites, let alone TV news. (Definitely let alone TV news….)

The 2010 Wearn Lecture: Smile when you say that.

On Dec. 1, for instance, Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senator from South Dakota and former Senate Majority Leader, will deliver the 2010 Joseph T. Wearn Lecture.

In January, Nikki Giovanni, a former McGee Professor at Davidson, will be back on campus to speak at the Martin Luther King Day Community Convocation. I have hobnobbed with amiable astronauts and tipsy Royal Shakespeare Company thespians, famously erudite authors and infamously cranky pundits. Writers have ranged from debonair Michael Cunningham and edgy Michael Chabon to gruff Annie Proulx  and dead-on deadpan Margaret Atwood. It’s not all highbrow’n’egghead fare, either. Why, at the beginning of this very semester, I rocked out in the Wildcats’ Belk Arena with sexy V.V. Brown and Maroon 5. Sophisticated yet accessible, subtle yet bold. Flicked my Bic, I’m sayin’.

In May, I’ll yank a tie on and meet the newly named, seventeenth United States Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin. The two-time Pulitzer winner will visit campus in May as the Joel Conarroe ’56 lecturer. Joel, who used to head up the Guggenheim Foundation, is a luminary in his own right, with a fresh bag of Big Apple after-hours tales of that city every time he hits town.

And it’s not just on campus, where luminaries shine. That’s a two-way… um… light beam, or something.

• Tonight on PBS, for instance, my erstwhile JYA Montpelllier buddy Mary Olive Smith ’86 has a show on: “I had the privilege to be the director of photography and producer on a fun project this summer:  a one-hour special called ‘Fixing the Future: NOW on PBS‘ with David Brancaccio [PRI’s Marketplace].  It airs nationwide Thursday night, Nov. 18 (check local listings as times and days differ from place to place).  It’s a new take on the old series with cool animations and indie music…. ‘Fixing the Future’ documents Brancaccio’s travels across America, uncovering innovative community and small business projects that are creating jobs and building prosperity for a sustainable future.” Tune in.

Classics sports story, clickable

• Peter Krentz, W.R. Grey Professor of Classics and Professor of History, continues his whirlwind publicity tour related to his new book, The Battle of Marathon. The book, just in time for the 2500th anniversary of the famous battle, has generated online and broadcast lectures and interviews  in the U.S. and Europe. And now, a Sports Illustrated article, “The 2,500-year-old man,” which leans heavily on Krentz’s perspectives to explore the role of renowned runner Pheidippides, who, writes SI scribe Michael Farber, “becomes a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma tucked into phyllo dough.” Sweet.

Maroon 5 Rocks the Belk


Honestly, I’ll admit I always just kinda liked Maroon 5 for their pleasant, melodious, poprock sound just shy of bubblegum. Well, boys and girls, let me tell you what, this band has evolved. Even more honestly, I’ll admit I got tickets on the strength of VV Brown’s “Black Cab Sessions” version of “Shark in the Water,” which seemed to please her when I told her so in the autograph line.

Me and VV, we're like THAT.

After VV’s set, second warmup Kris Allen of American Idol fame did his thing, which was fine and a tad dandy, perfect for his spot in the lineup. Then, Maroon 5 took the stage with something for everyone, Annie Porges ’85 and I decided. No shrinking violets in concert-going (remember R.E.M. in the 900 Room sophomore year, Annie?) we had to admit we’d never seen anyone do a full rockstar hip thrust from a full squat, but frontman Adam Levine managed that and a good bit more, including a guitar battle with James Valentine that had jaws on the floor and fists in the air. One word: OMG.

Bubblegum bit the dust when Maroon 5, all grown up, stormed Belk Arena.

Props to the Union’s Jason Shank and all those responsible for bringing this great show to Belk Arena, and props to the hordes of Davidson students who filled that arena with a solid wall of sound that caused my Charlotte buddy Jim Henck to marvel, and my heart to swell with pride. It was like Detroit, only at home with strobes and a disco ball: Hoops, books and rock and roll—it’s a great day to be a Wildcat!

Yikes, it’s tomorrow already, and I’ve got an early meeting with the boss. Good night! Good night! Thank you! You’ve been a great audience!

Rock on.