Wednesday, July 27

Orenstein Stanfill Lee Manning Bahr Schady

Madeleine, at dinner: "Why do squirrels swim on their back?"
Me and the table: "Why?"
Madeleine: "To protect their nuts."
Eitan: "That's my joke!"
Madeleine: "Is not!"
Eitan: "Is to!"
Me: "Look, I think it is MY joke so knock it off please."
Madeleine: "Yeah, Dad, but what makes it funny is how you tell it."


John Boehner, Republican, 8th District of Ohio. Minority Leader of the House of Reps (photo NYT)

Remarkably, for the first time since in US history, Uncle Sam may default on his sovereign obligations as Congress battles itself to raise the debt ceiling from $14.5 T to whatever. Americans mostly agree that the national debt not sustainable and we need to get it down. Democrats willing to do so with cuts to military and some cherished entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) and via taxes, mostly eliminating loop holes to corporates and the rich (NB In the USA, the top 10% pay 90% of all taxes; 50% of Americans pay no taxes at all).

Republicans want to go by cuts alone , protecting the military and, mostly, entitlements which keep the Elephants in office. Everybody else, go fish. Recall how Republicans argued debt okey-dokey during Bush's two unfunded wars and his ruinous tax cuts.

Believe you me I agree that we must reduce entitlements whose escalating costs will destroy the country inside a generation. Nor can we dream the problem away with more taxes so in this regard I side with the Republicans. Yet the debt ceiling no place to leverage policy. Unfortunately 250 Repubs have signed Grover Norquist's no-new-tax pledge and this, Dear Reader, threatens America''s future.

"Traitor: A person who is guilty of treason or treachery, in betraying friends, country, a cause or trust, etc."
--Webster Dictionary


From Larry and Marcia's house, pictured. Their property dates to the 19th century when it was a sawmill cutting marble; the water powered a turbine that cut the stone which was drawn from the nearby quarry. Now it is an evironmentally protected area.

Plaque at the marble quarry, one mile down route 7A:
"First Marble Quarry
Oldest Quarry in the U.S., 1785.
Here, near Mt. Aelus, Isaac Underhill opened the first marble quarry in 1785. Dorset quarries were most active in the early 1800's when small slabs were used for for hearths, doorsills, and headstones. With better transportation and saws, larger blocks were quarried.

Holiday Dad

I have not considered London nor work since leaving, well, London and work. Sure I have a few telephone calls to make and some emails to answer but it is mostly hard to be overly concerned. Europe, we know, shuts down for summer from about now: for the Nordics , it is July while everyone else, August. Not a bad life for them and us , for sure, but we are falling behind in the global league tables : difficult to compete with China given a 1% eurozone GDP growth and Greece. Still, Germany tries. And Britain pulls her weight. Italy has lovely pizza and Ireland - well, she pays us with Guinness.

Me: "What do you think of our parenting?"
Madeleine: "Parenting?"
Me: "Yeah, like how are mom and I doing ? What can we do better?"
Madeleine: "I don't know.. ."
Me: "What are some things that I have done well?"
Madeleine: "Hamster. Fish. Dog."
Me: "Is there anything else I can do?"
Madeleine: "Gecko."
Me: "Got that. Do you think I'm too strict?"
Madeleine: "Yes, like, all the time."
Me: "Oh, really? Give me an example."
Madeleine: "Like when I spilled powder on the floor and you sent me to bed. Without dinner."
Me: "I did?"
Madeleine: "And I was only five."

Tuesday, July 26

Richie @ Laguna Beach

Richie shreds it up, pictured. We were the two Californian odd balls at Brown - I was a swimmer and he played water polo. Why on earth we went to the East Coast for college who knows ? Richie, at least, returned to his heritage and now, when not making films, finds himself inside the bowl or on the big wave.

"All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine. "
--Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Katie ~ Eitan Falls From The Bunk Bed

Auntie Katie on the way to Lake Emerald, Vermont.

3AM: Sonnet and I awaken to a loud "thump". Eitan, who is on top of the bunk bed, falls out. Sonnet moves like greased lightening to find our hero dazed but in one piece. He is sleep-walking, Dear Reader, and unable to grasp what has happened nor the dead of night. It has happened before, on occasion, and I recall the night when Sonnet home late from work to find Eitan missing and his bedroom window open. She f-r-e-a-k-s, dials the police and reports "kidnapped child", and generally goes into hysterics. Who can blame her? Me, I walk downstairs to find the boy curled up on the coach peacefully asleep. The cops understanding and everybody grateful for the conclusion. Thank, God, really.

