Archive for January, 2009

John: An Appreciation

January 15, 2009

Went and saw Steven Johnson discuss his new book “The Invention of Air” at the Pan Pacific Hotel as part of the fabulous Words and Wine series. Johnson is a truly brilliant author whose five previous books (Everything Bad is Good For You, The Ghost Map, Emergence, etc) all explored the space where culture, technology, and science overlap to form new shifts in the world as we know it.

The new book is no exception, a study of the 18th century scientist, philosopher, inventor, and thinker Joseph Priestly, the man who discovered oxygen, among other things, and whose life led him from breweries in England to the friendship of many of America’s founding fathers. Listening to Johnson talk about Priestly,  who was truly a character in every sense of the word, I got to thinking about the characters in my own life.

While I try to keep this blog at least topically about events and experiences related to food and travel, I also like to think I’m journaling about ideas and adventures, some of the other things that add to life’s great tapestry. Over the past 25 years, many of my life’s adventures have included this man:


If you’re fortunate in life, you find a handful of people whose strength of mind and quality of heart are both impressive and commensurate. Friends whose talents, knowlege, and sense of fun make life richer when they are around. John is such a friend. 

A true Renaissance man who has had more schooling than I care to think about, John has many impressive abilities as a poet and scholar – he’s the guy to go to for the perfect quote from Joyce, a beautiful photo portrait, a mean drink, legal advice, the name of Mao’s first mistress, copyediting, the address of the best tacos in the Mission (and a ride there), and information on the history of 20th C political movements, among many other things. But perhaps his greatest talent is as a friend who can be reliably counted on for that ride to the airport, shoulder to cry on, joke to giggle at, late night gossip session, spontaneous mini-road trip, random compliment.

John may never discover a new element (although I wouldn’t put it past him), and I may never write like Steven Johnson, but as long as he’s around I know I’ll have some good stories to tell, and a captive audience to tell them to. So John, here’s your blog post, and thanks again, for everything!