Saturday, April 30

M at 14

How could I not know that I was waiting 40 years for this face?

We BBQ for the first time in 2016. It's a Bank Holiday weekend and these Brits put on their winter jackets and go in to their backyard or for a brisk walk. The smarter ones head for Costa del Sol, which they have colonised with their endless beachfront condominiums, swimming pools and beer pubs. I've never met an English person who speaks Spanish.

For us, Eitan and Madeleine sleep until 1PM and Sonnet and I take the dog for a 2 hour walk along the Thames from Ham House, a marvelous morning with big puffy clouds floating overhead. Last night we have dinner with two French couples; the elegant gal next to me wakes up to share her experiences working for McDonalds in college in Geneva: The number of chicken nuggets required precisions unimagined heretofore.

Don't Shoot

London had 110 homicides in 2015, up from 83 in 2014. A big jump, no doubt, but hardly something to worry about in a city of 8.5 million.  I can honestly not recall a single time when I felt threatened or anxious since arriving in 97, a blessing. Our borough, Richmond, had 13 homicides from 2000 to 2013. That's it.

Switching gears: the concept of modern policing began in pre-Victorian England when the British home minister, Sir Robert Peel (1778-1850), oversaw the creation of London’s first organised police force headquartered on a short street called Scotland Yard. Peel sought to create a professionalised law enforcement corps accountable to the people,  replacing the military's distinctive red coats.

Peel’s patrolmen wore black jackets and tall wool hats with shiny badges - they were still around our first couple years here. The police armed only with a short club and a whistle for backup, walking regular beats and gaining the trust of the locals. Robert Peel’s system a success, and by the mid-19th century large American cities had created similar police forces. 

In London, the policemen were so identified with the politician who created them that they were referred to as “Peelers” or—more memorably—“Bobbies,” after the popular nickname for Robert.

Sonnet: "How was theatre today?" [Dad's note: Eitan has a dancing and singing part in the school production of 'West Side Story."
Eitan: "I dropped a girl today. In practice."
Eitan: "She landed with a thump."
Me: "Ouch. Was she OK?"
Eitan: "I guess so."
Eitan: "Everyone kind of noticed though."

Sunday, April 24


Marshall, David and I get a tour of the balconies of the cast courts, not open to the public for 150 years, yet holding most of the cast collection, a treasure of 5,000 objects, the largest in the world. Many museums, including the NY Met, sold off their casts 15 years ago to create space or produce income; now they are more valuable than ever. The courts, which hold replicas of Trajan's Column and the Statue of David, are the most popular in the museum.

Last night we have dinner in Pimlico (not far from where Obama addresses the UK) including Jon, who was an Associate when I was an Analyst at First Boston. Do not doubt, dear reader, that he checked every number I produced with a fine red pen. Today Jon is head of the Equity Corporate Finance and Co-Chairman of the European Investment Banking Committee.  No doubt he still has his pen.

Madeleine: "I'm going to meet some friends in Richmond."
Me: "OK, great."
Madeleine: "Can I come home at 8:30PM?" [Dad's note: Madeleine has an 8PM curfew when using public transportation]
Me: "8PM."
Madeleine: "What?! It's so unfair. It's still light out!"
Me: "Those are the rules. Nothing I can do about it."
Madeleine: "You made the rule. So you can change it."
Me: "A precision: Your mother, you and I made the rule. And we agreed to it."
Madeleine marches out the door. Slam. At 7:50PM she texts that the bus is slow and she arrives home at 8:10PM.


Team captain
We celebrate Passover with Diana (who is on the Board of the Holocaust Museum in Wash DC) and Simon (now Sr Advisor to Al Gore's investment firm), and Sophie who was accepted to Middlebury earlier this year (one school, no coaching, no parental assistance). Michael is in his 3rd year at the Naval Academy and gunning for flight school to fly Ospreys; his eye operation gives him perfect vision so he can now do so.  Joining us, Tony Gardner and his two remarkable children at Harrow School and St Mary's Girls; she wants to be an opera singer. Tony is the US Ambassador to the European Union, another Presidential selection. 

Dinner allows us to discuss Obama's visit to London where, amongst other things, he skewers tory London Mayor Boris who references Obama's Kenyon roots to suggest Obama holds a bias against the British, in an op-ed in The Sun - not even a spoken Bushism. And until recently I liked Boris the Brexit buffoon. 

Eitan runs a 1500 yesterday, indicating he wants to break 4:30, which I suggest may be a bit fast for so early in the season. I think it kinda pisses him off as he runs 4:29.

