A Day With William Shatner

The 2013 summer movie season is framed by two films:

The Great Gatsby, that staple of high school English classes hearkening back to the gilded moment of reckless abandon just after World War I and just before the Great Depression, and Star Trek Into Darkness, the second installment in the reboot of the Star Trek tale that takes place far in the future.

Two very different stories, both are about what it means to be human and how we can become the person we want to be.

William Shatner, who graces our cover, bridges these two worlds. As the original James T. Kirk, the roguish captain of the Starship Enterprise, he set the model for how to retain one’s humanity in an age of technology. As time has passed, he has been his own Jay Gatsby, recreating himself multiple times.

Shatner didn’t simply take roles but has transformed his persona. Though Captain Kirk was the iconic role that made him famous, his work in T. J. Hooker and Boston Legal won critical acclaim as well as two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Though he has worked in TV, movies, Broadway, written books and recorded several albums, to the younger generation he is probably best known as the “Priceline Negotiator.”

Not as well recognized is Shatner’s personal recreation and the food’s role in that transformation. A Jewish kid from Quebec raised on the Montreal deli culture, he went forth into the world, much as the Enterprise went forth to explore, and if he did not go precisely where “no man has gone before,” he has lived and is living a life no man has lived before: A Hollywood and Broadway star, pop icon, poet, songwriter, pitch man, entrepreneur and Kentucky horse farmer. He has a rich family life and has known the joy and tragedy love can bring.

A big part of his success has been his willingness to try things and thus to expose himself to failure. In an interview with Esquire magazine, he explained: “I’ve formulated a theory: You have to continuously fail. You fail at something, then you get over it, then you fail some more. And after you fail, there’s always something new there. And that something new can be really interesting. Maybe I’m not quite sure what I’m after.”

One of the great things I received from having gotten to spend a day with Bill at our photo shoot is the degree to which he thirsts to experience and understand.

In this sense, William Shatner represents everything this magazine is about. The quest to understand and appreciate specialty cheese is really a proxy for the quest to live fully and well. So let us each seek out untried cheeses and enriching experiences, and may we all live long and prosper.