He's a phenomenon in his own right ... how many people do you know who in their 70s (or at any age for that matter) smuggle pianos to a music school in Cuba on a sail-driven schooner? Not for money, just because he loves music and they needed the pianos... That's the tip of the iceberg...He recently got back from spending time in China, where, of course, he had a few run-ins with the authorities around human-rights issues. He has been known, in his 70s, to jump on his bicycle and ride a thousand miles or so to pay a friend a visit. He's almost 80 now. Until very recently he had hair down to his waist--the Silver Fox. Ask him to tell you his Peggy Lee story.
1. What motivates you to get up in the morning?
The book I fell asleep reading the night before. Late breakfasts with morning dailies. BookZen.com and blogs.
2. What keeps you awake at night? What obsesses you?
Books and old movies. Trying to get organized and never accomplishing it - which bothers me not at all. Obsessions? None.
3. What do you struggle with most?
Avoiding struggle and spending more time with family.
4. What is the most valuable lesson you've learned?
5. What is your personal philosophy or motto?
“In the defense of freedom and literacy, libraries are the most powerful weapons we have. Use them.”
(From The Adventures of the Incredible Librarian)
Joe Grant was born in 1930 to Norwegian and Scot immigrant parents. Here's how he described himself to John Bennett: I was 71 when we took the pianos to Cuba on a 110’ Cargo schooner. I heard about it in Tampa and found out who the Capt. was. Contacted him because I wanted to get it on videotape. He said NO. Only room for crew members. No passengers. Suddenly his crew quit. He contacted me and asked if I had sailing experience. I offered him my crew: a translator in her 60s who had never been on a sailboat, my cameraman who had been on an 8’ sailboat twice, and yours truly who'd been on a sailboat one time. Here’s what I told the captain: “I have experience sailing and my camera man has twice as much as I do. We’ll crew.” I told him I was 60.
I was born 09-01-30. Kicked around in radio, tv news – some entertainment. Published a pro-union weekly newspaper in Iowa for a few years. Anti-war activity. Many demos. Did some time. In 1970 founded Prisoners Digest International in Iowa City. Monthly anti-war publication providing support to prisoners and the families of prisoners. It differed from most underground newspapers since I had applied for and was given a Second Class Permit (for mailing) which is the same as the NYTimes has. This allowed us to mail issues for 1/8th cent per copy. Testified before Congressional Committees twice on the issue of Parole and the use of solitary confinement as a behavior modification tool. We exposed the use of torture by an experimental program in the Federal Prison System.
Used our home in Iowa City as offices and a halfway house. We were the first in the country to have juveniles, men and women, a home environment. The State of Iowa even placed two young teens – a boy and a girl – in my custody. Odd part of this situation was that I was also on probation.