Thursday, September 29


Cal steals the photograph.

I join Rob and Sloan for rosh hashanah which, my Dad must tell me, is the Jewish New Year equalled only by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  I have many things in my life and religion not one of them.  Dinner joined by two neat families with kids about same as Sophie , gives me a big hug, and Jaimes and ours; afterwards we catch each other up : Sloan's exec advisory business jamming and Rob's trade finance business in vogue as returns consistent during troubled times.  We sit outside drinking in the warm evening , white wine, admiring the view.  California, baby.

Wednesday, September 28

San Francisco Is For Lovers

I am at a fancy cocktail for Industry Ventures and, before, I walk along a pier to look at the scenery and find these fellows enjoying themselves. That's my shadow in the forefront.

The Lawyer

Moe explains the legal battle for gay lesbian marriage which is, presently, working its way up the US Federal system with California playing a very major role. Moe tells me the legislative battle began with the California Court where San Francisco judges ignored the existing California State Law banning gay lesbian marriages. The case went to the District Court of Appeals, and then the California Supreme Court, who sided with the activists. The Court, we think, found the California legislative inactive unconstitutional , violating the California constitutional right to privacy. In response, the gay lesbian opponents put a constitutional amendment on the California ballot, and the people of Calif voted to amend the California constitution to ban gay lesbian marriages. This was Prop 8.

The opponents of Prop 8 then filed a suit in Federal Court in San Francisco claiming the law a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Federal Court judge agreed. The proponent of Prop 8 then filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. A question existed at that point as to whether they had "standing" to pursue the action in as much as the California Governor (Schwarzenegger) and the California Attorney General (Jerry Brown) agreed with the Federal Court Decision and refused to join in the appeal.

The 9th Circuit Court of appeals then sent the case to the California Supreme Court to determine if, under California law, the proponents of Prop 8 have standing to pursue the appeal. The decision has not yet issued but, in oral argument, the justices seem to suggest that the proponents have such standing. If the Calif Supreme Court rules in this manner, the case will go back to the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This court will, then, decide the issue of equal protection under the law on the merits.

It is likely that, whatever the 9th Circuit decides, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case on a request for appeal. If the US Supreme Court decides that the California Prop 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, all state bans on marriage between gays and lesbians will cease.

Moe thinks the case will reach the Supreme Court by 2013, if not earlier.


I see Sam at Peet's or "OP" as my father now likes to say: "Original Peet's", of course. 

 Last time I was with Sam my wedding so we have grown older and wiser, one hopes, and yet, he says, "I have yet to become an adult." Of course I wonder : Am I an adult myself ? Whatever does this mean in our late-blooming GenX (or Y ) era ? Kids, mortgage, job? I guess I am a triple-check so maybe I do qualify. Must file that. So , as now as High School, Sam a BMOC and , back then, a sprint freestyler who pulled a 21.04 in the 50-yards at the Northcoast Swimming Championships in '81.All this before the Biondi era as Matt from nearby Moraga then to Cal and the Olympics. 

Sam and I spent a lot of time together in our yuf then again when I returned to San Francisco for two years, pre-business school, and all that. Now he and his girlfriend Maria, who dated in High School, live in the North Berkeley Hills with their daughter Rosa, pictured.

Tuesday, September 27

Maggie To The Rescue

My mom flies to San Diego to pick up new family member "Maggie", a rescue dog she will use in her child-therapy sessions.  Maggie a mix between a bichon frise and a poodle , is super friendly and, unlike Rusty, gentle and well trained (NB Sonnet makes the appointment with the Vets : next week, our Rusty will be less of a man-dog). Even "Sweetie Pie" gets in on the love.  Here we are at Cordinices park.

Monday, September 26

All Aboard

When Madeleine mentions to me the other day that she does not want to be an astronaut, I know how she feels. The sheer weirdness of getting into a metal tube weighing  912,000 lb and holding 63,705 gallons of fuel at take-off .. with 300 other people .. well , madness, really. And, following ten hours, here I am on the other side of the planet. As I , and all travellers, take for granted : the odds of dying on this flight 1 in 9.2 million (vs.being murdered in your lifetime 1 in 140 or being struck by  lighting 1 in 10,456 or dying in a car crash 1 in 70). Once air-travel was pretty cool, like, hey - somebody will  pay for me to go to Cleveland! Now I miss stuff, like Eitan's cup match against Wangas Youth, or hanging about with Madeleine and Sonnet.

Still, on the other side of my journey is Berkeley and my parents+childhood friends, a few timeless running trails and, there in the distance, seen from the bay windows of the house I grew up in, is that defining construction: The Golden Gate Bridge; just beyond her, the Pacific Ocean and the setting sun.

