Eitan before last night's game. The last thing he says, as I tuck him into bed: "I cannot believe Spain won" as he drifts off into a perfect sleep (granted two hours past bedtime). Wouldn't it be nice to be seven and able to switch loyalties so readily? For the boy, it went England (who did not qualify) then Portugal (knocked out by Russia) and Spain - who win it all. This would be like me bouncing Cal for the Trojans. Mon dieu.
The French have this cool thing called cinq à sept (five to seven), or the time between work and family. Its a myth that Frenchmen use it to rendezvous with their mistresses - but again, there is always some truth to these things. My experience in France is for shopping or drink - happy hour, sort of - but above all, it is selfish time. The British work to hard - and are no way elegant enough - to pull something like this off.
Sonnet off early and I awake to find both kids fully dressed staring at me: "Dad's face is red in the morning" Madeleine observes. "It is always red" says Eitan. "Especially if he is angry." Monday morning, Dear Reader. Monday morning,
Monday, June 30
Sunday, June 29
The Airbus 380, also known as the "SuperJumbo," made its first commercial voyage in October 2007 from Singapore to Sydney (I take this photo at Heathrow last week). Development cost: €11 billion mostly from government grants - no wonder Boeing bitched. The A380's upper deck extends along almost the entire length of the fuselage, and its width is equivalent to that of a widebody aircraft. This allows a cabin with 50% more floor space than the 747 "Jumbo" and provides seating for 525 people in standard three-class set up or up to 853 people in all-economy, which would suck. The plane has a flight range of 8,200 nautical miles or sufficient from New York to Hong Kong. It's cruising speed is Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph at cruise altitude). As I fly Virgin Atlantic, I ask the gate staff when Richard is going to buy one? and they are clearly jealous of Singapore. Do not worry - it is coming. As of 2008, 192 orders placed and five deliveries - delays caused a management departure at owner EADS and a insider-dealing investigations. The beast impresses.
"There is the tradition of good old Europe that has made this possible,"
Eitan makes a Spanish flag for tonight. On the backside, he pastes a few trading cards and vital player stats. He informs me of the cheer: es-pan-yol followed by three forceful thumps (or claps).
Eitan's Spain wins the European Cup, defeating Germany one-nil. Torres, who plays for Liverpool, scores the only goal.
Katie in action
Mid-morning Wednesday we buy the papers, make our calls or emails and I overhear my sister discuss The Op-Ed Project which is something she clearly loves. It has momentum and every woman I meet wants to be involved somehow and has something to contribute - a sure sign she is onto something good. A best thing about Katie's life is that everything is generally within two blocks: greasy diner, pedicure, Korean fruit & vedg, yoga, coffee ... the park nearby for running and best friends all within walking distance. I can see why hard to leave NY once sorted. In London and yesterday, I shuffle the kids to swimming, football and performance class while sonnet at CHODA. Afterwards we nap - a forced activity for the sprogues - who wants to sleep on a beautiful Saturday? Eitan and I have a deal for the German-Spain Euro Cup final Sunday: as a week night, he sleeps extra-time. The boy does not complain and will watch the game with Joe-Y-H and others at Joe's house with friends, several German. Eitan roots for Spain BTW as Torres plays for Manchester United and Fabregas the lead scorer for Arsenal. It's like watching the NFL and rooting against a city because you hate the airport - it's personal. Eitan and his gang know more about their players then, well, anything. I cannot keep up with the sponge who has stats on anybody playing tonight. Including the bench.
Madeleine does her homework which is to describe her summer. She asks: "are we going to Vermont? Paris? That Hotel?" She also remembers "the sprinklers."
I pay Madeleine five-p every time she reads "a" instead of saying "ah" while completing "The Treasure Chest."
At the hardware: I give in and buy the kids alarm-clocks (not sure where my mind was on that one). Eitan's goes off at 6:05AM this morning, yes Sunday. Madeleine upset because hers not first. God.
Adam on the Lower West Side.
I'm in New York the first-half last week to visit Tim and Kitty, who had their baby five weeks ago. Not all babies are cute and this one is way cute. I forget how remarkable a newborn, and to see her on the bed struggling to understand her limbs brings back memories - none, of course, being about exhaustion or nappies. Eitan and Madeleine's early years, despite struggling with a wack job business partner and the telecoms Internet boom-bust, were great times. You really learn about your marriage, I'll say. Sonnet and I were at first afraid (terrified) of leaving Eitan alone and so he slept with us... for about three weeks until Sonnet put the Kibosh on that one and he got his own room. Nearly immediately he began sleeping through the night. Madeleine, on the other hand, kept us awake for months, refusing to seed the battle for hunger or comfort. Remarkable first impressions, Dear Sir. Today Madeleine confirms her Tom-Boy status and we do the checklist: climbs trees? Check. Likes sports? Check. Hates Barbie? Check. Jeans or a dress? Jeans, of course.