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disorder belonging to the parasomnia family. Sleepwalkers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a state of low consciousness and perform activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness.

Eitan: "You're not actually writing on your blog. That's a miracle."
Me: "A miracle, indeed."

Monday, July 25

Kristy McN

I first met Kristy McNichol in "Little Darlings" where she and Tatum O'Neal, both 15 but from different sides of the tracks, compete to lose their virginity. While at summer camp, of course. This 1980 so I am about 12 and duly impressionable. The film undoubtedly rated "PG" since I cannot imagine watching it with my mother. McNichol (who wins the bet BTW) a teen sensation, winning two Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in TV weekly "Family," which aired from '76 to '80; she also appeared in Starsky & Hutch, Bionic Women and Love Boat and recorded Christmas specials with The Carpenters. Her re-doing of The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" hit #70 on the billboards. She had Sean Cassidy hair. Do not doubt, Dear Reader, that Kristy McNichol had my attention.

Sadly, McNichol's acting career petered out by the mid-1980s as erratic on-set behavior caused the studios to lose confidence. Making movies like "The Pirate Movie" and "Just The Way You Are" didn't help, either. In '92 she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and disappeared from public life more-or-less completely.

Today, McNichol lives in LA, California, where (according to the NYT), she has taught acting at a private school and devoted much of her time to charity work.

"You're supposed to get turned on, stupid, not pass out. "
--Angel, played by Kristy McNichol, in Little Darlings, 1980

Three D

Madeleine picks up a "3-D" puzzle at the "awesome" local book shop : "So I have to describe it? It was very hard to build. It's yellow. It's delicate. When you rub your finger down it, it feels like brick." She gets everybody hooked on "Mad Libs" and we spend an afternoon filling story-lines with adjectives, nouns, verbs, pronouns &c. I have to remind myself what these things are

"Every morning they spend 253 hours stretching their tits and touching their bums."
--Mad Libs

Mt Equinox And A Bit Of The Revolutionary War

Sonnet, Katie, Eitan and I go for a "gentle walk" and end up climbing 3,800 ft Equinox Mountain instead. Equinox the highest peak of the Taconic Range. Starting from Manchester, it is straight up followed by straight down , leaving us perspired, exhausted and achy - the downward trek taxes muscles I knew not of. The peak marked by an ancient hotel which, Larry tells me, closed 15 years ago. On a winter's day it might be the Overlook Hotel. Me, I follow up with a three-hour nap (not 30 anymore dude) and go to bed at 9PM which vexes Sonnet at 4AM as I wake her to discuss house-design. Instead of fighting me, we go for a sunrise walk.

A signage at the trail head in Manchester:
"The Revolutionary War. Ethan Allen crossed Lake Champlain to capture Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775 for "America's First Victory." Allen's expedition passed through here on May 5, 1775. Nathan Beman from Manchester guided the expedition into the fort: John Roberts of Manchester was the head of the expedition's largest immediate family. In 1777, after evacuating Ft. Ti and Mount Independence, Gen. Arthur St Claire traveled to the Saratoga area via Manchester. The first meeting of the council of Safety (Vermont's initial government) were at the original Marsh Tavern (on site of the south wing of the Equinox). In Manchester, Gen. John Stark declined orders from Gen. Benjamin Lincoln and opted to go to Bennington. Stark's NH troops and Seth Warner's "Green Mountain Boys" camped in Manchester prior to the battle of Bennington victory on August 16, 1777.
--Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 2011


Madeleine requests a few photos for her "summer journal", as required for school. This replaces the usual cajoling or bribing now the norm when my camera trained on the Shakespeares.


The Orenstein family circus arrives in NY where we meet Gracie and Moe at Herz and load up an SUV that stretches across the inter-state. Yep, holiday in America. We spend our first night in Bronxville (joined by Auntie Katie) and a day in New York , where Sonnet takes Madeleine to Alexander McQueen at the Met - Sonnet tells me that it is the most popular exhibition in the museum's history. I see a few friends, and now Vermont with Marcia and Larry and Susan and Joey and Julia. The last time our together ensemble was Diane's wedding two years ago.

