The former Atlanta Braves great and future Hall of Fame third baseman was on hand at Talladega Superspeedway Chipper Jones retired after last season as one of the greatest players ever for the Atlanta Braves, and a likely future first-ballot selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The former third baseman and eight-time all-star has followed NASCAR since his days growing up in Pierson, Fla., not far from Daytona Beach. He gave the command to start engines as grand marshal for the recent Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway.How did you become such a big NASCAR fan?I grew up about 20 miles inland from Daytona Beach, Fla., and I think when they revved the engines up, you could hear them in my backyard, to be honest with you. It was always a fun time to go over to Daytona twice a year. Back then it was the Firecracker 400 in the summer, and obviously the big Daytona race every February. We always had a blast. That’s where my love of NASCAR started.Who are your favorite drivers?I was in the house for Richard Petty’s 200th win. Ronald Reagan flew in on Air Force One. Richard wasn’t my favorite, though. I was a Cale Yarborough fan. I loved Cale’s grit and determination. He’d fight you in a heartbeat on the backstretch if somebody wrecked him. That was always something that I liked. But I always thought he had one of the prettiest cars, to be honest with you. That Hardee’s 28 and Valvoline 27 were some good-looking cars. Now, I’ve gotten to know so many of the racers over the years going to driver’s meetings and going to Daytona so many times walking up pit road, it’s hard to put a finger on a favorite. I guess if you held a gun to my head, I’d probably say Jeff Gordon and I go back a long way. We’ve had some of the same representation, and he’s gotten me tickets in years past. So I’d probably have to say Jeff is my guy. How has life been post-baseball?I’m knocking off bucket-list items left and right right now. I’ve been to Augusta (for The Masters), which I’ve never been able to do. Been able to go turkey hunting for the first time in my life — on purpose, anyway. I’ve always said, my love for NASCAR has never faded. I’ve wanted to hop in a bus or hop in a camper and do the tour. I’ve always wanted to go up to Bristol. I’m a big either short-track guy, or super speedway guy. I’m not big on the mile-and-a-halves, but I’d like to go to some and continue to make the circuit as much as I can.What about jumping in a race car?I’ve done it in Las Vegas, actually. Did it a couple of years ago. I have a couple of outdoors shows on the Sportsman Channel, one on the Outdoors Channel. So the big Shot Show for the outdoor industry was in Las Vegas, and we jumped in a car out there. I think I got the most careful driver of the bunch. I probably went the slowest out of everybody. But I’d love to do it again. It’s something that if I wasn’t a baseball player, I’d have wanted to be a race car driver or a country singer or something like that. Not that I can sing. But I can dang sure drive. I like to go fast.Where’s your favorite place to watch a race?I used to watch from the stands as a kid at Daytona, and I thought that was great. But getting down on those pit boxes –I’ve stood on Richard Childress’ tower with him at Daytona, and being able to see those cars go all the way around … that’s a thrill for me. I like to be down here in the midst of it.Are you surprised your adjustment to retirement has been so smooth?For the last 23 years I’ve been living out of a suitcase, playing the game of baseball. I’ve loved every minute of it. But I think now, just being able to set up some roots, being able to see my kids whenever I want to — I’ve got four boys, ages 15, 12, 8 and 7. Being able to go to games on Saturdays. Being able to actually sit down and watch a race on the weekend from the drop of the green flag to the drop of the checkered flag. Most of the time Sunday afternoons, I’m having to catch the last 50 laps on the radio driving home from the ballpark. There are a lot of cool things that I want to do. People are so surprised that I haven’t had more trouble adjusting to life after baseball. I wasn’t just a baseball player. I have a lot of other interests in life, whether it’s NASCAR, whether it’s deer hunting, whether it’s coaching my kids’ baseball team, or whatever. So I’m going to be just fine, and I’m having a blast thus far. FULL SERIES COVERAGE• View all articles • View all videos • View all photos
Archives: March 2021
After a brief teaser the other day, Rolling Stone has shared a major interview with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio covering a number of threads in his ongoing career. The main focal point of the interview was the band’s current level of cohesion and their new music, for which Anastasio gives a major update on the new album.When asked about the progress of the album, Anastasio cited an interview with Jon Fishman where the drummer said the album was mostly done and that none of the new songs recently debuted would be on it.It’s not as far along as Jon Fishman would like to think! We were laughing really hard. He actually got a little ripping about that. Because he came in and played drums on a few songs and then left to go on Bernie tour. And then we saw this interview: It said, “The Phish record is done!” We were all laughing at his, um, perspective. But it’s not done. It sounds really great to me. We’re really happy. The band’s firing on all cylinders right now, so this is the perfect time to go into the studio. We’ll see, but it’s been pretty joyous. We’re kind of all over the place, flying down to Nashville to work, and then I’ve been doing a lot of work on overdubs at Avatar, which is in Manhattan, and then we go to Burlington, and worked at the barn, and we’re even working at Page’s house and Mike’s house a little bit. As for the songs themselves, Anastasio is confident they’ll be ready for the road.I do think we’ll be playing them this summer! Actually, contrary to what Fish was saying, a couple of the songs we busted out