Back to the moment: it is 4AM and I'm still on West Coast time as I blog now. Sonnet and I have dinner earlier with Sonnet's colleague Malissa who is the senior curator at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. She celebrate her 50th in Europe+London to attend the CHODA conference, which Sonnet chairs. Years ago, Sonnet was an intern at the de Young and so Malissa recommended the Courdault Art Institute and wrote Sonnet's key recommendation (Malissa an alum). In large part our being in Britain is due to her, God bless. Malissa knows everybody in the dress-fashion-design world and boy is their catching up a conversation. While Sonnet away, Malissa tells me that she and everybody are thrilled Sonnet has achieved: "she makes us all look good." Amen, brother.
Friday, June 27
The Pacific at Point Lobos. No Californian is far from the ocean and the luckiest live by it. Stinson, near Berkeley, is a fine example and was an excuse to cut high school many a spring day. The beach located next Muir Woods and a popular day-trip from San Francisco (or the East Bay). Because it is Northern California, the fog sometimes a problem but on a glorious day - who cares? Sonnet and I went to Stinson on our second date BTW. It is surfable, but not a classic break and there are sharks: In 2002, a surfer was attacked by a 12-15 foot-long great white and while the dude survived, he received more than 100 stitches to close his wounds. The attack was the second at Stinson since '98, and the 13th in Marin County since '52. The surf off Stinson is within an area known as the Red Triangle, where there have been an unusually high number of shark attacks. Hmm I wonder if there is some kinda connection with nearby Farallon Islands where the Great Whites migrate every year to feed and mate?
Classic Norcal surfing breaks abound and the best are, just perhaps, 3 and 4 mile points or the same distances from the Santa Cruz light house. To reach the break, a surfer dude must park his car by the HW1 then walk a mile or two through lettuce or cabbage fields to get to a rocky cliff. From there, it is a downward scramble, with board and wet suit, to the ocean. There is no beach nor launch pad. The water is black and cold - 62 degrees in winter - and massive kelp beds reach from the below. Often in fog and with unnatural seaweeds touching the body, it is easy to let the mind wander: shark. Sea lions swim underneath can scare one witless (seen in white flashes). But on a good swell the hassle is worth it - there is no better way to goof than riding those waves.
Laurance before tying the knot. The services at Clint Eastwood's lodge overlooking the valley and the OP. Laurance remains on his feet throughout.
Eitan upset about missing the second half of the Russia v. Spain Eurocup match (past bedtime). He awakes this morning in a foul mood, tired and grumpy. Sonnet is out the door for the Choda Conference she chairs this year, leaving me with the kids (Madeleine re Eitan conspiratorially: "he sure is whinging dad. Are you going to punish him?") All he needs is a hug, which I give him, and he instantly shifts to a better mood. If life were always so simple. The cup final, to be played Sunday, is between Germany and Spain who defeat the Russians 3-nil. We are pulling for Spain all the way given several players in the Premiere League and Eitan knows them and their stats (thank you, trading cards). On the school playground we sort out the match, which will be watched with a few other boys at Joe Y-H's houses Sunday evening. When I tell him this, Eitan excited enough to almost blow his cover and give me a kiss, before he pulls back and races off to the classroom.
Thursday, June 26
I'm behind in my blog and to my fearless ten readers I say: regrets. Pictured: Carmel Valley Lodge where we stay last week.
Wednesday Moe and Grace greet me at SFO post trans-Atlantic and we drive to CV via Salinas (pop 140,061), a town BTW that remains, steadfastly, in the 1950s. There are franchises which I assumed long-gone like Weinerschnitzel ($5 for five chili dogs), Carvel's ice cream (Dairy Queen too, of course) and a Photo Mat booth in the grocery parking lot for drive-by and drop-off (good God who still develops film?). It is Steinbeck country, Moe points out, and easy to imagine without water. With water, it is one of the most fertile lands in America with lettuce, brussel-sprouts and various greens planted next to sand and dirt (no turtle for the Joads to run over, however). We listen to King Lear along the way (a CD purchased in London) as Sonnet and I will see the play at The Globe. Katie arrives from Stanford's Office of the Presidency where she forms a partnership with The Op-Ed Project. She is fired up.
Here is Moe, with the usual gleam in his eye, in Carmel Valley where our family re-unions last week. From this, we may surmise that Moe was - and is - a wise-ass. Of many examples, I recall college when he mailed me $1 for every letter home. I got the point.
