Sunday, February 21, 2010

News from Ben Pesner

Here is a note I received from Ben Pesner:

Tim -
I have been traveling around the country this winter to present findings from my new book, "Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play" by Todd London with Ben Pesner and Zannie Giraud Voss. This study is a comprehensive analysis of new play production practices in the not-for-profit theatre, and the economics and culture of playwriting in America. We have visited Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia so far, with Seattle and Washington, DC still to come. A major conference in New York and a presentation in New Haven hosted by the Yale School of Drama are in the planning stages. The book, published by Theatre Development Fund, has generated an enormous amount of conversation (and some controversy) in the field, which was exactly the goal. It is available at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Class Lunches

We have Class Lunches every month in New York and Chicago. These are great ways to get together informally with classmates to catch up. They have been a huge success.

New York

Lunches are held the second Thursday of every month at the Yale Club of New York. For more information, please contact Paul Sarkozi at


Joe Gromacki organizes the Chicago lunches, which will be held on the following dates this year:

February 25
March 25
April 29
May 27
June 24
July 29
August 26
September 30
October 28
(no lunches scheduled yet for November or December)

For more information, contact Joe at

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Council of Dads

Classmate Bruce Feiler has a new book coming out. Bruce's new book is about his battle with cancer and his decision to ask men in his life to step in to be fathers to his children in the event he lost his battle. When classmates publish books, I usually include a little blurb about them, and that's about it. This time, I would like to say a little more.

As Class Secretary, I learn a lot about classmates. Most of it I print. Some of it I don't. I know that Bruce is not our only classmate to have been touched by cancer in the last few years. The battles I know about have been waged with ferocity, grace and dignity. They are, for me, an inspiration.

Given our stage of life, it does not surprise me that our class has had to wrestle with the mortality of our parents, our children and ourselves. Given who is in our class, I guess it should not surprise me that someone has written a book about it. I look forward to reading Bruce's book.

The Council of Dads

My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me

The Council of Dads book coverA moving, illuminating new work from New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler that touches on life and death, love and fatherhood, and offers inspiration for us all.

Bruce Feiler was a young father when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. He instantly worried what his death might mean for his daughters. “Would they wonder who I was? Would they wonder what I thought? Would they lack for my approval, my discipline, my voice?”

Three days later he came up with a stirring idea of how he might give them that voice. He would reach out to six men, from all the passages in his life, and asked them to be present through the passages in his daughters’ lives. And he would call this group of men, “The Council of Dads.”

“I believe my daughters will have plenty of opportunities in their lives,” he wrote to these men. “They’ll have loving families. They’ll have welcoming homes. They’ll have each other. But they may not have me. They may not have their dad. Will you help be their dad?”

The Council of Dads is the inspiring story of what happened next. Mixing the harrowing tale of his treatment with the uplifting lessons of these men–“Approach the Cow,” “Pack Your Flip-Flops,” “Live the Questions,” “Harvest Miracles”–Feiler’s account is touching, funny, and ultimately a deeply moving account of parenthood, loss, and love.

Along the way he paints vivid portraits of his father, his two grandfathers, and various father figures in his life to explore the changing role of fatherhood in America. He mixes these with an intimate, highly personal chronicle of his “Lost Year” battling cancer and reconstructing his leg– an ordeal, like Jacob wrestling with an angel in the Book of Genesis, leaves him marked and transformed by the most profound questions of the human spirit.

The Council of Dads is the work of a master storyteller confronting the most difficult experience of his life and emerging with a book of wisdom, comfort, and hope that will change the way parents relate to their children, their friends, and their own lives.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dan Kohan Launches A New Publishing House

I was happy to received the following from classmate Dan Kohan:

I want to let you know about a new venture I’m working on, and call on my classmates for help. I’ve run a graphic-design firm call Sensical Design & Communication here in DC for the last six years. The company has been focused on publication design for non-profits and financial-services firms, including designing a number of books and book covers and helping my clients navigate the publishing and self-publishing process. At the end of last year, I decided, with support from my wife, to leverage that expertise and start my own publishing company, Ruka Press. Our plan with this new company will be to put out nonfiction books that explain or illuminate complex subjects for a general audience.

This is where I need help from my classmates: we’re looking for authors, and what’s a better source for that than Yale? We are looking for books that explain things, that make an argument, that demystify. We are interested in economics, science, the arts, climate change and sustainability, but we’re open to other areas, too. We like building charts and graphs, tables and timelines. Our politics are progressive, but our books need not be political.

We’re not a vanity press, we don’t charge authors to publish their books. I’m looking to partner with authors to put out excellent books, so that we can both be successful. Check out the website,, to find out more about us and see how to submit a proposal.

Of course, I’d also love to hear from classmates who are interested in Sensical Design, or who just want to catch up.