last year have been tracked for the album. I’m not entirely sure what’ll be on there, but I think in the interview he said there weren’t any. That’s not true. Another reason why we were laughing.Anastasio also talks about the band feeling more like a collective unit than in years past.There’s a feeling of unity that is pervasive on tour. When I think about last summer and then in Mexico, and the amount of time that we spent together, and where everybody is in their lives right now, it’s pretty magical. And I think that’s why it was really important for us to go right into the studio. Everybody’s bringing songs to the table. Page brought some great songs, Mike brought some great songs, Fish brought some great songs. I’ve got a lot of new songs. And everybody’s just diving in, in a unified way. And we can’t wait to get back on the road. It’s going to be a good summer.He also spoke at length about the band’s drive to play mostly original music, and even touched on the absence of “Fluffhead” for those fans keeping score at home (aka everyone).Yeah, first of all because we love to. We’ve always had a lot of fun playing covers, and I’m sure we will continue to. But what was starting to happen was after 2013, 2014, 2015, I would get home and kind of think to myself, “Man, we played, like, ‘Guelah Papyrus’ once in the last two years.” And I like that song. I’m a big “Guelah Papyrus” fan. It’s one of my faves. Last year we got home, and and we didn’t play “Fluffhead” the whole summer. And that wasn’t a conscious thing. We have a lot of good songs, and we have more in the repertoire all the time. But I’m sure this summer we’re going to do at least six or seven more [new songs], because we’ve been making an album. So we’re probably going to want to play them. So the original songs have sort of moved to the front burner. The interview then touched upon Anastasio’s role in the Fare Thee Well celebration for 50 years of the Grateful Dead. The band had mentioned there was “unfinished business,” and RS asked if Anastasio would be willing to do more shows with them.I’m open all the time. It was definitely a little gigus interruptus [laughs]. There’s a lot of practicing for a short run, but I don’t know. I had such a good time playing with Bob and hanging out with Bob. I spent a week out at his beach house before the Fare Thee Well tour; the two of us just played. We sat on two little stools in his living room and just played and talked and it was fantastic. He’s such a good guy, and really fun. And I got to go to Phil’s and spend time with him and his family before the shows. Billy came to New York and played drums with me. So, I mean, I love those guys, and I’m always open. I’m grateful for the opportunity.The Phish guitarist wraps up the interview by talking about his method for reviewing each show and how often the band members are in communication. You can find the full interview here.
Political pundit Ann Coulter has never been shy about her love for the Grateful Dead, but Billboard recently made her take that love to the next level by publishing what is essentially an open love letter to the grateful group. She explains that she probably saw 67 shows, though her count was imprecise, and mostly between 1991 and 1995.“Other than a few shows in high school and college, I mostly followed them as a practicing lawyer from around 1991 to August 1995 when I had a bunch of Deadhead friends and we all had plenty of disposable income, so I saw a lot of shows in those four or five years.”She explains that there was a faction of Deadheads within her community growing up, which is how she became familiar with the group. “Contrary to some people’s image of the Dead, they were huge in my very affluent WASP hometown of New Canaan, Conn. There was a faction in favor of making “Truckin’” our prom song, but the sense of the senate went for some schmaltzy rainbow song instead. I bet no one from my high school class can remember what it was. We would have remembered “Truckin.’””“But still – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a Deadhead dancing,” she writes in the article, putting her love for the Dead on full blast. She continues to talk about Deadheads, saying, “I like Deadheads because they’re very friendly, open-minded, individualistic people — not fake-open-minded and not a “mob of individualists.” Sometimes they’d ask why we’d decline the joints friendly Deadheads would pass around, but they were so charming about it. They weren’t offended or snippy, just genuinely interested. Deadheads are intellectually curious individuals.”Then she goes back to the band and starts naming some of her many favorite tunes:I can never pick a “favorite” song, just as I can’t pick a favorite Scalia dissent, but among the ones I love are: “Tennessee Jed,” “Althea,” “Stagger Lee”, “Eyes of the World,” “Loose Lucy,” “Franklin’s Tower,” “Deal,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Unbroken Chain,” “Cassidy”, “Pride of Cucamonga,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Ripple,” “Casey Jones,” “I Will Take You Home,” “Passenger,” “Mississippi Half-Step,” “Good Lovin’” and of course, the famous Mickey Hart rap version of “Fire on the Mountain.”It breaks my heart that the band never played “Pride of Cucamonga” in concert. That would have been as big a story as Brexit and probably would have rocked the stock market just as much. She recalls one final Grateful Dead concert experience at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, saying, “The Dead’s best venues were the outdoor concerts. I’ve been to a few, including one outside of Kansas City on the Fourth of July, but my fave was Shoreline Amphitheatre — a beautiful outdoor arena built on a landfill. The weather was great, you could buy California chardonnay by the glass and I had a bunch of Cornell deadheads out there. By day, we’d go around San Francisco or go sailing, and, by night, we’d go to see a psychedelic rock group.”And there you have it, an inside look at Ann Coulter’s love for the Grateful Dead. Read the full letter here.
