You know about my passion for connecting to American history, and for remembering how we’re all product of it, and how much I love dispelling the patronizing myth that the people who came before us were somehow simpler than we are. When it comes to a geek like me, there’s no bigger geek-out than meeting the man who personifies my beliefs about retelling the stories of American history.
It’s Ken Burns! The actual Ken Burns! You know: The Civil War, The War, Jazz, Baseball … I brought him to WalletPop today for an interview for his four-hour follow-up to Baseball, called The Tenth Inning, which airs in late September. I interviewed him last year, too, when he was promoting The National Parks. He won an Emmy for that last Saturday. I taped this interview the day after Letterman taped his.
Was it fascinating? Was it rangy? Was it heaven? Yes. A grand slam. We talked for a half hour — sadly, to be whittled down in editing — about baseball, doping, corruption, Barry Bonds’ asterisk (he doesn’t think he should have one) the Caribbean player as an analogue to Jewish and Irish immigrant labor, American culture and history, the common threads that tie all generations of Americans together, and Meryl Streep (who will voice Eleanor Roosevelt in one of his upcoming films).
I wonder if I could get Ken and David McCullough and Sarah Vowell in the same room at the time time. My head might explode.
I always say that “History is just something that didn’t happen to you.” Today, I feel like something happened to me.