Sunday, April 19

Friday morning seems like a long time ago, but I meet my friend Nick for breakfast; Nick is a pal who is responsible for Ireland's pension scheme and he is worried. Ireland in a bad way and their economy sharply off-rail following years of tax-incentives, property build-ups and financial leveragings. Nick notes that the US has committed $22 trillion of stim-u-lus and will need more - indeed, our government now hiding the costings but using FDIC money - about $100 billion then levered six times, to deal with the toxis. FDIC funds meant to protect depositors, of course, and more importantly: off balance-sheet, away from Congressional approvals. Oh dear. From Nick, breakfast again with Natalie and Sonnet+parents at The Wolseley. Everybody is there it seems, including Tim Taylor who we saw the evening before and learned about his gallery next to the Connaught. No doubt, his audience of middle-aged high-fliers in a world of hurt and Tim, too, must be running scared. My hero John Botts is there also and I say a quick hello - his LBO firm my first job in London. From there, Sonnet and I actually have two hours to ourselves as kids in football camp - and it makes me think how strange life will be when the Shakespeares gone. God only knows what I may do with myself and I get a bit teary eyed thinking of it. But then I see Sonnet making brownies and it will all be OK. Oh boy. From our peaceful time, we pick up Eitan and Madeleine and away to Bath.

Madeleine, crossly: "You just think you're dad so you can toss us about."

I ask Madeleine to say something in French. She, loudly: "Crap!" which silences the restaurant (she means to say "crepe.")

I ask Madeleine how she has learned to count from one to ten in French. Madeleine: "In Spanish class?"

Eitan cries real tears of disappointment as Everton defeats Manchester United in penalty kicks. Wails Eitan: "Berbatov did not even try."

Thursday, April 16


Here is Daniella, whose identical twin Sophia is in Eitan's classroom. I call the twins "Daniella-Sophia" to avoid the inevitable certainty that a 50-50 guess will end up wrong. Her middle-teeth are growing in, which I remark upon while dropping Eitan and Madeleine at football-camp. Marcus, meanwhile, returns to Seattle via Tucson, via Dulles, via JFK .. I don't know how he does it, frankly. His stop-over in New York nine-hours so he will visit Katie, God bless him.

And here is some sobering news from my industry: (that totally discredited organistation piece-of-shit rating entity) Standard & Poors reports that the number of Western European companies that defaulted on debt repayments last year was over three times more than in '07, with private equity-backed businesses making up the vast majority. Of the 34 defaulting companies on the agency’s database in 2008, 27 – or 79% – were financial sponsor-backed. S&P further estimates that up to 29% of European speculative-grade companies – those rated BB+ or lower – could default by the end of 2010. I know Obama has indicated "glimmers of hope" but I just don't see it yet. Worse, TARP depleted on the shakiest US gambling houses and now the real clearing-out begins next month when Uncle Sam ranks US banks. Until we are ready to let bad-institutions fail, and wipe out unsecured creditors, we are wasting our time awaiting the inevitable. The problem, of course, this path politically unsavory but it is absurd for tax payers to continue to be lowest on the capital structure.


Dakota is growing up cute, and here she is playing "kitchen" at the Princess Diana playground where we meet Dana, Stan and Silver+Marcus for the afternoon. Madeleine used to wear pig-tails but I have not seen them for at least three years when Madeleine became a self-proclaimed "tom-boy" (recently recall that no girls invited to her seventh birthday party). Madeleine remains determinedly independent in spirit, thought and dress - more often in her dungarees ("Jeans, dad!") then a dress. Come to think of it, I have not seen her in a dress for three years excluding the white one for Diane's wedding. I suppose my girl's orientation from football where she is one girl against 120 boys. Swimming, too, is weighted towards the opposite sex. I have never otherwise heard her complain about the lop-sided nature of British sports and remain proud of her strong determination not to let the other fellows have some fun without her (I will most certainly regret this comment in six years, pardieu). So at the playground, the kids battle for some sand-ground turf, build castles with buckets and dig holes through the deeper moist sand .. I remember this like yesterday at Codornices or wherever Grace would take us. Otherwise it is run around until late-afternoon and I am happy to report that Eitan and Madeleine did a swell job looking after Dakota.

