Sunday, September 28

These Boots

It is a good thing Sonnet and I enjoy spending time together - imagine if otherwise? (I double-check to make sure she feels this way too). Here we are at the airport - still - and she looks pretty go-go with her boots. I'm driving her crazy by repeating oo-la-la.


You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'
and you keep losin' when you oughta not bet.
You keep samin' when you oughta be changin'.
Now what's right is right, but you ain't been right yet.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you"

Nancy Sinatra, baby


Our plane delayed so I amuse myself - pictured. Here is what you need to know about the Charles de Gaulle International Airport: it's awful. It takes two hours to get there during rush-hour, has funky design meant for automobiles (the newer terminals may collapse) and it is utterly confusing+the security takes twice as long as any airport I have ever been through. The international flights - forget it. Unlike Heathrow, the second worst airport on the planet, CDG still has some runway capacity - 68% vs 98% - and the planes don't fly over the center city, oh boy. Sonnet frets about flying, seeing the kids and the weekend, which is jam-packed with activities including Eitan's eight birthday party - but more on that later. Our flight delay only ads to the unrest and shortens are Friday night sadly. Have I mentioned the Eurostar not taking bookings until after 30 September? It ain't soon enough brother.

Here are the Top Ten airports by passengers
Atlanta International 89,379,287
O'Hare 76,177,855
London Heathrow 68,068,304
Tokyo International 66,823,414
LAX 61,896,075
CDG 59,922,177
Dallas-Ft Worth 59,786,476
Frankfurt Airport 54,161,856
Beijing Capital Airport 53,583,664
Madrid International 52,122,702

Chuck Jaeger Montrose Regional Airport: I couldn't find passenger data, but assume it is less than one-million. Stan?

Bois D'Englais

Here is my wise and beautiful wife in front of our hotel on rue Boissy-D'Angles next to the American Embassy. They close the road, which is guarded by gendarmes, so it is a quiet place between place de la Concorde and rue du Faubourg-St-Honoree which is Paris's New Bond Street. We sit around having a goof awaiting a taxi. The evening prior our dinner with Astorg fascinating - good food, best wine and nice people offering a genuine insight into the Parisienne which I rarely enjoy (even after 12 years, I have precious little insight into the British). My language remains adequate but I no longer fear using it, which is probably half the battle. Of course champagne and wine help too. I discuss America with my neighbors who are amazed by the scale of the USA - even today - a $700 billion bailout? Mon Dieu! The amount is inconceivable. They are also fascinated by the US presidential elections and without exception favor Obama, even if they do not know his policies nor experience. As an ambassador for the United States, we agree, McCain would be a set-back (mon Dieu). In the other direction I want to know about Sarkozy and Carla: "a national embarrassement", "he has lost the plot" and the embodiment of The Fonz (this last chestnut from me); regardless everybody has Carla's CD. It is about the celebrity afterall.

Carla Bruni's magazine covers:
- Argentina: 'Elle' - November 1996
- Australia: 'Elle' - January & November 1995; 'Elle' - December 1996
- France: 'Femme' - March 1992; 'Elle' - October 24, 1994; 'L'Officiel' - May 1995; 'Max' - March 1996; 'Elle' - April 27 1998; 'Elle' - December 2002; 'Marie Claire' - December 2002; 'Paris Match' - June 12, 2003; 'Elle' - July 18, 2005
- Hong Kong: 'Elle' - August 1996
- Italy: 'MODA' - October 1992; 'Vogue' - March 1993; 'Glamour' - September 1995; 'Vanity Fair' - February 2 2007
- Spain: 'Vogue' - July 1988; 'Elle' - June 1995; 'Woman' - 1997; 'Mujer Hoy' - #414, March 2007
- UK: 'Marie Claire' - May 1990; 'Vogue' - August 1993; 'Elle' - October 1995.


What is amazing about the Eiffel Tower is that it exists at all. I mean one dude decided: hey, I'm gonna build this god damn thing, and somehow he got France to give him a shit-load of money. There was no commercial reason otherwise. Gustave must have pissed off a lot of people in his way.

Did you know that the lift cables were
cut in 1940 so that Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit? The parts to repair them were allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war. In 1940 German soldiers had to climb to the top to hoist the swastika, but the flag was so large it blew away just a few hours later, and it was replaced by a smaller one. When visiting Paris, Hitler chose to stay on the ground. It was said that Hitler conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower. A Frenchman scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. In August 1944, when the Allies were nearing Paris, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower along with the rest of the city. Von Choltitz disobeyed the order. The lifts of the Tower were working normally within hours of the Liberation.


