Retiring indian rocks beach mayor r.b. johnson is reading about the italian renaissance gas tax in ct


This month marks the retirement of Johnson as mayor of Indian Rocks Beach, a post he has held for 10 years. Recognized for advocating for improved parks, forging better community relationships and, perhaps the project dearest to his heart, supporting sand dune and beach restoration, Johnson, 56, will continue to live on Indian Rocks Beach with his wife, Sarah. He aims to delve into some writing projects as well as even more reading than he usually does. "I’ve always been a reader. As a kid, I loved ordering from that Scholastic program. As a matter of fact, I’ve kept those books, and I’m looking at a box of them right now. I see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming.’’

I am currently juggling half a dozen books. Two of these are classic texts from my college years that I’m rereading, The Italian Renaissance in Its Historical Background by Denys Hay and The Renaissance Philosophy of Man, edited by Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller and J.H. Randall. These are part of my tour of Renaissance history, philosophy and literature. Accompanying them is Petrarch’s Selected Sonnets, Odes and Letters. Hay’s book is a penetrating series of lectures he revised for publication, and it remains a useful companion to Jacob Burckhardt’s landmark Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, from 1860. (Others include) The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millennarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages by Norman Cohn, a fascinating work that made a stir back in the 1950s not only for its ground-breaking historical analysis but also for its parallels drawn with contemporary revolutionary movements. A bit of what’s old is new again. And Richard Wolin’s The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger investigates the philosophical roots of Heidegger’s support for the Nazi regime. It’s quite an indictment of a thinker who divorced himself from reality and decency.

I always have a work of fiction or a play running while I’m reading nonfiction, and right now that’s The Sleepwalkers, a trilogy by Hermann Broch. It is often compared to the modernist novels of Proust, Joyce, Mann and Musil. He varies his style in each section of his trilogy, but the book generally remains more accessible than some of the flamboyantly experimental works of his peers.

It’s actually part of a more extensive reading program that I embarked on a few years ago. I decided to go back to the basics and move my way forward, filling in my knowledge. I was a history and political science major in college, and I briefly went to graduate school and focused on something called the history of ideas. After college, I continued being interested in this and also kept accumulating books. I have a rather extensive library in my two-story home. So, I read all across the spectrum. I’m also a sometime poet. I had been very involved out here with a group of poets.

Probably Yeats, and there are more contemporary poets I like too, but I tend to go back to the best of the best. I’ve read a lot of poetry in my life, and with that there has been a lot of slogging through poets, and in my older years, I tend to be more selective. With many poets there are just a few poems to go back to time and time again. But Yeats, there are 30 or 40 that are worth rereading. One that sticks with me is The Second Coming.