Was a total blast chatting with Chris Matthews and Mitch Albom backstage today at the Miami Book Fair.
Chris Matthews.
Chris speaks like a prize-fighter, jabbing and counterpunching in rapid fire, with no editing or punch-pulling. Almost stream of consciousness, near poetic as an off the cuff commentator.
Always a gentlemen even when tossing a sling or arrow or two. Says of Madame Vice President Kamala Harris, “She needs to get out there and define herself, be more regular with the people, talk sports or whatever.” Says she can’t let the bums define her. Also said, about democracy in peril, that the dems need to have a better strategy re: voters rights. They should outflank the GOPs attempts to subvert voter rights by embracing voter ID cards, maximizing early voting, etc.. He’s right – if you can’t stop’em, beat’em at their own game.
Mitch Albom.
Mitch Albom of Tuesdays with Morrie fame, is a man on a mission. This heralded sports writer turned humanist story-teller and major public programs provider in his hometown of Detroit and in Haiti tells of how he got his start in journalism right here in So Fla at the Sun Sentinel (or the paper that preceded it). It’s a serendipitous tale he tells with fondness, as he does with all his stories he shared today at the MBF.
I had the joy of asking him about his piano-playing, which was on display during a video presentation of his Faith Foster Care in Haiti. He shared that he and other writers – Davy Barry, Steven King, Amy Tan and others – formed a very mediocre rock band some years ago and that it’s fortunate he doesn’t quite his day job.
His recent book has to do with the stranger we all come in contact with, and how we treat that stranger. In this case, the stranger who boards a shipwrecked boat of rich folks is the lord. I’ll leave it at that, though the bulk of his talk today centered on how we as a society and as individuals are faced every day with a choice: to help those in need, to lend a hand, to care for strangers? Or to look the other way?
Mitch goes on to stress how redefining his life in this way has transformed him in a way he would have never expected. He speaks of his orphanage in Haiti, and the incredibly harsh conditions the 60+ kids face each say, from the scarcities of basic resources like electric, water and gas to the ever-present danger from notorious Haitian gangs.
One day, it occurred to me, that perhaps I can bring Bambam Drumfun to these wonderful kids, and share with them the simple joys and many mind-body benefits of rhythm-making and arts’n’crafts (though from the video it looks like they already enjoy some dynamic music and art enrichment).
It was a fine fall day at the MBF. No rain, no traffic, two dynamic speakers, and a balloon guy on stilts.

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