Michael Chabon had long been mystified by that Bob Dylan lyric about “midnight’s broken toe.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, the keynote speaker Wednesday at the annual induction ceremony of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was explaining his undiminished passion for rock music and confiding that he had become obsessed by the opening line to Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom.”
Dylan wasn’t there, but a performer of comparable acclaim not only attended, but took on extra duties: Meryl Streep. When Stephen Sondheim was unable to attend and present awards for musical theater, the Oscar-winning actress stepped in. Streep, elected as an honorary member in 2011, later handed a “distinguished service” prize to dancer Edward Villella, who was greeted not only with applause, but with shouts and whistles – as if he were a rock star.