Last night, legendary Jazz pianist/keyboardist/godfather Herbie Hancock brought a unique band and some incredible opening acts with him to the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series at the Prospect Park Bandshell. The show, which was organized by This Is Our Music and LPR Presents, featured a heavy-hitting opening lineup of soul musician Jamie Lidell and the electro-r&b of the Robert Glasper Experiment, and found Hancock performing a headlining set in Brooklyn for the first time in 50 years.After a short but intense downpour delayed the opening of doors for a few minutes, the crowd was allowed inside the venue for a mini set by Jamie Lidell. The British crooner, who was playing his only U.S. tour date for the forseeable future, is supporting a new forthcoming album called Building a Beginning, which will be released on October 14th.The real fireworks started when the Robert Glasper Experiment took the stage. The band, made up of Glasper on piano and keys, Derrick Hodge on bass, Casey Benjamin on saxophone, keytar, and vocoder, and Mark Colenburg on drums, took the audience on a quick trip to space via their unique blend of jazz fusion, hip-hop, and r&b. This band is one of the best improv outfits on the planet, and their set weaves between original tracks, unique and unexpected covers, and a healthy dose of full-band improvisation. The band unfortunately had to cut a few minutes from their set due to the rain delay, but made up for it in kind with an epic set-closing tribute to J. Dilla, during which Glasper surprised the audience by bringing out Bilal and Common to sing and spit a few bars, respectively. The collaboration felt very “Brooklyn”, and was a perfect fit for the larger-than-usual audience the Experiment were afforded.Finally, Herbie Hancock, the master, took the stage with his impressive band. The players in his band were a who’s who of modern jazz greats: James Genus from the Saturday Night Live house band on bass, West African legend Lionel Loueke on guitar, famed session drummer Trevor Lawrence Jr., and To Pimp A Butterfly mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin on keyboards, vocoder, and saxophone.The band was hot right out of the gates, opening with the uptempo 1974 jazz fusion track “Actual Proof”. The crowd was entranced by the virtuosity of the band, as they whipped from one idea to the other as the band worked themselves through the tune. After Hancock took a few minutes to introduce the band members to the audience, they launched into a winding version of “Overture” that featured impressive playing from Lawrence, as he picked up the rhythm of the jam and built it up until the song’s epic climax.Hancock followed that up with his classic “Watermelon Man”, and the funky track was met with huge applause from the enraptured audience. Loueke then led the band through a Afrobeat-tinged version of “Come Running To Me”, which featured some impressive soloing on the keytar from Hancock. Finally, things came to a close with a danceable version of “Cantaloupe Island” that saw Hancock and his band trading licks with ease.After a short break, the band returned to the stage for a synthed-out performance of Hancock’s best known song, “Chameleon”. The crowd went absolutely crazy for the track, and Hancock picked up the keytar again for a wild solo that was the perfect exclamation mark to cap off an excellent evening in Prospect Park.In the end, it was a truly amazing night in Brooklyn. Usually relegated to small clubs and festival appearances, it was amazing to see a show of jazz legends with thousands of other people in one of New York City’s most reliable cultural centers. The Robert Glasper Experiment and Herbie Hancock both put on incredible shows filled with improv and experimentation, and the crowd absolutely ate it up. We hope it doesn’t take another 50 years for Herbie to return to Brooklyn!Herbie Hancock | Celebrate Brooklyn! | Prospect Park Band Shell | 8/11/2016Set One: Actual Proof, Overture, Watermelon Man, Come Running To Me, Cantaloupe IslandEncore: Chameleon[photo via @briccelebratebk]
Teddy Midnight, the electrofunk outfit hailing from Brooklyn, is releasing a brand new mixtape this Friday, March 10th, called Tedward Midi Vol. 1. Slated to be the first release in a series of upcoming new mixes from Teddy Midnight, this new music highlights their connection with more traditional house music over the jamtronica sound of their live shows. As producer and bassist Sean Silva said of Tedward Midi Vol 1., “I know there are certain elements that can’t be replicated by live instrumentation, and we thought a mixtape would be appropriate to highlight a side of us closer to the Beatport crowd.” You can take a listen to Live For Live Music’s exclusive premiere of a brand-new track from Teddy Midnight called “Slow Down” below, which will give you a little taste of the