I'm very passionate about many talented artists; my tastes have tended for a while towards Dar Williams, Alanis Morissette, Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls (Emily Salier's sister Carrie used to be a colleague of mine here at the Huntington), Barenaked Ladies, David Wilcox, zillions of others. More recently, I've become enamored of Richard Shindell, James McMurtry, and people with a more wine-dark and differently-textured lyric. On the jazz side, I'm also very fond of John Coltrane and the tenor sax generally, and others of his stature: Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, and more recently, the sassy, beefy style of players like the underrated Peter Christlieb.
Personal details: I have a beautiful, loving, talented, hyper-intelligent and very funny wife (Pamela) and an amazing little toddler (Paxton, the absolute center of our universe; he's perhaps the only person on the planet who makes me laugh more than my wife), and a very satisfying professional life as a rare books and manuscripts curator at the Huntington Library, where I hold an endowed curatorial position (Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science & Technology).
I also work as a college professor, lecturer and consultant. As a result, I'm stultifyingly busy much of the time, to my simultaneous dismay and delight. I've just published a book (on Mexican railroads; Univ. of Arizona Press, 2007 -- go ahead; buy a copy; it'll change your life) and am trying to wrap up another book I've been at work on for five or six years, about how the study of birds became a profession in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century.
My latest obsession is the history of evolution and the life and influence of Charles Darwin; I taught a class on the subject at Claremont Graduate University in the Fall of 2007, and it continues to be a major research interest of mine. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, dinn't ya know? And there you have it. Thanks for reading this far!!