Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘Philanthropy

Last few interviews

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I have really been enjoying talking to these folks I’ve had the good fortune to interview, especially recently.

Dar Williams is sweet and petite, but she’s been making music for 20 years, so she may look like Strawberry Shortcake, but I’m sure she’s tough as nails to be in the music business.  And her music is wonderful.

Caroline Miller is a free spirit in a jet pack.  At 76, she is simply one of the most fearlessly thinking people I have ever met.  She cried at retelling a story from WWII, and practically squealed with delight when we started talking about fractals.  I loved it.

Irma McClaurin is brainy and beautiful and an inspiration not only to young African men and women who might be seeking to point themselves in multiple directions, but an inspiration to me.  I’ve always felt blessed whenever I’ve met someone that made me think, “I could be better.”  She did and I’ll be looking for more and newer ways to make old behaviors less inefficient and new behaviors more nurturing.  Thanks, Irma.

Russell Hitchcock, who is 1/2 of the group “Air Supply” was a very gentle and friendly person to talk to.  He was open about his passions for his craft and his professional relationship with co-member Graham Russell, which by the way, is as good as it has always been.  He says they’ll be making music for a long time, but they each are free to make their own music.  He has made a great CD called “Russell Hitchcock Tennessee” which has a wonderful single on it called “How far is far enough away from Colorado?”  Air Supply doing country?  But, it sounds great.  And Graham Russell’s website is, as this is written, in the process of being built.  So, they both are very vibrant.

Finally, Charles Murray…. he and I had a conversation on the terrace of the Library of Congress about 20 years ago.  He was there for a speaking engagement related to his last book, “The Bell Curve.”  As a black man, I felt like, “I have to talk to this person to understand why he hates us so much.”  Of course now, looking back, that might’ve been me buying totally into the hyperbole against him of the time.  We had, as I remember, a civil and even interesting chat, but I could’nt help thinking, “I wonder if he is looking at me thinking, ‘Hmmm, this is a smart one.'”  Talking to him again recently and reading his book, I wondered if the backlash from the Bell Curve either directly or indirectly contributed to one use of the word “Negro” and almost no uses of the words “Black” or “African American” in the 417 pages of his newest book, “Coming Apart.”  I wondered if the backlash against his research and scholarship was so intense and vitriolic at the time that it might’ve somewhat burned him.  Then again, it’s probably much more likely that because the new book is only about problems he sees with white culture, blacks and other non dominant culture groups simply weren’t his focus.

He called this book his valedictory.  Valedictory, mean final.  And as he mentioned both in the interview and in his book, he is 68.  But in the interview, he wasn’t saying he was through writing as much as he feels he’s said all he can say about intelligence and race.  I respect Mr. Murray for having the courage of his convictions.  We all must.