Having lunch in front of Eiffel, we watch (OK, I snoop) on a group of privileged teenagers who take their school break (I surmise) and smoke cigarettes and flirt. There is a strange dynamic between the two girls who are relaxed and mature and the guys, who seem uncomfortable and vie for their affections while expressing their own machismo/ belonging by flirting with each other. Despite their yuf there is something a bit threatening - the group in their own private Idaho and somehow explosive or at least charged (or maybe I have Larry Clark's '95 "Kids" on my mind - that movie about wealthy sexually predatory and violent teenagers in Manhattan). Sonnet begs me not to take pictures so obviously but I cannot resist.

Before the tower, we visit Paris's newest museum: Musée du Quai Branly which features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The doors opened in June 2006 and the last go of that blow-hard Jacques Chirac, whose affection for African and Asian art and resolve to make a political gesture to the third world ensured the museums completion on time and on his presidency. This at least honorable. It is a wonderful, strange place designed by architect Jean Nouvel at a cost of $265 million, which seems kinda low-ball by today's standards. Inside are masks, spears, artifacts, jewelery, skins, statues and &c. which are displayed by geographic area. It is interest to observe how different peoples living in similar proximity express themselves so differently. This applies over time as well, and the museum offers a sense of humanity in flux. It ain't Babaar, that is for sure and for-tune-atelee.

"The history of the world is not just the history of the Mediterranean and Europe. Our ultimate aim is to give non-Western art its place."
Stéphane Martin, the director general of the Musée du Quai Branly, June 23, 2006

Le Faubourg

Me and Sonnet in Paris on Thursday (I have some catching up to do on this blog). We catch an early morning plan (the Eurostar not taking bookings thanks to an explosion in one of the tunnels two weeks ago. What is up with that?) and have the day to ourselves before dinner with Astorg partners at Laurent in the 8th arrondisement. It is a beautiful Indian summer - same all weekend - and I sit in Tuileries while Sonnet sees La Mode at the Louvre. I am quite happy to sit by myself for a perfect hour contemplating, well, anything that comes to mind. Eitan and Madeleine happy for Aggie, who spends the night and drops them at school Friday morning. In the background is the impending bailout, which makes us feel unsettled, not helped by el Presidente who informs us "this sucker could go down" without the Paulson $700 billion liquidity program sans any oversight whatsoever. This guy has not done one thing - not one thing - for our country.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down."
President Bush declared Thursday, September 25

Wednesday, September 24

So 1959

In 1959 the Soviet Union and United States agreed to trade expos. All went all-out to show theirs better. Vice-Pres Nixon and Khruschev tour the American kitchen (note ample bread) and debate on merits of Russian and U.S. way of life - pictured (photo from the V A archives). In Moscow, the Soviet Premier sees a montage of Americanism including Manhattan skyscrapers, golden bridges and busy people in the heat of consumption. Highways and highways and highways take motorists to and from in their shiny cars, all lovingly displayed at the V A's Cold War Modern show. We see mostly white, but also some black citizens in city hats, skinny ties and briefcases; women plump their children who jump the school bus playing cowboys. Duck and cover, baby. What a freaky time this was.

Cold War Modern

After lunch, Jan and I visit the V A to see design from 1945-1970, which otherwise opens to the public tomorrow (thank you Sonnet). Here is what the brief says:

"The decades after the Second World War saw an intense rivalry between the world's two superpowers: the Soviet Union and America. In the 'cold war' that ensued, the two powers engaged in aggressive contests to build their own spheres of influence. they accelerated the development of new technologies to produce weapons, launched ambitious space programmes and waged propaganda campaigns across the world.

Vying to outdo one another, each deployed displays of modern living, signs of progress and images of future utopias. Art, architecture and design were drawn into this Cold War competition to demonstrate a superior vision of modernity.

Modern life after 1945 seemed to promise both utopia and catastrophe. By 1949, both of the world's superpowers's had acquired the capacity to annihilate one another with nuclear weapons. Twenty years later, man had walked on the moon.

Modernists artist and designers responded to this dual vision, searching for ways to build a new and hopeful future and deal with anxieties of the present.

(Photograph of Edward Mann hat by John French, 1965)

-> Sitting next to us at lunch BTW is Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. I notice his girlfriend first (believe me).


I think this would be less fantastic if not for A) McC did not know how many houses he owns; B) stated his history of buying American automobiles (at least three foreign); and C) noted that upper class begins $5 million. He and Cindy own more toys than the CEO-Wall Street fat cats he now berates, despite their having earned it. No wonder Cindy won't release those tax returns... . .


Madeleine this morning complains of a back-ache (and "I don't want to go to yoga" she adds). I look at her shocked: "Do you really have a back ache? Do you?" She is a bit taken aback and I inform her incredulously: "Last night while you were asleep I put a pea under your mattress!" Madeleine turns to her brother for confirmation that she is being had: "Is it true Eitan? Is it?" Of course he is grinning and we all crack up at the joke. At yoga, Eitan tells everybody he can that I put a pea under Madeleine's bed. Photo from July '05.

Me: how many words in ice cream?
Madeleine: One
How many in "jump"?

John McCain, are you in there?