Sonnet: I could smell marijuana everywhere [Dad's note: Sonnet returns from a conference in Amsterdam]
Me: "Really?"
Eitan: "It's obvious Dad. It's National Marijuana Day.
Madeleine: "Yeah, Dad."
Me: "It is?"
Eitan: "It's so obvious."
Me: "So do you guys know where Barack Obama is today?"
Me: "Madeleine?"
Madeleine: "No."
Me. "He's in London. So you can tell me it's National Weed Day but you're not able to tell me that the Leader of the Free World is in your hometown."
Madeleine: "What's your point?"

Saturday, April 23

Prince Is Dead

Performing in 1985. Photo by Michael Ochs
Prince's death hits hard. Unlike Bowie, who reached me late with the 1983 album "Let's Dance" and more a product of the 70s, Prince arrived when I was in the 8th grade, introduced to my class by the black girls titillated by Dirty Mind and Controversy and Prince's funk pop vive. His was the background of my youth, played at parties, in the car, with friends or alone. When I returned from Switzerland in '84 greeted at the airport by a bunch of friends in a limo, we blasted "When Doves Cry" crossing the Bay Bridge.

Prince followed me through college and my first years of work then faded with his later experimental and softer music. Our relationship resumed in London when I rediscovered live music. When Eitan and Madeleine took an interest in sound, I directed them to the Master. Prince always the gold standard.

And now he is gone and life the less interesting for it.

Sonnet is in Amsterdam for a conference.
Madeleine: "Is the water boiling?"
Madeleine: "Is the water boiling?"
Me: "For Pete's sake, I don't do a lot of cooking but I know how to boil water!"
Madeleine: "Can't you just tell me without making a big deal out of everything?"

Thursday, April 21

Pick Up

Clapham, London
I pick up Madeleine from school to take her to the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital for an asthma check up. 
She gets in the car, heavy sigh, looks out the window.
Me: "How was your day?"
Madeleine: "Dunno."
Me: "Anything interesting happen?"
Madeleine: "Dunno."
Me: "I remember when you were little and I carried you around in the Baby Bjorn close to my chest. I couldn't wait until you could walk so I could hold your hand, your big green eyes looking up at me."
Me: "And then, when you were a toddler, I couldn't wait until I could tell you stories about Spider Man."
Me: "And school so we could talk about stuff you'd learned during the day. . "
Me: "And now your a teenager and we couldn't be more proud of you. And next it will be university then your first job and flat and heartbreak and love. Maybe children. And you know what?"
Madeleine: "What?"
Me: "I will always be cheering for you. It's just the way it is."
Madeleine: "Yeah" (with a smile close to a smirk but I know it's genuine) 

Sunday, April 17


Alphie and Madeline
To my delight, Madeleine discovers photography and, unauthorised, uses my camera. No matter, pictured.

Aggie comes over for Sunday afternoon to tell us about her move to Krakow, the second largest city in Poland. It has modernised but there are still too few jobs: more young Poles come to England in search of work than stay homeland. Hence Brexit, despite 5% unemployment. Unfortunately Europe is closed to immigration despite the desperation of Syria.

The only country generous to our neighbours has been Germany and Merkal is hammered for it.
Consider the US: following the Viet Nam war, America welcomed over 1 million refugees (we had two 'boat people' in my Longfellow 6th grade: Phat and Tri, whose parents owned a successful VN restaurant on University and they now own several fishing boats in San Francisco). Reagan knew it was good and right. How about those Republicans today ?

The world uncertain, Europeans scared, luxury glamour everywhere and nobody feeling better off. Nor generous. An unsettled time. What's going on there is coming here.

Saturday, April 16

The Value Of Chores

Big Brother 
Sonnet and I head for East London starting at the Whitechapel Gallery.

On display is an attempt to present art as reflected through the influences of technology, the Internet and media, from 1966 until now. There are a few interesting references to the French Minitel system of the 1970s (anybody remember that one? Groundbreaking), Apple IIe and those great college age Macs, digital images and of course splashes of porn. It doesn't really work so I do the appropriate thing: wait for Sonnet and surf the net on my mobile.

From there we walk about London's East End, which retains some urban cred but now mostly gentrified. We stand in line for 20 minutes to be served a small coffee by a guy with a beard, slicked back hair but shaved sides: I try to take his picture and he gets hostile, the prick. I inform that photographer Paul Strand (now on display at the VA) built a special camera so his subjects from the 1910s and 1920s wouldn't know he was taking their picture; now we line up to see them. Sonnet walks.