Tuesday, April 14


Marcelle lives in Sheffield, where she was born and raised. She took care of Silver, Sonnet and Marcus when Silver on a Fulbright and teaching here in '81 - the kids were teased mercilessly and Sonnet reports "girls used to fight each other." Sheffield located in South Yorkshire and in the 19th century became world known for steel - this where crucible and stainless steel invented, you see, fueling an almost tenfold increase in the population during the Industrial Revolution. International competition caused a decline in traditional local industries during the 1970s and 1980s, and at the same time the nearby national coal industry collapsed, affecting Sheffield's status. Their football club fell into the third division. People demoralised and out. Yet, to my surprise and after many years of decline, the Sheffield economy is going through a revival. A '04 Barclays Bank study shows that in 2003, the Sheffield district of Hallam was the highest ranking area outside London for overall wealth with 12% of people earning >£60,000 a year. Knight Frank reveals that Sheffield the fastest-growing city outside London for office and residential space and rents during in 2004, which is the most recent data I can find. No doubt Sheffield hit hard by today's recession but I may yet have to revise my vision of England's Detroit. So .. back to Marcelle, who is a salty old dog and enjoys a drink - I pour her champagne and white wine over dinner - and loves a good tale. She tells me of watching WW2 German bombers fly over Sheffield's factories "and not feeling the least bit afraid," which she notes due to her youth - perhaps. I also learn that her flat burgled recently and she beat off the entrant. And, you know - I am not the least bit surprised. She enjoys watching Eitan and Madeleine and we agree: "youth is a feast for the eyes."

Monday, April 13


Marcus turns a decade. An Asian fellow once told me of a Chinese proverb: "At 45, you know your destiny" so I have a few years to go yet but must say: I am pretty happy to continue as-is for a while yet. Sure, there is material crapolla I would enjoy but really - kids healthy, wife happy .. I've got a marathon to work on. So I'm sitting here on a bank-holiday-weekend blogging and watching "Clueless" with Alicia Silverstone - a total babe BTW and since I have seen her in nothing else since '95, I shall know her in her youth. Paul Rudd also in the movie .. and it's a pretty good teen-flic too which I find entertaining in my .. middle age. It is certainly a vision of being a high-schooler in California and makes us look, ahem, pretty good. Certainly better than the binge-drinking, sexed out "yobs" in this country. Well, it is not so bad in the UK but sometimes it feels that way thanks to the media's interest in teen vices - hey, the kids here just wanna have fun. And mostly they do, for surz.

"Okay, so you're probably going, "Is this like a Noxzema commercial or what?" But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl."
Cher, Clueless

Madeleine, at the Royal China restaurant: "Please pass the tampons." (she means "wanton")


Eitan in a party mood and in fairness, I asked him to sit still for several moments so I could take this picture in amber light. This hard for the kid to do. He and Madeleine join us for an adults-evening at Aubergine and mostly they are well behaved. Sonnet thinks to bring colouring books and crayons, which provide 15 minutes of distraction. Once the shock of a formal setting (napkins!) wears off so are they - off, that is, and several instances I am forced to holler: "I want to see those butts in a chair and hands on table!" We're on the earlier side of the dinner accommodating Sonnet's parents+Marcus's arrival from Nairobi today and he too nipped. Still, it is a lively affair and we learn about Solaces orphanage in Kibera, which is the largest slum in Africa and where Marcus and Brian bringing investment dollars for school-building. The orphanage is home to 80 children from 0 to 15 and viewed as a shining-light in its surrounding; the Director a Kenyon women who runs a tight-ship and knows her way around: Marcus leaves his wallet, stuffed with money, in a taxi and a few phone calls from her gets his purse back inside 24-hours. Despite the everything, it is hopeful. How different the world is following a 12-hour plane flight: from Kibera to South Kensington. I marvel.