Sen. John McCain’s top campaign aides convened a conference call today to complain of being called "liars." They pressed the media to scrutinize specific elements of Sen. Barack Obama’s record.

But the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy.

The errors in McCain strategist Steve Schmidt’s charges against Obama and Sen. Joe Biden were particularly notable because they seemed unnecessary. Schmidt repeatedly gilded the lily: He exaggerated the Biden family's already problematic ties to the credit card industry; Obama’s embarrassing relationship with a 1960s radical; and an Obama supporter’s over-the-top attack on Sarah Palin when — in each case — the truth would have been damaging enough.

"Any time the Obama campaign is criticized at any level, the critics are immediately derided as liars," Schmidt told reporters.

But as he went on to list a series of stories he thought reporters should be writing about Obama and Biden, in almost every instance he got the details wrong.

Tuesday, September 23


To the race track.

Have you ever explained a trillion to a six year old? Not easy. Ronald Reagan made an attempt in his '82 State of the Union Address:

"I've been trying ... to think of a way to illustrate how big a trillion is. The best that I could come up with is that if you had a stack of $1000 bills in your hand only four inches high you would be a millionaire. A trillion dollars would be a stack of $1000-dollar bills 67 miles high."

Four inches would make you a millionaire. During Reagan, the national debt tripled from the $993 billion to $2.6 trillion, or a 174 miles high. Compared with the current White House, however, Reagan was thrifty. Bush has added $4 trillion to the debt making our stack of $1000s 697 miles+119 days left in his term+another trillion-dollars for the bailout. OMG.

So here is what a trillion-dollars gets you these days (besides 10% of our GDP):

- every woman, man and child in the United States $3278

- twelve times what the federal government spends each year on transportation

- ten times what it spends on education

- Six times what Senator Obama has vowed to spend over 10 years for energy independence.

- It is 19% more than NASA's budget for the entire half century the space agency has been in existence.

- It's 38% more than this year's bloated Pentagon budget.

- It's 60% of what's needed to renew and repair America's entire infrastructure of bridges and roads.

- It's 50% of what's needed to provide universal health coverage for all Americans.

(Thank you Daily Kos for the datas)

"In my judgment, the risk of this regulatory approach is simply unacceptable for America's investors."
Arthur Levitt, longest serving Chairman of the SEC, in 1999 or the same year as the Gramm-Leach-Blilely Act

"The public adore me. I haven't got a bad word to say about Paul. Men are falling over themselves to ask me out. My only interest in life is helping others."

Heather Mills, September 22

Monday, September 22


Here are crew pit girls in their period piece. This is how I imagine, more or less, British women circa WWII. The drivers and mechanics are men with exceptions: Maria Teresa De Filippis was the first woman to participate in a Formula One event in 1958 and this year she reunites with her Maserati 250F at Goodwood to take a few laps 'round the track.

The kids spend Saturday with Christian, who is otherwise on his way to Spain for a two week bike-trek. He spoils the kids with ice cream, pizza and football - just as it should be. Renata takes over Sunday morning allowing Christian to the airport and while we return late Sunday. It is a beautiful Indian summer and in truth, it is hard for us to pull away from Chichester and the estate. Ah, the peace Dear Brother. The peace.

Gordon Brown is on the talkies Sunday arguing his case. He's a cool cat despite the Labour rebels who call for 'is 'ed. Labour's convention takes place in Brighton and not surprisingly it is about the economy (stupid). Britain's borrowing rate has quickly accelerated from £512 billion in January to £620 billion and growing. As a percent of GDP, debt has gone from 30% in 2002 to 35% despite an economic expansion (The Centre for Policy Studies BTW sites higher figures than Treasury: £1,340 billion or 103.5 per cent of GDP). While high, other countries worse: Japan had a National debt of 158% at the height of their recession and the US national debt is over 65% of GDP when unfunded liablities included (and who knows after the bail-out+Iraq?) Anyway, Brown argues that he is the steady Eddy to guide our economy following his many years as Chancellor. For the moment, his party seems to agree - now probably not a good time to shoot the pilot. He is on borrowed time regardless.

International Flag Signals (from the race program)
Red: Signal for complete and immediate stop
Yellow (waved): Great danger, be prepared to stop. Do not overtake
Yellow (motionless): Take care, danger. Do not overtake.
Yellow with vertical red stripes: Take care, surface slippery as oil or similar fluid has been spilled on the road.
Blue (waved): Another competitor is trying to overtake you
Blue (motionless): Another competitor is following you very closely
White: An ambulance or slow-moving vehicle is on the circuit.
Black (with car number): Signal for the competitor to stop on the next lap.
Black with white chequered: Signal for the winner and end of the race.

