James Joyce is blooming everywhere. New biographies have just appeared about his life as well as that of his publisher and supporter, Sylvia Beach. The novel, Ulysses, one day in the life of Leonard Bloom -- so novel then, written in 1922-- is considered one of the greatest literatures of all time. Readings from it are held on that day, June 16, in major cities -- from folding chairs outside on Delancy Street in Philadelphia to the Hammer Museum's fifth annual single performance with Irish actors and singers.
The L.A. organizer, Stanley Breitbard, CPA, is not what you would expect: not a professor or an actor or even Irish. He is a retired Price Waterhouse professional finance planner. An English major at UC Berkeley where he began his life long love of James Joyce, in 1963 Stanley continued his graduate MBA Studies. After only nineteen years of successful leadership at Price Waterhouse, he retired at 56 to teach personal financial management to MBA students to help them as well as their future clients. He started Financial Smarts for Teachers, a collaboration of California Jump$tart with the California Society of CPAs and the California Council on Economic Education to teach financial literacy through 100 organizations that deliver money management lessons to kids.
It was in his late 60s that he heeded the siren's call and was lured back to James Joyce, joining a reading group started by a UCLA librarian who asked him to facilitate their monthly meetings to understand the complicated poetic novel. They immersed themselves, reading aloud and singing, and in summers, traveling the world together to visit the places that Joyce and his wife Nora had lived -- Dublin, Trieste, Zurich and Paris.
Breitbard created Bloomsday for Los Angeles with the help of a bookstore owner in the Palisades; he found internationally known experts through connections with Robert Winter, music professor at UCLA and actor Bairbre Dowling. who introduced him to fine actors, such as James Lancaster and Johnny O'Callahan and UCLA musicians. He went to the Hammer Museum because they produce over 200 events of all kinds and offered his plan. In the first year, they recited Finnegans Wake to an audience of 100. From the second year on, they have tackled Ulysses to an overflowing audience of 400. Breitbard takes a year to write a script; the rehearsal, like the novel itself, takes one day. Although he plays casting director, writer and director, Breitbard considers himself n organizer. He is pleased to announce his presentation at the International James Joyce Conference in Austin, likening its status to that of a university. And, he is starting the script for next June.
His career fits the truest pattern of true Achievers following, however unconsciously at the time, in what I call the Learn-Do-Teach model of mastery, repeating an investigation of a beloved subject, a different one, digging more deeply, then bringing it to the world.
When I repeated his story to an English events planner, Clare McCarthy, she laughed: "Only in America can you walk into a museum with an idea and be received!" A remark in time for the 4th of July.
Make your luck happen.