Growing up we spent a a good summer's week each year in Carmel Valley even locating a local swim club - the Barracudas - so Katie and I could train away. No doubt this is a lovely part of California and while Carmel gets the fog and cool Pacific weather, the valley is sheltered and easily 15 degrees warmer. Last week temps are 105 in the shade. CV Village (median family income: $85,191) has excellent coffee and a good walking destination. Clint Eastwood is still around, I am told, and famously Carmel's mayor (pop 4,000) in 1986. Apparently Clint wanted a golf course, got pissed off by the small-town bureaucracy, ran last-minute and received 73% of the vote. He bailed after one term and who can blame him? Maybe he wanted a fall-back to Every Which Way But Loose when he co-starred with an orangutan. Clint's restaurant, the Hogs Breath Inn, we enjoyed in the '70s and early '80s and remains today more-or-less unchanged - Katie finds it and sends me a pic on her mobile. Cool.
I'm here for Laurance's wedding and the kiddos in school so Sonnet and them remain in London. They'll get theirs when we split Britain for the summer next month.
Tuesday, June 17
Madeleine shows me her rock collection - pictured - and asks my favorite? I tell her the hard one (I can never resist). And how did she find the rocks, Dear Sir? "It's cuz I'm doing digging club." And when I ask, ahem, the obvious question - what does one do in digging club? - she replies matter-of-factly: "we do lots of digging." Madeleine teaches the other kids - Nicki, Jonathan, Max and Billy - "how to dig properly." And how does one do that? "They have to get really far down for it to be proper digging" (she makes a scooping motion). "You have to do it slowly so you can get more dirt." And there, my friend, you have it.
Eitan asks me how to measure mass. As I consider his question I realise that I have no idea how to even describe mass. Here is Arthur's follow-up:
OK, but this is not an easy one...
My thought is that you keep this answer "alive" over a period of time with Eitan because it's something that may take a while for him to truly grasp. Point out the concept when you see examples of it around you in the world.
Technically, mass is the reluctance of an object to move. More technically, it's the reluctance to CHANGE speed. If you start something moving or stop it moving, either way, how hard you have to push is aconsequence of its mass. The problem with this definition is that on earth, most of the time when we move or stop something, we are dealing with a lot of friction that gets in the way of seeing what's going on. For example, it is entirely possible for an ant to push a car. The car
would just speed up very, very slowly because of its large mass and the weak push from the ant. In real life, the friction in the tires and wheel bearings and so on make it impossible for an ant to move a car.
Even a single person has trouble getting much motion going. If you leave out friction, the greater the mass of an object, the harder you need to push to get a result. Twice the mass and you need to push twice as hard for the same change of speed. You may recall that there have been instances of astronauts manhandling satellites orbiting right next to the shuttle. The satellites may weigh a ton or more and it takes a very great effort to move them, but the astronauts can do so. I raise this example because in space, there's no friction.
On earth, one example that occurs to me is really heavy metal doors that some office buildings sometimes have. If you can find one that doesn't have a spring closure (The doors at Seymour center come to mind), you can see for yourself how hard it is to get them moving and then how hard
It is to stop them once they are moving. Maybe you can see a bit of a difference in the doors in your house. The front door is probably pretty solid. Compare that to interior doors, particularly if you can find one that is flimsy and hollow.
Here's something you could try if you have two skate boards. On a really smooth floor (definitely not on carpet), you and Eitan stand facing each other each on a skate board. Now push yourselves apart (push against each other) and you should see that because you are more massive, you move less than Eitan who is less massive. The moral is that for one push you shared, Eitan moved more than you did because of the difference in mass. You can also do this next time you're ice skating and probably get even better results.
Now for the clincher. It turns out that mass is proportional to weight. It's not sort-of or approximately proportional. It's exactly proportional. I remember reading some musings by Einstein in which he
pointed out that no one had ever really questioned why the pull of the earth is exactly proportional to mass (you have to ponder this a moment.
An object that has twice the mass is tugged on by the earth EXACTLY twice as hard - it has twice the weight - with the result that all objects fall towards the earth under the pull of gravity at the same
speed regardless of their mass. A bus and a coin fall at the same speed. The earth pulls on the bus much harder than it pulls on the coin (you can weigh them to see the difference in the earth's pull). Somehow the earth magically determines the mass of the objects (their reluctance to move) and adjusts the tug of gravity by just the right amount to get them moving at the same speed.) Einstein had to develop the theory of general relativity to fully explain this.
So the point of that last paragraph is to point out that you can exactly measure the mass of an object simply by weighing it! But you have to do it on earth. If you do it on the moon you will get a different weight because the pull of the moon's gravity is much less. Of course you can still use the weight on the moon to determine mass, but you need to take into account the weaker gravity.
Monday, June 16
Since First Boston seems to loom large in my memory, here is a photo of their then HQ, 55 East 52nd Street where we occupied the top four floors. This is Midtown and when the power nexus moved from Wall Street, First Boston wanted a power building, designed just for it (the firm also owned a similar buidling "T49" on 49th Street which is sold and leased-back in '89 to manage cash-flows). For a kid right out of college it didn't seem too unusual - doesn't every office have a view afterall? From the West Village, where I lived at 6th and Waverly, I took the subway to 52nd Street and made the two block walk to the lobby and up the up-elevator manned then by black men dressed in elevator-clothes. Almost all the bankers were white but there were one or two exceptions. I wonder how they felt about this? So there I went, armed with zippo accounting and finance, I strolled into work dreaming who knows what? to be slammed by m&a in the late 1980s. What a time. As Eric once said: "It was a war zone, bud." We still recover I suppose. At least there are some hellishly funny stories which we re-tell whenever we are together or have the chance.
