In “Off Duty,” the Smithfield Herald asks community leaders about their interests – what they’re reading, what they’re listening to, what they’re watching. John Lampe is Smithfield’s mayor; he took office last December.
Lampe, 55, has spent his whole career in the building industry, working in sawmills, at Guy C. Lee Building Materials and in his family’s construction-management business. He graduated from N.C. State University with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Lampe and his wife, Nancy, have eight children.
What are your hobbies? I enjoy reading, boating, woodworking, politics, painting and drawing, design and architecture, and embarrassing my children. I’m like a dog chasing a squirrel when it comes to hobbies.
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What music have you been listening to lately? I have horrible taste in music. I’ll put it on as background filler, but I’ve never had much interest in actively listening. If I had to answer, I’d say Christmas carols and British electronica.
What books are you currently reading? My literary interests are polymerous and eclectic. Recently, I’ve read several of Alan Watts’ works, plus “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty, “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” by Ali Almossawi, “Mastering Crucial Conversations” by Stephen Covey, “Ship of Theseus” by V.M. Straka, German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s concept of Gestell (or what lies behind technology) and, finally, “The Sandman ,” a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. As I’ve gotten older, I have allowed myself the privilege of skimming books, so it’s not unusual for me to be reading five or eight books simultaneously.
What is your favorite television show? My tastes run toward simple entertainment. If I have the time, I’ll watch “Game of Thrones,” “Person of Interest” or “Eagleheart” on Netflix. I’m fairly busy and need to be able to watch them at my own pace.
I f you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would you dine with? Writer and philosopher Phillip K. Dick, Penn & Teller (who I will count as one) and Ava Gardner. They’ve all known suffering and stress and had life-changing epiphanies as a result.
Describe a perfect day. That’s easy: A day where I get to work on my own projects. Normally, I run around doing things for everyone else.
What is the most fascinating place you’ve been to? I’ll use the place that had the long-lasting impact on me: Waking up at 3 a.m. on a very, very still night in North Carolina’s Core Sound on a small boat. The clear night sky and stars were reflected in the still, dark water perfectly. Water, sky and night were all connected. I could not see where one began and the other ended. No horizon, no shore, no division between any and everything. I was awake and conscious and clear but had no physical position in the world.
What is the one food you can’t resist? Bacon.
If you had to perform in a talent show, what would your talent be? I have very few talents, and they wouldn’t entertain anybody.
What is something that some might be surprised to know about you? I’m a big personality and run my mouth a lot. I’m sure most people would be surprised to find that in my personal life I’m more of a quiet, reclusive scholar.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? At the age of 55 I have come to truly accept myself, flaws and all. To change any of them would be to change who I am, and I don’t want to be anyone else.
What is your most embarrassing moment? I still cringe when I think of my wedding ceremony.