Before I get started, thanks to my loyal readers who wrote in publicly or privately to wish me and my wife Margaret best wishes on the birth of our second daughter, Melody Patricia Riccardi. After four days in the hospital, we came last night for the first time to juggle the phenomenon known as two children. So far, so good. Margaret's coming along well after her second C-section surgery and our two-year-old daughter Ella stole the show when she saw Melody for the first time, smiled and said, "She's kooky!"
But I had another important announcement to make that day that I decided to shelve because I didn't want to take the spotlight away from my beautiful, growing family. As most of you probably know, my book, "What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years," after a few delays, had finally been given a definite publication date of June 21. Well, what was my wife's official due date for this baby? You guessed it, June 21. I knew that neither of these things happen on time so I always joked to friends, could you imagine the book and the baby arriving on the same day?
Well, that's pretty much exactly what happened! On Memorial Day weekend, I received an e-mail from my publicist saying the finished books were in and I could pick mine up on Tuesday. I went to bed Monday night excited about the chance to finally hold it in my hands...until 1:29 Tuesday morning when Margaret woke me up to say, "It's time!" Flash forward 24 hours and we had a new beautiful baby daughter, we spread the news to friends and family from around the world and we greeted happy visitors at the hospital. But at the same time, I knew my book was sitting there at Random House's office on Broadway in New York.
The next morning, my wife was feeling okay and, surrounded by nurses and doctors, told me that this would be a good time to make the 75-minute haul into Manhattan to see the books. So that's what I did and at around 11:30 in the morning on Wednesday, I welcomed my second "child," one that had been in the womb for about 15 years. Here's a photo my publicist took of me with a stack of books (Publisher's Weekly named it their "Picture of the Day"!):
I don't think I can accurately put it into words what it felt like, holding that book for the first time, but it did make me feel very proud. And the higher-ups at Pantheon were very pleased with the buzz it's been generating. Last weekend alone, the Los Angeles Times included it in their summer biography preview, the Chicago Tribune named it one of the ten best biographies of the summer and the Christian Science Monitor named it one of the "Top 20 Smartest Nonfiction Books of the Summer," a list that included works about Al Qaeda and science...and me, with my Swiss Kriss stories! So far, so good...
From there, it was back to the hospital, where Margaret and Melody were waiting for me. Here they are, proud as can be:
It didn't take long before I got confused when Margaret asked me to dress and feed the baby:
But by the evening, I got my head on straight and was able to read Melody her first bed-time story:
(She seemed to enjoy the stories about Joe Glaser.)
So that's where I've been and where I'll be for a little longer. The actual book will be available on June 21 and if there's anyone out there even considering buying it, I'm touched. More on the book in the future, right now nap time is over and Papa Dip is back on duty. I wonder if Whitney Balliett ever had to change a diaper before one of his books came out...