This website has tracked a number of my professional pursuits, from author’s notes and speeches to ongoing clashes with the NCAA and our experimental online college history class, “Citizenship and Freedom.” Here is something different.
Our daughter Macy married John Macaskill on September 7. The official wedding photos offer glimpses of a storybook moment for our merged family and friends. Christy and I are still amazed that we could produce such a beautiful, happy bride.
The ceremony took place at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, where Macy had been christened. Her maternal grandmother, Kay Macy, has belonged there since 1950, and we were blessed to have “Mum” the wedding’s senior attendant at 101 years old! The immediate families posed afterward outside, with brothers Ben Macaskill (l) and Franklin Branch on the flanks.
At the reception, hosted by our new in-laws John and Bridget Macaskill, Macy asked me to sing “My Girl” for her. This was a thrill second only to walking her down the aisle, but there was drama on the stage. Starlight’s bandleader said I was supposed to accompany myself. I panicked. With aplomb, she told me to stall while she urgently recalled musicians from their break.
This video, courtesy of my brother Gary’s cell phone, picks up in mid-stall.
Tradition obliges the father of the bride to offer a toast during the reception dinner. Despite rambling praise, mine did beat the strict 10-minute time limit. What bubbled up included a surprise tribute for Christy, who once saved Macy’s life, and my sister Lucie’s cell phone captured family memories for those who care to indulge them.
All pictures courtesy of Raquel Reis Photography
First, the pleasant news. Christy and I were invited to attend the 13th annual National Book Festival in Washington. It was my second appearance there as one of the 100 or so featured authors for the year.
The reception on Friday night September 20 took place in the main Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, with its stunning vaulted ceilings of classical mosaics. That entrance hall is one of the most beautiful public spaces in the world. It lifts the spirit. I wish every child could spend time there on a school visit to the patriotic sites of Washington.
We visited a number of friends at the reception, including our former Baltimore Orioles compatriot Jonathan Yardley, who is now a transplanted Washington Nats fan, and his wife Marie Arana, author of an acclaimed new biography of Simon Bolivar. I got a novel about John Brown signed by author James McBride, but I missed Linda Ronstadt, whose book “Simple Dreams” sold out quickly, spurred by poignant news that Parkinson’s Disease has ended her singing career.
Rumors circulated that the National Park Service will banish the Book Festival from the National Mall beginning in 2014, for security reasons or merely to spare the grass. Future festivals would be moved indoors to the Washington Convention Center. If so readers will suffer a loss, because the outdoor event draws crowds up to 100,000 people circulating among open tents marked by pennant flags for book categories from fiction to poetry.
My hour’s presentation in the History and Biography tent was fairly raucous by literary standards. I argued that our contemporary political discourse is sadly out of balance with the legacy of freedom from “The King Years” 50 years ago. Fearful hostility erodes pubic trust, and liberals are partly to blame. Not even President Obama can discuss the influence of racial politics.
The audience jumped in with lively questions and comments. Here’s the C-SPAN video: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/KingYea.