Tuesday, April 30

Han Solo

I was just the right age for Star Wars in 1977 when it dropped on the cinema like a Death Star. I stood in a line, around the block, with my mom and sister at the Coronet Theatre in San Francisco's Inner Richmond district (which, sadly, closed in 2005). Star Wars dethroned the prior year's Logan's Run another sci fi foible without the rabble-rousing battle-to-the-death parable of good vs. evil.  And no tie fighters.

I revisited the original three Star Wars when they were re released in theatre in the 1997.  And yes, I am feeling old.

Aneta and Sonnet walk in the door, me in the living room blasting KC & The Sunshine Band's '(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty'.
Aneta: "I love this crazy family."


w/ coach

Marc is the reason we are part of Elm Grove, not easy given it is a 40 minute drive into Surrey for Thursday and weekend training and home matches.  Marc once a semi professional footballer, so he knows the game, but it is his attitude and encouragement of the boys that count in my book.  He has been coaching most of his squad since they were age five.

Unfortunately Marc will step back next season so Eitan's future with the All Stars uncertain following the final games in the Premier league of the Surrey Youth Division.

Monday, April 29

Nail Biter

Dog fight

The Surrey Cup Final a thriller.  The All Stars outplayed and outclassed in the first half, where the ball mostly stays on our side of the pitch.  Alphie the goalie makes two leaping saves that, by rights, should have put Elm Grove out of the match.  Somehow it is nil-nil at the break.

But disaster: In the first several moments of the second half KPR hit a perfect cross finding a willing boot to open net, 1-nil.  The rest of the game on tenterhooks and we wonder : will the equiliser arrive? And it does, with moments to spare, in regular time.  Jubilation !

Extra time begins and Jack and Eitan go to work in a brutal physical display of football that leaves KPR's forwards shaking their fists and looking towards the referee, who fails to oblige them.  PKs a menacing possibility. But then - one minute left -  Elm Grove awarded a penalty from 20 meters out. Rob (last year's team player) hits a perfect bender, top of the goal box, and Elm Grove are Surrey Cup champs for the first time in club history. Bravo !

Victory well deserved

Elm Grove - Surrey Cup Final

Pre game lineup 
The goodwill hand shake

The Elm Grove 'All Stars' take on the Kings Park Rangers U13s in the Surrey Cup Team Final, which the boys qualified for in dramatic fashion several weeks ago.  This has been quite a season and the parents are as nervous for the boys as, well, the boys are for themselves.  The team arrives an hour before kick off so Marc, their fabulous coach, can put them in the right frame of mind.  Us non players stand around and discuss strategy.

Friday, April 26

On Bowie

Eitan snacks

Me: "Ok, tell me who this singer is." (I play David Bowie's 'Five Years' on the Sonos)
Madeleine: "Um, ' The Beatles?"
Me: "You're kidding right?"
Madeleine: " I don't know. The Police? Green Day?"
Me: "Shoot me now please."
Madeleine: "How should I know ? It's not like I was born then."

Great Names

The dog and I know what day of the week it is.

As it is the NFL draft, I consider that African Americans have a lock on the best names. In the first round there is not one John or Dave, Doug, Paul, Joe or even Sean. Instead we have Tavon Austin (picked 8th, Rams), Jarvis Jones ( #17, Pittsburg), and my favorite Desmond Trufont (# 22, Falcons).  This guys parents somehow knew he would be in the pro's.

But the great names don't stop in this year's draft.  How about Jarious Jackson, formerly with the Denver Broncos? Or Dante Culpepper (Minnesota Vikings).  They just roll off the tongue. One can imagine the city block pick-up game, sun setting, dinner smells in the air and mom on the porch: "Jarious, boy, get your ass in here. And I mean now"

Tuesday, April 23

Hair & Soup

Painting back steps, 1986

Back when I had a full head of hair I did everything to destroy it. Like the summer following freshman year when I bleached it with lemon juice.

Madeleine: "Do I have to eat this?"
Me: "You will finish your dinner. And enjoy it."
Madeleine "But I haaatte soup."
Me: "How can you hate soup? If it wasn't for me and your mother, you would starve to death."
Madeleine: "So untrue, Dad."
Me: "What was the last thing you enjoyed eating ?"
Madeleine: "Sushi."
Me: "That was like two weeks ago. Anything else?"
Madeleine: "I don't know. Chinese?"
Me: "Just finish the soup."
Madeleine: "I'm just saying."

School Day

Sonnet and I start at 5:50AM, like this morning, to shuffle about a bit then take Madeleine to school on public transpo (she likes to arrive 45 minutes early) or Eitan by school coach (he gets an extra half-hour sleep).  In winter its is dark until 8 or 8:30AM but spring is payback with plenty of morning sunshine and the birds chirping.