View image in its original context
Click anywhere to cancel
So here are my ideas on fatherhood on Father's Day. Kids need as much freedom as they need discipline and structure. Madeleine, for instance, is aware of my index finger on her forehead at all times telling her this or that. sometimes she needs a break. As long as the Shakespeares are in my eye-sight generally, they are free to run around bezerko as long as they don't bother me or another adult.
I expect Madeleine and Eitan to behave properly, of course, but am more pre-occupied with their best efforts. I watch them on the pitch, at the playground, by the pool and in the classroom. This seems a bit CCTV I admit. My aim, however, is to encourage them with great affection while supporting an interest. Ok, swimming might just be a residual from my unfulfilled college-years but as I tell Eitan: "consider it cross-training for your football." We shall see if the aquatics sticks. My guess is probably not.
Expose them now to everything and let them decide. School takes up the weekday while activities the afternoons and week-ends: guitar lessons, football practice, swim-team, performance class (Madeleine), Spanish (Eitan), art-yard (Madeleine) and tennis. This is for sure more than I ever did at this, or any age, but I expect them to eventually chose what counts . For them. At least I can hope.
Fun should be at the centre of it all dude and yes, mainly thanks to Grace, I goof a lot. I have re-found my silliness and am often on my hands and knees tickling, barking, farting, pinching and laughing with the sprogues. They love it, I love it - why not?
Don't spoil the brats. At their age now, everything a demand: ice cream, candy, toys, magazines, toys, boxes (Madeleine), football cards, ice cream, and on and on. My three favorite words, which are known well Dear Sir: "No. No and no." Eitan's super-fly Manchester United shirt, which cost a small treasure of £27 and saved from his allowance and chores, purchased by him with no help from me. He wears the thing every Saturday.
Spoil the brats rotten. Ours are away from grandparents and so miss their love, attention and wisdom. While there is no substitute, we do go over-board on occasion. This does not necessarily mean material crapola, though sometimes crapola it is. More often it is being there for school-trips, sitting around football practice, letting Eitan stay up until 10PM to watch a must-see ManU match, bring Madeleine home a box (which she asks for every day). Time is what counts and sometimes we have to do double without our extended family.
Anyways I thought my parents and in-laws might appreciate this missive and so here it is.
Erik and Madeleine at the Di playground. Check out Madeleine's Vans.
Erik also a father this Father's Day and his son in Germany. He pursues his masters from the University of Chicago and his thesis a series of sonnets structured to Joyce's Ulysse and before Joyce, Homer. By coincidence I finished re-reading the "The Odyssey" last week but no match for Erik when it comes to poetry. We discuss other interesting things, as ever, and occupy ourselves with Israel and though I always get a little bent by his stubbornness, anon, I also learn from these exchanges as it has always been since '89 when we first met, the morning of July 5 (Oh how can I forget, Dear Reader, my first day at First Boston?) The kids love Erik too, of course, and Eitan begs to play penalty shoot-out all afternoon (we remain in the park until 7PM). Madeleine is somewhat less demanding - her bug-bear being ice cream: "Can I have one, dad? Can I have one, dad? Can I have one...."
Eitan wales on about missing tonight's football match between Switzerland and Portugal. Kick-off is past his bed time and it is a school night. It strikes me, as I lie on the coach watching football and listening to the boy cry, that if adults expressed their emotions similarly the world might be better off somehow.
Madeleine at the Diana Playground.
Ah yes - who can forget cool sand on a hot day? I take the kids to Hyde Park where we join Erik for the day. The cumulus clouds float by - at several points ominously - but we escape the weather by a nickel. Luckily too, I might ad, since I am without rain slickers nor umbrellas - Sonnet pestered but I declined - one would think I would learn? Sonnet stays home to tidy house and a day to herself. The playground BTW was built after the Princess's death on an existing playground but now larger and more elaborate. Its most prominent feature a full scale pirate ship which serves for climbing and surrounded by sand - pictured. It is a good spot for celeb spotting and the last time it was Tim Burten and Helena Bonham Carter. The only reason I noticed because they were easily the scruffiest crew in the park.
Saturday, June 14
. . . . And while many have lauded American voters for their support of an African American and a female candidate in this campaign, the depiction of Michelle Obama, and in many ways Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, shows "clearly we're not beyond" female stereotypes, said Catherine Orenstein, an author who has traced the historical depiction of women. "We're in the thick of it. We have a lot left to do." Powerful women are often portrayed as "a doll or a bitch," said Orenstein, author of "Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale." Cindy McCain, often shown smiling supportively behind Sen. John McCain, "is described as a Stepford wife." And Michelle Obama, whom Orenstein described as "an exuberant, confident woman," is portrayed as "overbearing and a controller." "It's the doll or the bitch," Orenstein said. "Neither image is productive, neither is real and both are just a repetition of an old stereotype. Katie Rocks.