Madeleine: "Dad can I sit in the back seat?"
Gracie: "I want to sit in the back with Madeleine."
Eitan: "Can I sit in the back seat, too?"
Sonnet: "I think you have to climb over the middle seat, Grace."
Eitan: "Why does Madeleine get the back seat with Gracie?"
Sonnet: "Maybe we can turn one of the seats back so Gracie can get in. .."
Madeleine: "I asked first, Eitan, and besides there is only room for me and Gracie."
Sonnet: "I am sure there is plenty of room."
Grace: "Can you move the seat back so I can get in?"
Me: "Get. In. The. Car."
Grace: "Jesus."

Thursday, July 21


Enrico, pictured, lives the Dolce Vita in Southwest London. He is father of KPR's Jean Luca, a serious threat from anywhere on the pitch with style and flair one expects from an Italian striker. Enrico rips up the house to rewire the everything.


We say "Farewell, Aneta!" who returns to Czech then Europe and eventually University. She contemplates a summer job and what the future may hold but who knows? The joy of 21. Her childhood friend, Camilla, will join us in August. Aneta and Madeleine have a last go at Ludo, a board-game that has occupied them at the kitchen table. Eitan refuses a hug but he will miss her, too.

Wednesday, July 20

Eric Reunion

Eric : from Chicago : college friend : recognised interior designer : working on 1 Hyde Park : lives in Milano : Italian citizenship soon : following ambitions : a brave heart

Rusty Gets A Bone

And it's just as well as Aneta and I drop him at the kennel for a month.

All Nighter

Sonnet writes a chapter for a book on ball gowns which will also be a major exposition at the V&A. Her deadline is, well, now since we leave tomorrow for America. Just like freshman year, I tease her. Note the bare walls in our dining room which will, inshallah, be a library upon our return. The builders, electricians, painters, carpenters and workers descend upon our house as we leave. We take advantage of the away.

Gayle Hunnicutt

Sonnet meets Gayle Hunnicutt, an American actress whose design donation will be used in the V&A's ballgowns show.

Sooo . .. Hunnicutt born in Fort Worth, Texas, attended UCLA which we don't hold against her. She was married from 1968 to 1975 to the actor David Hemmings and later, the journalist Sir Simon Jenkins (they divorced in '08).

During her brief Hollywood career, Hunnicutt was typecast as a brunette sexpot. She co-starred with James Garner in the 1969 film Marlowe, the character she played being a glamorous Hollywood actress. After she moved to England with Hemmings in 1970, however, the finer range of her acting emerged. A notable role was that of Charlotte Stant, in the critically acclaimed Jack Pulman television adaptation (1972) of Henry James's The Golden Bowl. She went on to play Lionel's wife in The Legend of Hell House in 1973, and Tsarina Alexandra in Fall of Eagles in 1974. In 1984, she appeared as Irene Adler opposite Jeremy Brett in the very first episode ("A Scandal in Bohemia") of the series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Hunnicutt returned to America to play the role of Vanessa Beaumont in Dallas from 1989 to 1991.

Photo from Hunnicutt to Sonnet, presumably in item to be exhibited.


Kojo, a friend from graduate school, founded Ghana's largest home mortgage services company accounting for >60% of all new mortgage applications in his country. Kojo tells me that Ghana needs 1 M houses for the growing middle class - the population there 24 M and GDP, in PPP, is about $72 B. There is some considerable opportunity; Arnaud , who we are with this morning, investigates.

"This is the most humble day of my life."
--Rupert Murdoch before British Parliament

Monday, July 18

Birthday, 1985

My mother's birthday letter, 18 years old :

"Dear Jeff -
We've said goodbye before, not too long ago, it seems, when you were off to Switzerland. And on your 18th birthday, I'm thinking of the goodbye ahead of us, in August when you take off for Brown.
You've learned a lot about the world and about the people in it - and about who you are and how you fit in. And now you're on your own. Seems unreal, doesn't it?
I haven't any words of wisdom. You've lived your life with gusto and humor and purpose. You've taken yourself seriously, and in the process have taught me. I'm proud to have participated in your growing-up. It has been a wonderful, unbeatable experience in all its parts , for which I feel especially blessed.
Happy 18th!

Photo source? 1985, 1530 Euclid Ave.