Marcia and Larry depart for Paris. Unlike my generation, they are dressed to travel : Marcia in Brooks Brothers and Larry pressed khakis and blue blazer.

Monday, April 22

Marcia And Larry Visit

Marcia and Larry arrive from New York en route to Paris then Portugal.  Larry has a list of Michelin three stars for Paris which "is where we plan to blow the budget." They lived in the 16e from 1980-82 when Larry responsible for European credit for Citibank - a big ticket job back when ex-pat MBAs qualified to do such things (Larry HBS). Now the top fliers come over as associates at the i banks or consulting firms.

The last we saw Marcia and Larry was Vermont. They have settled into the joy of being grandparents and Diane announces she is expecting #2. All is good.

We, the extended family, watch Eitan's football match.

Sunday, April 21

Marathon Day

Ka Boom

Moving clouds with warm sunshine. Green grass, first leaves budding.  Elm Grove 7, Woking 3.

London Marathon : Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) finishes first in 2:06:04; Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) in 2:20:15 for the women. Mo Farah runs his first half marathon in 58:28.

Tres Amigos

Luke and Cyrus and the trio complete - here the little goofs play some foosball while listening to rap music.  And to think they consider me uncool.

At about this age my friends discovered weed and girls and snuck around making snide remarks ignoring or unaware of the adults; gladly this not the case with our guys here - they just want to torture the dog and pass the football or watch the boob tube. All good by me.

Saturday, April 20

Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

RIP, April 8

Margaret Thatcher was in the background of my youth. Not front and center, mind you, yet because of my year in Switzerland and her relationship with Reagan, she was always there, in my imagination. And, of course, she was Britain -  I assumed everybody in the UK like her. Tough. sensible. Bad teeth. 

I was not aware she was breaking Britain's trade unions and social contracts, modernising the post Second World War UK economy around free markets,  rewarding some and leaving many behind. Divisive, she remains so today.

Friday, April 19


Ah, Friday evening.

I return from Astorg's annual meeting, my eighth, and three glorious days in Bordeaux. 

We are treated to the world's very, very, best wines and tours of the region's most famous houses : Domaine de Chevalier, Chateau Haut Lafitte, Chateau Yquen (perhaps the greatest) and Chateau Cheval Blanc. We learn about the grapes, including the reds ( Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot) and whites (Semillon, Sauvignon blanc). 

Our guide one of France's formost wine collectors and connoisseurs and revels - revels - in his explanation of the geography, lore and of course, wines which we consume in joy and abundance - 13 tastings yesterday excluding refills.  

This, between presentations of three successful investment funds.

Pictures coming.

Tuesday, April 16

Little Black Dress

Young model, 3rd fl

A perk of my office that Ralph & Russo on my floor - one never knows who one may see in what  or when walking along the corridor. 

In Selfridges I overhear:
Man: "Boy, do you serve ?"
Salesman: "Yes, I am here to help you sir."
Man: "Do you have clothes in fat sizes, for someone like me?"
Salesman: "We do carry extra large sizes."
Man: "Well let me see your Calvin Klein pants."
Salesman: "That would be that gent over there to help you sir. See, he is waiting for you."

Sunday, April 14

Open Komodo

Today the first day of warm weather since, like, September 2012 and these Brits crawl from their caves, blinkered and pale, like creatures from a Ray Bradbury story, to bask in the sunshine. It is 60 degrees.

Eitan does his homework
Eitan: "Do you know what a 'play on words' is?"
Me: "Yeah ?"
Eitan: "Can you give me an example of a play on words using Komodo Dragon?"
Me: "He opened his Komodo and showed her his dragon."
Eitan: "Dad."
Eitan: "It's not that funny, Dad."

Corbin Rescue

The Corbin Building, after restoration (photo from Marco)

The Corbin Building, at 192 Broadway and John St, Manhattan, somehow saved from the wrecking ball to make way for progress.  Instead, thx to lobbying by the MTA, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and is being restored to its original beauty by Marco, who joins us last night for dinner.

Marco tells us the Corbin built in 1888 and named for Austin Corbin, a president of the Long Island Rail Road.  The building a brick, stone and terra cotta polychromy exterior while the interior's vaulted ceilings use a Guastavion tile system.  Only two buildings in NY have this. When built, the Corbin Manhattan's tallest structure at nine-stories. Marco knows every loving inch.
Pre restoration (photo from web)

Sports On Sunday

At the Louvre

Madeleine in an all-day swimming gala (Sonnet and she up at 5:45AM. It's Sunday) and delivers 47.50 in the 50 meter fly (personal best of 10 seconds) and 3:00 in the 200 freestyle (pb, 15 seconds).

Elm Grove dispatch the Mayford Tigers 4-nil (though 0-0) at the half. Game notable as the boy takes one in the face and pulled from the pitch with a nose bleed. He now recuperates, in red bath robe, watching Man U-Stoke.