Easter Week End

The glamour pusses shortly before dinner. Cake from Sonnet. Easter week end is a Big Deal in the UK - coenciding with school half-term break - and London feels mostly empty. Were it like this always. No traffic. Less noise. Museums crowded, as they should be. Easy to make a restaurant reservation .. Sure, if these things held true then London would be .. Zurich, or some other boring place. The Hague maybe. London vibes because people here walk with a purpose - they have somewhere to be and in a hurry to get there. Like New York or Hong Kong and decidedly not the case in many European capitals - in fact, Barcelona and Lisbon feel just the opposite. Mixed into the rush are >200 languages, representing God knows how many ethnic cultures, religions, countries, lineages, histories and what evers. The UK perhaps the most generous of European nations welcoming foreigners and the displaced - sometimes to our detriment as four known African leaders residing here accused of genocide yet allowed yet not deported because our Foreign Services believe their human rights in peril. WTF? This the odd, horrific, exception of course but the message out - UK=safe haven and mostly I am ok with it. The immigrants come for work - the Southeast an unsurpassed work-engine - and the generous social services including health care and education. Some ethnics have integrated into Western society better than others - Indians, and in particular the bad-ass Seiks, are well known for their shop-keeping, community-building and dependable presence. The Pakistanis are viewed with disdain ("dirty paki" something I hear from a taxi-driver or on the street) and now seen as a threat thanks to the 7-7 al Queda suicide bombings in Central London. Africans too have their profile, as do we Americans who took a nose dive thanks to Bush. It is a glorisous place indeed.

Sunday, April 12

Whitechapel Gallery

Stan and Silver at the Whitechappel gallery in the East End, which is worth a note. WC a public art gallery, designed by famous architect Charles Harrison Townsend, and founded in 1901 - it was one of the first publicly-funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London. (Nikolaus Pevsner described the original Whitechapel as "a wonderfully original and epoch-making building" in a part of London whose social diversity began in the 17th century, when it became the destination for incoming Huguenots, Portuguese, and Spanish Jews. By the end of the 19th century, it was a ghetto for poor East European Jews and Russians). Today it is known for its local outreach programs and supporting neighborhood artists, up-and-comers and the good and the great. Pablo Picasso's 'Guernica' in '38 here to protest the Spanish Civil War, for instance; "This is Tomorrow" in '56 brought Pop Art to the Brit and influenced the Swinging Sixties baby. The gallery recently re-opened following a year's renovation expanding space >70% and I am stunned to see early works by Lucian Freud, Peter Doig, Sarah Lucas and Chris Ofili - cow dung! Also Paul Nash and Ben Nicholson; rare early carvings by Henry Moore who recently had >20 works at Kew Gardens. A room is dedicated to the "Whitechapel Boys," a group of Jewish writers and artists from the East End who made substantial contributions to British Modernism from the 1920s.. Silver discusses this with an elderly Jewish women who is moved that Silver should know her history. Me, I am never surprised.

Sweet Lassi

Madeleine on Brick Lane. That's a mango lassi next to her. Marcus arrives yesterday, flying from Nairobi with his travel mate Brian, who I meet last night over dinner. Brian our age, that is, 42 which he notes "is the bloom of middle-age" which I agree with. He is also a journey-man, and seated next to Madeleine who he tries to engage but, really, not possible their world perspectives so totally different. Brian from a military family so his upbringing uprooted; he started his career in the Alaskan Coast Guard and settled in 49 from 1990-00 where he spent a lot of time outdoors - Christopher McAndles? He has rambled along ever since - most recently joining Marcus across Africa and why not? He helps Scola International build water there. Brian seems like a good travel companion - nice looking guy, good sense of humor - the sort of fellow who adventure seeks out, which is more than one can ask whenst on the road. Halley arrives from Dorset to see Marcus who, afterall, turns 40 on Tuesday. I have tickets to the Enemy, which I have coveted for six months for sold-out Brixton Academy and reluctantly give them to Marcus and Brian - par dieu, it would be unseemly to leave Sonnet with the kids while I out late partying after a family dinner in South Kensington. It is true, I have learned a thing or two in the bloom of middle age.