Madeleine: "I'm going to do some chores tomorrow. To earn some money."
Me: "Great. What's the deal then?"
Madeleine: "I'll sweep all the floors. and mop them. I'll do it for ... "
Madeleine: "Twenty pounds."
Me to Sonnet: "Yeah, right."
Madeleine: "15 then"
Sonnet: "More like 3 pounds."
Me: "Tell you what. I'll pay you £6 an hour."
Madeleine: "I'm OK."


We take advantage of the early spring by wearing turtle necks and winter coats.

Eitan runs the first 1500m of the season clocking a 4:29. His best is 4:32 so it takes a few races to get one's legs underneath ..  one.

Madeleine has some friends over. Me: "Must be fun to have a play date."
Madeleine: "Never say that again."


LVMH rules
We hold our annual meeting at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, an art museum and cultural center sponsored by the mega lux group LVMH as part of its promotion of art and culture. The $143 million museum in Bois de Boulogne, Paris, opened in October 2014 and designed by Frank Gehry. It is truly a wonderful creation that, despite the 16e, is not French. It aspires to more, and is invigorating.

What is equally amazing about the structure is that it exists at all. Imagine such new build in Hyde Park or Central Park? Thank you Bernie Arnault.

Astorg has the entire building for the day, including dinner inside the enormous foyer; presentations in the modern lecture hall overlooking the fountain cascades with state of the art video and acoustics which the portfolio CEOs take advantage of. We receive a tour of the inside and outside including the great sails that spread before the woods. The exhibition of modern Chinese art perfect for the setting and the day. 
I announce 1.7bn closed for Astorg VI.


Madeleine and I text in teen speak:
Me: How woz the hike?
Madeleine: Pretty good fam. It was so long. How be Paris?
Me: Sittn me down now on trn. Wish could be at home havn din w u
Madeleine: Yh same. Gots pasta and stuff
Me: Yeps. Goin 2 terminus 4 oysters
Madeleine: Sounds lit
Me: Thinkn o u. Myb snails
Madeleine: Yh defo get some hard core snails

Madeleine: Yo fam can u send me 12 to my card for train?
Me: Yo s/h I st 6 u dig another?
Madeleine: I have no idea what you are saying

Thursday, April 14


A hidden market
Sunday morning up at 6:45AM and since I can't go back to sleep, I run through the marais, across Place de la Republique, where the people gather to mourn or rally, then along an ancient canal that takes me through some pretty rough, but super cool, neighbourhoods. It is .. silent at this hour. A city in repose.

Tell me something you liked about Paris?
Madeleine: "The vintage store." [Dad's note: we found a vintage store next to the Centre Pompidou and went twice]
Me: "Why did you like it?"
Madeleine: "Because it was full of cool clothes."
Me: "What else?"
Madeleine: "Felafels" [Dad's note: In the Jewish quarter in the marais]
Me: "And what else?"
Madeleine: "And the hotel. And art galleries." [Dad's note: Hotel du Petit Moulin in the 9e; various]
Me: "Go on."
Madeleine: "You're pretty much asking me to list every single thing we did in Paris."
Me: "Well do you want to go into any more details."
Madeleine: "No."
Me: "Case closed."

Caen Train Station

I need sugar
Madeleine and I are up early on Saturday, saying good-bye to Sonnet, Eitan and Rusty the dog who drive back to London while we catch a train in Caen for Paris for a weekend together.

Me: "Want to hit the candy shop?"
Madeleine: "You mean the magazine store?"
Me: "Sure."
Madeleine: "Can I get something?"
Me: "How about some pringles ? Or a few candy bars and a bag of gums?"
Madeleine: "This is a joke, right?"
Me: "Dad is on patrol."
[Dad's note: Later I offer Madeleine wine or Champagne over dinner but she refuses]

Friday, April 8

Sunset On Normandy

Vivre la France!
The past week I have gone on two or three walks a day and usually a run. This balanced by the volumes of bread, cheese, desert and red wine I consume in the evening. 

The village Fontenay Sur Mer could not possibly have more than 20 houses yet 17 boys died in the First World War, commemorated with a tombstone in the church next to our manor house.

The dog goes into action throwing up seawater everywhere. Inside the house.

Morning Run

Eitan walks downstairs in his pajamas. It is 12:57PM. Without Sonnet's urging it is likely his first appearance would not be until later. But we have museums to visit ! D Day beaches to see. I order the boy out the door to go running. He moans a bit but off he goes. No vacation without a bit of the drag.