Goodwood Revival

Sonnet and I are guests of David and Tabitha at the Goodwood revival held on the estate of Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara (for those who care, the Earl is the heir apparent of the 10th Duke of Richmond, 10th Duke of Lennox and 5th Duke of Gordon - in short: rich). Once a year, roadsters are invited to compete in a weekend of wonderful racing and viewers required to wear period dress from the British 1950s and 1960s (Sonnet in heaven). There is even a Volvo 544 in one of the races ! A champagne ball themed "Oriental" (we debate whether this a politically correct expression but in Southwest England, so what?) ends with fire works and dancing . Fun! Here is a summary from Wikipedia:

The Goodwood Revival is a 3-day festival held each September for the types of cars and motorcycles that would have competed during the circuit's original period - 1948-1966. It is one of the world’s most popular motor race meetings and the only UK event which recreates the golden era of motor sport from the 1950s and 1960s. The festival acts as a showcase for exceptional wheel-to-wheel racing around a classic circuit, untouched by the modern world and relives the glory days of Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit, which ranked alongside Silverstone as Britain’s leading racing venue throughout its active years. Between 1948 and 1966 Goodwood hosted contemporary racing of all kinds, including Formula One, the famous Goodwood Nine Hours race and the celebrated Tourist Trophy sports car race.

The festival includes the Grand Prix cars from the Fifties and Sixties, sports and GT cars, as well as historic saloon cars and little-seen Formula Juniors. Many of these important historic racing cars are driven by famous names from motor sport past and present.

The restored circuit is unchanged from its heyday and many visitors wear appropriate period clothing and no modern vehicles are allowed within the circuit perimeter throughout the weekend. There are also theatrical sets that bring the past back to life. Photo from Classic

Friday, September 19

Shades On

Madeleine wakes in a sad mood, made worse when she learns Sonnet cannot walk her to school. She wails genuine tears and it is not simply a matter of telling her "enough!" (as one does). Today requires comforting and patience and slowly she comes out of it: "Scones! Dad, can I have two?" The following school run uneventful. I sing loudly to embarrass the Shakespeares. The un-clipped Eitan tells Joe-Y-H that he is going to get a quarter inch haircut. The boy has been talking about this for some time and Sunday appears to be the day. We shall see. Sonnet attends fashion during Fashion Week, which gets considerable media coverage and the cat-walks host the good and the great. Last night we have dinner with her former colleague Lizzy, whose parents were both dons at Oxford, and Ferdie. Ferdie is responsible for risk at his commercial bank - he is not optimistic BTW though he is otherwise an optimist.

Madeleine looking like Katie.

Here are a few useful expressions from da yuf:

AC/DC - bisexual
To ask. E.g."I aksed him to move his car from the driveway."
Away from the mixer: Not quite in touch with reality, in a dreamy state
Alkie: An alcoholic. Also spelt alky.
All mouth and no trousers: Boastful and without just reason. E.g."You shouldn't pay any attention to him, he's all mouth and no trousers."

Thursday, September 18

Richard Serra

This cool sculpture by Richard Serra is shown at the Gagosian Gallery WC1. Serra was born in San Fran and went to UC Berkeley - props. Otherwise he is described as a "minimalist sculptor and video artist known for working with large scale assemblies of sheet metal." His most famous work, at least in the 1980s, was Tilted Arc, a 3.5 meter high arc of rusting steel in NYC's Federal Plaza. There was controversy over the installation from the get-go as workers bitched that the steel wall obstructed passage through the plaza - fair enough. A public hearing in '85 voted that the work should be moved, but Serra argued the sculpture was site specific and could not be placed anywhere else. Serra issued an often-quoted statement regarding the nature of site-specific art when he said, "To remove the work is to destroy it." The sculpture was removed for scrap in '89 and William Gaddis wrote a novel about it: "A Frolic of His Own." Oh boy. Of a large collection stand-outs are Bramme for the Ruhr-District, 1998 at Essen; Fulcrum 1987, 55 ft. freestanding sculpture of Cor-ten steel at Liverpool Station; and The Matter of Time at the Guggenheim Bilbao.

Photo from the Gagosian.

Kate and Halifax

Thank goodness we have Kate on roller skates to distract us. Her charity disco for Tom's Ward at the Children's Hospital in Oxford a good cause and steals half the broadsheets who otherwise cover . . . . the collapse of Halifax! The UK's largest lender was sold to Lloyds TSB for £12 billion and Gordon Brown personally ensured the deal despite all normal competition laws. The new Lloyds will have 39 million account holders, 30% of all mortgages and 35% of all savers cash. Wow. The merger will also eliminate 40,000 staff, dwarfing Lehman's 5,000 in London. What does this mean for the punters you and me? Well, firstly, dearer home loans thanks to reduced competition. Secondly lower savings rates. Until now the competition made UK mortgages some of the cheapest and most available in the world, and our current account rates generous. Expect an end to all that. Also anticipate a reduction in the range of high street financial products like student and home loans, which will now cost more. We will probably be forced to pay for cash withdrawals and the banks will insist on taking a cut for making change. Still, this is a good deal - a Halifax collapse would be been the death knell. It ain't over yet brother.

