Friday, May 18, 2007

May 18, 2007
During my recent string of roadtrips I have met some extraordinary people. On our trip to Albuquerque, the spectacular artifacts of Paul Hutton and Bob McCubbin in particular, were on prominent display in the big Billy the Kid show and I just have to say, their collections are jaw dropping. Just stunning, unbelievable stuff. On Saturday, I finally got to see Richard Ignarski's collection, at his house! He too has some amazing things. I thought I was the King Hat Nazi, but Richard's collection puts mine in the shade.

In Wichita, I finally got to meet Mr. Unstoppable—Thomas Etheridge—who is one part energizer bunny, one part P.T. Barnum and one part General Patton.

Of course when you meet dynamic people like this it's impossible not to compare yourself and wonder: "Gee, if I only had some of their focus, and energy, where might I be?"

On the plane going to Wichita I read a fascinating piece in The New Yorker called "Branson's Luck," by Michael Specter. It is the story of Richard Branson who went from a lowly record producer (The Sex Pistols) to owning an airline (Virgin), a trainline (Virgin) and a ton of enterprises in between (all named Virgin). Being an extreme risk taker he has also survived numerous near death experiences, but this is the one that got me: "In 1974, he went with his first wife, Kristen Tomassi, to Cozumel, to try and patch up a marriage that had suffered from numerous affairs on both sides. The area has some of the world's best marlin fishing, and one day they and another couple decided to hire a deep-sea boat. Two miles out, a severe storm began to pound the boat; after a frightening hour or so, the wind and rain subsided, but Branson and his wife concluded that they were in the storm's eye. Convinced that the boat could not withstand another attack, they urged the others to try to swim with them to safety. Nobody was willing to join them. 'We stripped off to our underwear and the fisherman gave us a plank of wood from the bottom of the boat,' Branson recalled. Somehow, despite ten-foot waves, the couple fought their way to shore. Neither the boat nor its occupants were ever seen again."

I would have stayed on that boat. And you? And, how many times do we cling to the tiny appearance of safety, when we could swim our way out if we had the courage? And, finally, while the metaphors are flying, what if that boat is True West? Ha.

"At Virgin, Branson's nickname is Dr. Yes, largely because he has never been able to bring himself to fire people, and often has trouble saying no to even the most ridiculous and unsolicited ideas."
—Michael Specter, in The New Yorker piece

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