Rabbit Ears

Eitan plays his last game with the KPR Blues, winning the "plate", or runner's up, trophy at the Abby Rangers tournament in Surrey. From September, Eitan joins Elm Grove in the Premiere Elite league. I try to take it all in stride, not being too much a part of his (or Madeleine's) decision making though Sonnet much better, here, than I. The big question soon : swimming or football? But that is for another day. After the pitch, Eitan to Luke's b'day paintball party followed by a highly-unusual sleep-over on a Sunday night.

A re-cap of the news for posterity : Rebekah Brooks , former Chief Exec of News International, arrested. Met Chief Sir Paul Stephenson resigns siting the NoW scandal. USA loses to Japan on PKs in the women's World Cup final. Daren Clarke wins the British Open - the third Northern Irishman to win a major in the last six tournaments. Tour de France begins.

Madeleine: "Sometimes you freak me out, Dad."

That Girl

Me and Grace, September 17, 1967.

Saturday, July 16

Sonnet And Her Brood

Eitan: "Do you like paint ball?"
Me: "Not really. You know how you feel when you watch war movies and you think : 'I would never get shot?' Well, I got shot in like two minutes the one time I've played."
Eitan: "Did it hurt?"
Me: "Maybe my pride."
Eitan: "I sort of like it if it hurts. It makes it more real."
Madeleine: "Oh, really, Eitan."
Eitan: "Yeah, so?"
Madeleine: "Would you like it if someone stabbed you? And you were like, 'oh, that feels reeaallly good.'"
Me: "She's got a point, you know."
Eitan: "I'm just saying, that's all."

Eitan, in the back of the car, holding a new football: "This ball feels so lovely."

Me, driving: "Hurry up, Grandma."
Madeleine: "Shush, Dad! She can hear you!"
Me: "No she can't."
Madeleine: "She can read your lips: Hur-ree up Gr-ran-dma."

Cloudy Richmond

Eitan and Sonnet do an aquathalon (500 m swim and 2 km run) and Eitan set to win his age-group until he takes a wrong turn. He is crushed afterwards. Meanwhile Madeleine and I go for a walk in Richmond Park. Now it rains and everybody in the kitchen and I build the Mercury Redstone Ant-scale model rocket and Madeleine does her homework:
Madeleine: "How many five centimeter lengths can I make from a 40 centimeter rope?"
Me: "How many times does five go into 40?"
Madeleine: "Why couldn't they just say that?"

Madeleine: "Is 87 cm tall or not?"
Me: "It is all relative."
Madeleine: "What does that mean?"
Me: "If it was an 87 cm lizard, that would be pretty tall. Or long anyway. If it was an 87 cm house, that would be pretty small."
Madeleine: "Can you please stop the logic, Dad?"

Madeleine: "Here's a quiz, Mom. What is 200 divided by 25?"
Sonnet: "Madeleine do your homework please."

Rutshire Chronicles

Jilly Cooper, in her soooo '80s classic "Riders," introduced us to Jake Lovell (Aspirational gypsy. Rides horses), Helen Macauley (Hot American, lousy in bed. Rides horses), Rupert Campbell-Black (Brutish aristocrat. Hairy chested. Rides), Billy Lloyd-Foxe (Jake's rival at horse jumping), Fenella Maxwell (Rich, hot, rides) and Tory Maxwell (Debutant wife. Doesn't ride). They all have sex and fight and ride horses and wife swap and horse-swap and talk about horses and talk about riding horses and go to the Olympics to ride horses and , and, and . . You may not be one of the 20 M readers of the book but most likely you have seen the jacket cover, pictured. My first time at the Oakland Airport on my way to freshman year when being an adult could not come fast enough. Cooper, for her part, awarded an OBE for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2004.

The serious side of the '80s was, of course, the tragedy of AIDS. Mine the first generation to believe that sex could mean a horrible, ghastly and lonely death.

"Wondering if she had a ginger bush, he felt the stirrings of lust. He'd tank her up at lunchtime and take her back to his mother's house."
--Rupert Campbell-Black in Jilly Cooper's "Riders," 1985

Friday, July 15

W'Loo @ 3PM

I perch myself at the station's southside upstairs and take a few photos with my bb. The Evening Standard, pictured, went freesheets in October '09 after 180-years of paid circulation. Blame the Internets. Daily readership surged from about 260 K in '06 to >600 K last year.

