Years off the campaign trail haven’t diminished the typical features of an Al Gore speech.
Al Gore speaks about his new book, “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change,” at the Booksellers at Laurelwood on Monday.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
When the former vice president’s book tour swung through The Booksellers at Laurelwood Monday, Feb. 18, there were the requisite shout-outs to familiar faces in the crowd, with Gore acknowledging by name people like Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Roy Herron, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party.
Gore’s remarks before signing copies of his new book, “The Future,” also went a little long, though he promised to keep it short.
Always professorial, his comments also varied from the mundane to the esoteric. He weaved a description of spider goats into comments about things like the etymology of the word “thrall” and how American “democracy has been hacked,” along with references to his Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
“This book was eight years in the making,” Gore said. “I started collecting string eight years ago. I moved all the furniture out of my living room and put up a big whiteboard.”
The reason is someone had once asked him what he believes are the major drivers of global change. Not content with a simple answer, he gave a reply, then went home, thought about it some more and kept thinking about it until he’d turned out several hundred pages on the topic.
Along the way, he kept adding material based on things happening in the world. He told The Daily News last month by phone that while he is encouraged about the direction of the country in general, he’s not pleased with Congress. He said at the time that Congress is pursuing policies that he doesn’t think help the average person, themes he reiterated in Memphis Monday.
“But I believe deeply in our ability as a free people to reclaim our destiny,” he said.
There wasn’t much mention at all of technological changes driving the future. Not that it was necessary. Plenty of iPhones, for example, were held aloft to take personal photos of Gore, who is a board member of Apple Inc.
Gore also is the son of a U.S. senator who began his political career as a congressman representing a Middle Tennessee district. He became a frequent sight in Memphis during his tenure in Congress as he led the passage of the National Organ Transplantation Act of 1984.
That and other health issues were Gore’s first national political exposure. Several Memphis audiences in those early years heard the speech and slide shows that were the basis for Gore’s later acclaimed talks on global warming chronicled in “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Gore remained a visible presence in the Memphis area during his time as vice president under President Bill Clinton, even making a memorable visit to the Memphis in May International Festival Barbecue Cooking Contest after years of having a booth at the contest as a U.S. senator.
Prominent Memphians who came out for his book signing included former Memphis City Council member Carol Chumney, philanthropist Pat Kerr Tigrett and her son, investment professional Kerr Tigrett.
He’s known to come off as a bit dry, but Gore managed to work in a bit of humor during his remarks before the signing. Referring to the investment company he co-founded with David Blood, Gore joked that he’d wanted to name the firm “Blood and Gore,” but his partners would have none of it.
He also got some laughs right from the top, when he donned a hat he’s not often seen in – that of a salesman.
“I do recommend this book to you,” he said, right after greeting the crowd.