Saturday, April 11

Habib Bank Zurich

Photo in Whitechapel taken at the East Aldgate tube station - don't think, because of the urban ethnic and generally run-down surrounding, that there ain't wealth here. There is. Whitechapel a dodgy, built-up inner city within Tower Hamlets, London, located about 3 or 4 miles east of Charing Cross (we get here crossing the Tower Bridge, which gives everybody a thrill as we wave at the London Tower and I fascinate the Shakespeares with a story of murder, hangings and torture). More than 1 in 2 in Whitechapel is Bangladeshi or the highest percentage in the UK - it is, indeed, a foreign city. I think the future here promising, despite now, as the East London line of the tube is being extended northwards to Dalston and southwards to West Croydon by 2010. A further extension to provide a complete rail-ring route around south London to Clapham Junction by 2015. Whitechapel also scheduled to be a stop on the Crossrail project also by 2015 - much of the effort spurred by the 2012 Olympics, which is farther east. The transpo changes will most likely lead to a radical redevelopment, making Tower Hamlets more attractive to businesses, but pricing existing residents out of the area. And same as it ever was.

Brick Lane

We visit a gallery with Stan and Silver in the East End, then stroll to Brick Lane for a curry. This the Tower Hamlets council and fascinating - no doubt, poor and ethnic with the shiny city immediately west -the most visible structure being London's most recent sky scraper The Gherkin where Swiss Re domiciled. We choose lunch from multiple venues where outside-proprietors convince us their offers the best Bangalese or Hyderabad or whatever. We settle for one that looks less disco and more family-style. The kids shy away from anything hot while me, I like to tempt misery. I recall a similar place in Cambridge, MA, where Eric and I ate chicken Jal Frezi so hot it made us sweat. Those were good memories from a difficult time - post college, first job, breaking up, pre-Sonnet and my-oh-my the dramz. Brick Lane has gentrified on one side, similar to the Portebello Road which is all high-end antiques on the Notting Hills side while the other a flea market by Golborne Rd and the canal. For Brick Lane, it goes hindu-hindu to .. gay and tailoring. I walk by at least a handful of cool vintage shops and a number of metro-bars. Clubbers know about the biegal bakery which is open 24 hours offering the best bagels and salt-beef sandwiches in London, no question .. we pass a mosque calling to prayer and filling with elderly and young men, who are serious and seem disconnected from modernity. Too bad I think "threat" before anything else.

Me to Eitan, hovering: What do you want to say to my blog?
Eitan: Ummm. Ronaldo ?
Me: Anything else?
Eitan: It's now the Easter Holidays, and dad is making us tidy up even more, which I don't understand. It's the holidays.
Me: And?
Eitan: It's boring.
Me: Why?
Eitan: Dad says he's going to through it (our toys) away if we don't take them off the ground. I tried not doing it, and he didn't do anything about it.
Me: And what does that tell you?
Eitan: That you're just threatening us to try into actually doing it. And scaring us into thinking that we are going to throw the toys away.
Me: So will you put your toys in the future?
Eitan: No.

Friday, April 10

Mayor's Office

Here is the Mayor's office, mentioned below. This used to be an unkempt, open area as recently as the late 1990s. The South Side where Livingstone's scheme to increase housing stock taken hold - today, where there was nothing as recently as ten years ago, now sees multiple glass-and-steel high-rise condominiums none, I believe, higher than St Paul's. London's housing problem well appreciated by anybody trying to get a foot on the ladder - this city the engine of the UK and in good or bad times, attracts people from everywhere. Prop values may be down 15-25% in some neighborhoods but we all know it will come back. Part of the problem, if one is a first-time buyer that is, London surrounded by "green-belts" where development not permitted. Further, to maintain the historic sky-line, planning permission for anything more than five floors extremely difficult. And nothing can deter the view of St Paul's. Before the global melt-down, Super Gee contemplating developing the wetlands east of Greenwich and near the Thames Barrier. The problem with Gordon's plan being floods - as in, this area a flood plain. Sigh -I am sure it will happen one day, and tax payers will have to bail out (ar ar) the insurance providers. The Thames Barrier BTW architecturally marvelous and built for the once-a-hundred-years flood; it is now used monthly and by 2050, anticipated daily to prevent bankside swelling during the natural course of the tide.