Imagine you are Mrs X with a classroom of 25 screamers. Here they are, Dear Brother.
Eitan now surpasses me at football. The little trickster is fast on his feet and knows how to get inside. He also has a number of skills taken from practice and the tele - "just like Rinaldo" is an often repeated expression in our household. Today's lovely clime sees Eitan's side victorious, 6-nil and the boy scores one while setting up another. Madeleine meanwhile misses her chance at a score when the goal-keeper keeps her best shot on the outside "It was nearly a goal" she says indignantly. I tell her: "Nearly is worth nothing." She sulks on this a bit but soon rebounds when I give her my diet Coke.
Here is Katie in today's San Francisco Chronicle:
. . . . And while many have lauded American voters for their support of an African American and a female candidate in this campaign, the depiction of Michelle Obama, and in many ways Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, shows "clearly we're not beyond" female stereotypes, said Catherine Orenstein, an author who has traced the historical depiction of women. "We're in the thick of it. We have a lot left to do."
Powerful women are often portrayed as "a doll or a bitch," said Orenstein, author of "Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale." Cindy McCain, often shown smiling supportively behind Sen. John McCain, "is described as a Stepford wife." And Michelle Obama, whom Orenstein described as "an exuberant, confident woman," is portrayed as "overbearing and a controller."
"It's the doll or the bitch," Orenstein said. "Neither image is productive, neither is real and both are just a repetition of an old stereotype."
Friday, June 13
Here is Madeleine at school, armed with my umbrella and a book for show-and-tell (I think Kipling).
Sonnet arrives home late following a CHODA meeting (me: sprawled on the coach watching football, waiting patiently for dinner. Ah, mid-life). Sonnet BTW is Chair of CHODA (the Courtauld History of Dress Association) whose web blurb states: this year "will mark the 42nd anniversary of the establishment of post-graduate studies in the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Since 1990 CHODA has existed to provide a meeting point for former students of the course, and to provide financial help for students on the course. The annual conference plays a major role in bringing together researchers in the field outside the Courtauld, and in fund-raising for current students." This year's event to honor Sonnet's professor Eileen, who retires after 40 years. Eileen a towering figure in the academic fashion seen and not somebody to be triffled with. Sonnet was a favorite student in 1997 who has delivered on her expectations.
I'm considering coaching, if that is word, our school's lunch-time girls chess club and today I meet, well, the girls. There are eight of them, age 8s and eager to talk, chew sandwiches and play chess. In my favor, I know most of the moves but otherwise am not particularly qualified - as Sarah points out while taking my Queen. Hmmm. On campus, I duck in the assembly hall while Year Ones have lunch. It is a noisy affair and I spy Madeleine, who stairs at me with a look of surprised concentration: "Is that dad?" and "Am I in trouble?" racing through her mind, I'm sure. Tonight Eitan allowed to watch the late night game - Netherlands v. France - and Aggie will babysit.
Thursday, June 12
Eitan with an old friend.
Sonnet's off 6:30AM - yoga!- and I breakfast the Shakespeares and try to read the newspaper. Fat chance. Last night I attend our informal PTA (I'm involved with the school fair again) and, again, find myself surrounded by seven women. It is a power set for sure and we discuss many things before I duck into a day-dream and drink rosé (did you know the original rosé was a pale 'clairet' from Bordeaux?) It is an efficient group and we have raised a considerable amount of dough these past few years allowing our school to build an auditorium, install inter-active white-boards in every classroom and kit out our computer lab. The PTA's next big project is to rebuild the school kitchen, allowing healthy meals prepared on site - from organic sources of course, Dear Brother. Today we have about a hundred grand in the til and while this seems reasonable, it pales against Roger's school in Seattle who raised close to a mil from their fund raising auction earlier this year. It doesn't hurt to have Microsoft in the community, lucky them.
Anybody curious to know how El Presidente's European road show is going down need not bother: yaaawwwn. Nobody cares about Bush and his failed war made worse by his open disdain of "old" Europe. The reality is the continent is no longer dependent on America and Bush blew any good-will and influence in a New York minute. He is one lame-duck for sure. We await McCain or Obama - the hands down favorite, BTW.
