Bookbuilders of Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together people involved in book publishing and manufacturing throughout New England. Our blog describes industry events that we sponsor or attend.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Retirement Bash for a Bookbuilders Leader

Last Thursday many of us attended a unique event: a retirement roast for John Walsh of Harvard University Press. Held in Charlestown, MA, the roast was a charitable event with proceeds benefiting the Education Fund.

Many were probably a little apprehensive about the format ..."insult comics" were popular when John started at Harvard 37 years ago, but humor has changed and we wanted to wish John well rather than embarrass him. There was no reason to worry--Don Rickles was nowhere in sight, and, at least for the first two hours when I was in attendance, we enjoyed entirely painless jokes at the expense of the industry or self-deprecating presenters.

Whenever a comedian is required, Bookbuilders looks to Dwiggins Honoree Chuck Wallace. Even though Chuck wasn't available for the roast, his monologue stole the show. Tom Plain gamely delivered Chuck's prepared remarks, making the references to Tom himself even more amusing.

The production values for the roast were impressive, especially since I'm pretty sure that no one from the Friars Club was hired as a consultant. "The Fabulous Finnerans," for example, were accompanied by the Dropkick Murphys' "Tessie" on their walk to the dais. The Finnerans' own contribution was musical as well, with personalized lyrics and heartfelt delivery (if not always in tune).

The evening was bittersweet, of course, since no one wants to see the old gang breaking up. In addition, there's a sense that we are entering a largely electronic era (after all, this is a blog and not a newsletter). In John's spirit we embrace the future and technology, but we look back with fondness on the days of press checks, bluelines, mechanicals, and color keys.

1 comment:

  1. For me, a highlight of Walshapalooza was a guest appearance by singer-songwriter-guitarist Chris Smither, a long-time friend of Harvard University Press.