Oh, and since a "bank holiday weekend," it rains.

Tower Bridge

The London Marathon is, gulp, two weeks away and while I run for charity (vs. time) thinking of the course makes me a tad nervous. In '98 when I last ran the thing it was all fine and dandy until mile-24 then .. The Wall. Demoralised and cold, spectators screaming: "only one more mile mate!" I hobbled to Buckingham Palace and finish line on the Mall. It started to rain and I was sick, for like, a year after. 

Still. And yet. For a long-retired student-athlete, there is nothing more compelling than the ultimate race. Studies indicate that one's aerobic abilities decline at a rate much slower than power or force allowing this middle-ager to contemplate a PR (personal record) later at Berlin. 

So, any ways - we head East this morning and here at the Tower Bridge where I shinny across a ledge with a 15 foot drop behind me - tide definitely o-u-t. From there we goof around the South Side near by the Mayor's Office known either as "The Sail" or "The House That Ken Built" (Ken Livingstone being London's first mayor, elected in 2000). His shiny, funky ten-story glass house immediately over-budget and struck by problems with leakage and boarded windows but now it shines. 

How this neighborhood has changed from my early days working in The City when my jogging route Blackfriars, crossing the Thames at Tower Bridge then returning via Westminster Bridge.. there was a lot of rubble, including amazingly, lots bombed in WWII, but now rebuilt and businesses flourish. The great push from here ever eastward into the East End where the 2012 Olympics, we hope, will revitalise an otherwise forever languishing part of the city.

Thursday, April 9


Sometimes there is no reason to a thing - good, or bad. Regardless, we like to control the outcome. The United States, which has the world's largest military budget by far and in excess of $500 billion per year, has enjoyed decidedly mixed results in its last five goes, which I score as 1-1-3, holding Iraq and Afg as draws for the now (I don't include Grenada which, other than a Clint Eastwood movie, long ago forgotten; nor Mogadishu and Haiti; while Russia never a military battle). Indeed, our might seriously compromised during the Bush-years: prior, America generally viewed as the sole Super Power capable of policing the world. And now we know for certain this not true. "Talk softly and carry a big stick" somebody said then, and as true as today. Sonnet's parents visit for Passover and we celebrate the Sedar, with Madeleine and Eitan vying for the traditional questions: "Why is this night different from all other nights" and so forth. Reading the blessings, it is hard not to observe Israel's relationship with Gaza, where more news comes forward about the war's conduct, which left >900 Palestinian civilians dead compared to 12 Israeli soldiers. Is Israel now Pharoah? I have always been a knee-jerk, and steadfast supporter of Israel and it is hard to be Jewish American and feel any other way. Yet, I met Katie's Jewish friend Phil Weiss in New York a couple months ago and he has attacked Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and America's powerful Jewish Lobby, which contraven US interests in the Middle East, he says via his blog Phil was once the New York Times's top reporter but became disallusioned and quit - he asked me, "How can you trust the NYT after Iraq?" and he has a point. Anyway, Phil is bringing his focus onto a local, and personal cause - his site has raised over $5,000 in micro-payments to attend the upcoming AIPAC and Gaza and this, he believes, the future of our news.


Photo from Marcus, taken in Mbita, Africa, on his way to Malawi. Marcus is setting up blogs and video programs for donors who have contributed to his non-profit Sola International. Marcus is travelling with 12 experts and staff and his time has been chaotic, full of meetings, trips and travel for almost every minute - "trying to find a way to get to an Internet cafe almost impossible." He will join us Saturday and together with family we will celebrate his 4-0.

"The biggest risk to the project is our own thundering incompetence."
Dilbert (taped to my office-wall)

Wednesday, April 8


This is John, one of Eitan's three coaches at KPR. He is from Newcastle and the real-deal - despite a stern look, he loves the boys and would do anything for them. I've observed this on the pitch and at the several friendlies the boys have so far played. They respect him.

