Monday, September 26, 2011

A perfect squelch

Because Barbara's multi-talented daughter, Laurie Lewis, was appearing (as she does every year) at Not Strictly Bluegrass, we went over to Golden Gate Park a few years ago, and joined the crowds.This is an annual event, free to the public, funded entirely by the generosity of wealthy financier Warren Hellman, who also happens to be an enthusiastic banjo player with a band called The Wronglers. Warren pays the performers generously: Laurie says it is her best- paying gig of the year, and I have heard unconfirmed reports that it costs Warren some $2 million annually.

The Main Stage featured headliners like Emmy Lou Harris and Joan Baez that year, but Laurie was playing at the next level, on a stage about a quarter of a mile away. Barbara & I walked along a quiet path towards Laurie's location, and then I saw Warren and a friend walking toward us.

Laurie had introduced me to Warren elsewhere, though I don't believe he recognized me. I had also met him at an Investment Forum, put on by the San Francisco Foundation, for which he was an important member of its Investment Committee. I hadn't expected to run in to him, and I wanted to add my voice to those who expressed their gratitude to him for his gift to the people of San Francisco.

I blurted out "Warren, I didn't expect to see you here" (meaning, to encounter him along a lonely path). Immediately, he replied "I don't know why not. After all, it is my party". Then they were off, leaving me speechless, embarrassed, and feeling pretty stupid.

A perfect squelch.

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