Even “big thinkers” have to eat and they did at the Wadsworth Atheneum Thursday but not before a little meeting-and-greeting with sponsors and special supporters of the Connecticut Forum.
Forum program panelists author/historian Douglas Brinkley and author/journalist Malcolm Gladwell did some quick touring of Hartford before the “Big Thinkers” show at the Bushnell, stopping first at the Hartford Marriott Downtown to meet with the CT Forum’s Youth Forum organization and then to the atheneum for dinner that included duck breast with plum sauce and English sweet pea puree.
The two had to earn the chance to sit down though, after meeting with the dozens of special guests who turned out for the VIP reception and dinner.
“I don’t really consider myself a big thinker,” said Brinkley, referring to the night’s theme. “I’m a historian with a big curiosity about the past.”
When Brinkley walked into the Main Street museum he immediately noticed the Robert Rauschenberg silkscreen, a contemporary collage of imagery of the late President John F. Kennedy. Thursday was the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dallas.
“Now that is a big thinker,” he said as he stopped to admire the art and the subject of the piece.
Gladwell, a bestselling author with a new book “David & Goliath,” said people need three things to be big thinkers — curiosity, a sense of humor and the ability to correct themselves when they find out they are wrong.
The night also served as a kind of family reunion for CT Forum founder and executive director Richard Sugarman.
He and his wife, forum manager Doris Sugarman, hosted 11 Sugarman relatives for the evening.
He’s considered a “big idea” man, an author who makes those ideas understandable and accessible. That’s author Malcolm Gladwell, whose newest book “David & Goliath” debunks theories that underdogs can’t win and that commonly perceived disadvantages like large classroom sizes or medical disabilities are handicaps rather than opportunities. Gladwell, along with historian and author Douglas Brinkley will be the featured panelists Thursday at The Ct Forum’s “big thinkers” program at the Bushnell. Gladwell, a staff writer at The New Yorker who also wrote bestsellers “The Tipping Point” and “Blink,” is considered a master when it comes to weaving research and the social sciences into tales about life and people. The wild-haired Gladwell was more than happy to share some insight into his work and his coiffing secrets when he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: Are you really one of the world’s “biggest thinkers?”
A: I don’t think so but am delighted that someone else does. I feel like one of the things I do is find big thinkers and talk to them and that is different than being one. I track them down and tell their stories.
For the rest of his interview and ticket information go here.
It’s a new season for the Connecticut Forum and it opens Saturday at The Bushnell with a program called “Being Gay,The Personal & Political Struggles & Triumphs.”
Celebrities like tennis great Martina Navratilova, author Dan Savage and Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson will be the panelists. The discussion will be emceed by MSNBC contributor and Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart.
Navratilova came out in 1981, a decision she said had both its personal positives and professional drawbacks but she has no regrets. She ‘Spilled the Beans’ with Java recently and you can read what she had to say here.
A select group of students from Hartford will be the center of attention today at the Hartford Marriott Downtown today at the CT Forum’s 19th Annual Hartford Children’s Holiday Party.
Ten students from each of Hartford’s 29 public elementary schools will celebrate with food and entertainment as well as gifts that unless for the party, they would not receive.
Nearly 100 high school students from the CT Youth Forum volunteer as elves for the event.