Sonnet's parents settle following their long-haul flight from Denver (Silver: "The flowers, Jeff. The flowers!" - sometimes London needs to be seen from an outside eye). Sonnet stops by their hotel on her way home from jury duty and she and Stan end up at Cadogen Hal to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert venue located at Sloan Terrace in Chelsea in what used to be the First Church of Christ. Lucky, lucky. Meanwhile, I take the Shakespeares to Waitrose to buy some needed dinner supplies (red wine) and, since this is half-term break, spoil them with sugar cereal. Their little eyes go wide with shock when I answer their pleas with positive (Madeleine: "Do you really mean it, dad? Do you?"). Unable to decide, they go for the tried-and-true holiday pack - a selection of Cocoa Pops, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes &c. in diner-sized boxes. This nets a fight over who gets what so we end up buying two. From there it is the ice-cream locker where they are allowed to select whatever - again, it beggars belief and they push their good fortune: "Can we watch TV, Dad? Can we?" and I say - why not? So yes, Dad is on patrol ..

Tuesday, April 7

Liverpool Street Station

Note: I didn;t particularly like my original posting photo taken with mobile phone. I replace it with this one - taken by Orchan.

Liverpool Street Station - the
equivalent of New York's Grand Central Station in proximity to wealth - shuffles The City's bankers to and from the suburbs. It is the third busiest in London after Waterloo and Victoria with 123 million visitors each year. I note that movie Mission Impossible takes advantage of this cool moderno setting placing a fabricated CIA "safe house" above the Old Broad Street entrance where Tom Cruise enters the main line concourse to use a payphone situated under the double staircase. Dun dun dun. For most ex-pats, LSS is the gateway to Bishopsgate plaza which, like Midtown Manhattan, provides industrial steel and glass hq's for UBS, Lehman Bros (ker-plunk), Bear Sterns (ker-pow), Merrill Lynch (ker-splat) and other American institutions, whomever may be left. Buy your rent - cheep. On top of the station London's "Square Mile," the wealthiest pinch of land in Europe with the London Stock Exchange, Lloyd's of London (insurance) and the Bank of England herself. starting in the early-90s, many of the global franchises moved to Canary Wharf which offers more real-estate holding many thousands of employees .. it is also a soulless, God-awful area on the Isle of Dogs not far from Greenwich - feel sorry for the poor slobs who work there. The real power shift, in effect, occurred from my arrival in '97 as the money managers chose the West End - Mayfair and St James's own virtually all the hedge fund and private equity firms and why not? Much less oppressive than The City+night life and go-go right around the corner. Then there is the Wolseley and La Caprice not to mention Dukes. I rarely find myself in or nearby Liverpool Station these days and it kinda gives me the creeps - reminding me of my first couple of years in London when I worked for lbo firm Botts & Co. on New Fetter Lane ..

While thinking about The City, here is something to ponder: Americans are saving more - in the last quarter of 2008, net-debt fell by $100 billion or 1%. Yet net worth fell by $5,000 billion or 10%. As a result, debt ratios have become worse - to better them, savings and defaults will have to rise - or governments will have to keep up the stim-u-lus.

Madeleine and I await Stan and Silver's arrival at Heathrow - on time and hurray! - then, after dropping Stan and Silver off at their hotel in South Kensington, Madeleine and I have lunch at La Brasserie. On her mind these days? A pet. Our summer holiday. And living in California, which she would like to do now or when an adult, she says.

Monday, April 6

Wedding Dress and Marbreds

Madeleine tries on a wedding dress for Diane, who ties the knot this summer in VT. More to come. Here's something to note: US smoking hotlines swamped, sometimes by four times their usual volulme the USA Today reports, by would-be quitters following the largest-ever increase in the federal tobacco tax - a pack of Marlboros ("Marbreds" back in the day) by $1.01 a pack, for instance. But here's what these poor hackers are up against: 3% have success on their own; with counseling it is 16% and with medication like the nicotine patch - 30%. Not encouraging - how on earth consumers believed this nefarious weed - nicotine added accordingly - not a drug nor addictive? I recall like yesterday the seven Tobacco CEOs '94 testimonials under oath before Congress. They squirmed as much as I did knowing full well they were a lie. Not surprisingly when I was in business school around this time, Philip Morris recruited and the shadiest dude in my class took a summer internship - his comment then: "every company has skeletons in the closet..." Dumb ass MBA. Of more interest, PM presented at Columbia's Presidential suite - not even the Big Investment Banks or Consulting Firms did this - and brought their top-brass from Vice Presidents to the Head of North America who opened his presentation by saying (this the very first thing, mind you): "Ours is a legal product, and as long as it is legal, we will do everything in our power to promote Philip Morris and smoking." There was no mention of the lobbiests in DC or the cancer spread across our country. Well, things have improved and fewer people in the Western World smoke, excluding the French who smoke all the time God bless them. Thank goodness, then, for Asia where >50% of their populations inhale. It is hard to imagine how their health system will cope in twenty years when the health system forced to address the smoking related suffering. It won't be pretty, nor any of us guilt-free.