Dan Kohan
Sensical Design & Communication
Tel 202-546-8049
Cell 202-550-5598
Follow me:
Introducing Ruka Press:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

News from Stuart Benjamin

Here is a note I received from the Class of 87's most recent transplant to Washington, DC:


You’re always asking for news. Mine isn’t very exciting but here’s the short version: I recently took a leave of absence from Duke Law School to be the inaugural Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the FCC. My wife Arti Rai (also on leave from Duke) is at the Patent & Trademark Office, and we are here with our daughters Sophia (6) and Anna (1.5).

I had two “welcome to DC” moments on my first day at the FCC: a member of Congress called a speech I gave an “abomination” and questioned my hiring (you can google “stuart benjamin abomination” for lots of detail), and the Parents Television Council protested my appointment based on something I never said. This attracted some attention in DC telecom circles (population: a few dozen) and may have led to my first C-SPAN interview, on their show “The Communicators.” You can find it on the C-SPAN website at and on YouTube at

Perhaps more importantly: a few years ago I decided that if my beloved New Orleans Saints ever hosted an NFC championship game, I would go (I had been to a few losing regular playoff games in the Superdome, but they never hosted a championship game). I figured that would be even more fun than the Superbowl, since I would surrounded by 70,000 fellow Saints fans. Well, I went to the Vikings game (as did my sister, who lives in New York, and my brother, who lives in New Orleans) and it was incredible. I've been to twenty Mardi Gras, umpteen Sugar Bowls and Jazz Fests, and a few Superbowls (New Orleans often hosts the Superbowl), and I've never seen anything like the crowd outside the dome. The whole game, the entire crowd screamed on every Vikings offensive play. And when Hartley kicked the game-winner, we saw the people in the end zone going wild when the ball was still 20 yards away from the goal posts, so the crowd was going wild before the refs signaled anything. I have never seen such jubilation in my life, period. It's really hard to communicate to anyone not from N.O. what the Saints victories (and now NFL championship) have meant to the city.

I’d love to hear from classmates in the DC area – I’m at

Stuart M. Benjamin

Distinguished Scholar in Residence
Federal Communications Commission

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Classmates representing unpopular clients

I don't know if you remember our fifth reunion. If you were there, you might recall that Dante Centouri and I did an updated version of the Class History we did at graduation. In one of our running jokes, we made fun of the fact that so many of our classmates went to law school. I think it is fair to say that we have our share of lawyers in the class.

This many years out, some of the lawyers in our class have left the practice of law. Others of us, however, remain in the profession. I saw a recent piece that highlighted one of our classmates, Tamar Birckhead, and the work she had done representing a very unpopular client. Tamar is now a professor. Before she entered academia, she represented Richard Reid, the infamous "shoe bomber." Not so long ago, there was an interesting ABC News piece in which Tamar discussed this representation.

As an attorney who is almost always on the defense side of things, I found Tamar's comments particularly interesting. I have represented my share of unpopular and publicly vilified clients (I represented Arthur Andersen in the Enron case, for instance), and when defending such clients I get to see a side things that is usually missing from depictions in the main stream press.

This article made me wonder if there are other classmates who have participated in cases as lawyers for unpopular causes. If so, I would love to hear about your experiences.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feb Club Emeritus

Last night, the Class of 1987 was again at the forefront of innovation -- this time, launching Feb Club Emeritus 2010 at New York's Yale Club. It was quite an event, with about 1,000 people in attendance.

Feb Club -- run by Jordan Warshaw and yours truly -- will be reaching over 80 cities this year. We've got at least one party on every continent (including Antarctica). It should be great fun. We hope that everyone in the class can make it out to an event. Checkout, for more information.

News from Bill Grimes

I received the following from Bill Grimes:

"My recent book, Currency and Contest in East Asia, has just won the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize for outstanding books on the Pacific Basin. Last fall, it received Honorable Mention in the competition for the Asia Society's Bernard Schwartz Book Award for outstanding books on contemporary Asia."

For those who don't know, Bill is a professor at the Boston University, where he serves as the Director for the center for the Study of Asia.

Announcement from Dan Via

I received the following from Dan Via:

I thought I'd make my class notes debut to invite NYC-area classmates to come see my new play, "DADDY," which runs January 28th through February 13th at the TBG Arts Center Mainstage (312 W36th Street). It's my debut as a playwright and I'm mighty proud of my baby. (I'm in the show, too.)

The play centers around a pair of 40-something best friends -- virtually inseparable since Yale -- who nevertheless have trouble being honest about what they really want/need from each other. This problem is compounded when one of them falls for a much younger man, leading to a confrontation with life-changing consequences. More info (including some great pre-opening press coverage) can be found at

So come check it out if you can.

-- Dan Via

News from Lorraine Wang

Lorraine Wang shared the following: I've been busy helping my husband launch his website,, which provides independent journalistic coverage of the current solar power and electric car revolution from the standpoint of the educated consumer. We have a number of experienced editors and writers working with us, and hope to be on the front lines when solar leads us out of this economic morass. Son Ben (15) and daughter Bethany (13) simply tolerate their parents' obsession with alternative energy--although Ben would like a Tesla.