Our Ottawa bureau chief is a renaissance man, is what he is. One day he came into the office and showed us the publisher’s cover design for his novel. What, Geddes was writing a novel? News to us. And then it turned out to be a really good novel, which is not the way most novels turn out.
Most days he comes in and talks to me about Angela Hewitt or Bill Charlap, or to Wherry about Cooperstown, or to Petrou about military doctrine. Each of us thinks we’re pretty smart, but usually we wind up listening to Geddes talk circles around us on our own chosen topics. Partly that’s because he’s quite a talker. But it’s also because he knows about a lot of things, he’s always curious, and he’s always thinking about how one thing connects to something else.
He brings all these qualities to his journalism, which is usually about federal politics. But sometimes he gets to indulge his other interests. He’s the visual-arts man in our bureau, for instance, and here’s a lovely piece from last week’s issue about the Voice of Fire controversy, which was 20 years ago, my how time flies. You remember Voice of Fire. It’s the Barnett Newman painting that looked like this and cost a lot of money and provoked a nation-wide debate about the nature of art. John’s piece reminds us what the fuss was about, and revisits some of the protagonists. I enjoyed reading it and I’ve been waiting for it to pop up on the website so I could pass it along, in case you missed it in the print edition.
Half the fun of working at this magazine is finding out every week which one of my colleagues is going to be swinging for the fences. Most weeks it’s someone different from the week before. Anyway, go read John’s piece.