Sunday, September 25

5 A Side

The Sheen Mount squad finishes second of 20 teams at the five-a-side competition in Hampton.  From top left : Jack, Sam, Harry and Alex; bottom left: Eitan, Tryggvi, Oscar and Stanley.  Eitan says : "the pitches were amazing and we won every game accept one that we tied."  Collis wins on goal points.  A proud day for the state primary. Photo from Cliff.

Me: "This darn  pooch. He never listens - Heal, Rusty!"
Madeleine: "Dad, he's having a pee. That is so mean."
Me: "The dog has to listen."
Madeleine: "That would be, like, if there was a free house that you really wanted and your dad did not let you buy it."
Me: "But if it's free, I don't have to buy it. ."
Madeleine: "Whatever. You know what I am saying."

Madeleine: "What would happen if we put Tommy in a rocket ship?"
Me: "He would be one freaked out hamster."
Madeleine: "Yeah. Do you think it would be fun to be in outer space?"
Me: "I don't know. It might be kind of scary."
Madeleine: "I would definately not want to be an astronaut."
Me: "Well, what do you want to be?"
Madeleine: "I don't know."
Me: "Well, what are some things you  like doing. You know, things that don't feel like a chore."
Madeleine: "Legos?"
Me: "Maybe you could be an architect? You know, build buildings and stuff."
Madeleine: "Maybe.  I like lizards."
Me: "A vetrinarian. You love saving animals."
Madeleine: "Do they get to play with lizards?"
Me: "The only problem with a vet is that you would have to put your hand up a cow's ass."
Madeleine: "To take an elephant's temperature, they put the thermomemeter in the elephant's butt."
Me: "Just make sure you don't have to put your hand in a cow's ass."
Madeleine: "Maybe. Thanks, Dad."

Saturday, September 24


Sonnet and Celia.


Ossie and Celia in Notting Hill in the early '70s.

My Friday afternoon : Dash across Surrey to retrieve Rusty from the kennel (traffic); dash home to pick up Madeleine and Zara for swimming (traffic); dash to South Kensington to see Sonnet interview Celia Birtwell at the V A (traffic!); then across town to Simon and Diana's new house on The Mall, in Chiswick, overlooking the Thames, for dinner which , BTW, interrupted so Diana can take a call from Barack Obama, which she puts on speaker phone.

Rusty in the coop as we finish the kitchen floors in the never-ending interior design project. The dog likely more comfortable than us.

Celia Birtwell, a CBE, meanwhile, has been in our house since the Ossie Clark exhibition in '03; she was Ossie's partner - he doing the style and she the textiles, which are known for their distinctive bold, romantic and feminine designs, which draw influences from Picasso, Matisse and from the classical world, she tells Sonnet and us.  Celia particularly famous in the '60s and '70s for prints which epitomised the glamour of the hippie era. She has been described as 'the face that launched a thousand prints' and 'the most important textile designer of her generation'. After a period away from the limelight, in the 21st century she has returned to fashion , partnering with UK retailer Top Shop in '06 and opening a new shop on Westbourne Park Rd.

Sonnet's interview praises Celia's work , and complements the museum, which owns a large collection of her designs. The audience, sold-out on a Friday evening, young and cool : one dude in orange wingtips, red trousers, orange blouse and orange beenie; another, a Jap , in black turtleneck and clunky glasses. Loves it. There are platform shoes galore and big hair styles; the afterwards q&a covers David Hockney to internships; one lady asks if women over 50 can wear her designs? Yes! says Celia. We are all beautiful. And we are.

Eitan: "Can't you just get Rusty now?"
Me: "What do I do during the day?"
Eitan: "I dunno. Work?"
Me: "Yep."
Eitan: "Well you can still do it."
Me: "What do you think I do - faff about and read books?"
Eitan: "Is that a real question?"
Me: "And money grows on trees. Do you believe that, too?"

Friday, September 23

Notes from Nepal

Marcus reports from Kathmandu :
Had an earthquake last night. I was cooking southern baked beans from scratch after we discovered a smoked ham hoc for sale by a Russian couple at an organic Sunday market up the way. The pressure cooker had just started to hiss when the room started rockin. We live on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors of a concrete apartment building with another family below. We could hear them yelling to get out. My friend Michelle in one swift motion swiped up her 3-year old, Alice, and started bolting down the stairs – which were shaking noticeably. Our Oklahoma 25 year-old volunteer paused and ran back to turn off the gas on the beans. She was braver than I was because I was right behind Michelle. We all spilled into the street with everyone else and watched the lamp posts dance for about another 30 seconds. Took about five minutes for everyone to calm down and start back up the stairs. Reports were that a much larger earthquake in India at around 6.9 sent waves down a shared fault line. Rough estimates are that by the time it hit the city it was at about 4.5. An already crumbling wall at the British embassy collapse and reports are that it killed 11.
Photo from the web.