Christian sees a few friends to get a sense of the jobs market in London and it is an interesting time to talk to guys in finance, oh boy. From there we have dinner with Paul and meet some new people including a fellow Philip whose father founded one of the world's largest english training programs. He's now involved with the business and regretting buying a house in Chelsea last year. We have a lively conversation about the financial mess and politics and the finacial mess and politics. Round it goes.

I have yet to meet a soul, either personally or in media, who does not have a strong view of the presidential candidates. It would seem that McC and Obama are extremes of colour so I ask myself ... are there really any independents and if so, why and where? I watch the polls Dear Sister and indeed they change. Daily. I suppose demonstrates (my) context more than anything yet I still find it, well, weird. Or likely, the even split means small movements titanic.

Wednesday, September 17


Christian and I have a martini or two at his hotel, pictured. Al joins us from San Francisco - he is in London on business - and we spend some considerable time discussing the Cal Bears. The last time we were together in Los Angeles from the USC game, which Cal lost oh well. Here is what I learn about the Sanderson Hotel: the building constructed in 1958 as the headquarters and showroom for the Sanderson furnishing fabric company for its centennial birthday. It was designed by architect Jeff Holroyd, of the architectural firm of Slater and Uren. The original design plan allowed for dynamic room configurations. The building plan was constructed around an open-to-the-sky inner courtyard with a Japanese garden designed by Philip Hicks. In 1991, the Sanderson building was listed Grade II with a star by the government’s English Heritage Commission. It was reopened in April 2000 by Morgans Hotel Group after a refurbishment by Philippe Stark and Denton Corker Marshall. The long white bar an art deco classic and favorite for the media-celeb-young chic crowd. Which is far from me but I enjoy the view nonetheless.

"Our political differences, no matter how sharply they are debated, are really quite narrow in comparison to the remarkably durable national consensus on our founding convictions."
John McCain, January 28, 2008

Tuesday, September 16


Check out Eitan's side-burns: real 70s football style.

Christian and I attend a recital at St James's Church to hear Sibelius En Saga arr. for septet and Britten Sinfonietta Op 9. Just fabulous and a real treat. Most of the audience elderly with a few weirdos - it is lunch time after all - but the music is world class, performed by the New Chamber Ensemble who are most young musicians probably at or recently graduated from Oxford.

I ask Madeleine to do a simple chore and she refuses. I ask the same of Eitan, who readily accepts and in return he gets a tenner - an outrageous amount - which shocks Madeleine to tears and anger. I tell her that "opportunities should be taken" but this only gets her teeth gnashing. She refuses our bed-time read. She makes a point of slamming her bed-room door. When I cajole Eitan into giving Madeleine half his prize, she refuses. Good on her. We have had a similar exchange before - Madeleine refusing a job, Eitan accepting and getting paid - but last night's extreme reward over the top, though it does crack Sonnet up when I tell her the story. I am certain this not my finest moment as parent.

A Reason To Be Afraid

Lehman and Merrill Lynch's digestion, while disruptive and indeed sad, is not an end-of-world kind of thing. There is a bigger potential failure however: American International Group, the insurance giant. It poses a much larger threat to the financial system because it plays an integral role in several key markets: credit derivatives, mortgages, corporate loans and hedge funds. For instance, it is a central player in the unregulated credit default swap market that is reported to be at least $60 trillion in size (no idea of this market? Neither is John McCain). Ominously, last Monday AIG. was downgraded by the credit rating agencies which could require AIG to post billions of dollars of additional collateral for its mortgage derivative contracts (the Federal Reserve is trying to arrange $70B of emergency loans as I write). AIG nor Wall Street has this kind of money presenting the possibility that AIG goes bust. A side effect: Its collapse would be as close to an extinction-level event as the financial markets have seen since the Great Depression, forcing a chain of events depressing financial institutions further, causing defaults and more failure. The US government won't allow this to happen so you and I, Dear Brother, will pay. Oh boy, Northern Rock is cheap at £50B.

So who can we thank for this mess? None other than
Phil Gramm, John McCain's presidential campaign co-chair and his most senior economic adviser from summer 2007 to July 18, 2008 (a time BTW when Gramm was paid by UBS to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis). Gramm of course spearheaded efforts to pass banking reform laws, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, which served to reduce government regulations in existence since the Great Depression separating banking, insurance and brokerage activities. Between 1995 and 2000 Gramm, who was the chairman of th U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, received $1,000,914 in campaign contributions from the Securities & Investment industry. Can you spell c - o - n - f - l - i - c - t ? (Photo from Getty Images)

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline." Phil Gramm, July 9, 2008

"I don't know as much about the economy as I should."
John McCain, February 19, 2008

Monday, September 15


Christian arrives early Saturday and Eitan and I meet him at the airport (he's wearing Brazil BTW). 

