Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Frank McCourt and 25 for $25

Last night was the second lecture of this year's Seattle Arts and Lectures series. The night's lecturer was Pulitzer prize-winner Frank McCourt of Angela's Ashes fame. Although I meant to read his newest memoir Teacher Man before the lecture, I failed to read a single word of anything he'd written and went into the lecture knowing nothing about him other than he'd had success writing about his hard knock life growing up in Ireland.

McCourt was an entertaining speaker, though he was definitely rambling and unpolished. While it was clear he was going over familiar territory his delivery had more the feel of your doddering elderly uncle telling war stories around the holiday table than a polished song-and-dance lecture. There were a few times I found myself wishing we could have gotten him lubed up with a couple of drinks and been sitting around in a more casual environment, where I might have been able to ask him to repeat what he'd just said. His accent (not exactly Irish, certainly not Brooklyn, but some nightmarish mutation) was sometimes very hard to understand and he didn't shy away from his non-PC opinions (the difficulty of remembering his Korean students' names, as they were all named Kim Something; how Jewish guilt and suffering has nothing on Irish Catholics; the various ways in which the Catholic church screws people up). He did, in a gesture very much of his generation, warn delicate listeners to leave the room before he told a story that involved the word fuck.

In the Q&A afterward, someone asked the question about which student affected him the most and which would he never forget which launched him into a sad story about a poetic "genius" girl that he was absolutely in awe of but who was so screwed up... eating disorders, suicide attempts, middle of the night phone calls to him, until finally one night he told her that if she did indeed want to die so badly she should just go ahead and do it, he was done sending the Yale campus police off to her rescue... She didn't, and he saw her around in NYC where she'd gotten a job a secretary or something and "looked like hell" and when he asked her, "But what about the poetry?" she angrily told him to leave her alone. Sad story.

After the lecture, the 3 J's (John, Jenny, and Jim) and I took off to get something to eat. John had come armed with a list of the 25 for $25 restaurants and we decided to hit one none of us had been to before. After ruling out several options (because we've all eaten out around Seattle a lot) we settled on the Fish Club at the Seattle Marriott on the waterfront. Their 25 for $25 menu was very good and we all chose the trout entree, which was clearly the best thing on the menu. We were not disappointed. In fact, we did very well for ourselves simply following Jenny's suggestion of picking a place none of us had been before. Fun!

I look forward to the next lecture in January. Maybe I'll even have time to read something by the lecturing author before then. Edwidge Danticat, anyone?


for this post

Leave a Reply