Wednesday, June 11
Katie on the Upper West Side somewhere I think. It is blazing in The Big Apple and man I am glad not to be there for that urban summer. How vividly I recall my post- college years and awakening perspired followed by the sticky metro to Midtown and the sweat drenched collar shirt - all before a long day's work, made worse by office air-conditioning producing an arctic chill. And the stress of First Boston - quelle horreur. In those early '90s, personal air conditioning a luxury whose absence made nearly unbearable by three flat mates sharing a Village walk-through (373 6th Avenue at Waverly Place, to be precise). A summer outfit of some non- or lite wool material simply unaffordable then. And so traumatised, Dear Sir, I stumbled onto Sixth bleary eyed from the heat, already exhausted and greeted by honking, polluting traffic and the door-stoop bums: "Ay Wall Street! You got a dollar this morning? The World Trade Towers, RIP, due south and an endless car jam North. Ah, yes, those were special times and a happy distant memory.
Eitan belly aches about the late-evening Euro-cup matches, which are past his bed-time. Despite watching more football than either of us can remember, it still is not enough to overcome his sheer frustration at missing out on the action. It is a bitter pill, I agree, when one feels the world is happening and you are in bed. I have let him sneak down a few times already to watch 15 minutes - which usually becomes a full-half.
Tuesday, June 10
Here's our little dear at lunch, in a quiet moment with "buns on the ground!" (teacher's precise words)
I observe that Madeleine is no longer the bossy-boots of two years ago. She interacts wonderfully with adults showing an appropriate amount of deference when called for. In new situations, she puts her hands together and slyly looks for direction or support - I saw this last week, for instance, when I left her with artist Sabi at her studio. She's the same in the classroom and when I am around (at least) her hand shoots up before her mouth blasts off. I do not mean to suggest that Madeleine has somehow become a push-over or engaged in girly-things or even become a stickler for manners. She is still a tom boy and loves climbing trees, rarely uses silver-ware (unless Sonnet commands so) and enjoys scrapes on both knees. Yet her transition to kid-hood, from child, occurs before us and I tell her "good job!" as often as I can. I also ask her if she will remember me when she is a teenager? and she rolls her eyes: "Of course I will dad" she chides me. But in many ways she is already gone.
Here is a letter from Stanford's Special Counselor to the President for Campus Relations:
Dear Faculty friends,
It is with great pleasure that the Office of the President and the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research extends an invitation to you to attend an introductory meeting of the Op-Ed Project, the only initiative of its kind in the country, which seeks to expand public debate by targeting and training women experts to write for the op-ed pages of major newspapers. Attached is a more detailed description.
Catherine Orenstein, the creator of the Op-Ed Project, will be here Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 3:00p.m. to 4:30p.m. at the Clayman Institute to explain the Op-Ed project and, with your input, involve Stanford in the project's wonderful seminar program. Our aim is to develop a relationship with the Op-Ed Project that will enable us to offer this high quality training to a group of our women faculty every year. A list of invitees to this meeting is attached for your information . . . .
Madeleine's class visits the Sciences Museum. No way will I miss this and so I join 30 kids, two teachers and 15 parents in South Kensington at 10:10AM sharp. From there we spend the day in various examinations beginning with bubbles - pictured. The kids scream when an instructor makes bubbles that float, sink, with CO2, in bunches or solo. The finale are bubbles so large they surround two eager volunteers. The museum, I learn, was founded in 1857 to do something with the surplus of the Great Exhibition (also known as Crystal Palace). It was first called the Patent Office Museum BTW and its art collection (also from Crystal Palace) eventually found its way across the street to the V&A. But back to today: I'm assigned three children, including Madeleine, and do my best to keep up. In particular Adam keeps me on my toes. Adam is a mischievous little tyke with a pension for hitting. Me. In. The. Balls. By mid-day I've used every tried-and-true threat on him including time-outs, "secret consequences," double-secret probation" and simply telling him I'm going to leave him on a bench where he will be left behind. Nothing works but I love him the more for it.
I drive a group of us home (parking at the V&A, thank you Sonnet) while Madeleine takes the coach - she would have it no other way. BTW she was pretty cool about my picture-taking though the occasional, exasperated "Dad!" could be heard hissed under her breath from time to time.
Monday, June 9
Katie sends me her pic and asks me to identify the bridge - which shockingly I get wrong. She asks: "haven't you seen Saturday Night Fever lately?" and indeed I am shamed. The bridge, made famous by Bobby C's death (Tony: "Sometimes you can kill yourself without killin' yourself...you know?") connects Staten Island and Brooklyn and owned by New York City and the last great project of Moses Brown. The thing cost $320 million then, and opened in November '64 following five years of construction. It was the world's longest suspension until 1981 when overtaken by the Humber Bridge in England (where the hell is that?!). The bridge is named BTW for Italien explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European navigator to enter NY Harbor and the Hudson River, while crossing The Narrows.
SNF is remembered for its '70s outfits and disco. Forgotten is the no-way-out tale of these Brooklyn losers destined for... well, nothing. In the middle there is Bobby C, the gang-rape of Tony's girlfriend Annette in the back of his car and a blood fight. It feels raw and real - and the Bee Gees add dimension with their fantastic music. They also complete Tony's journey to Manhattan, when he finds Staphanie Mangano with another man. The song, of course, is 'How Deep Is Your Love' which plays as the sun rises over the Manhattan skyline and an emotionally wrecked Tony. Movies like this stopped being made somewhere in the '80s, which is too bad for us.
