Friday, October 07, 2016
Current PD and former BJ pop culture critic Mark Dawidziak will be in Elmira, New York on Saturday, October 8 for a symposium based on "Mark Twain and Youth: Studies in His Life and Writings" at the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College.
A dazzling, dizzingly doozy dozen of America’s greatest Mark Twain scholars will be featured, which explains why Dawidziak is there with the most appropriate first name among the scholars, although I suspect Dawidziak’s parents were thinking more of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John than Twain when they named him.
After all, Mark’s brothers include New Yorker and Mark’s twin Michael (as in the Archangel who chased the Devil to Hell) and Californian Joseph (as in the guy who accompanied the Virgin Mary to the stable for Christ’s birth). Another brother, Scott, is deceased.
As famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns once wrote: “Nobody gets Mark Twain the way Mark Dawidziak does.” I agree.
In a weird twist that out-does the Dorian Gray portrait in the attic in a good way, Dawidziak looks more and more like Mark Twain as he ages and performs the fantastic humorist on stage in the Akron area and around the country, including in Twain’s final resting place of Elmira (I’ve visited Twain’s grave, alongside his family members, in Elmira, just as I’ve visited grave sites and former work places of nearly 100 authors around the world in my travels to 55 countries and 44 states).
Kevin MacDonnell and R. Kent Rasmussen, editors of the 2016 book, "Mark Twain and Youth," will co-chair the event. Jon Clinch, author of “Finn” and “Kings of the Earth,” is the keynote speaker.
Dawidziak’s Twain twack includes “Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness,” "Mark Twain in Ohio," "Mark My Words" and "Mark Twain on Writing."
PD/BJ Mark was at the Elmira Twain Studies in January to celebrate the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program where he became Twain again with yet another performance.
He also plays Twain at the drop of an unlit cigar in Northeast Ohio and around the country. He gives Hal Holbrook a run for his money when it comes to Twain impersonation.
Dawidziak came to the BJ from Tennessee in 1983 and grew up on New York City’s Long Island. He is married to Sara Showman Dawidziak, who often performs with Mark when they’re not at their Cuyahoga Falls home.
I’ll let Samuel Langhorne Clemens have the last word, as usual:
“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”
Mark Dawidziak is among the thinner crowd. I am proud to have him call me his friend. And thrilled to have worked alongside him at Ol’ Blue Walls.