Monday, January 09, 2012

Reading "Moby-Dick," redux, or "tempus fugit."

Following up on yesterday's post on New Bedford's sixteenth annual Moby-Dick Marathon, here is an item from today's Standard-Times highlighting the faithful three dozen who stayed at the Whaling Museum for all twenty-five hours of the Marathon. Given that over 2,500 people participated in this year's Marathon, the 36 who stayed for the whole thing are a truly select group:
Melville lovers — many of them looking a bit disheveled and bleary-eyed after pulling an all-nighter — closed the book Sunday on the 16th annual reading of Herman Melville's classic "Moby-Dick."

The 36 people who stayed the course for the marathon's 25 hours — going from noon on Saturday until 1 p.m. on Sunday — were given a compact copy of "Moby-Dick," signed by Peter Whittemore, a great-great grandson of Melville.

Graham Voysey of Brookline, a staff member at Boston University, and his brother, Ian Voysey of Pittsburgh, who is visiting family for the holidays, were both admittedly tired at the end of the marathon.

"It has been awhile since I pulled an all-nighter," Graham said.

He said he can't remember where he heard about the marathon, but he said it sounded crazy and fun and like something he wanted to be a part of it.

Ian Voysey, who works at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, said except for the occasional snoring, it was peaceful in the Whaling Museum during the wee-hours of Sunday morning.

Graham Voysey admitted to grabbing a few winks.

"I can't say how long I was asleep, but I can tell you how many pages I was asleep for," he said.

A couple of others who stayed all night were Cecilia Almeida, a sculptor and educator at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, and her friend, David Shaerf, who is in the early stages of producing a documentary about Melville enthusiasts.

Shaerf said the experience was wonderful and they felt welcomed as they conducted their interviews. "It was a community feeling," he said.

"There were people here from all over the world today. I was totally amazed," Almeida said.

Shaerf said the documentary is about two years away from being finished.
If you don't feel like waiting for the documentary but want to know more about the faithful readers who attend the Marathon each year, you may want to take a look at David Dowling's Chasing the White Whale, a book about the 2009 Moby-Dick Marathon. Meanwhile, consider the Standard-Times' list of some of the SouthCoast politicos who read at the Marathon this year:
The list of readers, as it usually does, looked like a who's who of local celebrities. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, former Mayors Scott W. Lang and John Bullard, Superior Court Judge Raymond P. Veary, Reps. Barney Frank and William Keating, D-Mass., Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter and New Bedford City Councilor Jane Gonsalves all read.

For the second consecutive year, former Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz and his son, Ricky, now a freshman at Bishop Stang High School, each read chapters.
The last bit identifying Ricky Kalisz as "a freshman at Bishop Stang High School" is the basis for the tempus fugit in this post's title. I was a volunteer on Fred Kalisz's first campaign for mayor of New Bedford in 1997, and I remember that Ricky was born just before his father won the election. The fact that young Mr. Kalisz is now in high school reminds me of how quickly time passes - and makes me feel a bit old. It's a good thing that some things, like the Moby-Dick Marathon, and Melville's classic itself, are truly timeless. AMDG.


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