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    21 Questions

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    Lee Burchfield, 54, is the interim director of the Louisville Free Public Library, which has its annual How-To Festival May 11. He lives in Crescent Hill.


    Describe the space you’re in right now.

    “My office at the Main Library. The Brown Theatre and Heyburn Building are right outside my window.”


    Earliest childhood memory?

    “My older brother and cousin had been climbing on a dilapidated swing set in our backyard. Several angry wasps came out of their nest and stung me on the side of the face, in my ear and inside my nose. I still don’t like wasps.”


    What song has been stuck in your head lately?

    “‘I Could Have Danced All Night,’ from My Fair Lady. It’s a high school band thing. It only leaves temporarily, when displaced by some lesser earworm.”


    All-time-favorite album?

    “Queen, A Night at the Opera. It has ‘Love Of My Life,’ which I’ve always thought was way underappreciated.”


    When/where are you most creative?
    “When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, it seems like I do my best writing in my head. But the next morning I can never remember exactly what I wrote.”


    How’d you make your first dollar?

    “At age 15 at Kinney Shoes in the mall.”


    When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    “A professional musician.”


    The most unusual benefit of your job?

    “There are 18 public libraries all over the county, so I get to spend time in so many of Louisville’s neighborhoods.”


    Besides your current job, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

    "I was a bellhop at what used to be a Days Inn at First and Jefferson streets. For what seems like several weeks, two dozen or so Hells Angels Alaska members were staying at the hotel, and one of them gave me money to go buy flowers and present them to his girlfriend while they were having drinks in the bar. He tipped me $20. And I once drove four professional wrestlers to the airport."


    Favorite thing hanging on the walls at home?

    “I was on the board of directors for the Louisville Youth Orchestra for about 10 years. In 2010, LYO opened for and played with My Morning Jacket at the Yum! Center. I have the framed concert poster in my living room.”


    What’s on your nightstand?

    “I don’t have a nightstand. If I did, the only essential item would be a box of Puffs Plus. Allergies.”



    “Gluttony. So many great restaurants in Louisville. We could spend ourselves into the poorhouse.”


    What are you wearing right now?

    “A button-down and chinos. Today, and every day.”


    What/who makes you laugh?

    “I still laugh as hard at Seinfeld reruns as anything I’ve seen, at the way it exposes the absurdity of modern life. My wife is pretty funny too.”


    All-time-favorite Kentucky Derby winner?

    “Giacomo. I was watching that day with friends, studying the program. I said to the room, ‘Giacomo. There’s your Derby winner.’ I bet on him, and he won at 50 to 1.”


    Best book you’ve read over the past year?

    “Timothy Denevi wrote a book called Freak Kingdom about Hunter S. Thompson’s coverage of the Nixon campaign and Watergate. He does a great job of describing what it was about Nixon that obsessed Thompson — the threat of fascism Nixon represented — and makes a compelling case for similarities between those times and our own.”


    Biggest regret?

    “Not mining Bitcoin early on. I thought that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard of.”


    What interested you as a kid?

    “How things work. I broke so many toys taking them apart.”


    Something unexpected you love in Louisville?

    “The Falls of the Ohio. That’s such a significant place, geologically and historically. And I think now we have no idea how visually awesome it would have been before the falls were dammed.”


    Where do you go to be alone?

    “My car, preferably on an open stretch of interstate. It’s like my isolation chamber.”


    Favorite possession?

    “When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents bought me a fantastic trumpet: a Bach Stradivarius. I occasionally take it out and play tunes from My Fair Lady.”



    Last online purchase?
    “A burgundy polo shirt.”

    One thing Louisville is missing?
    “Great public transportation.”

    Can’t-miss TV show?
    Big Bang Theory.”

    Favorite movie scene?
    Godfather wedding.”

    Secret talent?
    “I can make balloon animals.”

    Your drink?
    “Vodka martini on the rocks.”

    What Louisville dish have you eaten more than any other?
    “Derby Pie. Unless Bourbon is a dish.”

    What should every person try once?

    This originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine as the 21 Questions. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Illustration by Shae Goodlett,

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