Tony: "Oh fuck the future!"
Fusco: "No, Tony! You can't fuck the future. The future fucks you! It catches up with you and it fucks you if you ain't planned for it!"
Sunday, June 8
Madeleine and I drive Catherine to T5 this morning. Madeleine sits quietly in the back listening to us talk about politics.
Ever wonder why you get car or seasick? Well, your inner ear tells your brain that you are moving while your eyes - focused on the shoreline or a book - tell it you are still. The brain interprets this confusion as a hallucination caused by poisoning and triggers the stomach's defensive action - to purge.
Madeleine to Eitan at the dinner table: "Eitan remember that time you puked your guts up?"
Eitan: "It looked like green oatmeal."
Dropping Catherine at the airport, I ask Madeleine if she knows how planes fly? She: "Magic?"
Eitan, playing soccer with the older boys, receives two back-to-back fowls the latter sending him to the grass both preventing a score. He is bitterly disappointed and off the pitch he goes. Two old men watching the action tell him: "you were sure fouled mate. Your pride just took a knock that's all."
Eitan helps me in the garden with his flippers, purchased for swim practice. He's useless but I enjoy the company.
Eitan's class visits the National Gallery Thursday:
"The Sunflower Painting, by Eitan.
My faveroute (sic) painting was the sunflower painting because its (sic) really strong paint and really bright colors. Also the sunflowers stand out allot on the picture. My other favorite was the one with the really swirly clouds. It was was also painted by Vincent van Goph. I liked it because he made the clouds like the northern lights."
Our weekend begins, of course, on the football pitch. Catherine is with us - hooray - and she joins the action with me from the sideline (Sonnet goes running).
Friday night we see modern dance at the Southbank - created by Jonathan Lunn, who choreographs, and Anthony Minghella, who won an Oscar for The English Patient and sadly recently deceased. Natasha Richards of Harry Potter fame narrates the action. It is a weird and extraordinary performance - think ballet+yoga which takes place at super-natural human movements. The dancers' bodies are fluid and they "bounce" as though muscles rubber. And spring. The crowd too is pretty cool - a perfect date place on a summer evening, like tonight, spilling onto the Thames and views of Somerset House, Blackfriars and of course that Wren Cathedral.
The European cup begins last night and Aggie babysits the action. Sonnet, Catherine and I go for a drink at our local - The Plough - which recently re-opened as a gastro pub. Before it was your typical neighborhood public serving fags and .75l liquor to the local pensioner and construction worker. Now its outdoor garden heaves with yuppies and their kids. Fun. Catherine and Sonnet revisit Smith and other fond memories. I return early to watch footie with the boy - our fave Portugal defeats Turkey 2-nil and the world is in order. Portugal is the birthplace of Christiano Rinaldo who has announced his desire to play for Madrid despite four years on his ManU contract (Eitan: "It is actually three years and five months"). We wonder why Rinaldo would wish to leave the world's greatest club, which is paying him £72 million, to go to Spain. It couldn't be the sunny clime and lifestyle? Sexy culture and worshipping fans and media? Naaah.
Friday, June 6
Here is Wookie with Barak (or is it Barak with Wookie?) Any case, Wookie belongs to Guy and Jeanine Saperstein who have been early and committed supporters of the campaign (Barak's, that is).
The UK's tremendous interest the US primaries eclipses politics here - which has been nothing but depressing since Super Gee took over from Tony (without a party election, oh dear). Obama clinching the Demo's pole position is Fleet Street's front-page news. These Brits are sick of El Presidente and we are probably more forgiving than the rest of Europe. Excluding Poland, but who cares? Barak presents a completely new image of America - the English generally assume Americans are racist, self-indulgent and inward looking (like father, like son). And while there may be a smidgeon or more of truth here, Dear Brother, Obama is an in-your-face example of a party giving us the sweet tune of a working democracy. Race and privilege be damned. We the people (for I still vote in the US) reject, for now, a white and tired administration that has really outdone itself to fuck our country. Can Barak overcome Nixie-land and win the blue-collar backwaters like PA and Ohio, which he needs for the White House? Can he avoid racial type casting- not black, Dear Sir - but Muslim? Is his life safe? These are all things to be found out but let us Thank God that we have finally found a fella unafraid to bring it on.
Eitan has been in chess class for some time and Madeleine learning the rules. This morning I watch the kids play and tempers, at times, soar. Madeleine does not quite understand check-mate and demands that Eitan "play fair" which leads to a "am to!," "are not!" exchange that seems never ending but does when I holler. From there I take the kiddos to school and Eitan anticipates a field trip to the National Portrait Gallery, lucky him. It is a perfect day for the outing - so far and as I blog, weather sunny and warm, though rain is supposed to spoil the cheer. Catherine arrives too - she will stay with us for the weekend before returning to L.A.