I am in Paris yesterday to show my face at Astorg and discuss the landing path of Astorg VI. It is down the the last 300m.

Grace and Moe are in St Louis visiting Joy, who celebrates 85. Katie makes special T Shirts for the occasion.

Me: "Madeleine, can you imagine what it feels like to be a Dad and to love something more than life itself?"
Me: "And Rusty has been with us for five years now."
Madeleine: "I saw that one coming a mile away."

Tuesday, April 5

Fontenay-Sur-Mer Encore

Eitan studies geography
We arrive at a familiar spot in Normandy and ask ourselves - a year gone by ? The 16th Century manor unchanged except for a few improvements made by Mog since our last visit. This time round we bring Rusty who survives the six hour drive without complaint. Once here, he chases a cat up a tree, oh happy as a dog can be. In fact, we are all happy to celebrate spring's arrival in a place we hold dear and together. 

Eitan and Madeleine's joy tempered by school revision. Their books spread along the floor in different rooms across the house. Eitan is on the flightpath to the all-consuming GCSEs adding a constant low level anxiety. We can no longer tell him to study but, boy, we can sure suggest it.

Sonnet brings home three kinds of cheese and a bunch of salamis from the local farmers market.

Me: "What?"
Madeleine: "You're not chewing with your mouth shut."
Me: "There are worse things a fella could do, Madeleine."
Madeleine: "Such as?"
Me: "Lock you up under the stairs and throw away the key."
Madeleine: "Right"
Me: "Don't press your luck kid."

Monday, April 4

Cat In A Tree

One pissed off cat
Rusty chases a cat up a tree.
Madeleine: "Dad! We can't just leave the cat up there. He'll starve."
Me: "Why not just shake some cat food at him? That'll bring him down."
Madeleine: "Can't you get a ladder or something?"
Me: "Let's just throw rocks at it. That's what everybody else does."
Madeleine: "You are so cruel."
Me: "Survival of the fittest."
Madeleine: "Can you at least climb the tree? To get him, I mean?"
Me: "For Pete's sake, Madeleine, it's a cat. If it doesn't land on its feet he has nine lives."
Madeleine: "I am never talking to you again."

Saturday, April 2

Friday Night Lights

Pre show
I catch Madeleine, Friday evening, at the Battersea Arts Centre for the continuing engagement of 'Cloud 9'. Our gal gives an electric performance to an energised audience who hoot and holler.

Me: "Break a leg."

Eitan at the dinner table anxious to go to a party.
Me: "Linx effect?"
Madeleine: "It's Adidas."
Sonnet: "I'll take you when you're ready to go."
Eitan: "Thanks, mom."
Me to Madeleine: "Well, just us. On a Saturday night."
Madeleine: "OMG. It's so lame."
Me: "Yeah, think how I must feel?"
Madeleine: "Oh, Dad."
Me: "Hey we can play a board game."
Sonnet: "I know, Candy Land !"
Madeleine: "I am definitely excused now."

New Digs

Francois is a deal maker for Astorg
Astorg will shortly move from Berkeley Square to new offices on St James's Square, a quiet central London location not far from Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Sq, yet protected from the noise and bustle. 

Our space will face the square from the sixth floor, providing a nice view from above the treeline and plenty of sunshine as we face west. Neighbours are BP and Rio Tinto as well as the East India Club and the Military and Naval Club so often in Master & Commander. Eisenhower led the allied campaign against the Germans from Norfolk House.

The building refurb'd and we get to decide the specs. Francois, Stephane and I will have offices facing the park; the remaining space will accommodate a further ten or so in a bullpen format. Plus conference rooms, a small kitchen and a reception area.


Sonnet offered a comfortable six figure salary at a leading art museum in North Carolina. We inform the kids that we shall remain in London and, so, Eitan dodges a bullet.  Madeleine disappointed to miss out on the American high school experience. I tell her she has her whole life to live in California.

How easily the Shakespeare's little worlds can be spun around, poor dears. I recall lying in my bedroom, Saturday afternoon, about Eitan's age, reading comics when Moe interrupted my thoughts to inform me he was leaving his firm to form a new one : Schacter, Kristoff, Orenstein & Berkowitz. I was interested but really more involved with my comics to pay it much mind. This momentous occurrence for my father a non event for me: I was in safe hands and knew it.

Meanwhile in Paris, we have another closing on Astorg VI, taking us close to our goal of €2 billion. Inshallah.