I had met the three honorees before. Interestingly, two of them work for the local newspaper, the Times Union, and one did for about a decade.
William Kennedy has written eight books of fiction, based on the colorful real characters in Albany’s past. He also wrote a non-fiction book, O Albany! which might be another starting point for the history of the city.
The last time I met Bill Kennedy, he had arranged for Douglas Blackmon to speak at a Friends of the APL event. Blackmon wrote the book Slavery by Another Name. There was a luncheon before that, and I got to sit next to Blackmon, a Wall Street Journal writer. Finally, at some point, he asked to switch with me so that he could talk to Blackmon. I got to sit with Bill’s charming wife, Dana.
Dana, BTW, was outbidding me for several items at the silent auction at the gala. I got to meet two of their children.
Paul Grondahl, who is the best pure writer on the TU staff, I saw read from his book on the long-time mayor of Albany, Erastus Corning a few years ago, and run into him periodically. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to tell him of the death of his buddy Donna George, a year or two after the fact.
When Amy Biancolli was a movie critic, I used to comment regularly. The first time I ever met her in person was at my church when her late husband Chris Ringwald was talking about his book A Day Apart, about the importance of the Sabbath in different religious traditions. Her current book, Figuring Sh*t Out, is about dealing with life after her husband’s very public suicide. I see her at concerts and plays occasionally. I talked with two of her children at the end of the evening.
Anyway, I had a really good time, talking with Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Theresa and John Portelli (I went to college at New Paltz with John), lots of the library staff, and several others. So this picture of me with Scott Jarzombek, the relatively new Executive Director of the Albany Public Library, is NOT indicative of my mood that night. For one thing, even though I was wearing a suit and dreaded tie, I was also wearing my new blue Chuck Taylor sneakers.
The obituary for Lenny Tucker, who was, among many other things, the long-time president of the Friends of the Albany Public Library, a title I now hold.