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Internet Source: The Boston Globe, Living D4, October 12, 2000
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The Boston Globe

October 12, 2000

Book-Award Bound?

BY MICHAEL SAUNDERS AND JIM SULLIVAN

Three local writers are among the finalists for this year's National Book Awards announced yesterday.

MIT humanities professor Alan Lightman is a finalist for his novel "The Diagnosis." Nathaniel Philbrick of Nantucket is a nonfiction finalist for "In the Heart of the Sea," his account of the sinking of the whaleship Essex. Carolyn Coman of Newburyport is a young people's literature finalist for "Many Stones." Other finalists: Fiction: Charles Baxter for "The Feast of Love," Joyce Carol Oates for "Blond," Francine Prose for "Blue Angel," Susan Sontag for "In America." Nonfiction: Jacques Barzun for "From Dawn to Decadence," Alice Kaplan for "The Collaborator," David Levering Lewis for his biography of W.E.B. DuBois, Patrick Tierney for "Darkness in El Dorado." Poetry: Kim Addonizio for "Tell Me," Lucille Clifton for "Blessing the Boats," Galway Kinnell for "New Selected Poems," Kenneth Koch for "New Addresses," Bruce Smith for "The Other Lover." Young People's: Adam Bagdasarian for "Forgotten Fire," Michael Cadnum for "The Book of the Lion," Jerry Stanley for "Hurry Freedom!," Gloria Whelan for "Homeless Bird." Awards will be presented Nov. 15 in New York.

Ball in the hall

This is Centennial Weekend at Symphony Hall, where a four-day extravaganza begins tonight with a performance by a special, heretofore unannounced guest: Jessye Norman.

Ms. Norman will sing at the Centennial Ball, cochaired by Gabriella Beranek and Diddy Cullinane, who secured an appearance by Charles Higginson, a descendant of Boston Symphony Orchestra founder Henry Lee Higginson.

Ranking almost as high in the fabulous department as Ms. Norman will be the collaborative meal concocted by four of Boston's most famous chefs: Edward Gannon from the Four Seasons, Daniel Bruce from the Boston Harbor Hotel, Jamie Mammano from Mistral, and Michael Schlow from Radius.

Phish off the hook

Today's big question: What will neo-hippies do now that Phish has split up for the time being? Band members plan to go their separate ways, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The band's manager, John Paluska, said everybody just hit an undefinable point of exhaustion at the same time and wanted to be with their families. The Vermont-based jam band performed its last interminable concert - at least for now - in Mountain View, Calif., on Saturday. "Everyone likes to see people step aside when they're at the top of their game instead of dragging it out until they're finished," Paluska said. "It's the old idea of leaving them wanting more." Makers of tie-dyed merchandise, still reeling after the breakup of the Grateful Dead, could not be reached for comment.

Playing Fields

Irving Fields is finishing up his gig at the Wentworth Hotel in Jackson, N.H., on Monday. Fields, who has played with, and for, the biggest stars in the business - Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, and Barbra Streisand - is heading back to his home base - New York's Plaza Hotel. Fields knows more songs than most people have heard, and this is the last weekend to catch a man who's as colorful as the autumn leaves. Besides, at the Wentworth, you can hear the same music and afford a drink or two.

Gere shift

Still-somewhat-hunky actor Richard Gere said if he could choose to be any woman for a day, it would be . . . Secretary of State Madeleine Albright!

Gere is best known for his seductive roles in movies such as "Pretty Woman" and "An Officer and a Gentleman." (We mention these old saws because we're sure that he, like us, is trying to forget last year's execrable "Autumn in New York.") Gere said he deeply admired Albright and that hers was the first image that came to mind when he was asked on ABC's "Good Morning America" which woman he would like to be. "I think she's in the middle of doing really important things right now, and maybe the difficulties she faces being a woman doing those things in essentially an old boys' club make me want to be her." Interviewer Diane Sawyer said that Albright, in the middle of trying to end a new round of Middle East violence, laughed heartily when told of Gere's wish, saying, "And I'd like to be him."

'GBH officials win kudos from PBS

WGBH took home a couple of nice prizes at the recent annual Public Broadcasting System conclave. Winning for top corporate development was Kathy Taylor, who got the nod by surpassing the station's corporate fund-raising goals by 20 percent. Picking up the award for development professional of the year was station vice president Jon Abbott.

Sounds like a swell trip

Here's the deal: You plunk down about $35,000. You commit the better part of 10 1/2 months to life at sea. Temperature range: From well below zero to over 100. You brave winds of 62 knots, waves of 25 feet. You shower once every eight days. You sleep in very tight quarters for 4 1/2 hours at a stretch. You make friends with 17 strangers. You eat a lot of freeze-dried pasta and rice. You surrender privacy. And you go around the world.

These things were explained to us Tuesday, as skipper Steve Wilkins, 37, from Sydney, and some of his crew took us for a two-hour cruise around Boston Harbor on his vessel, the Spirit of Hong Kong. Wilkins said the group trains for about a half year to become "competent and safe sailors" and the new yachts are "very much a sailor's boat."

The first of six legs took the 12 ships, each identical at 72 feet and 42 tons, from Southampton, England, to Boston. (It ends in June next year.) The yachts depart Sunday at noon for Buenos Aires. After they went through training, the (mostly inexperienced) crew was divvied up last year by the sponsor of the event, the England-based BT, a communications-technology company. The hook for BT, said BT North America president Jim Graf, is the company stresses the importance of teamwork and partnership, and so does the race, called the BT Challenge.

One of the skippers quit after Boston; one crew member had to be helicoptered from sea after breaking his leg. "Sailing in a yacht like this is really a pressure cooker," said Wilkins. "Your reaction time is really sped up." Said crew member Dr. Ingrid Kane, 29, from the south of England: "We all watch out for each other. There is real team spirit and camaraderie. I've made life-long friends. It's a life-changing experience for a lot of people." Each of the boats has a doctor or nurse on the crew. So far, Kane says she has attended bruises and scrapes - nothing serious. Age range: from early 20s to 60s.

Wilkins says his job includes "mother-father-priest-cook-cleaner-bottle washer," and he promotes an "open boat" philosophy - "If it's on your mind, say it." Wilkins,