Lily Allen

CW sends me this cool pic from the Warfield the other night. Lily Allen is a controversial Brit singer who has made the world-stage; she is despised by some for her intemperate behavior (see Perez Hilton who cannot stand her) but I admire her pluck and independent spirit, which reminds me of Madeleine. Plus she's a girl in music which is mostly a man's world and I should know having worked for Jim Fifield, the CEO of EMI Music, during my summer of business school. Of course, Allen also produces beautiful and interesting music and her lifestyle - married lovers, drunk nights with a dubious crew and other various self-destructive habits - should, while not being defended, not be reviewed with a puritanical, snobbish and condescending eye which is what I see from Fleet Street and Perez (who for the record is a little prick but I cannot help reading his website Does that make me a little prick? Probably, oh well). The Warfield Theatre BTW an epic San Fran venue on Market Street built in the 1920s for vaudeville; it was the home of the Grateful Dead who, in 1980, played 15 sold out concerts to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Lucky Christian for living so close by - for living in San Francisco, for that matter.

On Barak Obama and Europe - what a thrill to see him. In one week he changes the perception of America. There is no fear of his miscue or embarrassment; he appears confident and, in fact radiant - and why not? He could easily win an election in any country of Europe and remains, by far, the world's most popular politician. Media takes us within inches of his various arrivals and I note how he treats the support - touching the door man on the shoulder or a quick comment to the security guy or police.. I also see him shake Sarkozy's hand with a strong, powerful grip similar to something on the street vs. a formal contact - Sarkozy, of course, basks in the macho glow. Michelle adds to the glamour and unlike that embarrassing, dip-shit, money chasing Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Michelle brings style, education, career and family to the Euro affair. Similar to her husband, she is somebody we want representing our country. Representing me. They've got game.


Wow - check out this photo by Chris Waythomas of Redoubt volcano in Alaska, which erupted March 31, 2009. View is to the west. Note ash covered slopes in foreground. Silver "glad we're not there." For sure. I recall that Stan and Silver arrived in Anchorage six months before the Great Alsakan earthquake on March 27, 1964, which went across south-central Alaska, ground fissures, collapsing buildings, and tsunamis directly caused about 131 deaths. It lasted nearly five minutes, it was the most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. and Northern American history, and the third most powerful ever measured by seismograph; it had a moment magnitude of 9.2 and registered 8.4 on the Richter scale.

The quake produced earthquake liquefaction in the region. Ground fissures and failures caused major structural damage in several communities, much damage to property and several landslides. Anchorage sustained great destruction or damage to many inadequately engineered houses, buildings, and infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, water and sewer mains, electrical systems, and other man-made equipment). Two hundred miles southwest, some areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by 30 feet (9.1 m). East of Anchorage, areas around the head of Turnagain Arm near Portage dropped 8 feet (2.4 m), requiring reconstruction and fill to raise the Seward Highway above the new high tidemark. In Prince William Sound, a 27-foot (8.2 m) tsunami destroyed the village of Chenega, killing 23 of the 68 people who then lived there; survivors out-ran the wave, climbing to high ground. Post-quake tsunamis severely affected Valdez, Whittier, Seward, Kodiak, and other Alaskan Communities, as well as people and property in British Columbia, Oregon, and California. Tsunamis also caused damage in Hawaii and Japan. Silver describes the ground "melting underneath".