Outdoor Greens

I am at the RIBA which btw introduced to me years ago by stylish and gentlemanly friend Maurizio. The cafe restaurant best enjoyed in summer when an outdoor sculpture garden available to Kensington's ladies that lunch and museum types (you choose my slot). A news team films "hidden green spaces" in central London, pictured.

To Have Not

Madeleine's heart set on a mobile "for emergencies". Let it be known our policy age-11 , which the kids put in the "gyp pile" alongside the Nintendo DX, wii, Xbox and various other medias we do not have yet apparently enjoyed by every household in the universe.

A predictable crisis : when 12 million Americans owe more than their homes worth the country running on empty. Who can dispute this observation when the US govt borrows $4.5 B a day to just keep going. And this : the Fed buys 70% of all new Treasury paper, making the government the largest client of its own debt. This possible by increasing the money-supply and the balance sheet of the Fed itself, a practice that will eventually blow up.

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
--J. Wellington Wimpy

Wednesday, July 13

Driver's Ed + Social Living

Eric attends driver's education and reports: "I had to go in order for Ben to get his junior license. ... another dad looked at me when we were leaving and said, "well that's two hours of my life I'm never getting back."

We Berkeley High sophomores (that would be '83) split a semester into Driver's Ed and Social Living, taught by the wonderful Nancy Rubin; Nancy at BHS from 1977 to 1996 and was one of the cool adults who wore stylish middle-age clothes and had frizzy hair and expensive beed necklaces. Sometimes sleek sandals if warm. Her class discussed things like masturbation (boys agreed: girls have better options), contraception (no 16 year-old likes a rubber) and abortion (most to all kids support choice - Berkeley, dude) and other stuff too awkward or difficult to bring home. Nancy became a minor celebrity, on Oprah, and known across the country. A highlight of her class : a letter we addressed to ourselves, post-marked and stamped, for future delivery. Mine arrived at my parents' house in 2003 or 20 years later. It still scares the shit out of me - I have yet to open the damn thing. Maybe I will give to Eitan or Madeleine on their 16th birthday? Maybe I will dispose of it privately. Photo from Eric.


Britain has a drink problem and ads like the above do not help. I find this one disturbing - do we really need to see a bulging sweaty veined arm gripping the upward pointing bottles? On the underground , where I take this photo?

Tuesday, July 12

Blue Blazer

The blue blazer cocktail created by Jerry Thomas, a bartender and author, while he was working at at the El Dorado in San Francisco. As legend has it, President Ulysses S. Grant so impressed by the drink that he gave Thomas a cigar. Thomas would only make the drink if the outside temperature below 50 F or if the person had a cold or the flu, whose symptoms the drink was to alleviate. It is not so much the drink (which is just a simple whisky punch) but the mixing that is unique.
Originally concocted in two silver cups, the whisky and water heated separately and poured into their own cup. The whisky then lit and, while burning, the water and whisky poured back and forth between the cups without extinguishing the fire creating a long blue flame between the two cups.

oz rye or bourbon whiskey or Brandy
oz boiling water
1 tsp powdered sugar
Lemon peel


Eitan at last week's borough athletics competition. The boy runs the 600 meters "long distance" (Sonnet's photo from mobile).

Monday, July 11

Jail Break

Once the hamster #1 but then came the fish. And now Rusty. Not taken out of his cage in weeks, Tommy gets the hint. Now he trains himself on one task : escape.

Mr Burns

Here is where things stand: Thousands of private phone messages hacked by News Of The World. The violated from Prince William and Sienna Miller to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The arrest of Andy Coulson, the paper's former editor and press chief to PM David Cameron. The arrest of Clive Goodman (second time!), the paper's former Royals editor. The 10 July closing of NoW putting hundreds of employees out of work. Murdoch's bid to acquire 100% of BSkyB in jeopardy (he owns 39%). Allegations of bribery, wiretapping, and other forms of law-breaking including payoffs to the police. Charges that millions of emails deleted to thwart Scotland Yard's investigation. Charges that Scotland Yard made aware of illegal wiretapping in 2007 but did not pursue a full investigation. Insinuations that Tony Blair and David Cameron ran policy decisions by Murdoch before the House of Commons.

We may not be half-way through this thing yet. Other Fleet Street rags likely to be drawn in for similar shady practices. My guess : James Murdoch fears arrest. Could Murdoch Sr be forced down? Photo from Reuters.