The All Stars in second place (of ten) in the Surrey Primary League's 'Premiere' Division.  Wednesday evening they take on no. 1 Teddington who defeated Elm Grove 2-1 in tournament play earlier this year; they have not met in the league. Coach has the lads fired up.

Concorde Encore

Place de la Concorde facing north

Madeleine and I visit the Paris outdoor antiques market north of the Sacre Coeur but unfortunately it is cold and even the beautiful cathedral and Montmartre, where we sit and watch the people pass by, making up stories about each, does not lift the chill in the air. Madeleine keeps her good attitude and boy do I recall being dragged through some city with my parents wanting to be any where else. We contemplate a few paintings for her bedroom and then to the metro and a brasserie in the 8e followed by Jardin Tuileries. I think to myself: a day to be remembered forever.

Friday, April 12

Spring Scarf

Dandy on rue de rivoli

The kids hate that I take photograhs of people. Usually I ask permission but then where's the fun in that? 

Museums Galore

Sonnet in Winter Jacket. It's April

Sonnet on a marching tour which takes us and the kids to the Sciences Museum, Pompidou Centre, Jeu de Paume and Monet's lilly pads in Jardin Tuileries.  We have just enough time at the Louvre for the Mona Lisa and the Victory of Samothrace and get distracted by the Botticelli's (Sonnet's favorite). The kids indulge in crepes.


Madeleine in the 8e.

I do some catch up blogging.

The family in Paris following a visit to Bath and the Claydons (David now advising Tony Blair).  We do yoga with their wonderful Toni who makes me realise how out of shape I have become this year. I can barely do the simplest poses and when he helps me find 'the soft areas' of muscle with a helping push I wonder if the whole thing may go pear shaped.

Madeleine: "What does 'bus' mean?"
Madeleine: "It's not like I speak French or something."
Me: "You are just handing me stuff for my blog."

Tuesday, April 9


Me: "Why did you pull the drapes?"
Madeleine: "I'm watching a movie. And you aren't allowed to watch."
Me: "Whatcha watching?"
Madeleine: "Twilight Breaking Dawn.  Now go away."
Me: "Oh, I've totally scene this one."
Madeleine: "Yeah, right dad."
Me: "Yes. This is the one where she's chased by a bunch of wolves."
Madeleine: "Can you go away now?"
Me: "Don't worry, I'll leave if there's any making out."
Madeleine: "Dad!"
Me: "Believe me, I don't want to be next to you if they're kissing."
Madeleine: "Five minutes."
Madeleine: "Five minutes and you have to leave."
Me: "Deal."

Monday, April 8

Crystal Ball

Who would have predicted 16 years and a lifetime in London ? Sonnet in her prime at the museum and two healthy engaged kids. Plus a dog.

Sonnet takes the kids for a day of relays at Crystal Palace in the last week end of the Surrey county swim championships.  Madeleine says: "I swam the 4 X 50 meter free relay and we came in fifth out of 35 teams. My individual time was 35.53 seconds, in a 50-meter pool, so there were no tumble turns."

Eitan misses an Elm Grove league game against the Mayford Tigers, last in the division; the All Stars lose and now must win their remaining six games for a shot at the title, including undefeated Teddington.

Saturday, April 6

Blast Away

Eitan mans up

The boy does a chore, negotiated to £6.50 an hour, and better him than me.  He blasts away with aplomb, like father, like son, cleaning up the brickwork and sandstone like a seasoned veteran (I had the job quoted btw at £400). The first half hour or so pretty fun but, in the end, it is a job, and it takes six hours. He counts his money, task well done.

Eitan: "Is this how they clean prisoners?"

Hillary And John Hinkel Park

Hillary (far right) our earliest neighbour in Berkeley and often babysat for me and Katie (I re post Hillary's photo from 1978). She says: "I remember that day! It was filled with Beatles and Led Zeplin!"

John Hinkel Park (Hinkel a local capitalist and philanthropist who donated the land in the 1920s), where the picture taken, on a sloped four acres with magnificent oak groves and the usual teeter-totters and swings, picnic tables, a large fireplace and BBQ pit and, weirdly, an amphitheatre.  A good spot for hippies then and young people now to smoke dope in peace.

Monday, April 1

Becoming Picasso

Sonnet uses Easter Monday to take Madeleine to the Picasso exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, which has Madeleine buzzing: the show presents Picasso's 'break through' year, 1901, when he exhibited in Paris for the first time.  

At first, Picasso mirrors his contemporaries Van Gogh, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. But in the second half of the year, Picasso changes direction, beginning his 'Blue' period when, inspired by the suicide of a close friend, he produced a group of profoundly moving paintings of melancholic figures considered to be among his first masterpieces. 

Afterwards the girls go to sushi.  Me, I am in Toronto for one meeting and an overnight at the Trump. With windchill, -8.