 From there, and despite jet-lag, we head for the pitch to watch the kids play football. It is the first practice since summer and the kids turn out in new colors and different groups. Madeleine remains one of a few girls but does not care: she is happy when muddy. Eitan picks up where he left off scoring the first goal for his side - threading a few defenders then - bang! - the upper left of the net. 

We nod our head and stroke our chin: the boy has talent. From the park Sonnet makes lunch and we watch Cal lose to Maryland - the first Bears game I have ever seen on TV whilst in England. And they get blown out despite being 14 point favorites. When. Will. I. Learn. Still, in our favor, the UC won its battle against the tree-sitters and will soon build a state-of-the-art athletic centre attached to the stadium and 30 feet from a fault line (what me worry?). This should help Cal recruit. A bigger problem remains USC - they could probably beat a pro team - who dismantled #5 Ohio State 35-3. Rose bowl distinctly unlikely. Like ever.

Flat Line

Good bye Lehman Brothers. Good bye Merrill Lynch. Amazing events but neither a real surprise given Wall Street's exposure to the sub-prime trough - Lehman being the most piggy with over $600 billion of exposure. Anybody who owned Lehman stock in June when it traded between $20-25 should have unloaded fer sure . I mean, they tried to borrow money from Korea - hello - if that is not a desperate signal I don't know what is. The good news I suppose is that A) the Fed did not use my money to shore up Lehman's poor judgment; and B) the crisis is a radical de-leveraging of several financial institutions and not systemic. Merrill was less obvious despite its enormous quarterly write-offs; Merrill decided that the Lehman collapse would focus investor attention on their own swiss cheese balance sheet. Liquidity is one-part capital and nine-tenths perception so Merrill consolidated and saved itself an humiliation. And now it is AIG's turn.

Lacing Up

Madeleine gets a helping hand pre-footie.

Sarah Palin is a bona fide celebrity, which is interesting given the Republicans attacked Obama for being the same. Any case, I admit that Palin triggers a little pleasure zone somewhere in my brain - it is the same as with other celebrities, which is why I bet we find them so fascinating - we are programmed to respond to common societal phonomena. I mean, who can forget O J? God, I cannot: 24-7 dude. Any case, Palin is everywhere and it is all coming out: her favoritism, flip-flop bridge, special interests, secrecy, library censorship, husband Todd's role in state-affairs, first passport 2007, religion: God, God! God! McCain once promised us his VP would be ready to take his place at a moment's notice: "you know, immediately" he said. I have come to appreciate that the experience void and small beer make no difference to Republican voters - they are brain-washed by The Hot Dish, who Schwarzenegger himself said was a babe - Palin talks a lot of smack, shoots guns and shags like a bunny. In other words, she is just like we want to be America! Gosh darn, I'm gonna vote for her - my two Ivy League degrees be damned! She needs a smack-down - where are you Hillary Clinton?

Eitan informs me that there are two kinds of torture: "when you hurt somebody until they are dead" and "not being allowed to watch television when Manchester United is playing."


I have received, ahem, a little bit of grief from Sonnet and everybody regarding my new glasses which, Dear Sister, I picked out myself. Yes, they are big, black and clunky. As Adam says, "even George Clooney couldn't make them look good." Well, they aren't really meant to look good but rather to be noticed. After 12 years of wearing the same innocuous peepers every day I decided it was a time for a change. My little mid-life crisis along with road rage. And noticed they are - I have attracted unusual concentration from younger kids, middle-aged men and even the local mums who are probably assessing weather I am dangerous. So be it. I like them and Barney's has validated my style: the dog wears my exact pair on the cover of the Fall '08 catalog - pictured.

Friday, September 12

The Sum Of Her Experience

We now know that Palin understands the Russians: "They're our next door neighbours and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska" even though she drew a blank on the Bush Doctrine. Are we concerned that the interviewer Charles Gibson knows more about US foreign policy than Palin? (last night on ABC)

I understand why the Republicans so angered by "a pig in lipstick" which their candidate brought on herself. The expression never about sexism or appearance - we all know Palin a babe and even Schwarzenegger says so - but about content.

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party - and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose."

Abraham Lincoln, "Meditation on the Divine Will" (September 2, 1862?), p. 403-404

Thursday, September 11


Here is the newest addition to my family - congratulations to Joe and Susan on their blessing and beautiful number two.

Boy does this bring back memories - and how strange that it is six+ years since Sonnet and I at this stage in life. It all repeats and we find ourselves doing more or less the same as everybody else. There you have it - my Big Insight for the day. Oh boy. When Madeleine born, I packed up and moved from the bedroom into the guest room, where I happily wore ear plugs. And watched TV. And stayed up late. No need for everybody to be grumpy, after all. Madeleine was a loud baby too - stubborn and slow to sleep through the night though Sonnet was disciplined. Then as now, she refused to take suggestions and I have always admired Madeleine's independence though perhaps not when changing nappies. Or spoon feeding her mushy peas which ended up everywhere but in her mouth. Or getting her to do Kumon. These were the good times too and how fleeting it all is (Big Insight #2).