soon-to-be-released Tedward Midi Vol. 1. As described by Sean Silva, “‘Slow Down’ is a funky, circusy, booty-shakin’ ode to the dance floor that celebrates the naughty part inside all of us.” Give it a listen for yourself.The mixtape will be available via the band’s SoundCloud on Friday, March 10th, and the band will be hosting a release party for Tedward Midi Vol. 1 on the following night, Saturday, March 11th, at BRYAC in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Additionally, Teddy Midnight will be touring with The Magic Beans in April as well as supporting Pink Talking Fish during a hometown show at the Brooklyn Bowl and playing various festivals throughout the summer. You can check out their upcoming tour dates on their website here.
Dark Star Orchestra has had a huge year thus far with the celebration of the Grateful Dead-inspired project’s 20th anniversary. Now, for 2018, the act has even bigger plans in the works with their debut at the iconic outdoor Colorado venue Red Rocks in July of 2018. On the anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s famed Red Rocks performance on July 8th, 1978, on July 8th, 2018, Dark Star Orchestra will take to Red Rocks to recreate that legendary Grateful Dead’s performance exactly 40 years later. As support, Dark Star Orchestra has tapped Keller Williams to join them for the evening.EXCLUSIVE: DSO’s Rob Barraco Talks Phil Lesh, New Projects, & Keeping The Dead AliveSpecial VIP packages through CID Entertainment will be offered for the event, with more information available here. Fan club pre-sale tickets are available now here, while tickets for the general public go on sale on Friday, December 1st, at 10 AM (MST) here.Grateful Dead, Red Rocks, 7/8/1978 [Photo: ontheDL Photography]
Following Jamiroquai’s collaboration with Snoop Dogg, the show continued in full force. Enhanced by the presence of Hazel Fernandes, Valerie Etienne, Elle Cato, who are affectionately known as the “Cosmic Babes”, the group offered up fan-favorite hits like “Space Cowboy”, “Cosmic Girl”, and “Canned Heat” in addition to working in some deep cuts from their older catalog—the group performed “Main Vein” for the first time since 2013 and “Use The Force” for the first time since 2014 during their performance in Mexico City last week. Closing out the show and following an energetic take on their classic tune “Canned Heat”, the band’s keyboard player, Matt Johnson, began to start another one of the group’s most iconic tracks, “Virtual Insanity”. However, Jay Kay waved him off, and with the group quickly running up on curfew, the band laid out a delightful take on “Love Foolosophy” to close out their set.Setlist: Jamiroquai | Coachella at the Empire Polo Club | Indio, CA | 4/13/2018Set: Shake It On > Little L, The Kids, Dr. Buzz (with Snoop Dogg), Space Cowboy, Alright, Cloud 9, Main Vein, Use The Force, Cosmic Girl, Canned Heat, Love FoolosophyYou can take a look at a couple of videos from Jamiroquai’s triumphant U.S. return show at Coachella below.“Dr. Buzz” with Snoop Dogg At long last, Jamiroquai has made their way back onto U.S. soil! Following the band’s late-night television appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden on Thursday, on Friday, the pioneering British electro-funk titans continued on with their highly anticipated performance at Coachella. Marking the first time the group has played their own show in the United States since November of 2005, Jamiroquai’s Coachella performance was a triumphant affair, with the band led by Jay Kay laying out an absolutely stellar performance and foreshadowing some truly standout return shows in the making.While the importance of Jamiroquai’s return to the U.S. has been discussed in depth, with the first of these performances finally done, it’s safe to say that the hype is real. Given the momentous occasion and the venue itself, Jamiroquai performed a set packed with many of the group’s heavy-hitters. The selections appealed to both longtime fans and potentially new fans, many who were won over at the at the gigantic music festival that is Coachella. Characteristically high-octane, feel-good, and dance-centric, across the board, the band offered up a show that fans new and old should be stoked on.After opening up with “Shake It On”, which was well-segued into the crowd-pleasing “Little L” off 2001’s A Funk Odyssey, and a take on “The Kids” (1995’s The Return of the Space Cowboy), Jamiroquai welcomed out Snoop Dogg, who joined the band with blunt in hand for a rendition of “Dr. Buzz”, a new track off the group’s recently released 2017 album, Automaton. During Snoop Dogg’s cameo, the legendary West Coast rapper also spit verses from his own “Drop It Like Its Hot” and “Gin & Juice”, much to the delight and surprise of the amped crowd. Ahead of this collaboration, percussionist Sola Akingbola hinted at Jamiroquai’s special guest, posting a video of Jay Kay and Snoop rehearsing ahead of the Coachella set. “Little L” “Cosmic Girl” “Canned Heat”