Saturday, July 9


This handsome dude Madeleine's dance teacher at her weekly performance class. We chat for a bit about Madeleine and hair gel.

Madeleine performs a series of vignettes culminating in a rousing "Saturday Night Fever" with disco choreography. She points to the invisible disco ball as though she were Travolta himself. The auditorium filled with thrilled parents - our little darlings dancing like adults! - and afterwards awards presented and candy bars handed round. On the way home a grumpy Eitan realises Madeleine wearing his blue blazer and slacks and makes a stink about it until I suggest Madeleine return the suit so I can put him in a tie and take photographs. That shuts him up quickly. Instead the poor boy has an afternoon of chores.

Eitan: "It is so unfair that I always have to do chores."
Me: "If you don't do them, then I do."
Eitan: "What's your point?"
Me: "Look, you can do the backyard. Or I can give you a consequence."
Eitan: "I'll take the consequence."
Me: "Fine. You are now doing the front yard as well."

Me: "Do any other kids in your class do chores?"
Eitan: "No."
Me: "Do any kids on your football team do chores?"
Eitan: "No."
Me: "Are you good at math?"
Me: "Are you one of the best footballers on your team?"
Eitan: "Yeah, so?"
Me: "Two words: Karate Kid."
Eitan: "You are so annoying."

Chelsea Entrainment

Eitan and Joe invited to practice at the Chelsea Training Ground in Surrey (photo from my mobile). The center built by Roman Abramovich for his Blues. Abromavich has already invested >£800 M on the club, so what's another 32 pitches ? It is similar to a five-star hotel only for football. There is the clubhouse and greeting area, spectator stands and towers so Coach can observe or film from above. Timing systems analyse ball speed and sensors pinpoint strikes. The grass like butter. The professional squad has a designated area with own security &c. Eitan contemplates the Great Ones presence nearby.

Eitan and Joe a bit intimidated by it all - here, they wait for the coach and watch the under-12s goof about - so much bigger. So comfortable with each other. Joe's dad notes : "You would think they are going in front of the firing squad."

Once the boys put into squads they settle, with relief, into their warm-ups and drills.

Top Brass

Madeleine performs at the Friday assembly : "When The Saints Come Marching In" and "Curtain Up." Since all trumpateers get their moment we hear the same over and over and .. Our little dear takes control of her instrument and does an admirable job of conveying emotion or, at the least, an explosive sound. She sits next to Albin and Alex and they seem to have a good time.

Eitan: "Your questions are so boring."
Me: "Am I boring or weird ? Usually those things don't go together."
Eitan: "It depends on, like, what time of day."
Me: "I think they balance each other so I am normal. Maybe it is you that is weird."
Eitan: "I am like the most normal one around here."

Me: "Marcus do you think I am weird?"
Madeleine, whispering: "Say 'yes.' "
Marcus: "Yes."
Me: "Well, does your dad embarrass you, too?"
Marcus: "No, not really."
Me: "How about your mom?"
Marcus: "Yeah, she always says stuff that kind of embarrasses me."
Me: "The mother's always do. Does she tell her friends that you have pink pants?"
Eitan, Madeleine: "Dad!"
Me: "Do you have pink pants?"
Marcus: "No, I don't think so."
Madeleine: "You are so weird, Dad."

Friday, July 8

News Of The World - Gone

Rupert Murdoch during his News of the World takeover bid in the 1960s (Photo by Ted Blackbrow/Daily Mail)

"It is absolutely disgusting what has taken place."
--Prime Minister David Cameron

"Our reputation is more important than the last hundred million dollars."
--Rupert Murdoch


The Deputy Head Teacher sends us a letter :

"I wanted to write to tell you how thrilled we are with Madeleine's amazing progress in literacy. She showed me a piece of work and I was totally engaged by the level of detail and description. Madeleine should feel very proud of her fantastic achievements. Keep up the good work! Well Done, Miss T"

Tuesday, July 5

Sonnet Reclines. On Death

At the airport.
Eitan: "Can you die from laughing?"
Me: "Good way to go."
Eitan: "What if you drowned in chocolate?"
Madeleine: "That's still drowning, Eitan. But you could eat all the chocolate first."
Me: "Then you might explode. That would be a horrible way to die."
Madeleine: "Oh, Dad, you always look at the bad side of everything."

