Thursday, May 25, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt eleven)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

Warm, wickedly funny, and flirtatious, Harvey Milk was the opposite of Dan White in more ways than one. White was the sone of heroic fireman Charlie White, who worked himself into an early grave trying to feed ten hungry mouths. Grim and devout, White spent his entire life trying to live up to his father’s life of service. In Catholic school, Danny White became known for being good with his fists, mixing it up with the black kids whose families were pressing in on the old Irish neighborhoods. He was also good at sports, captaining his high school football and baseball teams, and heading for the New York Yankees farm system until an injury ruined his playing career.

White’s life never measured up. He served in Vietnam but saw no action, and army officials called his record undistinguished. A self-described “romantic,” he grew a beard and ran off to Alaska to write stories like Jack London, but he had no literary talent. He joined the SFPD, but, disappointed that it did not offer the heroic opportunities in his imagination, he quit and became a fireman. He finally matched his father’s heroism one day, rescuing a mother and baby from the seventeenth floor of a blazing fire at Geneva Towers—ironically, the crime-infested housing project in Visitacion Valley that symbolized to many in White’s neighborhood the end of their way of life. It was a daring act, rushing through the flames and out into the balcony where the woman was screaming, with her baby cradled in her arms, and then sweeping them both to safety. But the next morning, the Chronicle buried the story about the courageous fireman who was also running for supervisor on page six. His late father’s heroics had made the front page.

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