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong made their maiden voyage aboard Jam Cruise this year, as the Norwegian Jade set sail this past January for the 16th installation of the traveling destination music festival. The four-piece played two sets over the five-day expedition, with a late-night set in the Spinnaker Lounge on January 19th, and a Pool Deck set the following evening on January 20th.Clad in pink one-piece suits, and “Scrambled Greg” Ormont in a tutu, PPPP rocked their Pool Deck set, opening things up with fan favorites, “Time To Ride”, Poseidon”, and “Avalanche”. The Pigeons boys had some fun next, sandwiching The Little Mermaid’s “Under The Sea” into their original “Julia”. Pigeons have previously played the song off Disney’s 1989 film, which they debuted at their special Disney New Year’s Eve set only weeks prior. Following the fitting nautical-themed segue, Pigeons worked through “The Liquid”, “Burning Up My Time”, “Horizon”, “Fun In Funk”, before closing their debut Pool Deck set with “Ocean Flows”.Watch pro-shot video Jam Cruise organizers have shared of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s “Julia”> “Under The Sea”> “Julia” below:Pigeons Playing Ping Pong – “Julia”> “Under The Sea”> “Julia” – 1/20/2018[Video: Jam Cruise]Head to Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s website here for all upcoming tour dates and ticket information.Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Jam Cruise | Norwegian Jade | 1/20/2018Set: Time To Ride, Poseidon, Avalanche, Julia> Under The Sea> Julia, The Liquid, Burning Up My Time, Horizon, Fun In Funk, Ocean Flows
Stephen Engelberg, the managing editor of ProPublica, an independent nonprofit newsroom, envisions a new media world in which people pay for online content. Ultimately, investigative journalism will flourish, he told the audience, because “original unique content is what people want. There is a commercial argument for finding things out, things that nobody else knows.”Alex Jones, the Laurence M. Lombard Lecturer in the Press and Public Policy, and the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, moderated the session.Earlier in the day, the city of Cambridge named the corner of Linden, Bow, and Mount Auburn streets as Halberstam Square in honor of the journalist. David L. Halberstam died doing what he loved, hunting down a story.The intrepid author, reporter, and Harvard graduate who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vietnam War, which called into question the American military strategy in the conflict, died in a 2007 car crash.He was 73, and was on his way to an interview.The author of more than 20 books, including “The Best and the Brightest” and “The Powers That Be,” Halberstam began his love affair with reporting while at Harvard, becoming sports editor and managing editor for the student-run Harvard Crimson. During his lengthy career, he covered a vast range of subjects, including history, politics, the Civil Rights movement, and sports. He was known for an incredible work ethic and a passionate drive to find and report the truth.“When the government doesn’t tell the truth, the power of journalism goes up,” said Halberstam in a video clip that began a panel discussion about his life and legacy, held at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on Wednesday (Oct. 6).Three seasoned reporters offered their perspectives on the changing nature of journalism in the age of new media and instant access, their thoughts on the future of investigative journalism, and their own accounts of reporting from the front lines and breaking big stories.Charles M. Sennott fell in love with the craft while helping his brother, who was a photographer for the Boston Herald. Transporting his brother’s film from the Boston Garden to the paper during Celtics’ games, Sennott knew then he “always wanted to be courtside.”Later, when Sennott was an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe, he covered the Big Dig and helped to break the financial and management scandal behind Boston’s massive highway project. Sennott, who also was a foreign correspondent and is now executive editor and vice president of the news website GlobalPost, said he knew he had a break in the Big Dig story when, over drinks with some of the project’s engineers, “One of them let slip, ‘There is no way this is going to work.’ ”Using Halberstam’s words, Sennott said it was the kind of instant “when history catapults you to a moment when journalism matters.”Aggressive, intelligent journalism is still important, but the path there looks vastly different from the one taken by Halberstam, who graduated from a local paper to The New York Times, said Sennott. He argued that GlobalPost’s model, which relies on a cadre of more than 100 freelance journalists working around the world to provide “international news for a digital age,” is the wave of the future for up-and-coming foreign correspondents.