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Breakfast with Barry: Prepare for Lunacy

THIS year's keynote speaker doesn't have a theme. He likely doesn't even have a speech. He may or may not mention trailers or trucks, or even business. He could just barrage the audience with stream-of-consciousness rambling.

But he'll be funny. Dave Barry is a funny guy. When he's finished speaking at the President's Breakfast and Annual Meeting, from 7:30 to 9 am on Thursday, March 1, his audience will be profoundly aware of the absurdities in life.

Barry did reveal this to Trailer/Body Builders: His appearance will include "a detailed technical presentation, illustrated by 716 color slides, on how to rebuild a truck transmission." He also might regale NTEA members with a brief accordion solo ... "if there's time."

Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald and is syndicated in over 500 newspapers in the US and abroad. He won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and, according to his bio released by the Winner's Circle Speaker Bureau, "many people are still trying to figure out how this happened."

He's a Renaissance man with a resume of lunacy.

Lost in the Gore-Bush ballot-counting malaise was this: Barry ran for president. There was no controversy over his vote totals in Florida. No hanging chads to lament. He got whipped. His only regret is that he won't be able to enact the death penalty for whoever is responsible for making Americans install low-flow toilets.

He plays lead guitar in a literary rock band called the Rock Bottom Remainders, joining Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, and Mitch Albom. As his bio notes, "they are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud." Rock matters to Barry: He owns a guitar once played by Bruce Springsteen.

He has been on TV many times (once on "The David Letterman Show," where he proved it is possible to use a Barbie doll to set fire to men's underwear) and inspired a TV series (two of his 21 books were used as the basis for the CBS sitcom, "Dave's World," which enjoyed a relatively short life).

His list of books includes "Dave Barry Turns 50," "Babies and Other Hazards of Sex," "Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States," "Dave Barry is from Mars AND Venus," and "Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs."

His two new books are a novel, "Big Trouble," which is being made into a movie featuring Rene Russo, Tim Allen, Jeanne Garafolo, and Stanley Tucci; and a collection of columns called, "Dave Barry is Not Taking This Sitting Down." He is currently working on a book on politics, using the Gore-Bush debacle as a springboard.

Barry was born in Amank, New York, in 1947. That's about the only fact that can be verified with any degree of certainty. His irreverent bio notes that he was elected Class Clown by the Pleasantville High School Class of 1965 and went on to Haverford College, where he majored in English and "wrote lengthy scholarly papers filled with sentences he did not understand."

In 1975, he joined Burger Associates, a consulting firm that teaches effective writing to those in the business world. He joined the Miami Herald in 1983 and 13 years later married Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman.

Only he could possibly know what comes next.

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