Monday, September 22, 2008

Celebrity Crush: Paul Holdengraber

Though not technically a celebrity in the US Weekly sense, nor necessarily the traditional object of a schoolgirl's whimsy, director of the New York Public Library's public programs Paul Holdengraber has struck me with cupid's, or perhaps Lord Byron's, arrow. Let me first make the distinction that this is not some fetishized and vaguely pathetic/ pretentious overture to some culturally encoded quirky literary snobdom, as if I were to say that Ira Glass would be my number one baby daddy. I adore Ira Glass, duh who doesn't, but I love him not because he is a crushworthy hotmaster.
I love Paul H. because he is first a hotmaster, and secondly a god of a man. When my personal preferences catch up with my intellectual inclinations, that will be a happy day, but until then I will follow my base instincts.

Anyway, I was first turned onto Pauly Paul by my friend Pete who harbors a significant man crush on this fellow. We went to a live "conversation" (Paul hates lectures, too pedantic, he instead facilitates lively discussions, swoooooon!) with Orhan Pamuk, who would have bored even the white haired Upper East Side ladies who are the main constituents at such events had Paul not stepped in with his verbal streetfighter roundhouse kicks to the teeth. He used the word "pusillanimous" in a way that just slid off the tongue like saying "Tuesday" or "Wendy's Drive Thru." I was in love.

Holdengraber came on as the Library's director of public programs in 2004 in order to breathe some much needed vim and vigor into what I suppose was a more staid lecture series. P. Pretty came into "Make the lions roar," as he puts it... and roar they do! I just saw him host a conversation with philosopher dandy/ hater of freedom Bernard Henri Levy and Slavoj Zizek, who talks like the Count from Sesame Street. When asked about the duration of the evening's program hotmaster Holdengraber said it would be "the length of a psychoanalytic session if the analyst isn't looking at his watch." I spent the next 72 minutes scratching my head and looking for the free wine they usually serve at these things, and then fantasizing about Paul sweeping me off my feet with a continental flair unknown to mediocre American males and driving me across his native Belgium in some small European convertible where we would stop at every fishpond and flowerbed and just be gay for each other. We would whisper sweet sweet pusillanimous nothings and eat gelato. He even has umlauts over the 'a' in his last name, but I can't figure out how to type them on the computer. UMLAUTS! Maybe in another lifetime...

Educate yourselves, philistines! And fall deeply, deeply in love:

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