Thursday, September 22

The Pasty Company

The West Cornwall Pasty Company, here at Waterloo station, is a fast food chain selling "pasties" : A butter pastry case filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, yellow turnip and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and baked. It is the food most associated with Cornwall, regarded as its national dish, and accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy.

I usually come across a pasty at a train station, pictured, or roadside pullover like "Welcome Break" or "Moto" on the outside of he M25.  The kiosks always plunked next to a Costa Coffee or Burger King and host maybe twenty items under a heat-lamp looking like they have been there for a month.  The chain founded in '98 by Ken Cockings and there are over 50 shops in the UK, including 18 in London; somehow Cockings sold the company to its management for £40 million in 2006.

"Enjoy a piping hot pasty."
--The West Cornwall Pasty Co.

V A : Postmodernism

Susan and I join Sonnet for the opening party for the Postmodernism exhibition. The main entrance, beneath the Chihuly, transformed into a Champagne bar and Annie Lennox, of the Eurythmics, performs a medley of recognisable, nostalgic, songs (NB: I ask Kamila if she likes Annie Lennox? and I get a blank stair).  Here is the description from the V & A :

EXHIBITION: This is the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, examining one of the most controversial phenomena in recent art and design history: postmodernism. It shows how postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture including design, art, music, film, performance and fashion. By the 1980s consumerism and excess were the trademarks of the postmodern.

The exhibition explores the radical ideas that challenged Modernism; overthrowing purity and simplicity in favour of exuberant colour, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit and above all, a newfound freedom in design. See over 250 objects across all areas of art and design and revisit a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude.

“I mean, I'm 48 years old and I've been through a lot in my life - you know, loss, whether it be death, illness, separation. I mean, the failed expectations... We all have dreams.”
--Annie Lennox, 2001


I am with fabulous Susan , another Northern Californian, this time from Orinda. Susan's husband also a transplant: Anthony at Berkeley in the' 70s and we share a love for the Telegraph Ave. of old times, Fat Freddy and the Freak Brothers, People's Park and Blondie's pizza (Anthony now an i banker and much more).  When I met Susan in '99, she was chief commerce and marketing officer at News International Digital Printing, which she built to 120 people, and before that, Barnes and Noble responsible for the online business.  From there, ten years ago, Susan founded the Boster Group, which advises large corps including American Express and Ernst & Young on their arts programs.  She is known by London's cultural institutions , where her efforts have impacted money flows to worthwhile exhibitions that otherwise might not see the light of day. She is unique. Photo in South Kensington.

Tuesday, September 20

Lizard Skins

Here is what a pair of €12,000 shoes looks like, thank you Hermès . The matching belt €1,925.

I am up for my 7AM run across Concorde, through Touilerise then along the Seine until Île de la Cité and around Notre dame; then back along the Right Bank , under the Louvre and then the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel , and finally the US Embassy and Le Crillon then my hotel. All this inside four miles. Unfortunately my achilles wrecked from my 2009 marathons and I no longer enjoy pain free running. Without the bounce, each step "flat" and by the end I feel, well, 44 years old.

As the Hermès Parisian store across the street on rue du faubourg saint-honoré, I am tempted to buy my favorite beauty artifact: an Hermès tie. The company's designers spend years creating new print patterns, individually screen-printed with vegetable dye. Each added color dries for a month before the next color is applied. Designers chose from over 200,000 different colors. Every man knows when the other wearing one.

Me: "Do you want to see a pair of $20,000 shoes?"
Eitan: "No way!"
Madeleine: "And they aren't even matching."
Eitan: "They're made of lizard skin?"
Madeleine: "Cruel!"
Eitan: "Killing a lizard to make shoes..."
Madeleine: "Tell me about it."

Sunday, September 18

McDonald's Corp

I'm awake, 4AM, and read Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" (published 2001):
In 1968, McDonald's operated about one-thousand restaurants. Today it has about thirty-thousand restaurants world wide and opens almost two-thousand new ones each year.  An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonald's.  The company annually hires about one million people, more than any other American organization, public or private.  McDonald's is the nation's largest purchase of beef, pork and potatoes - and the second largest purchaser of chicken.  The McDonald's Corporation is the larger owner of retail property in the world. Indeed, the company earns the majority of its profits not from selling food but from collecting rent.  McDonald's spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand.  As a result it has replaced Coco-Cola as the world's most famous brand.  McDonald's operates more playgrounds than any other private entity in the United States. It is one of the nation's largest distributors of toys. A survey of American school children found that 96% could identify Ronald McDonald.  The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Claus. The impact of McDonald's on the way we live today is hard to overstate. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian Cross. (Photo from the web)

Holy catfish.