TV Dinner

Who could ever forget Swanson's TV Dinner from the '70s? The pre-cooked a working mother's savior. My favorite was the "classic fried chicken" - the mash was somehow better than home-made. Plus it was exotic and Katie and I could pick the meals ourselves from the frozen section - in short, empowering. Usually eaten BTW in front of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" or "Disney" on Sunday evening. The equivalent in Britain was Vesta Curry ready meals - few British in the early 70s had sampled the exotic delights of spiced food and eating out was a rarity. Vesta introduced the country to flavors from around the world including Italian Risotto, Chicken Supreme, Hungarian Goulash, Chinese Chow Mein and Spanish Paella. This+a bottle of Blue Nun and Benny Hill the peak of middle-class sophistication, Dear Brother. I've kept my eye open for Vesta and sadly cannot find it at Waitrose or the supermarkets in our neighborhood. We are the worst for it. Is Swanson still around I wonder?

van Gogh

After visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam yesterday, I'm having a coffee when three girls - pictured - dismount to have a cigarette. I would guess they are in their early 20s and very chic and their intensity captures my interest. It is hard not to imagine Madeleine doing the same in her future. Van Gogh created one of my favorite paintings "Still Live, Vase With Twelve Sunflowers" despite being one unhappy dude. I did not appreciate that van Gogh tried to found a Utopian art colony from his home in Arles - a house without plumbing. He must have been lonely made worse by the failure of his vision. Van Gogh was aware of his mental illness and committed himself to an institution several times - afraid of his breakdowns (diagnoses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy and acute intermittent porphyria+malnutrition, overwork, insomnia, alcohol, and absinthe in particular). He killed himself at 35, which given the volume of work he produced is hard to imagine. In fact, his last painting "Wheat Field With Crows" was completed two weeks before his death and his attempt to convey his gloom.


Here I am with the boy after playing some footie. He's in a heavenly mood following last night's World Cup Qualifier where England destroyed our nemesis Croatia, who we all recall kept us from the European Cup last year by thrashing us 3-2. The final score this time 4-1 and Theo Wilcott,the youngest on the pitch at 19, scores a hat-trick. Neat. In other news, Eitan and Madeleine host another yard-sale to earn some cash from their broken old toys. The past two days are spent pricing and when I suggest that £10 for a "tactic" might be a tad, ahem, overpriced Eitan tells me very politely to mind my own bee's wax. Fair enough. So I am not particularly surprised to learn from Sonnet, home from work yesterday to encourage our capitalists, that nothing has sold. At. All. I tell her to make "an anonymous purchase from a mystery buyer" which afterwards she tells me momentarily raises his hopes (when I ask about it later on, Eitan says "it was just you, dad" I mean, like come on). Madeleine bails for a play-date leaving our little earner left to promote on his own. Making a buck is never easy, I tell him - an obvious lesson but something that must be learned every day.

According to a Guardian survey, Sir Martin Sorrel, the Chief Executive of the WPP Group, is the highest paid executive in the UK in 2007 at £23,372,504 followed by Bart Becht at Reckitt Benckiser, Bob Diamon at Barclays and Mick Davies at Xstrata who took home £22,278,767, £18,139,000 and £13,953,635, respectively. The highest paid employees in a UK public company work for private equity group 3i, who make £231,000 per year. The average work in Britain last year made £24,000 including a 3.6% pay-rise which failed to offset 4.3% inflation on essentials like mortgage and food.

Pastor Rick Warren: "At what point, give me a number, give me a specific number, where do you move from middle class to rich?"
John McCain "So, I think, if you're just talking about income, how 'bout $5 million? (Laughter) So, no, but, but seriously, I don't think you can, i don't think, seriously, that, the point is that I'm trying to make here, seriously... and I'm sure that comment will be distorted."

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."
Henry David Thoreau

The Telegraph reports today that there will be fifty thousand fewer businesses that will start this year as the economic slump undermines would-be entrepreneurs from taking risks. It also reports that by 2009 end, Britain's business stock will have shrunk by 150,000 firms.

Monday, September 8


It is hard not to love Paris anytime but a day like today - impossible. It is autumnal and warm so the city is out and about sunning themselves or whatever. I meet a friend at Carette on the Trocadero in the 14th, famous for its views of the Eiffel Tower and green neighborhoods. The Parisiennes are a beautiful lot or I am at an especially cool cafe - probably a bit of both since it is Romain's choice of venue. Anyway I am here for work and Hans and I have meetings lined up for the next three days. He's over from California so I hope it will be good use of his time.

Eitan and I play football yesterday and the little squeeker is good. I can push him around for the ball, but he can out maneuvre me. And he is fast.