“It’s going to be a different path for you,” Sennott told the aspiring writers in the crowd, adding, “You are going to have to be your own brand.”A veteran foreign correspondent who has reported from war-ravaged countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, panelist Martha Raddatz, now the chief foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News, said the nightly network news still plays a critical role in informing the country. By delivering a daily, comprehensive account of what is happening internationally, minus the endless distractions and “noise” that can be part of the online sphere, network news offers people “what’s important.”Discussing her own career, Raddatz recalled a seminal moment when, as ABC’s chief White House correspondent, she interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney. Telling Cheney in the spring of 2008 that two-thirds of Americans thought the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, Cheney, she recalled, stared back and said, “So?”“I could see his staff in the room just go ‘oh no,’ ” said Raddatz, adding, “A lot of moments passed where he could have said, ‘Let’s go back to that, or let me explain further,’ and he didn’t.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — If scholars were celebrities, life might look a little bit like it does on the day of the annual Jefferson Lecture (May 2), with interviews and toasts in anticipation not of a concert or play but a speech on the humanities.For Harvard President Drew Faust, chosen by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to give its 2011 Jefferson Lecture, the day began with a round of media interviews and ended with a reception in her honor on the balcony of the Kennedy Center overlooking the Potomac River.The centerpiece of the day: a well-received address, “Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian,” delivered to an appreciative Kennedy Center audience.“Uniquely powerful dimensions of the Civil War have rendered it of outsized importance to historians,” Faust said. “For Americans, it was and is a special war with special meanings. But an essential aspect of its interest and appeal … is simply that it was war.”The Jefferson Lecture is the NEH’s biggest annual event. Past Jefferson Lecturers include John Updike, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Bernard Bailyn, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, James McPherson, Barbara Tuchman, and Robert Penn Warren.In the run-up to the main event, Faust shared lunch with a small group of active NEH supporters who were eager to discuss the Civil War with a woman who has devoted her academic life to researching and writing about it. Her favorite books on the topic? “The Killer Angels” and “Absalom, Absalom!” took the fiction category, while Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs earned an endorsement in nonfiction.“Maybe this is the highest praise of all,” Faust said. “Ever read a book and say, ‘I wish I wrote that?’ I felt that way about Garry Wills’ book about the Gettysburg Address.”Harvard welcomed about 100 guests to a reception before the lecture at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Georgetown.Dumbarton Oaks was purchased in 1920 by Robert Woods Bliss, a Harvard alumnus, and his wife, Mildred Barnes Bliss. The Blisses were avid collectors of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art, and in 1940 donated their collections and an associated research library to Harvard to serve as “a home to the humanities.” They also gave the property, including the gardens that Mildred Bliss had developed with noted landscape designer Beatrix Farrand.Jan Ziolkowski, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin and director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, said it was fitting that the reception before the humanities lecture was held at the Bliss’ former home.“They had this vision of both fostering interest in the culture that meant so much to them, but also of supporting advanced research toward new understanding of the past,” Ziolkowski said.The Blisses also frequently hosted cultural affairs much like the reception Monday night, at which members of the Harvard Corporation (who were in Washington to meet for a rare session outside of Cambridge the following day), Harvard alumni, supporters of the NEH, and others gathered in the orangery near the site’s famous gardens.Covering the ceilings and walls of the orangery was a ficus that a scholar might say symbolizes the way the War Between the States continues to thread its way through America’s dialogue with itself: The crawling vine had been planted in the middle of the Civil War.