Le Freak, C'est Chic

Chic's '78 single, "Le Freak," marked many's entré into adolescent awkwardness. Mine, anyway. My first glimpse of the album, pictured, was at Longs Pharmacy on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, sometime around 6th grade and before Super Tramp's "Breakfast In America" and Diana Ross's "Hot Stuff." Also that year BTW : Pamela Sue Martin's Playboy exposé "Nancy Drew Grows Up" (Martin, recall, played "Nancy Drew" on the "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" Sunday evenings). I, Dear Reader, overcame all fears and hustled a copy between the greeting cards to flick the pages. Afterwards, it was a Marathon Bar or Dorito's and swim practice. Or maybe Lawrence Hall of Science to play the earliest computer games. These thoughts flash threw my mind whenever I see restaurant T.G.I. Friday's.

So anyways , "Le Freak" commemorates Studio 54's notoriously long waiting lines, exclusive clientele, and discourteous doormen. The lyrics were originally "Fuck off!" rather than "Freak out!" It was the first song to score the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 three separate times.

Monday, July 4


Eitan climbs on rocks in an alpine stream.
Me: "Get out of the river. And I mean now."
Eitan: "Just let me go to to the other side."
Me:"Now. There are consequences coming."
Madeleine: "Can I go?"
Me: "No."
Madeleine: "See! You always let Eitan do everything."

Madeleine: "Dad, do you remember that time Eitan ate my Toblerone and you said he had to get me something?"
Me: "Yes?"
Madeleine: "Well he says he's never going to get me something."
Eitan: "What I said was that I wasn't going to get you something at the airport."
Madeleine: "See, dad, he's never going to get me something."
Eitan: "Yes I am."
Madeleine: "Are not."
Eitan: "Am."
Madeleine: "Not!"
Me: "Before I tell you to knock it off can somebody tell me what you are fighting about?"
Madeleine: "Sheesh, Dad, you don't have to yell."
Eitan, under breath: "He always yells"
Me: "Watch it you are on thin ice."
Madeleine: "Yeah, Dad, and make him buy me something."

Thirty 10

Since Natalie looks, like, 30 I think it Ok to mention her age. In the title. Hope so.

Sonnet and I surrounded by Natalie and Justin's friends who are managers, photographers, investors, athletes, bankers and bon vivants from around the world. 26 children keep us on our toes and while Eitan may be the oldest the real Pied Piper is Justin, who everybody turns to for leadership since, well, he is the former CEO of a major European food services company. His natural abilities get us up and down the mountain sans problem though I do fall over the front wheel of my mountain bike on an off-road blue-trail and glad not to break some bone including my neck. Happily Edwin sees it all go down so my bragging backed up by a credible eye witness though it does limit my story to what actually happened.

Madeleine driving up the windy road to Verbier: "Imagine if these tires had no grip."

Madeleine: "There's a golf course here."
Me: "Yeah?"
Madeleine: "It's not a very good place for a golf course."
Me: "Why's that?"
Madeleine: "If you hit the ball and it goes too far it will fall all the way down the mountain."
Me: "Good point."
Eitan: "It's not a good place to play basketball either."

Madeleine: "Can I go swimming?"
Me: "Are there any adults at the pool?"
Madeleine: "I don't know."
Me: "Then no."
Madeleine: "See? That's what I mean. You are not a proper dad."

Merci Buckets

Friday Eitan and Madeleine exit school early and we head to Verbier for Natalie's birthday celebration. The kids occupy themselves at the airport accordingly, pictured. Once simply being at the airport enough : the Shakespearse awed by the 747s or anything landing or taking off. And Then there were the conveyor belts. Those were the years when time began to age me.

We arrive in Geneva and Madeleine overhears me speaking French.
Madeleine: "Dad! I didn't know you could speak Swedish!"
Sonnet: "We're in Switzerland, not Sweden."
Madeleine: "Oh, right."
Me: "Can either of you speak any French?"
Madeleine: "No."
Eitan: "Je veux une pomme."
Me: "Don't you guys take french lessons in school?"
Madeleine: "Yeah, so?"
Eitan: "Bonjour monsieur. Ou est the toilette?"
Sonnet: "Les toilettes."
Eitan: "Mer-cee."
Madeleine: "Even Eitan can speak French."
Eitan: "Oui. Merc-cee."