Elm Grove, Game 1

Eitan's first game with Elm Grove a success: 3-2 vs. Kings Park Royals, who were No. 2 in the Premiere Elite last season.

Eitan plays "striker" then "defensive back" , both unusual positions for him , requiring a new feel for the action. The boy plays his heart out. Unfortunately Eitan called for a hand-ball as the game's final moments and Kings Park scores on the penalty as the whistle blows. He could not have avoided it and his coach and team mates console him. Eitan shares "Man of the Match ".

Says he: "I was anxious and excited before the game, and so a bit shaky during the first bit , but then got more confident by the end."

So Rocha

Sonnet takes Madeleine to see the John Rocha catwalk at Somerset House - Fashion Week, dude. John Rocha , a CBE for his contributions to the UK's fashion industry, born in 1953 in Hong Kong of Chinese and Portuguese descent ; he is now based in Ireland after being educated at the Crodyon School of Art in London (Kate from Croydon). Rocha tells Sonnet his spring/ summer inspirations 2012 "Seaweed, sculpture and handcrafting". Madeleine scandalised by the model's , you know, breasts visible through the chimerics of Rocha's design.
Photo from promo site.

Saturday, September 17

Rough House

Madeleine and my rough-housing goes too far and she grabs my glasses, angry. I warn her that if she doesn't give them back NOW I am going to pin her to the ground and spit on her forehead. She throws the glasses, pictured, and I pin her down and spit on her forehead. I also tickle her mercilessly.  She is upset for at least the afternoon but that is how it goes in the Big Top.

Madeleine: "I know what we can do about the Christmas tree."
Me: "The Christmas tree?"
Sonnet: "You said you never wanted to see another Christmas tree in the house. Because it makes a mess."
Me: "I did?"
Madeleine: "We can get a fake one! Then there will be no leaves."
Me: "A fake Christmas tree?"
Madeleine: "Yeah! And we can use it over and over again."
Me: "Good plan."
Madeleine: "Thanks, Dad."
Me: "And why don't we put it on the roof of the house during the rest of the year?"
Madeleine: "Can we?!"
Sonnet: "Your Dad is just joking, Madeleine. Jeff now stop that."
Me: "Who said I was joking?"

Madeleine: "Do you think a fast dog or a slow car is faster?"

Friday, September 16

Chump Change

Madeleine and Tallie, who is about six months now, and otherwise belongs to Sonnet's cousin Maire and Turk (photo taken in Denver last month).

Really, these banks : a "rogue" trader in "Delta One" blows $2 B from the UBS balance sheet. This is a shitload of money for one guy even with the billions and trillions sloshing around to save our banks and i bankers. Since you asked BTW : Delta One creates securities that allow retail clients to instantly trade indices or other underlying assets like gold or shares, as closely as possible, which is not easy to do for the average punter. The banks responsible for hedging these exposures (hence , balance sheet exposure). The profit is made from the hedges and margins or fees from clients.  If the trade goes wrong, or the hedge not applied, the bank can lose a lot of money. The only good news from the UBS debacle is, once again, it suggests that i banks should be separated from commercial banks.

Three years ago Lehman went under. Three other banks failed, too : Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS. Without government intervention, our economy would have stopped, ie, we would not have had an economy.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wednesday, September 14


CYD, a 1962 Jaguar E-Type, with David since '97 and recently spruced up and glowing. The two-seater a proper touring auto with enough room in the boot for two leather week-enders and perfectly matched for the British countryside or the summer Alps.

Me, I had a vintage '73 BMW 2002 in college, purchased from a Brown prof with my own money in '87 , and only 25K miles. Unfortunately I was no mechanic and the machine spent some considerable time in the shop : like the time a water hose burst and melted the engine rods on the fist-day of classes with me caught at a cross-walk between the Sci Li and the engineering center. Not only embarrassing but costly : repairs about what I paid for the thing. Still, behind the wheel, I felt like a million bucks : young entrepreneur, in college , cool car. Life, ahead.

The Jaguar E-Type manufactured by in Britain between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. A great success for Jaguar, more than 70,000 E-Types were sold during its lifespan.

In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in the Daily Telegraph's list of the "100 most beautiful cars" of all time. In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of  Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.