I am in Paris where I snap this bus next to l'église Sainte Marie Madeleine. Vivre la France.
Oh- and I am in Paris for the day to see my friends at Astorg Partners, who raised our €800-million fund. Beforehand I sneak into the Jeu de Paume and am treated to photographs by Alex Soth, a Minna-soo-tan whose work is "acclaimed for having both a cinematic and folkloric feel: it evokes and hints at the story behind the image he is photographing." He likes rural, and poor, America and his scenes are depressing though also beautifully composed.
Wednesday, June 4
Here are Halley and Catherine from this weekend's re-union. The three glam gals met at Smith and have been steadfast ever since - in past they have re-unioned on Cape Cod or elsewhere on the East Coast (Halley and Catherine from New England) but now their intercontinental lives make anywhere possible. Catherine lives in L.A. and Beijing (these days) while Halley in Exeter. Sonnet tells me they see the Pantheon, Coliseum, Forum, Museum of Rome and other spots - and shop for shoes too, of course. We have not seen Catherine since her wedding in Pacific Palisades. Oh- and she is pregnant!
Eitan and I set our sites on the European Cup Finals, which start in three days. Earlier this year England crashed out against Croatia in a game where they needed tie. This leaves us and England wondering: who to support? There is a whole host of reasons to hate every competing country (Germany is Germany while France is France; the Russians have ruined London and Turkey not really even a member of the EU.... Greece won last time and Italy a bunch of soccer cheats....). Yes, there is only one team that the boy and I hope for: Portugal! And why, Dear Reader, you may ask? In an icon: Rinaldo. Rinaldo! Rinaldo!
I meet a fellow, John, who was at T-Mobile for 20 years and now tasked with raising money for the T-Mobile cycling team. Only problem: thanks to last year's doping scandel, T-Mobile withholds its brand. And name. And nobody wants to be associated with the sport- certainly not a corporate buyer. John tells me he makes 300 calls a day and hears back from five: who tell him to fuck off. Now that is a tough sale.
Here is Bru and Lucca. Bru is Sonnet's cousin and the son of Missy. He has lived in Rome since at least 1997 and before that Cornell and somewhere in Berkeley or Santa Cruz following the Greatful Dead. I met him in London in 1998 when he arrived at our flat in the most fabulous outfit: yellow crepe jacket, plaid shirt and pink pants with embroidery on the hip. Of course his Italian girlfriend Manuela perfectly stunning. We have been fortunate to visit Bru twice when he took us around the city and outside, including the Pope's summer palace where we feasted on pork sandwiches by the Papal lake - normally a Roma football match showing on an old television box, all the better for a lazy summer's afternoon.. Another highlight then was seeing Don Giovanni in the courtyard of the local church. Bella. Bru's cool fashion convinced me to purchase black Helmut Lang jeans which I wore with pride whilst raising $15 million during the Internet era (some might argue it was because of those jeans - it certainly wasn't my partner- that brought in the dough). But that is another story, oh boy. Today Bru is a full-time dad and Sonnet reports a most excellent father who enjoys his role. Bellisimo.
Tuesday, June 3
Here is another one from Sunday.
I return from Berlin - and the heat - to London and - surprise -the rain. Last night I am up until 3AM doing who knows what? but my flight fortunately leaves at the agreeable hour of 11AM. This allows a whistle-stop tour of the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and new rail station built for the '06 World Cup - tres modern. The most disappointing new building in Berlin (and there are a lot of them, especially in Potsdam Plaza) is the American Embassy which officially opened some weeks ago on the famous Pariser Platz. The building looks like a bunker - all concrete and sharp angles. It could have been way different given the open-space and airy plaza+nearby Berlin Park. Instead, America post 911 is on display: Impenitrable. Serious. Pissed off. The same theme BTW applies to the American Embassy in London, which itself opened in 1960 and during the peak of the Cold War and mistrust of the commies. Oh boy it too is u-g-l-y. Rather than convey our friendly, democratic society welcoming the world, our newest embassy looks afraid. Very afraid.
Madeleine, out of the blue: "Dad, never take me down a coal mine again."
View in 1986 from the west side of graffiti art on the wall's infamous "death strip". Taken by Berlinmauer.org
I'm in Berlin, a favorite city, to have dinner with a friend at CAM. It is hot - like 105 degrees - and I sweat from the airport, dressed in long pants and a blazer. I shed that outfit fast and buy two Eton shirts at, what I am told, is the largest department store in Europe off the Lutzow Platz (one shirt turns out to be too pex tight - read: too gay - and I may have to leave it behind). Sonnet and I were here last year and despite setting aside five hours to visit Museum Island, I remain near the hotel and department store - too sunny to be inside looking at art anyways.