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Winter 2019
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Date Night & Hoops Converge


Normally, I concentrate my newsletters on the subject of being an author. However, as I was set to pen my most recent happening, a once-in-a-lifetime encounter occurred that I could not pass up. Enjoy.
 
***
This past December, we went to visit my wife’s family in Portland, Oregon. Taking advantage of free and trusted childcare, I coordinated with my mother-in-law for a night out downtown. Hotel, dinner reservations, and uninterrupted sleep, it was an evening to ourselves. 
 
After settling at our hotel, we headed to dinner. Craving Mediterranean cuisine, I made a reservation at a quaint, family-owned Lebanese restaurant, Al-Amir
 

A five-minute walk from our hotel, most passersby would likely skip Al-Amir. It’s not trendy. It isn’t historic. There are no famous chefs working there. It’s small and not exceptional by any means. Yet, that intimacy along with a gracious staff wanting to please its guests creates an inviting atmosphere. 
 
The waitress came by to see if we wanted a drink. She recommended a glass of French red wine.
 
When I took that first sip, my eyes darted to the door. One by one, a group of men walked inside from the chilled December night. The first to enter was a fifty-something, clean-cut, sandy blonde, who easily could be mistaken for a senior salesman at a high tech firm, sailing through another workweek. 
 
He looked familiar, but I couldn't identify him. 
 
Carefully ducking their heads so not to hit the top of the doorframe, half-dozen men entered the restaurant. My neck inched upward, at a ninety-degree angle. The first must have been 6 foot 4 or 5 inches tall. The man beside him was 6’7.”  Then 6’9,” 6’10,” and, finally, the two in the back, each hovering at 7 feet. Decked in athletic gear, they casually walked by our table as if it was just another party about to be seated. 
 
They were anything but that.
 
The sandy-hair gentleman was Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr and those men that followed were his players, the defending NBA champions. They were in town for the following night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. 
 
“Do you know who they are?” I whispered to my wife, nodding my head repeatedly in their direction. 
 

She shook her head no. Then I told her and her eyeballs soared like I had never seen. Not a basketball fan by any means, but given their enormous height and prestige, she nonetheless appreciated the situation. 
 
My wife looked at me. 
 
“So, are you going to ask them for an autograph?” she joked.

I told her no. I respected their privacy (plus I wasn't twelve years old anymore). 
 
As we learned from our waitress, it was not an accidental visit. 
 
Steve Kerr, NBA Coach of the Year and former teammate of Michael Jordan, was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to an American professor who specialized in Middle Eastern studies. Raised overseas, his family eventually moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s and Kerr was recruited to play basketball by the University of Arizona. His father, Malcolm Kerr, remained in Lebanon, serving as president of American University of Beirut. In 1984, during Kerr’s freshman year in college, a gunman, who had ties to a militant sect that opposed America’s presence in Lebanon, assassinated Professor Kerr. 
 
For the past two decades, since his Chicago Bull playing days, Kerr has been patronizing Al-Amir when his team was in town. 


My wife and I drank more wine, ordered our meal, got Kerr’s autograph (perhaps I’m still twelve years at heart), chatted with the staff, and, as we were about to leave, were given a free bottle of wine by the manager. It was a night neither of us would ever forget.

Cheers,
Adam
    

BOOK REVIEW 

The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address 
by Joseph Rodota

There have been countless books published about the participants, the conspiracy theories, and the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. From Woodward and Bernstein’s bestseller, All the President’s Men, to the obscure, A Piece of Tape (the aptly titled self-published memoir written by burglar James McCord), there has never been a book devoted to the scene of the crime until Joseph Rodota’s fascinating and long overdue The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address.
Rodota reminds readers that there’s actually a lot more to the building’s history than the June 17, 1972 break-in. A decade before its name would become synonymous with political corruption and cover-up, the complex only existed on paper as a set of renderings drafted by an Italian architect. Originally known as Potomac Plaza, the ten-acre, six-building-complex received so much negative press about its size, height, and style —it didn't help that the architect had close ties to the Vatican and Benito Mussolini—that it came close to not getting built. The push back from DC’s overzealous citizen-run commissions forced President John F. Kennedy to get pulled into the debate. 

As Rodota points out, the Watergate—comprised of three apartment towers, two office buildings and a hotel—was cutting edge when it was developed. Its live-work-relax concept may be a common attribute today in urban centers but it was unheard of sixty years ago. It was these nuances as well as its central location (only a mile away from the White House) that attracted DC’s political elite.

Indeed, it served as the epicenter for not one, but two presidential impeachments (the other was when White House intern Monica Lewinsky took up residence there with her mother during the height of the scandal). Infamous or not, Rodota demonstrated in his exhaustive research that there is no place like the Watergate. If you thought this topic had reached its saturation point, Rodota’s gracefully written and exhaustively researched account proves otherwise.

 
HAPPENINGS
 
Earlier in December, I had the pleasure to be a guest of a Gilroy-based book club, who had selected Baseball Under Siege as their November selection. It was the first time the club had the author of one of their selected books present for discussion. It was an enjoyable evening and I look forward to returning when Watergate’s Forgotten Hero is released. 

Speaking of which, I have completed the Forgotten Hero manuscript and am presently working on the book proposal that will be submitted to literary agents. Forgotten Hero is released. 
 
After reading this Huffington Post article,I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America,”you may want to think twice before you yell at your cable guy. It’s a reminder that no matter how slow your Internet connection is, the person sent to fix it is a human being (and uses the restroom like the rest of us).
 
Author Alec Neva Lee, a former middle school and high school classmate of mine, published his first nonfiction book, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Well received by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and highly praised by the author of A Beautiful Mind (basis for the 2001 movie starring Russell Crowe), Alec recently returned to his (and my) former stomping ground, Castro Valley, California. During his visit he ventured to nearby Hayward where he stumbled upon a new independently owned bookstore, Books on B. They sell and buy used books. If you live in the area, be sure to check it out. 
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Copyright © 2019 Adam Henig, All rights reserved.


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