On the Eiffel Tower: did you know that maintenance includes 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust? (the Golden Gate, counter to popular believe, is only touched-up following the 1995 completion of a zinc silicate primer and acrylic topcoats). The tower maintains a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground by using three separate colors of paint, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-grey. On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the colour to use for a future session of painting. The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower are Emile Nouguier, Maurice Koechline and Stephen Sauvestre.

"When good Americans die they go to Paris."
Oscar Wilde

Sunday, September 7


We see Falstaff at The Globe last night with Natalie and Justin - fun! I read Merry Wives in the 8th grade and Sonnet and I debate afterwards where Falstaff ranks on Shakespeares merry list of characters - I place him Top Five but she points out Macbeath, Otello, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet... ok ok- I desist but I still give the fop a Top Ten. At least I remember the fellow from Junior High which deserves something, Dear Reader. Falstaff appears over again in Western literature and my favorite reincarnation is John Kennedy Toole's Ignatius J Reilly in Confederacy of Dunces. Ignatius loves to eat, and his masturbatory fantasies lead in strange directions. His mockery of "affronting" images is portrayed as a defensive posture to hide their titillating effect on him. He has an aversion to ever leaving the town of his birth, and frequently bores friends and strangers with the story of his sole, abortive journey from New Orleans, a trip to Baton Rouge on a Greyhound bus. He has extreme flatulence and wears his hunting jacket - regardless of the heat. Brilliant.

Cal beats Washington State 66-3. Wow- I can't remember the last time the Bears took such a lop-sided victory. Sonnet notes "that's not very sporting" proving once again that women don't get football.

Another sure sign that the planet is dying: one pound of cod- Britain's staple and the fish in in fish 'n chips - now sells for £25 a pound. That is $50 a pound. Even the lowly mackeral, disliked for its fishy taste, is going for £15 a pound. We are an island surrounded by sea, chanel and Ocena, for Pete's sake. If we are having problems getting fish - oh boy.

"I have a kind of alacrity in sinking."
John Falstaff

"When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip."
Ignatius J. Reilly

"I think it was in the Rose Garden where I issued this brilliant statement: If I had a magic wand -- but the president doesn't have a magic wand. You just can't say, 'low gas.'"
George W. Bush, Washington D.C., July 15, 2008

Friday, September 5


Eitan at Luke's party earlier this summer - pretty cool. The boys race electric cars around a track (there is a boy-girl thinging going on at now's age). I went through a serious go-cart phase that lasted from age nine to twelve. We kids built the real thing too, complete with side-breaks, seran-wrap windows, swinging doors and rubber band shooters for protection and war. The things went pretty fast with little control which was all the fun. Side streets were de rigeur to avoid the cars and the steeper the better. I'm pretty sure the working moms in our middle-class neighborhood had no idea what we were up to, unsupervised after school. Later on UC Berkeley offered several challenging inclines. In '77 a freak snow storm put a couple inches on the ground and San Ramon turned out with their wheels daring each other to race the hill - now made slick with ice. Wow, that was a thrill. The go-carts eventually found their way from the basement to garage and finally the scrap heap.

Does anybody else think Palin looks drunk?

The Road

My book club discusses McCarthy's "The Road." With virtually no plot, the story follows a father and son across an apocalyptic wasteland on a search for ... what? It is dark throughout only relenting in the final pages which, for me at least, allows the reader from the hook and ends on optimism when the message nihilism. Erich notes that The Road is "bad science fiction" and fails to apply a rules-set or complication gratifying in his genre. We all agree beautifully written and a mysterious and thought provoking novel, though Tim not always impressed with McCarthy's choice of vocabulary which sometimes, surprisingly, from the mark.

I meet Eitan's year-three teacher, who is terrific. Ms Correy is in her early late 40s, has punk hair and high expectations. I can see she can control a class-room, but she also has a sense of humour: "the children are only allowed to interrupt me for blood, vomit or fire" she says. This year emphasizes reading - lots of reading - and the multiplication tables. Eitan is ahead of the curve in both counts yet continues to beg me to do Madeleine's Kumon (maths practice). When I tell him he does not need Kumon he retorts: "you always tell me I can get better with practice, Dad. Don't you want me to improve?" It is hard to say no to this direct attack on our parenting and the answer seems simple - why not let him take the course for Pete's sake? But there is a slippery slope to consider: if all the kids taking Kumon then those not taking it suffer... plus there is no need for Kumon unless one actually needs the practice. This time can be applied elsewhere, as I point out to the boy, to his bother. I am noodling this for now.

“That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay.”
Sarah Palin at the RNC on the jet plane she did not put on eBay. Why lie about something so trivial and easily verified?

The surest sign that the UK is in trouble: The Times reports that August car sales crashed to its worst month since 1966. Britain's largest industry is weighted toward luxury vehicles which have been hit the hardest - surprise, surprise. Aston Villa sold 19 cars in August. 19 cars! In 1966 they sold over 166,000.