YAM Notes: September/October 2017

By Christopher T. Cory

Sybaritic? Lucullan? Voluptuous? One percent? It taxes this English major’s vocabulary to describe Alex Garvin’s nine days’ meander through Burgundy this spring, with car and driver (“so I did not have to rush or guess”), looking at medieval churches and picturesque towns during the days and, every night, at a castle or chateau, “a concert, wine tasting, and Burgundian dinner with more wine.” (We’ll have a link to Alex’s “e-postcard” on www.yale62.org.)

Thanks to the organizer from the International Society of Business and Wine, Alex bubbles, “I don’t think I have ever consumed so much wine or such magnificent wines: Montrachet, Meurseault, Echezeaux, Nuit-Saint-Georges, Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin, Romanée Conti, Vosne-Romanée, and more. I never before had the opportunity to sample so many very old Burgundies. The oldest . . . were a 1959 Meursault, a 1968 Le Montrachet, a 1967 Gevrey-Chambertin, and a 1962 Pommard. The concerts were organized by David Chan, concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He brought many of his orchestra mates with him [and arranged a] closing gala concert with Joyce DiDonato and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. It was completely marvelous in open air in the courtyard of the Clos Vougeot, with a white awning over the entire courtyard.”

I never need to apologize for calling attention to Bill Reilly’s work; he’s one of the few classmates (ahem!) who send me their views on current events. They are temperate and interesting. In April, this registered Republican and former head of the Environmental Protection Administration delivered the Adrian Fernando Memorial Lecture at Oxford University, addressing US policies in the era of Trump. He critiqued Trumpian fears of immigration and trade, but said his worst anxieties are about things most of us won’t notice: the administration’s proposed budget cuts to monitoring of “trends in the temperature of the seas, acidification of the oceans, and sea level rise, and atmospheric climate change and its effects.” (We’ll have the full text on www.yale62.org.)

Though these functions may seem technical, he said he considers their prospective loss even “more destructive than a 31 percent reduction in EPA’s budget and proposed deep cuts planned for climate regulations, enforcement efforts, the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program, and environmental grants.”

At reunion, Phil Proctor gave me an autographed (of course) copy of the latest reissued material from the years 1966–75 of the Firesign Theater, the droll, hip comedy troupe he was in for decades that probably indeed was, as the liner notes say, “as funny as Monty Python.” The two-disc Everything You Know is Wrong compiles such classics of yesteryear as “Everything . . .” (“conspiracy theorist Happy ‘Harry’ Cox is confronted by aliens, comets, and bottomless holes”) and the “surrealist verbal vaudeville” of TV ads for Jack Poet Volkswagen, including a plug for “a mysterious cereal called Jack Poet Volkswagen Flakes (smothered in real Vermont brake fluid).” The album ($35) and other Firesign issues and reissues are available on their website.

What do I mean when I ask you to send your “news” for these notes and our website? Well, in a few lines or paragraphs you could let classmates in on how your worldview and attitudes have changed from when you were 30 or 60 or 75. Dave Honneus says he wonders how many of us have reversed from the days when, as Stephen Sondheim says in the show Follies, “everything was possible and nothing made sense”? Do you now have more sense but fewer possibilities? Tell us your latest activities, volunteer or entrepreneurial, let us hear you foaming at the mouth over a current outrage, describe one or two ways you’ve never stopped dreaming. And PS: on the website, we can show your videos, so please send them!

Necrology: With sadness, we must report the deaths of Scott Barksdale, Peter Dzwonkoski, Doug Fox, Peter Stern, and Frank Wanning. Full obituaries will appear in due course on the class website.